Monday, January 19, 2009


Yesterday, Obama addressed the nation on the Lincoln Memorial, referring to Dr. King's dream. Obama events have uncannily coincided with landmarks for Dr. King, with his acceptance happening on the anniversary of the "I have a dream" speech, and his inauguration happening the day after MLK Day. Yet today, as the administration urges us to celebrate with quiet service, the lack of deeper connections between MLK and Obama becomes more noticeable. Obama's role model for the transition period has been Lincoln, who ironically had some nasty things to say about black people. And while Obama may owe his oratory style to Lincoln, he is generally considered a moderate while King was something of a radical. Some have observed that "Obama is a viable African American candidate because he has steadfastly refused to deal with the issues Dr. King was dealing with at the end of his life, even though they are just as relevant today as they were forty years ago." While the election of a black man is certainly a good thing, we must remember that it isn't some magic wand that makes racism disappear. And while it's foolish to suggest that Obama become a King-style radical, there will be times when he must take actions which stray from his moderate tendencies. As Obama said in his speech last night, "never forget that the true character of our nation is revealed not during times of comfort and ease, but by the right we do when the moment is hard."

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