[The Times, U.K.]
Obama's Words of 'Courage' that
European Politicians Should Hear
"Obama's speech was an extraordinary speech for a politician
anywhere in the world - and not only American voters should listen to it
By Patrik Etschmayer
Translated By Patrik Etschmayer
March 25, 2008
Switzerland - Nachrichten -
Original Article (German)
It was a speech that could make history, and in fact
it may already have. It's a speech that sent shivers up the backs of listeners and
has been downloaded by millions over the Internet.
It was a speech that stands head and
shoulders above the speeches of other politicians. Not only
because of its subject matter, but because of the honesty with which Barack
Obama tackled the subjects of race and political cynicism in the United States.
The reason for Obama's speech was
something that really could have - indeed was likely to have - put the nail in
the coffin of his campaign. The pastor of his congregational church in Chicago,
the man that had wed Obama to his wife and had christened his daughters, a man
with whom Obama was very close indeed, had delivered a sermon about war,
poverty and racism that culminated with the impassioned plea of "God
damned America." In the aftermath, Obama distanced himself from Pastor
Wright and his angry homily, but had refused to disown him, just as he couldn't
disown his White grandmother who had uttered racist stereotypes to him that
made him cringe. Because his Pastor - just like his Grandmother - is an expression
of America's contradictions, wherein fate is an amalgam of horror and triumph,
and where hardship and success are inextricably intertwined.
To even approach the subject was already
extraordinarily courageous. But Obama went farther and did something
politicians almost never do: He called his unfolding difficulties by name - in
this case, the latent racism on all sides and the stereotypes that are so
easily resorted to on these occasions.
He reminded his listeners of the
all-to-easily forgotten fact that only fifty years ago, racial segregation and
discrimination were the rule in the United States and that many African
Americans are still burdened by the legacy of this oppression. He spoke about
how the dialog between the races still continues to avoid this toxic legacy and
how the anger continues to simmer, emerging only when a person is among their
He also spoke of the rage of the White
lower and middle classes, who had never themselves
perpetrated injustices against Blacks but who now watch as African Americans
are given preferential treatment when applying for jobs and entry into
universities or who live on social assistance, while White fears of violence
are labeled "racist." And he spoke of how politicians exploit and deepen
these prejudices in order to attract votes.
The question now is whether one wants to
dwell on these differences until Election Day so as not to address the real
problems that need resolution, only to come up with another diversion next time
around - in four years. Or whether one can say: "Not this time!," and
address real problems like the credit crisis, education, health care and
unemployment - and debate them, not just to pass the buck to someone else but
to begin finding lasting solutions.
Posted by WORLDMEETS.US
The crazy thing about this speech is that
Obama didn't try to present himself as a political messiah, but rather just as
a politician - not looking for a scapegoat or trying to further divide the
electorate into separate groups that can be played off one another for
Although parts of his address were very
specifically American, it was nevertheless an extraordinary speech for a
politician anywhere in the world - and not only American voters should listen
to it attentively. Because he spoke directly to what disgusts many people about
politics in Europe: cynicism, filth and out-in-out dishonesty. On the one hand,
the nasty smirking; on the other, the oh-so affected and constantly complaining
politicians who pander to a special clientele just looking for a narrow
majority - and even when part of a coalition, making sure that sufficient
animosity continues to simmer. Politicians that shun
uncomfortable truths only to look for fitting scapegoats.
Now, one might argue that these were just
words. But what words! The author cannot recall a single European politician
ever daring to make such a speech. Because this speech demanded one thing:
courage. And that is a characteristic rarely encountered on the political
CLICK HERE FOR GERMAN
SEE ALSO BY PATRIK ETSCHMAYER:
No Slap for Bush; Pope's Unspoken Endorsement of John McCain
America's Financial Crisis: It's Time to 'De-Deregulate'
Bush and bin Laden: Voices from the Crypt
Spitzer's Fall: A Tale That 'Never
One Can't Compare Russian and American Democracy
Hillary's Tragedy ... 'Sorry Hillary!'
Obama's 'Noble Blow'
[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US March