I submitted this to a couple of places... and it never got posted... :x so i decided to post it onto my blog. I wrote my response literally the day after reading Obama's speech after he gave it. Honestly, I was frustrated.. and yes, this was before he told muslim women not to stand behind him during his campaign.... then apologized... (don't get me wrong.. i like obama... but you'd have to read on to get what i'm trying to say)
I write this article, not in anyway to condemn Senator Barack Obama for his speech made on March 18th of 2008, but rather to point out some difficulties regarding our American population. Senator Obama alluded to the fact that through narrating our stories to one another, one will be able to recognize differences, yet move towards the same goal. He calls our goal “a more perfect union”. He relays his story as being only one of many that people may identify with, yet as being very exclusive to the United States of America. He feeds the nation self worth, through these statements, but nevertheless, gives a remedial injection, mentioning that “words on a parchment would not be enough to deliver slaves from bondage”. Senator Obama gives his speech in order to defend himself against claims that have been circulating the media. Issues that may reflect him in a negative light, nevertheless, he casts a whole population of people into a similar shadow. What is going on?
Senator Obama is a leader, who is heavily influenced by his experiences, proposing solutions to an open-ended list of problems. He attempts to parallel his narrative of experiences to great American leaders such as Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, and Dr. King. Yet, his narrative goes haywire half way through his speech. Being a political leader who does not fit into the structured norm he must constantly be backed into a corner on the defensive. Senator Obama describes himself as being half black half white, raised both in a poor nation yet experiencing some of the best education, he places himself in the shoes of almost every person in the world. His speech seeks to unify the masses under the ideology that we all are working towards the same goal. He attempts to reconcile the differences, similar to Lincoln’s tactics of using religious rhetoric to unify the masses, but places a racial twist, nonetheless his attempts are self-destructing. Yes, we can be unified under a patriotic nation, a union, and work towards the same goals, yet his speech bends into becoming one of religious pedigree. Senator Obama is forced to defend himself against the allegations and rumors center himself based on being a Muslim. He is forced to strip himself from his father’s religious ideology of Islam, or what he calls “radical Islam”. The question is then, why do so in such an extreme?
Senator Obama sought to break the stereotypes that surrounded him about being affiliated in a black Christian nationalist movement, once statements made by Reverend Jeremiah Wright were publicized and linked to Obama. It is as though Obama wants to unite the people under the “union” regardless of race, yet if one falls into a category of being a Muslim or a Black Christian Nationalist, they suddenly cannot be a patriotic people, cannot adequately unite with others under a movement towards “a more perfect union.” In attempting to deconstruct stereotypes perpetuated in the media about himself, he reconstructs a whole new stereotype without even truly realizing it. Senator Obama, who has been heavily advocated for within the Muslim or the Black Christian Nationalist population are now being alienated do to his self-inflicted segregation of religious ideology. Senator Obama does not realize, that the majority of the political and religious leaders within the Muslim community and the Black Christian Nationalist community advocate for the same ideals he proposes, but are now excluded from reaping the benefits of the common good. He creates an “us versus them” mentality, just because of the sound bite caught from the words “radical Islam”.
I believe that in order for his speech to actually seek to unite the people, Senator Obama cannot use rhetoric that seems religiously exclusive. Yes, he may combat the rumors circulating about being a Muslim or coinciding with the ideologies publicized on Reverend Wright, but he cannot create a new stereotype. It is a simple as stating “I am not a Muslim” rather than labeling the Muslim population as “radicals”. We are in a point of time where the American public need to understand each others stories, just as Senator Obama relayed, that in order to overcome stereotypes and move towards “a more perfect union” differences must be recognized, biases must deconstructed, and the people need to build coalitions, networks, and ties regardless of race, gender, and religious affiliation, towards the betterment of society. I appreciate Senator Obama’s relaying of his story, because it makes the American public understand him a bit more, but it should not be done at the expense of excluding a whole category of people. We are an American public, regardless of race or religious ideology, and our goal is for the betterment of the society for the common good of all the American population.