Shame on you if you have not yet taken 55 minutes to watch the video of President Barack Obama’s speech to the Muslim world – indeed, to the world – at Cairo University yesterday. In my opinion, this is one of the most important speeches ever delivered by an American president. It would be a shame to depend on soundbites and the opinions of others and deny yourself the experience of this remarkable plea for peace.
I watched the speech live on C-SPAN early Thursday morning. Throughout, the speech was met with thunderous applause, and as Obama ended by quoting from the Holy Qur’an (Koran), the Talmud and the Holy Bible, the audience of 2,500 leaped to its feet in a sustained standing ovation.
Immediately following the speech on C-SPAN, “Washington Journal” callers – Democrats, Republicans and Independents – praised the president’s remarks, and many who called in were “weeping with joy” over what they had just heard.
For me, it was a genuinely moving experience.
This was a major speech by the president of the United States on one of the most critical issues facing the world. According to a Washington Post reporter stationed in Cairo, the city's streets were empty as its citizens gathered around bar TVs in muted and rapt attention.
So, why won’t Americans take the time to hear what their president had to say?
I was recently invited to join a “friends group” on Facebook. This is a site where someone can type "I joined a pottery class," and get a multitude of in-depth reactions such as “Way to go!” It's a text-messaging, "tweeting on Twitter" one-liner world. So, this is what it's come to.
Following what I truly believe to be an historical moment, I checked network morning shows for reaction to Obama's words. Just the usual celebrity gossip, chitchat and recipes. So, this is what it's come to.
I read the Associated Press roundup of world reaction to the speech - a report seemingly skewed negative. So, this is what it's come to.
The network news shows Thursday night managed to devote about five mnutes to the speech. So, this is what it's come to.
The radical right had its “talking points” ready – “siding with the enemy” and “naivete” and “a break with reality.” So, this is what it's come to.
And, still you haven’t listened? So, this is what it’s come to?
Beating my head against a brick wall.
To quote an episode title from “Cracker” with Robbie Coltrane: “One day a lemming will fly.” One can hope.
At the top of DemWit’s left sidebar are links to both the full transcript and the video of the Cairo speech. Let us know your reaction. Thanks!