Tag Archives: Mediaite

The Audacity of Hope: Obama’s Impromptu Speech About Trayvon Martin and Race

This afternoon, President Obama surprised everyone by making an appearance in the White House press briefing room. He spoke for approximately 17 minutes about Trayvon Martin, race, the law, and some other things. Part of the specialness of this speech was that it was impromptu (at least it appeared that it was unplanned) and was unscripted. [I couldn’t embed the video, but you can see it here.]

There were a lot of key things that he addressed in his speech, but what I thought to be the most important was the last few minutes. In the last few minutes, President Obama said that the younger generations are doing it much better than previous generations. The implication here is that the younger generations are less racist (or less unapproving) than previous generations. He talked about how he would listen to Malia and Sasha (his kids) speak with their friends and hear how they interacted. As a result, he thinks that the younger generations are doing it better than the older generations.

As I heard him say that, it made me think about how our countries are governed. Right now, the people who run the country (and by extension, the world) are older. I wonder what it’d be like if we had younger people who ruled the world. Maybe younger people would “get us there faster.” As a way to temper the eagerness of young people, maybe it’d be important to have some people from older generations to be advisors.

I wonder… are there any countries, states, provinces, counties, cities, or towns that are run by “younger” people? Are they more successful? Could we map this onto bigger populations with the same success?

~

For the first 14+ minutes, it seemed like there was an almost sombre tone to President Obama’s remarks. However, as he shifted to talking about the younger generations, I got the sense that he had hope for the future. I got the sense that he had hope for the future of the country because of the progress he sees in younger generations. While nothing is certain about the future nor are the implications, I’d like to think that it’s rather poetic that the leader of the United States believes in a brighter tomorrow. That President Obama believes that we are getting better as a society. As a people. That we are beginning to treat each other with more respect. More love. More kindness. And the hope is that this will continue with each succeeding generation. Hope.

Where Has All The Deference Gone: Mr. Obama vs. Obama

Seeing as though it’s Inauguration Day, I thought I’d write something about President Obama. A few days ago, I came across a note about NPR’s decision to change their style guide. Where they used to refer to President Obama as “Mister” Obama after the first mention (where he’d be referred to as President Obama), they’re now just going to drop the “Mister.” Why? So it doesn’t seem as though they’re showing favoritism. While I can understand the reasoning in this decision, I don’t think it’s a choice that I would have made. As Noah Rothman at Mediaite writes:

The vast majority of MSNBC viewers and NPR listeners, I believe, saw no evidence of conspiracy in how they referred to the president on the second reference.

This decision to change they style guide seems like it’s a bit over-the-top. Because none of the other major news organizations refer to the President simply by last name on the second reference, NPR wants to “fall in line,” so that it doesn’t seem that it’s showing favoritism. Hmm. Something doesn’t feel right about this. If NPR thought that it was right in showing deference on the second reference, then by golly, it should continue to do so. Of course, I understand if this is one of those “pick your battles,” kind of deals.

Nonetheless, it seems that the West US could do with a little more deference. In fact, I wonder if there were more deference in the American culture, would people be as disrespectful to each other? I understand that deference is part of something that America first rebelled against (British culture, titles, and all that), so it might be kind of hard for deference to succeed in American culture.

One does have to wonder: if there were more deference, would there be as much polemical writing? There probably still would be polemical writing, but my guess is there may be less of it.

When you get right down to it, though, what is deference? Respect. If we switch the word and talk about showing respect (and not offering deference), my guess is that it’s much harder to ignore. That is, if it’s a choice between respecting someone and disrespecting someone, I’d hope that we’d all choose respect.