News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Sept. 30, 2016: The purpose of Obama’s America is not to praise President Barack Obama – too many other do that all the time. But here, week after to week, to highlight all the ways Barack Obama has fallen short as President.
What many of us expected was what he might have accomplished if he were a break from the past were he the Change Maser he promised and not the protector of the Status Quo Presidents are expected to be.
So this is a very rare week in Obama’s America. Praise for President Obama!
Praise for him as a symbol rather than action on his part.
Last Saturday, the National African American Museum opened in Washington, DC, and how perfect it was that an African-American President was there to lead this celebration.
The museum began before Obama became President. He had no impact on its development, approval or construction but on the day it opened it was an African-American President dedicating it. That was perfect!
It is why I am devoting this episode to his eloquent remarks. So here goes:
“Today, as so many generations have before, we gather on our National Mall to tell an essential part of our American story — one that has at times been overlooked — we come not just for today, but for all time.”
“Below us, this building reaches down 70 feet, its roots spreading far wider and deeper than any tree on this Mall. And on its lowest level, after you walk past remnants of a slave ship, after you reflect on the immortal declaration that “all men are created equal,” you can see a block of stone. On top of this stone sits a historical marker, weathered by the ages. That marker reads: “General Andrew Jackson and Henry Clay spoke from this slave block…during the year 1830.”
I must make one critical comment here. President Obama’s hypocrisy is never completely absent. Above, he notes that Andrew Jackson was a slave owner and slavery advocate, yet for almost a year Obama was determined to keep Jackson on the front of the $20 bill but eliminate the Hamilton $10 until he finally relented under blistering criticism.
Back to President Obama’s memorable speech! He just makes it worse with his next line that he ever favored the Jackson $20.
“I want you to think about this. Consider what this artifact tells us about history, about how it’s told, and about what can be cast aside. On a stone where day after day, for years, men and women were torn from their spouse or their child, shackled and bound, and bought and sold, and bid like cattle; on a stone worn down by the tragedy of over a thousand bare feet …
“For a long time, the only thing we considered important, the singular thing we once chose to commemorate as ‘history’ with a plaque were the unmemorable speeches of two powerful men.”
Yet, more about Jackson’s slave block. He is obviously fascinated with it.
“And that block I think explains why this museum is so necessary. Because that same object, reframed, put in context, tells us so much more. As Americans, we rightfully passed on the tales of the giants who built this country; who led armies into battle and waged seminal debates in the halls of Congress and the corridors of power. But too often, we ignored or forgot the stories of millions upon millions of others, who built this nation just as surely, whose humble eloquence, whose calloused hands, whose steady drive helped to create cities, erect industries, build the arsenals of democracy.”
“And so this national museum helps to tell a richer and fuller story of who we are. It helps us better understand the lives, yes, of the President, but also the slave; the industrialist, but also the porter; the keeper of the status quo, but also of the activist seeking to overthrow that status quo; the teacher or the cook, alongside the statesman.
“And by knowing this other story, we better understand ourselves and each other. It binds us together. It reaffirms that all of us are America — that African-American history is not somehow separate from our larger American story, it’s not the underside of the American story, it is central to the American story.
“That our glory derives not just from our most obvious triumphs, but how we’ve wrested triumph from tragedy, and how we’ve been able to remake ourselves, again and again and again, in accordance with our highest ideals.
“Yes, African Americans have felt the cold weight of shackles and the stinging lash of the field whip. But we’ve also dared to run north, and sing songs from Harriet Tubman’s hymnal. We’ve buttoned up our Union Blues to join the fight for our freedom. We’ve railed against injustice for decade upon decade — a lifetime of struggle, and progress, and enlightenment that we see etched in Frederick Douglass’s mighty, leonine gaze.”
“We are large, Walt Whitman told us, containing multitudes. We are large, containing multitudes. Full of contradictions. That’s America. That’s what makes us grow. That’s what makes us extraordinary. And as is true for America, so is true for African American experience. We’re not a burden on America, or a stain on America, or an object of pity or charity for America. We’re America.
“The story told here doesn’t just belong to black Americans; it belongs to all Americans — for the African-American experience has been shaped just as much by Europeans and Asians and Native Americans and Latinos. We have informed each other. We are polyglot, a stew.”
Here is another of Obama’s curious lines in the speech …
“A museum alone will not alleviate poverty in every inner city or rural hamlet. It won’t eliminate gun violence from our neighborhoods, or ensure that justice is always colorblind. It won’t wipe away every instance of discrimination in a job interview or a sentencing hearing or folks trying to rent an apartment. Those things are up to us, the decisions and choices we make. It requires speaking out, and organizing, and voting, until our values are fully reflected in our laws and our policies and our communities.”
“Those things are up to us, the decisions and choices we make. It requires speaking out, and organizing, and voting, until our values are fully reflected in our laws and our policies and our communities.”
That is the point President Obama and why you are such a failure! You have not used the power you have in many ways you should have.
And here is yet another contradictory line from the speech.
“The very fact of this day does not prove that America is perfect, but it does validate the ideas of our founding, that this country born of change, this country born of revolution, this country of we, the people, this country can get better.”
Again … “this country born of change, this country born of revolution, this country of we, the people, this country can get better.”
Too bad President Obama did not do better and bring real change with his Presidency, let alone a positive revolution.
So I tried my best to make this an episode completely in praise of President Obama but he just would not let me do so even with this speech.