The conservative media is desperately clutching at straws for they see their guy floundering badly on the campaign trail. In light of this, they have released what they think is the counter to Romney’s 47 percent of the population are “mooching victims” video: one of president Obama speaking to a mostly black audience. They found it to be so urgently relevant, that CNN had it as breaking news on Anderson Cooper's AC 360 Tuesday night.
The 2007 video has the prerequisite Reverend Jeremy Wright to give it that full “bad Obama” effect. Apparently, then Illinois Senator Barack Hussein Obama, (giving you the full scary name; the right would thank me for it) was addressing a predominantly black crowd at Hampton University and spoke some harsh truths. It is now political suicide to speak of Rev. Wright favorably, but back then, he introduced him as a dear friend and mentor.
Back then, the hoopla over his association with the very “un-American” man of God didn’t explode yet and it seems Senator Obama was having a “real raw, authentic moment.” He even sounded different.
But before Obama introduced the now persona non grata Reverend, he spoke passionately to his audience explaining how the Federal government waived certain restrictions for New York during the horror of 9/11 so that aid could flow to that state quickly, as they rightfully should have. He said the government did the same thing for Florida during that state's hurricane disaster but for New Orleans during the devastation of hurricane Katrina, no such waiver was forthcoming.
He spoke about the impactful Los Angeles riots after the Rodney King’s verdict—adding that “much of what we saw on our television set 15 years ago in Los Angeles, was a lingering, ongoing, pervasive legacy –a tragic legacy of of the tragic history of this country. A history that this country has never fully come to terms with.”
Obama continued, “This is not to excuse the violence of bashing in a man’s head or destroying somebody’s store and they life’s work—that kind of violence is inexcusable and self-defeating but it does describe the reality of many communities around this country—we not only have the scares of the riots but how in too many places across the country, we haven’t even bothered to take the bullet out; we have left the bullet in.”
He then segued into the New Orleans disaster of hurricane Katrina, saying, “Look at what happened along the Gulf Coast –people asked me whether I thought race was the reason the response was so slow. ‘I said no, this administration was color-blind in it’s incompetence’ but everyone here knows that the disaster and the poverty happened long before the hurricane hit. All the hurricane did was make bare what we ignore each and every day which is there are whole sets of communities that are in poverty—whole sets of communities that don’t have meaningful opportunities—this disaster has been going on for generations. All the hurricane did was pull back the screen.” (Click on the above video for more).
The right-wing media has seized upon this video as evidence of Obama’s “reversed racism.” Is telling black folks what they already know; live breathe and experience on a daily basis, racism? Is speaking the truth—that there is discrimination which helps breathe and exacerbate generational poverty, racism? The conservative argument is, if a white candidate had spoken like Obama did in that video, he would have been crucified.
This is the most authentic I have heard Obama. To compare this to a white president or candidate speaking to a mostly white audience about white ills is to miss the complexities of race, class and the epic fail to bridge the gaps in this country. I always say we can only evaluate history and present day successes or failures from our vantage point. Let’s not pretend the view is the same from every vantage.