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Obama’s “three little words” troubling you? Lighten UP.

I gave up watching mainstream news a long time ago. It’s a pretend version of reality that uses spin and simplicity to manipulate us emotionally and redirect our anger away from the real sources of our problems. But sometimes I stumble onto clips and even though I know better I click on them anyway. And now I sure am stirred up emotionally – in fact I’m going to snap my keyboard I’m typing so hard – but it’s not misplaced.

Must we re-write 230 years of history just to satisfy the corporate media’s need to be “fair and balanced”?

This week we saw Barack Obama give a deeply personal, eminently thoughtful 45 minute speech on the state of racial ideology in America. It was the kind of honest intelligence you do not see from politicians, and it continues to be the reason I am so drawn to his candidacy, even when I know he won’t bring about the true progressive changes that are so badly needed. But I agree with John Stewart when he said that Obama “spoke to Americans as though they were adults”.

Imagine that. You can see the speech – and a full transcript, over at the Huffington Post.

In this beautiful speech there is a particularly moving section where Obama discusses cringing childhood moments when his white grandmother would make racial comments about black men – in his presence. From the speech:

I can no more disown him (Wright) than I can my white grandmother – a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.

Honest and disturbing but undeniably true. Who among us hasn’t cringed at things our own family members have said in our presence? I know I have, and they’ve been said by people I deeply admire otherwise.

Apparently a day after giving the speech he had the following to say on a Philadelphia Sports-talk morning show:

“She is extremely proud, and the point I was making was not that my grandmother harbors any racial animosity. She doesn’t. But she is a typical white person who, you know, if she sees somebody on the street that she doesn’t know, there is a reaction that has been bred into our experiences that don’t go away and sometimes come out in the wrong way…” (emphasis added)

The media is having a field day with this, with Fox News apparently spending two hours replaying the quote but cutting it off after “typical white person.”. You can watch the clip for yourself here, if you can stomach it.

The corporate media, in its typically simplistic, anti-intellectual manner is using that “if a white person had said this…”argument. The point that they (deliberately) miss is that a white person would not say this because the history of racism in America has been against black people. Do we now need to re-write 230 years of American history just so we can satisfy the corporate infotainment’s need to be “fair and balanced”?

We’ve managed to somehow survive Bush’s eight years and most of the country is eagerly awaiting January 2009. A lot of people are now wondering how a man who uses “fuzzy math” as a scientific term or who boasts about “never reading” ever managed to get elected in the first place. The thing is, if we’re not mature enough to see past Obamas “three little words” in order to recognize the sophisticated and elemental truth of his argument, then we will continue to get the simple-minded leaders we deserve.

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March 21, 2008   |  Filed Under Political   |    Permalink


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