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Virgil

For Lote's Dream

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Ah Lote, your dream has come true. http://www.online-literature.com/forums/blog.php?b=6692.

But it is a good dream to come true. It is a great moment in American history. I did not vote for Barack Obama, but his election is a wonderful thing. I quote the opening words of President-Elect Obama's victory speech last night:

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.
I believe in America more than anything in the world and frankly so does my new President. Can you imagine that he a bi racial man, the son of an immigrant muslim father, raised by a single mother and grand parents, would be President of the United States? This is a great country and I am extraordinarily proud of our new President. I was very proud two years ago when an Italian-American woman, Nancy Pelosi, was elected to Speaker of our House of Representatives, the third highest position in our federal government. Again I didn't support her and still don't, but I, as an Italian-American, was proud of her accomplishment.

I did not vote for Obama not because he is black but because I fundementally disagree with his approach to government. I doubt I will support any of his initiatives but I may be surprised. Who knows? I am blessed to live in a great democracy that goes through incredible debate, most of it exessive in my opinion, but nonetheless a constant ongoing give and take of ideas and values and views, and finally the electorate has spoken. But despite my differnces I promise that I will defend him from unfair attacks like I do the current President, who I may be in greater sympathy. And I will never criticize him in front of a foreign audience. Our debate is our debate, and our dirty laundry does not need to be exposed to the world. Nothing upsets me more than Americans who criticized the current administration on fourms to non-Americans.

Something else Obama said last night that was noteworthy:

Let's remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House, a party founded on the values of self-reliance and individual liberty and national unity.
Of course Obama is referring to Abraham Lincoln, the founder of the Repubican Party and the President -Elect was both generous and accurate that the Party I identfy with strives for the values of self-reliance and individual liberty. If Obama promotes those values, then I will commend him.

And finally I hope the election of a black individual will dispell the perception that racism still exists in America. Oh sure there may be some kooks that still harbor prejudices, but they are irrelevant in the lives of anyone. Those are personal feelings, not institutional restrictions. [For an interesting read, check out one of my favorite African-American thinker, Shelby Steele: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/...6553798.story] I believe real racism ended at least twenty five years ago here. The fault lies not in our fellow American, but in ourselves to transcend.

With that, I hope the President-Elect enjoys himself for the next few weeks, and then the governing and debate starts again. The dust never settles in politics.

Updated 11-06-2008 at 01:04 AM by Virgil

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  1. motherhubbard's Avatar
    I was thinking today how we have a woman speaker of the house and a black president elect. I just think it’s amazing. I’m proud of him, too. It’s an amazing story. I thought that McCain’s speech was so beautiful. I actually cried a little bit. But, from where I stand racism is still a huge thing. When we moved here around 1980 one of the local diner had newspaper clipping from the area under this thick plastic coating on their tables. One picture was of a lynching. Yesterday when I was at the polls a lady told me I had better vote right and then she pulled me aside to tell me a racially derogative joke. This is a KKK stronghold and we don’t have ten black people in the county. I like to think that it’s not like that everywhere, but I wonder.

    This was a GREAT blog, Virgil.
  2. andave_ya's Avatar
    Virg this is indeed a terrific blog entry! You are the epitome of an American! I have a long comment in mind, but I'm tired so I'll wait for tomorrow when I can string two sentences together properly. Thanks for posting this.
  3. Shalot's Avatar
    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    If Americans can't articulate their feelings about an administration's policies on a forum that allows such discussions, then what was the point of that election yesterday, and what is the point of the first amendment? You're probably referring to some incendiary post in your blog, and you have a right to get angry about that because as you know, words have power. In general though, I don't see the problem with someone voicing their concerns about an issue. If an administration policies are detrimental, then the people have a right to engage in dialogue about it and either fix it, or discuss why the policies are in place. Or, maybe they just don't understand the issue, and when you're reading a post on a forum that you don't like, you have the opportunity to respond and try to clarify. If you can't talk about an issue, then you can't ever address it. And that brings me to racism.

    Racism lingers now, even though it is illegal to restrict a person from using a certain water fountain or restroom etc etc etc based on skin color. Yes, there are a lot of racist kooks and they come in all colors and its dangerous to bury your head in the sand about it. It lingers, but we're not allowed to call it what it is anymore and I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing. Sometimes, not talking about an issue or a behavior actually discourages that kind of behavior in some instances (raising small children comes to mind here) so maybe by not talking about it and discouraging that dialogue, we're hoping it will somehow fade away over time...

    Or, racism and other oppressive institutions remain unchecked and unchallenged when the peoples voices are silenced and that leads to social unrest and violence and other undesirable outcomes.
    Updated 11-06-2008 at 05:05 AM by Shalot
  4. sprinks's Avatar
    Well, not being an American and all, I don't have all that much to do with this all, but I do hope that Obama does the best he can for the country, and that our leader gets on with your leader. Howard tended to blindly follow Bush, and not many, if any, citizens were happy with it. Hence why we too changed government at the last election.
  5. PabloQ's Avatar
    The encouraging part of Obama's speech was his plea to both parties to act together to move the nation forward. Echoes of JFK. There just seem to be so many people in this country that still want to polarize people - black v. white, conservative v. liberal, etc. It would be my prayer that of all things Mr. Obama succeed at this one thing more than any other. Great blog, Virgil.
  6. andave_ya's Avatar
    A more patriotic entry one'd be hard pressed to find! You've splendidly summed up the best parts about America, Virg, I feel the same way you do about having a black president and a woman Speaker, but I in no way am happy about well, their "trimmings" as Lady Marian put it.

    The whole issue of racism has driven me nuts! I can't say racism doesn't exist anymore -- why else would there be such an elation over a black President -- but I have always wished that people would realize that there is no place for racism today; I've always found myself rolling my *internal* eyes and thinking "hurry up and get over it; racism is totally irrelevant to today." I certainly do hope that the election of Obama has finally obscured that card; that would be a positive victory to get that objection permanently laid aside.
  7. Virgil's Avatar
    Shalot, I in no way was proposing a law inhibiting American's speech. I was talking about self inhibiting. And I'm not saying one shouldn't talk about issues and ideas and problems. I'm not saying we don't have problems or can't learn from elsewhere. I'm referring to the bashing that goes on, and believe me there is a lot of America bashing by non-Americans. I feel it's disgraceful to participate and go along with America bashers. It's like someone was bashing one's parents or spouce or children. It should be a point of pride and honor and not accept it, or at least not to participate in it. Americans that do so strike me as self hating.

    As to the racism, I'm sorry I disagree. Perhaps there are still pockets of racism somewhere, perhaps in the south. I can't imagine it being institutionalized. I see people at where I work judged on their merit. I see in America that among the most successful and admired are Opra Winfrey, Tiger Woods, Colin Powell, Condi Rice, and now Barrak Obama. I can name a number of CEOs across the country who are African American. Frankly had he wanted it, Colin Powell could have become President in 1996. Like I said, the problem is more internal than external.
    Updated 11-06-2008 at 09:07 PM by Virgil
  8. Shalot's Avatar
    I guess this discussion comes down to how you define your terms and I don't feel like defining racism or compariing and contrasting different types of racist behaviors and beliefs. What amazes me is the number of ways there are to be one level of racist or another.
  9. Janine's Avatar
    Virgil, I commend you on your wonderful blog post. I agree with most of what you said, and I like the quotes from Obama's speech you posted. I also admired Obama for overcoming so much to get where he is today and was truly inspired and felt emotional listening to his acceptance speech - as one commentator said, 'it touched the right cord'. One thing stood out to me near the end and that was his sense of humility, also his saying that the victory belonged to all Americans, not himself. He included everyone in that speech; bringing together all parties and all ideals - talk about bipartisonship. At one point he said we were all Americans. I thought about your being Italian and your father and mother immigrants to this country. That had to be hard for them, too. I found Obama's speech inspiring, and inclusive of all people and all races, all nationalities that make up this great nation; and I felt so proud to be an American. I felt so happy to vote this year; I usually don't get so involved or feel strongly about politics, but this year I was totally impassioned about it. I did support Obama/Bidden, but I had my own reasons. I am proud to say, that I did watch all the debates with my family and much of the news coverage - all networks/internet, also. For awhile, I had become a 'news junky' like my mom, these past few months; hopefully I will get back to normal soon. I was determined from the beginning of this campaign, to learn as much as I could, about both of these extraordinary men and then make my fair judgement. I listened ardently to both sides; then made my decision based on their principals and their plans for the future of this great nation. I hope that our country sees the improvements it needs. God Bless America!

    I was also impressed with the fine speech that John McCain gave election night. He said so much and make the most sense to me he has made during the whole campaign; his words were fair and brought the nation together as did Obama's. No doubt John McCain is a fine individual. He also made me feel proud to be an American and have the right to vote. Politics should always have fine moments like these at the outcome.

    No, how true, the dust never settles and apparently, from what I have read and seen on TV and the internet, Obama has already begun the job of president elect. He was briefed not 24 hours, after being elected. I think his job will be an emorous one and one few of us can even fathom. I have to hand it to anyone left with the current state of crisis in this country and the global problems. I doubt, Virgil, Mr. Obama will get much rest from here on. Even his kids have secret service agents to accompany them everywhere they go. I wish him and his family the best.
    Updated 11-07-2008 at 12:54 AM by Janine
  10. mortalterror's Avatar
    Obama is just window dressing. We have a diversity of genders and skin tones in Washington, but we don't really have diversity of ideology. We don't have truly representative democracy. American's like to vote character in politics because they don't often understand issues; so frequently they won't even vote their own self-interest. I don't know who Obama is going to be good for but it's not me. He didn't raise a single issue which I cared about. President elect Obama is your typical conservative centrist Democrat with no better command of the issues than any in a long line of failed former candidates. If the people really wanted change, they would have voted for a third party candidate or one of the more polarized members of their parties. I speak of course of Bob Barr, Ralph Nader, Brian Moore, Ron Paul, and Dennis Kusinich.

    In spite of all the reasons I really dislike Obama, and they are too many to get into here, I had actually made up my mind to vote for him for about fifteen hours. Then that infomercial of his came on and it made me so mad. I thought to myself that he could have solved the problems of the people in his video for a fraction of what it cost to exploit them. His campaign cost $750 million dollars. That's more than ten dollars paid for every vote he got, more than two dollars for every American citizen. Is that what it costs to buy the American presidency these days? I just hope he gets better value for his money than Didius Julianus.

    As for race not being an issue, I was turned off by the cynical machiavellian maneuvering of Senator Obama. He didn't throw flame in public but everybody knows that when you have a dog you don't need to bark. He didn't have the courage to come out and accuse his opponents himself; so he lets low level peons and folks unattached to his campaign throw the mud for him without getting his hands dirty. Meanwhile, Bill Clinton had too much class to respond to his hateful allegations and went back to saving millions of black Africans with his Clinton Global Initiative. Senator McCain went home to his adopted black daughter, and the media continued to pound him. There was a big attempt to paint all conservatives who wouldn't vote for Obama as racists, but I think that it was Obama's dirty tricks department planting people in McCain rallies to shout those inappropriate things we heard.

    No, I don't think this is the end of race is America, and I am filled with deep foreboding about the many real problems which continue to plague our nation, which I feel that president elect Obama is too inexperienced, too self-serving to solve.
    Updated 11-07-2008 at 07:19 AM by mortalterror
  11. Lote-Tree's Avatar
    Ah Virgil,

    Yes. It has come true!!! for once!!! :-)

    But it is a good dream to come true. It is a great moment in American history.
    I would also say Virgil it is also a Great Moment in World History! :-)

    If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.
    Those were fantastic words. I too was moved by it.

    I believe in America more than anything in the world and frankly so does my new President.
    And the world too now Virgil, the world too!

    Just imagine if we have a Obama for the world and then we can call ourselves the Citizens of the Planet Earth...but thats a another dream Virgil, another Big Dream in The Sky. And may be this would be a Starting Point in History, a plantation of the first seedling towards that Big Dream.

    Can you imagine that he a bi racial man, the son of an immigrant muslim father, raised by a single mother and grand parents, would be President of the United States?
    Yes, it is unbelievable! He represents every aspect of humanity.

    This is a great country and I am extraordinarily proud of our new President.
    And you should be Virgil! And you should be! And the world is now too!

    Again I didn't support her and still don't, but I, as an Italian-American, was proud of her accomplishment.
    Exactly! You don't have to agree with someone to acknowledge their achievements.

    Nothing upsets me more than Americans who criticized the current administration on fourms to non-Americans.
    I would say Virgil. America is very important to the world and world will always want to know everything about America. So don't worry about that.

    Something else Obama said last night that was noteworthy:
    I would also say that McMain's acknowledgement and his gracious acceptance of his defeat brought out the greatness in him too.

    And finally I hope the election of a black individual will dispell the perception that racism still exists in America. Oh sure there may be some kooks that still harbor prejudices, but they are irrelevant in the lives of anyone.
    I would say America has redeem itself. It took a while but it has finally come. It has rejuvenated the American Dream and finally "above else been true to it's Ideal".


    Abraham Lincoln - Republican - The Great Emancipator, can now finally say : Mission Accompolished!


    So go America. You have done yourself and the World Proud!

    World shall learn from you eagerly as we did before. Be that Moral Leader of the World once again. Take us to the Stars...we are waiting!

    Take care you all :-)
  12. Janine's Avatar
    Exactly, Lote - I applaud your post. Very well put, indeed. The whole world was watching this election and globally it has impacted many countries. Let us hope to move forward in the next 4 yrs and beyond, not with violence but with clear-sighted level headed decision making. This is the true strength of America.
  13. Virgil's Avatar
    Shalot: I'm sure there is personal racism out there, but really it's inconsequential in the lives of African American. Hey I know there are people who hate me for whatever reason, perhaps right here on lit net. But look, to feel paralyzed by someone who hates you for whatever reason, to feel like you need a crutch, is self defeating and self limiting.

    Janine, becoming a news junky is horrid. I go through cycles like that and it feels like crap. You become a slave to the news and frankly a puppet to their manipulations. What I do is read commentators and thinkers I respect as they present different angles on various ideas. If I miss a news story, who cares. It's not like I can affect it.

    Mortal you probably went more political than I care to go on lit net. Let me just say that I don't believe in third parties. All they do is prevent an elected official from having a majority of voters backing him, and therefore a complete loss of power. I'm not sure what you're advocating, but if you're advocating why parties don't completely do what they say during campaigns, you have to realize that no single person has the power to execute his complete will. There are 465 Congressmen, 100 Senators, and an administration with a complete cabinet. Policy requires comprimise. There is a saying that campaigning is presenting in black and white and governing is in grey. That is why I never vote on any single policy. I never expect a candidate to deliver on specific promiises per the campaign. They don't have the power to deliever. I vote on a direction. Well, Mortal, let's join together and be a part of the loyal opposition.

    Lote, what a great comment. Thank you. It brought a tear to my eye. Please stop by more often.
    Updated 11-07-2008 at 09:46 PM by Virgil
  14. Janine's Avatar
    Well, gee, Virgil, you mad at me or something? You totally ignored the rest of what I wrote; I was being complimentary to your fine post. Becoming a 'news junky' was really a joke and one tiny percent, of what I said. I simply watched coverage on both sides, read tons of accurate commentary and made my own assessments. I felt that the process this time around worked well and was fair; people who never voted before voted and that is commendable. It seemed to all go smoothly. I don't know but I am proud to be a part of a nation where people will actually wait in line for 4 and 5 hours to exercise the priviledge to vote.

    We may never be a pure 'democracy' in practice, Mortal, but we are in ideology and that is saying something. We strive for the best and that is also something worth noting.
  15. Virgil's Avatar
    No I'm not mad Janine. I guess I forgot to thank everyone again. I felt pressed to respond to a fair number of comments. There wasn't anything else in our comment I disagreed with.
  16. Janine's Avatar
    Oh, so you only respond if we disagree?..hahaha...you are too much Virgil. It took me awhile to write my post and I was very proud of your comments in your blog entry. I guess that is basically what I wanted to say to you. I am glad to be your friend.
  17. Shalot's Avatar
    In response to Virgil who said "I'm sure there is personal racism out there, but really it's inconsequential in the lives of African American" :

    That is not what I heard from my black classmates when I was enrolled in a college course where we discussed The Meaning of Race, Racism, Discrimination, the definition of race, and racist behaviors and attitudes. In your Caucasion, Italian American opinion, personal covert racism is inconsequential in the lives of African Americans or blacks (I don't know what word I'm supposed to use, and quite frankly I'm tired of worrying about it), but that is not what I heard from my classmates. Now, you can respond to that again and repeat what you've said again, but I'm telling you now, that's not what I heard from everyday ordinary black students. But, it must just be because this is the South - the sunny sunny confederate South that I, as a German, Norwegian, Irish, appalachian, part Cherokee Indian, love. God Bless the USA. I'm tired of this discussion.
    Updated 11-08-2008 at 12:03 AM by Shalot
  18. Janine's Avatar
    Shalot, I do agree with you on some of your points. I live in a predominently white neighborhood/town and when some of my neighbors spied a black individual years back and even to this day in this town, they were really nasty and unfair to them. I found that to be so appalling. Once this very kind woman across the street took in an African American man who deperately needed help - he was a hard working man down on his luck and very nice to talk to, but he could not afford a roof over his head. I don't know the whole story, but we woke one morning to find her house egged; shortly after he moved out to live homeless. It was a sad day I thought and sad reflection on my neighborhood. Things are slowly changing here, and I live in a town in the North (not the South), but the attitudes of some residents are quite poor and shameful in this day and age. I admit to my own racial prejudices in the past shamefully; and not against the black community at large, but the people living in the next town to our town, which is a predominately black community and basically has large sections of getto and is very poor, unfortunately producing many dangerous gangs and drug, crime issues. It is a broken town (once was a hub of great commerce) and people have tried for a long time to pull that town out of poverty, but rebuilding can't happen over night - it took years of neglect and lack of good education for the town to get to this point. I feel deepest sadness for the good upstanding hardworking African American's that are forced to live there and survive, because of their limited resources. The people in my town fear our small town will become as that town (like it will be infected), but that is pure ignorance. It's true that gangs and crime are high there. It is sad that there are good hardworking people who live there, as well. Sad also that here in my town, there are people who are not treated with due respect, just because of the color of their skin. I guess you could say, I see first hand the prejudice that still exists. Therefore, I don't see how prejudice has been abolished just yet in this country, but I have high hopes that it will be in the future.
    Updated 11-08-2008 at 01:13 AM by Janine
  19. SleepyWitch's Avatar
    In principle I agree with Shalot (about people's right to express their dissatisfaction with government policies etc), but I'm glad to see your patriotism extends to presidents of the party you don't personally support.
  20. Petrarch's Love's Avatar
    Great blog entry, Virg. It is a huge statement about how far this country has come in terms of race, and I think the election of a multi-racial president is already a tremedous inspiration for a lot of people out there who really thought making it all the way to the top was just not an option for them or for people like them. I also really do hope that Obama can be a uniting figure in his presidency, and that we can all think of ourselves as Americans first and members of political parties second. Regardless of how you felt about him, Bush's presidency was clearly a divisive one, and I was hoping that whoever was elected this week would try to mend some of those rifts.

    As others said in their comments, I also was impressed by McCain's concession speech. I wish we could have seen him speaking more like that throughout the campaign. I thought both men were very respectful of their opponent and of opposing views in the election night speeches and that both equally demonstrated a deep love of this country that I found inspirational.

    As for racism not existing in this country, you can't be serious. Absolutely I agree with you that we no longer have formally institutionalized racism and that things have become radically more equal than they used to be in terms of job opportunities and so on. I think that this election itself will be a huge turning point for change in how people feel about race and will help to empower minorities in this country. I agree, that in many ways race is increasingly not an issue, and I think you're right that it would be deeply unfair for us to have a prominent reputation on the world stage as a racist nation (certainly it's a problem in lots of nations). There's no doubt that I have good friends who are black and who, generally speaking, have had the same kind of opportunities that I've had. However, I disagree that racism is not still among the social problems our nation faces. While it's no longer universal, there is still evidence of very clearly marked social inequality among different races (why is it that you walk into an impoverished neighborhood on the south side of Chicago and see and almost 100% black population if there's no prejudice or racial issues anymore?), and even apart from the issue of black ghettos, there are still plenty of incidents of prejudice and racism in our society. I know that my black friends have had problems that I simply would not have had just because of the way that I look. I agree that there is tremendously less racism than in the past, but I can't quite imagine how you could say there is absolutely none.
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