Obama held that all Americans are capable of working to perfect our union. Applying Chaïm Perelman’s theories, the ambition of Obama’s speech becomes more evident. They had to file for bankruptcy, and that’s when Ashley decided that she had to do something to help her mom. Many questioned whether his skin color would discourage the White majority from electing him. Unfortunately, that part was not made-up—race became such a huge part of that trial, for better or worse, that it defined the entire country. Of those who heard "a lot" about the speech, 51 percent felt that he had handled the situation well, as did 66 percent of Democrats (84 percent of Obama supporters and 43 percent of Clinton supporters). And he does not bring up a specific issue. The controversy caused widespread questioning of Obama’s viability as a candidate and resulted in Wright’s removal from the campaign. ", T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting, director of Vanderbilt University's Program in African American and Diaspora Studies, has edited The Speech: Race and Barack Obama's "A More Perfect Union", a collection of essays about the speech, with contributions from novelists Alice Randall and Adam Mansbach, theologian Obery M. Hendricks, Jr., newspaper columnist Connie Schultz and language scholar Geneva Smitherman. 1.). In the days following the speech, commentators debated (among other questions) its possible importance to American history, the extent to which Obama did or did not succeed in pushing questions about his association with Jeremiah Wright to the side, and the overall effect the speech would have on Obama's campaign and the contest with Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. Our parents have been telling us all about it since we were dancing around in light-up sneakers. Ultimately, Obama used the quasi-logical appeal of unity as a method for achieving perfection because he knew Americans would identify with its patriotic nature. The answers, as best we can tell at this stage, is that Obama heard some very harsh things said from the pulpit of Trinity United Church of Christ; that Obama heard them said a long time ago and probably repeatedly; and that he did little or nothing about it. That said, we have to talk about it in the right way. Despite the temptation to view my candidacy through a purely racial lens, we won commanding victories in states with some of the whitest populations in the country. We just have to carry the baton now. The… … Universalium, Barack Obama Tucson memorial speech — President Obama speaks in honor of the victims of the 2011 Tucson shooting. Appeals to the real highlight causal or correlated relationships through the use of examples, metaphors, and analogies to reason with an audience. 2006.  The Los Angeles Times cited the prominence of the speech and the music video "Yes We Can" as examples of the Obama campaign's success in spreading its message online, in contrast with the campaign of Republican (then) presumptive nominee John McCain. And they are a part of America, this country that I love. The speech’s title was taken from the Preamble to the United States Constitution. But if someone openly disagrees with them, they demonize that person with ridicule and infantile name-calling. ", CBSNews.com senior political editor Vaughn Ververs commented, "...a speech long on history was shorter on solutions. That anger is not always productive...it keeps us from squarely facing our own complicity in our condition, and prevents the African-American community from forging the alliances it needs to bring about real change. It's that he spoke as if our society was static; as if no progress has been made; as if this country — a country that has made it possible for one of his own members to run for the highest office in the land and build a coalition of white and black; Latino and Asian, rich and poor, young and old — is still irrevocably bound to a tragic past. Obama indicates that this is the time of being realistic by presenting a critical view of the creation of perfect union ideas. , In March 2008, ABC News released a story examining the sermons of Obama's long-time pastor, Jeremiah Wright, in which Wright denounced the United States and accused the government of crimes against people of color. Goodstein, Laurie; Banerjee, Neela (2008-03-23). Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love. Simmons stated it "was the most profound speech about race that I could recall in my lifetime. Thus, the basis for A More Perfect Union emerged. Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun and a founder of the Network of Spiritual Progressives, argued that "this has got to be more than a speech because these things don’t just happen spontaneously...There needs to be some systematic, organizational commitment to making this happen, with churches, synagogues and mosques working out a plan for continued dialogue. And nothing will change. This was one of the tasks we set forth at the beginning of this campaign – to continue the long march of those who came before us, a march for a more just, more equal, more free, more caring and more prosperous America. For the men and women of Reverend Wright’s generation, the memories of humiliation and doubt and fear have not gone away; nor has the anger and the bitterness of those years. It hasn't ever been about a single person doing all the work, or a single group of people making decisions—that wasn't the plan. Paine’s words were written nearly 240 years ago, but they are just as compelling today as they were then: These are the times that try men’s souls. As a result, today there are numerous social issues, such as the legalization of marijuana, gay marriage, and welfare reform, that could probably be more efficiently handled at the state level but with which the federal government keeps interfering. ", Charles Murray, author of The Bell Curve, wrote at National Review Online that "As far as I'm concerned, it is just plain flat out brilliant—rhetorically, but also in capturing a lot of nuance about race in America. But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren't simply controversial. ", Others applauded Obama's call for a national dialogue on race but hoped that words would be translated into action. He attempted to further strengthen his appeal using quasi-logical arguments. Of course. A More Perfect Union was delivered March 18, 2008 at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. The racial division was especially noteworthy, with 40 percent of whites expressing doubts in comparison to only 2 percent of African Americans. Another risk was weaving race relations into the framework of the speech, which brought feelings Americans may not have wanted to acknowledge to the foreground. You can do anything you decide to do. Susan B. Hansen of the University of Pittsburgh noted that "the dilemma for Obama is that the more he talks about race being unimportant or transcended, the more important it will become to the media and voters' perceptions." During Obama’s run for the Democratic Party presidential nomination, his (now former) pastor and campaign participant Reverend Jeremiah Wright was scrutinized by media and the public for inflammatory rhetoric made in past sermons accusing the American government of perpetuating racism and being responsible for the conditions that caused the 9/11 terrorist attacks. OK. 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, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? , Summarizing the media response to the speech, Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz wrote, "Not surprisingly, most liberals loved the speech and many conservatives — though not all — lambasted it. In countries like Switzerland, every man within a certain age range is required to possess a gun and to know how to use it, and Switzerland has one of the lowest gun homicide rates in the world. In its combination of objectivity and empathy, it persuaded Americans of all colors that he understood them. The profound mistake of Reverend Wright’s sermons is not that he spoke about racism in our society. They hoped that a more egalitarian atmosphere would characterize American culture. It should not, however, meddle in the affairs of all the citizens or control every aspect of their lives, as is done in many communist and socialist countries.”, “In recent decades we have seen significant deviation regarding the equal application of the laws, but again, it is not too late to rectify the situation if we the people of the United States take enough interest in our political situation to exercise our right as voters and put people in office who will uphold our Constitution.”, “The Constitution was written in such a way as to make this power grab almost impossible. We fought a king and the world's most powerful army to get our freedom so we could be equal. Many of the framers were familiar with the deleterious effects of class warfare, which was prominent throughout Europe. This was one of the tasks we set forth at the beginning of this campaign—to continue the long march of those who came before us, a march for a more just, more equal, more free, more caring and more prosperous America. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? ... the reaction on the left and right sometimes made me wonder whether these pundits were watching the same speech. His attempts to persuade the universal audience are revealed by examining Perelman’s concepts of appeals to the real and dissociation. But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we’ll be talking about some other distraction. At various stages in the campaign, some commentators have deemed me either “too black” or “not black enough.” We saw racial tensions bubble to the surface during the week before the South Carolina primary. They could not speak against the king or against the established church. I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy. Absolutely – just as I’m sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed. In a 2008 interview with Time magazine, he explained his decision to respond to Wright’s comments on such a large scale: “My gut was telling me that this was a teachable moment and that if I tried to do the usual political damage control instead of talking to the American people like… they were adults and could understand the complexities of race, I would be not only doing damage to the campaign but missing an important opportunity for leadership.”, Obama’s speech highlighted the issue of racial tension in America while also seeking to give context to Wright’s statements.
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