Barack Obama's "A More Perfect Union" speech appears to have raised Obamania to new heights with its so-called frank discussion of race relations and politics in America. Andrew Sullivan of The Atlantic could barely contain his excitement, calling it "searing, nuanced, gut-wrenching, loyal, and deeply, deeply Christian," as well as, "a speech we have all been waiting for for a generation."
I guess I've been waiting for something a little different then because -- while this speech certainly had some strong elements -- I thought it came up short in achieving its aim of unity.
Obama is dead on when he says "the lack of basic services in so many urban black neighborhoods... helped create a cycle of violence, blight and neglect that continue to haunt us." He's also right in saying that "to wish away the resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns widens the racial divide and blocks the path to understanding."
But he fails -- like most Democrats -- to extend this notion of understanding the root cause of evil to countries on the receiving end of U.S. foreign policy. In equating "a view that sees white racism as endemic" to "a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam," Obama shows a major inconsistency -- if not a hypocrisy -- in his notion of unity.
It is well known-particularly by the CIA term "blowback" -- that terrorists do not start conflicts, but rather rise from them, as unintended negative consequences of our actions. Radical Islamic groups have grown in number as a result of suffocating occupations like those of Israel in Palestine and the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama is not only wrong in saying that Radical Islam is the root cause of conflict in the Middle East, but he is also attempting to strengthen the deadly tie between the U.S. and Israel -- a tie that is already bound by billions of dollars in aid and military equipment every year.
Furthermore, to call Israel a "stalwart ally" at a time when Palestinian citizens in the West Bank are subjected to system of apartheid and the entire population of Gaza -- some 1.4 million -- have been denied access to electricity, fuel and essential supplies is downright shameful. Is that befitting of someone who is supposed to represent "hope" and "change"?
Obama supporters like the aforementioned Sullivan ignore these telling inconsistencies and instead fill us with fanciful lies. Even the usually atheistic social news community Reddit took note of Sullivan's blog entry, quoting him on its front page as saying, "This is a candidate who does not merely speak as a Christian. He acts like a Christian."
What could be more in keeping with the "love your enemy" teachings of Jesus than voting to approve every war appropriation since 2005, refusing to commit to getting our troops out of Iraq by January 2013, and talking about increasing a defense budget that is already greater than the rest of the world combined?
If we can ever hope to achieve "a more perfect union" then we must start thinking outside the realm of national borders.
Bryan Farrell is a New York based journalist and activist, whose writings have appeared in The Nation and In These Times. He can be contacted at www.bryanfarrell.com.