March 19, 2008

A possible story

    I am the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas. I was raised with the help of a white grandfather who survived a Depression to serve in Patton’s Army during World War II and a white grandmother who worked on a bomber assembly line at Fort Leavenworth while he was overseas. I’ve gone to some of the best schools in America and lived in one of the world’s poorest nations. I am married to a black American who carries within her the blood of slaves and slaveowners – an inheritance we pass on to our two precious daughters. I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins, of every race and every hue, scattered across three continents, and for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.
From here.

The speaker, said the New York Times in an editorial today, "had to address race and religion, the two most toxic subjects in politics. He was as powerful and frank as Mitt Romney was weak and calculating earlier this year in his attempt to persuade the religious right that his Mormonism is Christian enough for them."

The speaker, the NYT also said, displayed "an honesty seldom heard in public life."

What do you think? Of the paragraph quoted above, of the speech itself? How do you see it echoing in India?

Me? Among other things, I hope this will be remembered as a moment that saw the word "liberal" rescued from years of scorn.

7 comments:

Sidhusaaheb said...

When I think of India, I am reminded of young couples being butchered to death when they marry into a caste, community or religion different from that of their parents. I am also reminded of daughters being forcibly taken back to their paternal households from their marital homes, when they marry against their parents' wishes.

It is only the celebrities, it appears, who can freely enter into inter-caste or inter-faith marriages in this country.

Dilip D'Souza said...

It is only the celebrities, it appears, who can freely enter into inter-caste or inter-faith marriages in this country.

Not true, from very personal experience. Every single marriage in my immediate family -- parents, siblings, us -- qualifies.

Let's not be harder on this country than we need to.

Jai_Choorakkot said...

John McCain, with his adopted kid from Bangladesh, his seeming intention (so far at least)to fight fair and honorably (slapping down the guys who go Barack HUSEIN Obama in an exemplary way that Hillary hasnt quite matched) and various other POVs that anger his party base is a fair match-up to Obama.

I think he will lose esp if its Obama. But the mind thrills at the prospect of such a fight btwn two principled persons for the top job.
Lucky USA to have these levels of discourse.

regards,
Jai

junglibandar said...

Some people are not happy though.

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oew-meyers20mar20,0,3898931.story?track=ntothtml http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/2008/03/i-guess-its-too-much-to-ask.html

You have to hand it to the Americans when it comes to debating. Pity they make such terrible wars.

Jai_Choorakkot said...

1. Re. above comment, I thought Melissa McEwan at that second link was pretty OK and nuanced.

2. After reading various excerpts here and there, today I read the whole Obama speech. Wow.

But I'm Jai and I have my usual small nits to pick, so:

"a profoundly distorted view ...a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam."

was rather too binary for my taste.

3. No flattery intended. Have disagreed on fair occasion with Dilip. But I feel that this statement is very substantially true:

I am here because of Dilip.

Thanks,
Jai

B said...

I agree with your "liberal" comment. Obama has spoken about Reagan uniting people behind his ideas (comments earlier about how Reagan had ideas and the dems failed to unite people in the 80s etc.). and he has also been talking of getting people together with his ideas. With these and good governance for a few years might do for liberals what Reagan did for conservatives.

I found the later part of the speech very impressive - him talking about how the real issues gets hijacked, about distractions to the debate by incompetent politicians aided by talk show hosts, how issues are seen only as spectacles (the OJ trial, Katrina etc.)

The other things he talks about not wishing away grievances or just address them as being in the minds of people but addressing issues, about the hope, taking responsibility for future and all that was impressive.

Most of these issues seem relevant in India (or in other places for that matter) -- about communities nursing deep grievances, about politicians distracting people away from the real debate, using specious arguments, how specific events are made into a spectacle etc.
I was wondering how this was perceived in India. Is somebody talking about this at all? Is this seen only as a US-specific issue?

readerswords said...

I am surprised if Obama's speech is seen as a step forward, when it is exactly a step backward.

His near denunciation of his former pastor Jeremiah Wright's speeches is an indication that instead of looking historically (towards native Americans) or outwards at the US's racist policies the world over, he had instead distracted attention inwards, using sentimental imagery (as towards the end of the speech). Obama's speech may be one step forward, but is also four steps backward. It is a pity that he has chosen to attack Jememiah Wright's truly compassionate advocation of humanism and simultaneous denunciation of American aggression.

But then, it is too much to expect otherwise from anyone from one of the (only two) two parties in the US.