Monday, August 23, 2010

this is a moment for a great speech

Dear President Obama,
Yesterday afternoon I had lunch with several older folks-- a brilliant and thoughtful 72 year-old among them (who as a young man had written his thesis under the mentorship of Mr. H. Kissinger). Before lunch began our host shared with us several news stories he'd printed out from the internet. I was horrified to learn that there are churches across the country holding 'Burn the Qu'ran Parties' on September 11th in protest of the so-called Ground Zero Mosque in Lower Manhattan. I was also frustrated with myself for being so consumed in my own personal bubble that the most I had engaged with this issue was appreciating a detail of FOX's hypocrisy that Jon Stewart had pointed out on The Daily Show a few nights before.
We were all united in our horror and the older folks at the table went on to discuss the intense need for a great speech right now. Having lived through the Kennedy years, the Civil Rights Movement, and Vietnam-- I realized how powerful a role great speeches have played in highlighting atrocities (as well as the redress of grievances) for this older generation-- and I tried to remember the great speeches that have played a role in the shaping of my social conscience. Your speech on Race in Philadelphia from 2008 is probably the speech of my life so far. (I was born in 1980.) I wrote about it here and think about it at least once or twice a week.
I know you are swamped and you are taking a much-needed vacation at the moment but I ask you to please consider making a speech about this issue. I live in New York now and I lived in NYC on 9/11 and I can assure you this Community Center would be a wonderful source of pride for most New Yorkers.
I'm sure you read it already but since this is an open letter-- I found Frank Rich's op-ed quite insightful. Read it here.
Thank you for your time.

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