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Periphery

a record of mundane things that have stuck in my mind, and what they may mean.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Obama's speech

Everyone this morning is going rah-rah over Barak Obama’s keynote speech at the DNC last night. It was good: rhythmic, inclusive, mild. But I didn’t feel the included. Granted, he did have this passage: 

A belief that we are connected as one people. If there's a child on the south side of Chicago who can't read, that matters to me, even if it's not my child. If there's a senior citizen somewhere who can't pay for her prescription and has to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it's not my grandmother. If there's an Arab American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties. It's that fundamental belief-I am my brother's keeper, I am my sisters' keeper-that makes this country work. It's what allows us to pursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single American family. "E pluribus unum." Out of many, one.
But parts of the speech evoked negative vibes from me, even though I found them beautiful too. Look at this for instane:

Tonight, we gather to affirm the greatness of our nation, not because of the height of our skyscrapers, or the power of our military, or the size of our economy. Our pride is based on a very simple premise, summed up in a declaration made over two hundred years ago, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. That among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
 
This is beatiful, because he is trying to put pride in its rightful place...but Obama must know that the original meaning of that phrase was so narrow! He knows that even now, this isn’t what drives America. And then he said:


That is the true genius of America, a faith in the simple dreams of its people, the insistence on small miracles. That we can tuck in our children at night and know they are fed and clothed and safe from harm. That we can say what we think, write what we think, without hearing a sudden knock on the door. That we can have an idea and start our own business without paying a bribe or hiring somebody's son. That we can participate in the political process without fear of retribution, and that our votes will be counted-or at least, most of the time.
Okay, agreed. These are some of the best things in America—but I don't know about the true genius of America. Americans worked hard. They were blessed by Allah—and may be these blessings were bestowed because Americans were actually dedicated to the Allah to a degree and upheld the principles they believed were ordained by Allah—I don’t know…but may be?

But certainly Allah can take those blessings away. And it’s arrogant for any people to believe that they’ve wrought a genius unimaginable before them. Human-kind has had safety and prosperity before America and as much, or more, freedom of expression. America is not the greatest thing the world has ever seen. And the constitution and the founders didn't sit around and just extract a perfect system out of their gray white heads.

6 Comments:

At 5:18 PM, Anonymous said...

So for he is the only one who has put the plight of Arab-Amnericans on the convention map. Still no mention of Muslims and Islam. He is a civil right attorney's. At eid in chicago when he was introduced not in such a great way, he did mention his opposition to PATRIOT act. I think civil right issues have come up during major speeches as a major issue. I would wait to see what the main candidate has to say about it.
peace
someone you know

 
At 5:33 PM, Anonymous said...

Well, I think you are being slightly unfair "...he must know that the original meaning of that phrase was so narrow!"

I am not an absolutely stupid person but.. I (still) don't think that "all men" is really limiting at all..yes it doesn't say "all humans" and doesn't go out of the way to include minorities..

Why do you keep saying "Allah" -- isn't your mission in this country to get your countrymen (or should I say country-men+women+all minorities to avoid being narrrow) to understand Islam. Using an Arabic word for God really doesn't really make it super clear that the "God" people here have always been referring to is the same Being as what you are talking about....

 
At 9:07 PM, Anonymous said...

This nation's might is Allah's doing alone. He makes nations fall and rise in order to test mankind... but of course only a Muslim would be capable of reasoning this. a person like Obama can only attribute it to human genius.

 
At 10:49 PM, Sara said...

Thanks for the comments everyone. I really wish you'd leave your names as well.

To the very last commenter, I think that Christians should also be able to reason similarly.

To the second commenter, I think I’ll just stick to the best name for my Lord, Allah. I’ll occasionally interchange it so that people understand I mean the same thing.

 
At 1:24 PM, Anonymous said...

i liked all of it

 
At 1:12 PM, Anonymous said...

Check this out--from Chicago Tribune blogger Ellen Warren:
Ex-Texas Gov. Ann Richards said she'd been truly impressed with the performance of Illinois Senate candidate Barack Obama when he spoke to the convention. "I thought he was terrific," she said. "But I think any young person like that has to guard against too fast a rise because the way this game is played, the media will take you up and then take you down."

aaaaaahhhhhhh... I'm scared.
But I feel he's invincible, why?

 

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