Lauren In Tokyo

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Turned the Wright issue into the right issue

A couple days ago I talked about how I felt that Obama's reaction and distancing himself from Pastor Wright was done clumsily and would be a net negative for him. I felt that he needed to not feign ignorance of the issue, but to tackle it head on by turning the negatives of Wright into a platform to bring the "two Americas" together.

I said:
I wonder if he couldn't have embraced this man as a strong supporter of the Chicago African American community which faces unique challenges in its unique way, and also personally distanced himself from the specific words that do not reflect his beliefs

Today, Obama did just that. Here is the speech from the Youtubes.

A lot of people are claiming this speech as one of the seminal speeches of this generation, and while I share that enthusiasm, I believe that the proof of that will be when we open and continue the conversation of race without pointing fingers and looking for chances to derail the progress made. Racial problems are a major dividing force in American culture today, but in the grand scheme of things it is a problem that will eventually work itself out. The first step is to speak honestly and respectfully about the problem and not try to sweep differences under the carpet. This speech opens the door very wide to anyone willing to be part of the conversation.

But there are other issues that we need to overcome. The root of these issues is the definition of who we are, and who we want to be. What kind of country do we want to be? How shall we conduct foreign policy with regards to our friendly neighbors, our neutral neighbors, and our hostile neighbors? What level of societal support do we want to provide to the least able among us? These are the big questions. Race is a small issue made big by people who wring the issue for political gain. I hope we can focus on the big issues while tackling the difficult little issues as well.


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