2008 Presidential Election, Race and Racism
Professor Vernellia Randall
Speaking Truth to Power!

Obama's racing the wrong way


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Michael Duncan
Indiana Daily Student (Indiana U.)
3/18/08 U-Wire 00:00:00

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- As I drove along I-74 from Cincinnati to Indianapolis on Saturday, I casually scanned the radio to pass the time. I only got through three stations before I picked up a broadcast of a Sen. Barack Obama speech. He spoke passionately to a packed gymnasium in Plainfield, Ind., about all of the struggles facing our country.

After listening intently for a while without the distractions of a television broadcast, which inherently clouds our judgment, I realized something: This man is brilliant, this man is articulate and this man has no idea what he's doing.

It made me feel bad for the people standing in that room, caught up in a candidate-loving fervor, fawning on this good-looking man while hanging onto his every word. It reminded me of a scene from the film "Varsity Blues" when the star quarterback gets up to address the student body before homecoming.

Despite supporters' reactions to the speech, Obama did a couple of things wrong in my opinion. He relied on race far too often to make a point in his speech. Leave it to Obama to cite then-presidential candidate Bobby Kennedy's Indianapolis elegy after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. to talk about the future of America. Such impassioned talk loses its personal touch when people find out you lifted similar rhetoric from Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick's "Just Words" speech. It makes you look like an opportunist only interested in capitalizing on your race.

His naivete on foreign policy also shined through when he mentioned returning the war on terror to its original strategy in Afghanistan. The idea that we can withdraw troops from Iraq while protecting its future for democracy is laughable. This would only serve to further destabilize the region. Perhaps the junior senator from Illinois should have suggested that we petition the almighty United Nations for its gracious support.

He did something that I respect, however. When a young man asked how he would better teach black history in schools, Obama responded by saying that we need to teach more about other minorities and groups as well, including women and unions. I think whether black, white, Democrat or Republican, it is important to know where we've come from so we know what we are capable of accomplishing. I just don't think Obama is the man to do it simply because he's black and "Hey, isn't it about time?"

Obama can't win unless he transcends race in the minds of voters. This trouble with his pastor who spouts anti-American and anti-white rhetoric coupled with his seemingly unending references to race is not helping. He should have long ago addressed the topic of race and moved on. If he would move on, the American people would too.

But instead, he reinforces racial identity throughout his speeches as he did in Indiana, and it seems many Democrats think they have a moral obligation to vote for a black man to prove that they aren't racist. Considering race as a factor in nominating their candidate might allow the Democrats to give themselves a collective pat on the back, but it won't make Obama a good president.


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