Obama At Morehouse

Every now and again, an event happens that makes you see much more clearly how divorced from its previous ideals the GOP has become. Obama’s speech at Morehouse was something every conservative has always asked of African-American public figures. We have in Obama a black man raised by a single mother who is now, as even his critics acknowledge, a dedicated father to two daughters, whom he obviously adores. If the right is concerned about the black family, they should be falling over themselves to celebrate what Obama’s family is, and means. But they don’t. It would kill them to say anything gracious about this president.

Drudge yesterday cherry-picked only those parts of the speech that could divide people racially, only those moments when Obama dared to recognize the discrimination and difficulties of young black men – before urging them to overcome them. There’s a racial nastiness here that decent voters still hear and that Republicans have deployed constantly. Their historic refusal to cooperate even one iota with the first black president betrays, it seems to me, a staggering lack of grace and historical sense.

But as with everything Obama says, the speech balanced calls for equality with an admonition that personal responsibility is the inextricable complement to equality. And he did something more in the interstices. A member of the Morehouse faculty writes:

Morehouse is a college dedicated to African American men, the only one of its type in the country.  To hear the first African-American male U.S. president address a class of 500+ African-American men was moving, especially as he touched on his personal struggles of not having a father in the home.

But the reason I’m writing to you though is because he gave two shout-outs to gays.  He encouraged the young men to be a better husband to their wife but then added “or to your husband or partner”.  Later, he told them that their experiences as African-American men should make them more empathetic to others who feel left out, such as Hispanics because of their immigration status, gays and lesbians because of who they love, and Muslims because of how they worship. The ease with which he address gay issues now is striking to me.  Just like with the second inaugural address, it’s just a part of his normal speaking.  It is even more noteworthy because Morehouse once had a reputation as a homophobic place due to several factors, including a student beating about ten years back.

This speech reminded me once again why I supported this man and continue to do so.

Me too. While Washington obsesses over scandals that so far have no connection to him, the president stays calm and carries on.