Monday, August 25, 2008

Michelle Obama Shines on Stage Even in the Shadow of Hate

Tonight was something of a contrast in terms of the media's coverage of the myriad issues affecting our cultural fabric. Clearly the story that resonated across the media was the DNC convention; and one speaker in particular generated a lot of interest.

Tonight Michelle Obama (pictured left) the wife of Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama took center stage at the Democratic National Convention in Denver in what was a barely veiled nationally televised coming-out party for a possible future First Lady.

I watched the touching introduction by her older brother Craig Robinson, a graduate of Princeton University and the head coach of the men's basketball team at Oregon State University. Michelle's speech came from the heart, honored the character of a father who suffered from MS and clearly spelled out the Obama's desire for change, love of this country and broad appeal.

The accounts of her and her brother's upbringing by a working class father who worked for the city of Chicago and a strong stay-at-home mother clearly struck a chord with the crowd and I suspect did much to show Americans that the Obamas are exceptionally bright people cut from the mainstream cloth of the United States. Far from the simplistic, radical stereotypes peddled by the right wing conservatives and right wing media outlets like Fox News throughout the course of the battle for the nomination process.

To me the speech hammered home the need for change, the courage to embrace a vision of a better America and the courage to be an optimist in the midst of what is unquestionably one of the most challenging times in the modern history of the nation.

But amidst the sense of hope this evening conveyed, I was reminded of the fragile state of race relations in this nation and the cultural realities that must be addressed if we are to evolve as a nation.

News reports indicate local and Federal authorities reported that four people were under arrest under suspicion of plotting to kill Obama. There have been a variety of similar threats against the 47 year-old Senator from Illinois. Sadly this one comes in a time when the nation looks to the candidate for hope in the midst of the socio-economic devastation of the past 8 years, high oil prices, continued wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and rising consumer prices.

This is the world into which Barack Obama has stepped. A world where hate crimes are on the rise as I blogged about last night. Not just here either.

The Daily Mail (UK) Website reports that Mohammed Al-Majed, a 16 year-old student from the Persian Gulf nation of Qatar was savagely beaten and killed by a drunken group of four men and two women in the British seaside town of Hastings in East Sussex. Accosted along with other foreign students after leaving a food stand, the racist attackers beat Al-Majed then repeatedly stomped on his head inflicting massive injuries to his skull.

He died two days after being admitted to the hospital. According to the Daily Mail article, one of the reasons he was in the United Kingdom was to learn more about the language and the culture and to appreciate the need to live in harmony.

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