Sunday, March 23, 2008

The resonance of Obama's 'The Speech'

My initial reaction reaction to Obama's landmark speech on race in America was that history would probably accord it a place alongside a couple of other historic American speeches. One of the most impressive things about Obama's speech was how frank and comprehensive he tried to be on the issue, in a thirty-odd minute span.

Here's an interesting take on the speech that shows how well it resonates with someone coming at it from a 'foreign' viewpoint....
(via 3QuarksDaily) This piece by Shadi Hamid in the Washington excerpt......

---"While Barack Obama's speech on race earlier this week was geared primarily toward domestic concerns, as an American of Middle Eastern origin, watching from a café in Jordan, I was struck by the possibilities it offered not only for race relations at home, but for our relationship with Arabs and Muslims abroad"---
---"....Obama is right that in order to address that anger and radicalism -- whether it comes from the young Muslim underclass or in a milder form from pastor Jeremiah Wright and others in the black community -- we must understand the context in which grievances came to be and target the conditions that continue to nurture those grievances. On Tuesday, watching his speech from Jordan, I felt for the first time in a while that we could begin coming to terms with the past and accounting for the injustices committed against those at home, and those abroad, who are waiting to see what America will do next"---

I would be remiss if I didn't point out that Robb, over at Tokatakiya, foresaw something like this back in January in his post endorsing Obama. The relevant excerpt from Robb's post....

---"President Barack Obama's name and face on TV screens across the Middle East, Africa, and Asia will fundamentally reshape the way America is viewed abroad. They will see that, for once, America elected a more diverse leader. One who for many, will seem much more similar to them than anything they have ever seen from an American president. This will all happen at a time when much of the population of developing countries (especially Arab and African countries, not to mention Iran) are under the age of 25 and vastly more impressionable than they will be in 8 more years. I don't think it is an exaggeration to say the best thing we can do to win hearts and minds in the War on Terror would be to have Barack Obama as President. We have a singular opportunity for this right now that will pass away in a short time"---

This was my reaction to Robb's comment then:
---"Robb makes several good points, but that one is particularly perceptive. I don’t think most people appreciate how powerfully and how well the election of Barack Obama to the presidency will resonate with the rest of the world---and not just because of his ethnic origins, but in equal measure because of how well he represents himself and the USA"---

Shadi Hamid's article seems to echo these hopeful views on the international front.

The bottom line: Barack Obama has the makings of a great statesman and leader; the other remaining presidential candidates don't.

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