On September 12, 1960, JFK went before the Greater Houston Ministerial Association, put his Catholicism on the table and challenged the country to face up to its misperceptions about Catholics and to move beyond them in the general election, which they did.
Obama made a similar appeal today. He put race on the table and challenged the country to have a conversation about racial misperceptions and to move beyond it when considering his candidacy for president.
How the country responds remains a question.
Bloggers around the globe have responded to Obama's speech. Some feel that it won't make much of a difference. The Angry Arab (Lebanon) is in that camp:
Regarding the speech by Obama on race. When the White Man praises a speech by an African-American on race as “powerful” or “mesmerizing” or “electrifying”, it only means that the speech did not challenge or criticize or provoke the White Man. Good night.
Some bloggers simply have their doubts. Sandmonkey (Egypt) is one of them:
Me? Well, I liked it. It was a good speech and Obama is a terrific politician. However, I do wonder if people would be talking about how great this speech was if (and yes I am going there) Obama was white, his pastor was white and his pastor's remarks were sometimes racist against blacks. Saying that black racism is a reality and part of the african-american experience is true, because, let's face it, we are all racist to one degree or another. The flaw is, however, that we do try to disavow that. That while we do recognize that racism has been part of our experience growing - not just the african-american experience-, we also recognize that its bad and that we should try our hardest not be this way, and even shunning it when we can. Obama is not saying that. He is saying that it's part of the African-American experience and that he can not disavow that anymore than disavowing the entire black community. I would find this personally troubling if I were a US voter. Other people don't seem to for some reason. They also don't seem botherd with the idea that this is the man who introduced him to christianity, that this is the man who baptized and spiritually guides his daughters and this is the man that he won't cut out of his life, no matter what.
Many bloggers, on the other hand, found the speech moving. Doc Strangelove (Bangladesh/U.S.) believes in Obama and the difference his speech could make:
It has been said that his campaign transcends race, but today Barack Obama transcended his campaign by speaking to America about an issue that has the potential to deeply divide us or to finally unite us. He spoke to the fulcrum between our hopes and our fears. Our hope that we will leave for our children a society that will indeed judge them by the content of their character and our fear that we will bequeath a country and a world divided by the color of their skin. Barack Obama has now bet his entire candidacy on the gamble that America and its future is a place of hope and not of fear.
I place that bet with him because I want to believe that my child, a child of color living in America, will grow to adulthood in a country that will continue to work toward its promise of a more perfect union.
Daniel Lubetsky (Israel) also supports Obama and his words:
Anyone who didn’t listen to Obama’s speech on “race” and “religion” in Philadelphia today (March 18 2007) MUST do so. It proves the depth of this candidate, and the hope he can bring to America and the world.
This guy is such an exceptional human being, such an elegant “mentsch”, such a sincerely noble politician, truly dedicated to uniting us for a common cause.
From India, Pickled Politics thinks the speech will make a difference:
It’s a long speech but well worth watching. Obama shows why he’s the superior candidate to Clinton; he understands nuance and is brave enough to express it. Even in a dirty campaign like this one.
To conclude, spykedup! concisely argues Obama's candidacy:
Look, it’s no secret that I digg Obama, but this speech has just made me gain more respect for the man. It’s not only the media wagging their tongues, but it’s the way he has handled himself and the way that he is tackling the issue of race. He is diplomatic in his approach, yet honest. He’s not skittish about things.
If anyone is going to deal with racial issues in the US, in a fair and honest way, it’ll be Obama. He does not deny the anger that still hangs in the air, and at the same time, he does not overlook the progress that his country has gone through.
He is the man who will “Change the Conversation”…. and if I may be so bold to say - I think that he’ll be America’s Mandela in my opinion.