View to Washington: Bill and Barack
BY Kerry Eleveld
July 17 2009 12:00 AM ET
When he took the stage at the NAACP centennial celebration Thursday night, President Barack Obama delivered to us the passionate candidate we have been missing.
Discrimination still thrives today, he thundered, before painting a broad and inclusive picture of the indignities and those who suffer them.
"By African-American women paid less for doing the same work as colleagues of a different color and gender," Obama said. "By Latinos made to feel unwelcome in their own country. By Muslim Americans viewed with suspicion for simply kneeling down to pray. By our gay brothers and sisters, still taunted, still attacked, still denied their rights.
"On the 45th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act," he continued, "discrimination cannot stand. Not on account of color or gender; how you worship or who you love. Prejudice has no place in the United States of America."
This was the clarity we have been craving, the tenacity that has faltered amid his over-handled, obsessively scripted presidency.
The night Barack Obama was elected to office, I imagined that here was a man who was uniquely situated to tear down divisions, not just among black and white, have and have-nots, but even among the hearts of those who have lost their way in the search for dignity. Why people find joy or comfort or necessity in denigrating another's humanity in order to exalt their own, I will never know. Perhaps Obama, I thought, could conjoin the country in common cause.