Thursday, July 24, 2008

Obama Speaks in Berlin

By: Harry Waisbren

Barack Obama made a speech in front of 200,000 in Berlin today that I found to be a stark reminder of the promise that a president Obama holds---not only to our nation, but to the world at large. I couldn't suggest watching this whole video enough, if only to ensure that you can fully bypass the inane analysis from our out of touch beltway political class.

Chris Bowers discussed today how our Beltway Stars have not yet recognized that our country has moved on past their xenophobic hysteria, past the days of freedom fries and general euro-bashing. This speech, more than anything, represents the potential coming to power of all the best that is inherrent in America's pluralistic upbringing. All the best that is inherrent in Obama's upbringing. All the best of what America can hopefully share with the world once again:

More than a mere presidential candidate or a return to power to the Democratic party, Obama represents the hope for a change in America and in the world at large. A hope for the return to American power that stems not merely from our military superiority, but from the preeminence of a moral code codified in our Declaration of Independence. These are ideals that have changed the world far more than America the country, as they are ideals that inspire hope in all men, a hope in the potential of mankind.

Like Martin Luther King Jr., I see no separation between the current anti-war and civil rights movements. Like King, I believe that the Iraq war is symbolic of the greater "malady of the American spirit" that is anethama to freedom, democracy, and the American Dream. Obama took the opportunity to discuss this theme in Germany, although not in nearly the controversial fashion that King engaged in his Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence speech. If Obama would have done that, he would have had to watch his reputation be destroyed by the same establishment that denigrated King's character for this very speech...a political hit job that led directly to his assasination one year to the day from when he first broke his own silence about Vietnam in this masterful and historic speech.

It was no coincidence that Obama chose to speak in Berlin, as Obama discussed how this very struggle was symbolized by the fall of the Berlin wall not too long ago:
"The walls between old allies on either side of the Atlantic cannot stand,"
Obama said, speaking not far from where the Berlin Wall once divided the

"The walls between the countries with the most and those with the least
cannot stand. The walls between races and tribes, natives and immigrants,
Christian and Muslim and Jew cannot stand."

Ever since I heard Obama speak at the 2004 Democratic National Convention I have been astonished by how effectively he is able to express the ideal that is America, and the hope--shared by those across the world--that better days are yet to come. The hope that is the American Dream.

As Obama closed this speech, I recognized, once again, how as often as progressives may disagree with him, we must remember that Obama's embodiment of the best of America may accomplish far more than Obama the politician ever could on his own:

People of Berlin - and people of the world - the scale of our challenge is
great. The road ahead will be long. But I come before you to say that we are
heirs to a struggle for freedom. We are a people of improbable hope. With an eye
toward the future, with resolve in our hearts, let us remember this history, and
answer our destiny, and remake the world once again.

I firmly believe that it is unamerican to have faith in any politician, but I am unabashed in expressing the hope that I have for Obama. This is the hope that he can succeed not only at restoring the American Dream for our country, but at restoring the dream of equality and freedom of thought for any person, no matter their station in life, across the world. As much as I worry that my hope is misguided, it is within speeches like this one today that make me believe that, despite the audacity of hope, it can be accomplished if we work together.

"E pluribus unum." Out of many, one.

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