A Movie Log

A blog formerly known as Bookishness

By Charles Matthews

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Thin Line

Obama's comments today about his respect for the Rev. Wright and love of his own white grandmother, despite their racial attitudes, reminded me of something I wrote in a review reprinted in this post:

I know these men [Mississippi sheriffs shown in a photograph], or the men like them who were my neighbors, my uncles, my friends' fathers and our Sunday school teachers and scoutmasters. When I was growing up in Mississippi, they would say such appalling things about black people that even to remember 40 or 50 years later causes my gorge to rise. Yet I also know that when they weren't spewing racist filth, they could be men one could respect and even love. It was as if, in the lives of these men, a tributary of human feeling had been dammed, grown stagnant and polluted, and its foulness had seeped out and corrupted a mainstream that should have run clear.

I think lots of people, especially white Southerners of a certain generation, know this feeling -- of affection and respect for someone with whom you disagree deeply and painfully on particulars, usually concerning race. It was thrilling to hear something similar articulated so well today by a candidate for president. Whether the sound-bite-obsessed media can comprehend and accurately report the subtlety of what Obama had to say is another question.

Update: Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow and Eugene Robinson do an excellent job of analyzing and commenting on this particular section of the speech.

The Speech

Does anything else really need to be said?