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Obama’s Cairo Speech

posted by Ethan Nichtern

If you want a good link to Obama’s Cairo Speech, NPR has one. President Obama’s Middle East Speech should, at the very least, demonstrate again that our 44th President is nothing like any U.S. President we’ve ever had. I mean that in terms of both depth and surface.

04prexy-600.jpg
(photo courtesy of NY Times coverage
or as my dear friend put the caption for this photo this morning,
“I Love Our President.”)


We can argue about his policy depth (I have been less than happy with
some of his recent choices), but his surface appeal is massive. Having
somebody who does not look caucasian representing us is of massive
value to the more than seventy percent of the world that is not white.
Looks are important, and having a president who looks like the world on
the world stage is no small thing, even if it may be a skin-deep
feature.But surface matters, presentation matters, and old white dudes
just don’t sell well outside our borders. Sorry old white dudes, we can have some of you representing us, but the time has passed when you are our primary global voice.



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Your Name

posted June 4, 2009 at 11:21 am


I’m sure there are many that have thought and acted on what you have written but…..
“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”
and most importantly
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
- Dr. Martin Luther King.
Full video on msnbc. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3036789/vp/31101164#31101164
Malakim Salam President Obama Malakim Salam.



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Damaris

posted June 4, 2009 at 11:23 am


I wrote the above comment



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seth

posted June 4, 2009 at 12:07 pm


I agree with the surface of your comment but I think some of the Obama love (and I’m right there with it) is getting in the way of the facts on the ground. The realities are his look, words , etc.. are important and definitely help… However, the complexities of the Middle East not to mention Pakistan/Afgh. are deep and varied and speeches aren’t going to solve many of those issues. Most people should not forget under the globally minded, intelligent leadership of Pres Clinton there were still multiple attacks (attempt to take down the WTC, Yemen) that came from these regions, widespread unrest and volatility.
Will Obama be able to stand up to Mubarak, Israel, the Saudi Kingdom etc.. ?? unfortunately I have my doubts – democracy has only served our interests when we like the winner. One of the root causes that is rarely addressed (at least in my opinion) is the unemployment of young males across the middle east (and Pakistan/Afgh) the numbers are the highest in the world (ranging from 25-45%).
so young men, aimless, jobless, dictatorships = ???



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Lynn

posted June 4, 2009 at 1:16 pm


As a Buddhist, I am so pleased that he is starting with words. The next step is to listen. I think it’s naive to expect instant results, but he is watering the seeds of peace and understanding. Who knows what will sprout?



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Lynn

posted June 4, 2009 at 1:19 pm


Seth,
I agree with your concern over joblessness, and young men having too much aimless time on their hands. But who can fix this? I don’t think it is the US.



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seth

posted June 4, 2009 at 5:46 pm


Lynn,
I agree and it is good to start planting the seeds as you say. I also agree it is a bit duplicitous of countries/people to on the one hand constantly say the US is a bully, arrogant , etc… (which surely we have been at times) and on the other ask Obama to solve everything.
I also patently reject how much time is continuously spent on overseas issues when severe injustices go unmet here – anyone every been to Obama’s neighborhood of the South Side of Chicago? where children get murdered at an alarming rate just going to school. gang violence is out of control, etc… just the tip of the iceberg.
I think we are on the right path and I am eternally optimistic about our country’s ability to wake up from its stupor and elect such a positive force, though I do worry about the priorities and attempt to do everything and be everything to everyone.



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Ethan

posted June 4, 2009 at 6:15 pm

Sandy

posted June 5, 2009 at 11:06 am


I agree that President Obama is a wonderful breath of fresh air to the American and international political scene. It is obvious by the opposition that he is receiving from the establishment of conservative white men society that he has struck a raw nerve with them which in my opinion is very encouraging. All of the rhetoric thrown at him about him ruining our country is just distorted views due to fear of change. We are so fortunate that the American people finally woke up and elected someone that really represents us all and not just the rich white male.



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P. Harris

posted June 5, 2009 at 11:27 am


Palestinians must abandon violence. Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and it does not succeed. For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America’s founding. This same story can be told by people from South Africa to South Asia; from Eastern Europe to Indonesia. It’s a story with a simple truth: that violence is a dead end. It is a sign neither of courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus. That’s not how moral authority is claimed; that’s how it is surrendered.



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Charles

posted June 5, 2009 at 2:01 pm


I disagree with the author of the article on many points:
I find that all Obama has IS “surface appeal”. If you look at what Obama says vs. what he does, they are usually two different things. He is very dishonest in that aspect—he is a typical politician.
In his speeches around the world, Obama repeatedly dismisses the greatness of this country (USA). He apologizes for our past behavior while ignoring the fact that the USA is the largest contributor to all types of human aid on this planet.
Lastly, the writer of this article sounds like a racist. He is obsessed with the color of Obama’s skin. Remeber what MLK fought and died for: Isn’t it time that the world judges people for who they are, not what they look like?



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charleen m

posted June 5, 2009 at 2:13 pm


I’ve met the Dalai Lama, and we’ve elected the best president I think we’ve ever had – Barack Obama – and I am soooooooooooo Thankful. I didn’t think I could ever be as proud of our country as I was when we elected Obama, and even Indiana went Blue! Wow, and it’s just beginning. He is REAL, no games. I’ll continue to give him my full support.



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Olga P.

posted June 5, 2009 at 2:17 pm


P. HARRIS,
Can not agree with you more. But unfortunately those who commit to violence do not think the same way, nor morally, spiritually developed enough and are still in the medieval cloak.
We can talk to them all we want but that is not their language. Thus, they will not understand ours. The only way to shut them up is by their own means.
Here is smaller scale and parallel example that can be found in millions. Years ago and unknowingly, we moved in the apartment above neighbors that played music extremely loud at any time of the day and night. We had a new born at the time with whom it was simply impossible to stay home. For months I would come down and beg them to turn it down. For months I would sit under their doors breast feeding my child; for months I would call police. I even wrote them a letter. But nothing worked. Fed up to the point of insanity I took a brick and in the day light broke each window of their apartment. No complains fallowed and the music stopped.



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Mary

posted June 5, 2009 at 2:34 pm


Looks are deceiving. Remember the words of wisdom to “never judge a book by its cover”. More important, we need to listen to what he says, not how he says it. He is just another empty suit who is reading speaches written by someone else, because he has nothing to say.



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Your Name

posted June 5, 2009 at 2:55 pm


Mary,
If you think this president is like any other than you have not been paying much attention. It’s easy to find fault. Some people just like that better than hoping for change. Never has any president before gone into muslim territory and spoken so honestly.
Perhaps you are like I was until this past election. I would have never believed that we could vote a change. It was revolution or nothing. But look what we did. America is truly the greatest country in the world. Try rejoicing in that instead of worshiping your cynicism.



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Ethan Nichtern

posted June 5, 2009 at 3:41 pm


Hi Charles, thanks for dropping by. Tho I don’t believe it’s racist to say that appearances still matter in this world, and the Appearance of America is especially important in the non-American, non-caucasian world, which is the majority of the human race. As a student of Dr. King’s life, I don’t believe he was working for a world where appearance is non-existent, but rather where the content of character is the prime factor in considering a human being’s development. That said, we live – and may always live – in a world where appearances matter more than ever, given our steroid-driven, surface-based media, the art of appearance is more, not less important than in Dr. King’s time. Not sure if this is good or bad, it is just the way it is.



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Richard Steele

posted June 5, 2009 at 4:47 pm


Speaking as on old white dude and a beneficiary of white male privilege, we have screwed things up enough, Barack Obama is hope for the 21st century.



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Damaris

posted June 5, 2009 at 6:44 pm


“We who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive.”
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.



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seth

posted June 5, 2009 at 7:40 pm


Unfortunately, Ethan is correct, in our 24/7 culture appearance is more important than ever. Also, blacks were not given full rights in the US until the US was embarrassed on the world stage as the Soviets (and Vietnamese) began using our oppression of our own minorities to point out the hypocrisies of our policies. Read the trilogy of books America in the King Years by Taylor Branch – absolutely fascinating history that comes alive and still resonates.
That being said, I do think some of the Obama criticism is fair. He is an amazing politician/speaker but where’s the beef? Not to harp on it, but the quality of life for his former neighbors on the South Side is going down not up and where are the grand plans to solve this – where are the historic addresses and apologies to the people of New Orleans? guess that won’t bring the world applause… how to stop the growing inequity in the US? the current eco. crisis is a golden opp. to change the game and I believe the status quo is being preserved not threatened.



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Lauren

posted June 6, 2009 at 10:47 am


I believe appearances are important, but if a White president had quoted the Koran multiple times in Cairo, said a few phrases in Arabic and stood up for the rights of the Palestinian people, I think the response would have been almost the same.



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Your Name

posted June 6, 2009 at 1:11 pm


Obama’s an amazing man and a true leader … with vision, wisdom and integrity that I have not witnessed from a modern leader before in my generation ( I was born in 1961). What some people get and others just don’t is his authentic nature, his genuiness. If you arent genuine, authentic, and compassionate, then you will just think he is a fraud, and self serving person like yourself. We can only see what we have imagined ourselves to be. If you see only skin color, social position and financial advantage, then you basically are blinded by your own limited perspectives. As Obama has said, he can’t change the world alone, he “shares” with us, a vision of a better one and with all of us “working together” maybe he can make something happen. Its up to all of us, not just our leaders. By our own wisdom, personal beliefs, actions and involvments, we elect the men and women who will lead us. A gov by the people reflects our own virtues and errors in thinking. Do we want leaders who will be held accountable? Then we need to be held accountable for our own actions. Do we want fair and conciencious leaders who have everyones best interests at heart? If we do, then we must also be that way ourselves. As long as we think we are better than “others” and maintain elitist attitudes, ie: by religion, race, financial and social positions …then we will have leaders that reflect our own “ignorant” values and agendas. Not only am I thrilled with the kind of man (internal/character) we have elected, but we Anglo Americans truly were in need of another representative “type” from the human gene pool, lol. I think most of us have just about had it with … The “Good Ol Boy, my way or the highway Club” … lets hope this is the tipping point to a new beginning.



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Your Name

posted June 7, 2009 at 8:59 pm


I love liberals like “Your Name”(hereinafter “YN”) and am not surprised that YN’s chose not to identify him/herself. It’s interesting that YN asserts that those of us who don’t agree with YN’s assessment of Obama are “self-serving”. How open-minded? I must also congratulate YM on including more cliches in less space than I believe I’ve ever seen. Finally, am I wrong or is YN a bit on the judgemental side?
Randy



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John

posted June 8, 2009 at 11:01 am


I really do wonder about the “Randys” out there. Could it actually be that their genuine opinion and attitude is anything less than grateful and amazed that we–a Nation who twice voted a man such as “W” into the leadership position of our country–should now have a man with the intelligence, articulation, calm, rational and uncomonly informed mind with the rather unique (and needed) background to take his place. Can you not SEE him? If not then what is blinding you? I’m making this point, or, rather, this attempt at turning your mind just a little towards the positive, because I do believe that this is not just a good time but the time to put every bit of support we can behind our Leader–and I do believe he is worthy of the trust. This is not a time for more fault-finding, hair-spliting, ideological bickering. Perhaps you disagree? Perhaps you just like to fight?



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