Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Obama's Race Speech

Barack ObamaThis is not a political blog, nor do I have any desire to turn it into one largely because the world is full of such blogs and I know very well that there's very little that I would be able to add to that wide discussion. In like manner, I have few enough readers and there's nothing like politics when it comes to alienating others.

Given that, I want to make it clear that I am not endorsing any candidate on this blog. I trust that you don't need hear my decision in order to reach your own.

That said, I really have to say that I was exceedingly impressed with Barack Obama's speech in which he defended his association with the Reverend Wright. As someone who has spent much of his life in words, I can appreciate quality oratory and I think that this speech proves that Obama is probably the best political orator we've seen in decades.

Of course, there is no necessary correlation between being a good orator and being a good leader. Indeed, honeyed words can lead a nation down a sour road and history is filled with such examples. At the same time, I do think that there is a positive correlation between the ability to speak clearly and the presence of a strong intellect (while hastening to add that simple ineloquence is not a definite sign of stupidity -- there are many people whose wisdom is hidden by a stumbling tongue).

I am especially impressed by what the speech says about race in America. I have, myself, tried to articulate some of these concepts with considerably less success. I am impressed by the way that it both illuminates and transcends much of the real and even reasonable suspicions that divides America. I have long felt that the charge of racism has often been deployed simplistically and that prejudice is often a much more complex and subtle thing than is credited and that saying that something, or someone, is racist is too much of a binary categorization to be either meaningful or useful in the vast percentage of cases where the word is used.

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