Had it not been for all the myriad little things I have needed to do these past few days, I might have found the time to sit down and read Senator Obama’s much heralded speech on race and so write the post I want to write about why, in my mind, the speech dodges the real issue and raises serious questions about the charismatic presidential candidate’s leadership abilities.
In the world of instant communication, sometimes, when you have (what you believe to be) a great thought, the likelihood is that someone else has it as well. So, if you delay in posting on this topic, someone else will. And in this case, someone else did. In a piece on National Review on Friday, Stephen Sprueill pretty much echoed my thoughts when he wrote:
What bothers me is that we don’t have any evidence â€” either an old letter or a statement from the campaign â€” that Obama ever confronted his friend and tried to change his mind. Such confrontations can grate on friendships, if they happen frequently enough, and especially if they concern trivial matters. But here we have a situation where a friend of Obama’s was spreading poisonous beliefs to a congregation that included Obama’s own daughters. Obama was in a unique position to lead by asking his friend to reconsider some of his hateful and paranoid ideas.
Given those hateful and paranoid ideas, I had a brief thought which I wanted to whip off before I set out for an event I’m coordinating this evening. This weekend, reading a post on Instapundit about the speech and a “conversation on race,” I realized that if we need to have that conversation, we begin with the greatest speech on race in American history, indeed, one of the greatest speeches in all American history, so I did a brief post linking Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
If we have a conversation on race, we should have an idea of the goals of that conversation. And Dr. King verbalized them:
Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.
And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
. . . .
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
Contrast that hopeful vision with the Reverend Wright’s angry rhetoric and you see the true greatness of Dr. King. Dr. King, born 14 years before Wright, saw the same kind of prejudice which, in Senator Obama’s view, justified his pastor’s rage. Yet, Dr. King did not give into despair.