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Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Obama Speech - Reactions

Two days after Obama's speech on race and politics in America, religious groups and academic bodies are enthusiastically embracing his words. Universities are moving to incorporate the issues Obama raised into classroom discussions and course work, and churches were trying to find ways to do the same in sermons and Bible studies.

Ed Schultz

The Rev. Joel Hunter, senior pastor of a mostly white evangelical church of about 12,000 in Central Florida, described Mr. Obama’s speech, in which the Democratic presidential candidate discussed his relationship with the former pastor of his home church in Chicago, as a kind of “Rorschach inkblot test” for the nation.

“It calls out of you what is already in you,” Dr. Hunter said, predicting that those desiring to address the topic would regard the speech as a spur, while those indifferent to issues of race might pay it little heed.

Dr. Hunter said the Obama speech led to a series of conversations Wednesday morning with his staff members. “We want for there to be healing and reconciliation, but unless it’s raised in a very public manner, it’s tough for us in our regular conversation to raise it,” he said.

Rev.Joseph Lowery

Janet Murguia, president of The National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic advocacy and social welfare group, hoped that Mr. Obama’s speech would help “create a safe space to talk about this, where people aren’t threatened or pigeonholed” and “can talk more openly and honestly about the tensions, both overt and as an undercurrent, that exist around race and racial politics.”

On the Internet and in many areas of the traditional news media, such a discussion was already taking shape. Some four million people watched Mr. Obama’s speech live, and it is now the top YouTube video. The speech has stimulated passionate discussion on scores of blogs of varying ideological tendencies, and an article about the speech in The New York Times has provoked more than 2,250 comments.

Roland Martin

On the ABC talk show “The View” on Wednesday morning, the co-hosts discussed the substance of Mr. Obama’s speech and its impact on the presidential campaign. “Finally we can talk about” race “without being afraid we are offending” others, one co-host,Barbara Walters, said, while Whoopi Goldberg said she “felt he was talking about stuff that we tiptoe around.”

Some conservative commentators, including Bill O'Reilly on Fox News, found positive elements in the Obama speech, which Mr. O’Reilly called “a mixed deal.” He criticized Mr. Obama for not repudiating Mr. Wright’s views in stronger terms but also said that Mr. Obama “was right that race remains an unresolved problem in America on both sides.”

Katie Couric

Around the country, ministers of the United Church of Christ, which is Mr. Obama’s denomination, are recommending in Holy Week newsletters that their congregants read or view Mr. Obama’s speech.

One message, sent from the Union Congregational Church in Montclair, N.J., said, “No matter what your party affiliation or your political persuasion, the conversations about race that have been elicited by the campaign are important.”

The message also cited a brief prayer, “Lord, help me to remember we are all your children,” and expressed the hope that “we take the high road” in addressing the issue.

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Blogger Shimmy said...

I thought McCain's speech Tuesday was amazing. I completely agree with John McCain's repudiation of Glenn Beck for torturing and killing all those dogs (pit bulls). Of course, some pundits are bound to say McCain didn't go far enough, or that he really didn't distance himself from Beck. But I disagree: it was an excellent speech.

title="comment permalink">March 20, 2008 9:03 PM  

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