Thursday, November 11, 2010

Obama's Indonesia speech bridges a divide

Obama's Indonesia speech bridges a divide

By Edward Schumacher-Matos
Washington Post, Thursday, November 11, 2010

Barack Obama this week gave one of the most powerful and convincing speeches of his presidency, rising above the morass of policy minutiae to connect with people's emotions.
Too bad he gave the speech in Indonesia.

Obama spoke on religious and ethnic tolerance in the world's most populous Muslim-majority country. Coincidentally, the speech was delivered a week after the normally sensible residents of Oklahoma gratuitously attacked Muslims by voting to ban sharia, or Muslim religious law. They did so even though no one in this country was trying to introduce it and no Oklahoma court is known to have cited it.
A federal judge this week issued a restraining order temporarily blocking the measure, but it comes on top of an ugly campaign season of baiting Muslims and immigrants, of tension-stoking by some Fox News commentators and of a sense of insecurity in the land - about terrorism, about lost jobs and about what many Americans see as threats to our culture.

In Jakarta, Obama dropped the cool, professorial tone that has marked his presidential talks. While he usually argues analytically well, he has often failed to appeal to our better spirits, whether for the health of our citizens or the health of our economy. Obama recognized as much in his post-mortems of why the Democrats crashed in the midterms.

But perhaps he felt liberated by returning to the land where once he was just a boy named Barry. He soared with inspiration, delivering a message designed for the Muslim world but as applicable to our own:

"Across an archipelago that contains some of God's most beautiful creations, islands rising above an ocean named for peace, people choose to worship God as they please. Islam flourishes, but so do other faiths. Development is strengthened by an emerging democracy. . . . Here we can find the ability to bridge divides of race and region and religion - by the ability to see yourself in other people."

For complete article, click here
Transcript of Obama's Speech in Indonesia
Obama makes long-awaited return to Indonesia - Yahoo News
Barack fever grips Indonesia -Australian
Obama's in Asia, but where's his foreign policy? - Foreign Policy
Tifatul handshake incident goes global - Jakarta Post
In defense of Obama's Muslim outreach - By Marc Lynch, FP

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