Also, a crucial but non-specific allusion to the way black anger "keeps us from squarely facing our own complicity in our condition," and an anti-victim paragraph about
taking full responsibility for own lives - by demanding more from our fathers, and spending more time with our children, and reading to them, and teaching them that while they may face challenges and discrimination in their own lives, they must never succumb to despair or cynicism; they must always believe that they can write their own destiny.
All good, but Obama can be very pointed and specific when he wants to be (e.g. "purchase racial reconciliation on the cheap"). Here he keeps the anti-victim language at a muffled level of high generality. Obama doesn't talk about never-married mothers, for example, or non-marrying non-working fathers--all things Bill Clinton was able to mention. Obama talks about general "responsibility" and a failure to spend time reading. (Also note that it's not necessarily a violation of liberal orthodoxy to say that welfare policies worsened the black family problem--many liberals lamented that welfare checks went mainly to mothers, supplanting the role of fathers. The liberal solution, though, was to put the fathers on welfare too.)
Troublesome Equivalence II
I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother - a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street .... [E.A.]
The most disastrous sentence in the speech. If Obama's saying that those who fear young black men on the street are racists, the equivalents of Rev. Wright in offensiveness, then he's just insulted a whole lof ot people. If he loses the votes of everyone who fears young black men, he loses the election. People fear black men on the street--as even Jesse Jackson once momentarily admitted--because they cause a wildly disproportionate share of street crime. Does Obama want to be the candidate who says that thought is verboten?
Later, he says:
So when [whites] are told ... that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time.
Who would tell them such a thing? Obama, a dozen paragraphs earlier, dissing his own grandmother.
In general. Obama's explanations of black anger seem intimate and respectful. His explanations of white anger seem distant and condescending. ("They are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams slipping away ....") Unfortunately for him, it's white votes he needs.
Troublesome Equivalence III**: Drawing his central parallel between often-counterproductive black anger and white anger, Obama declares: