Thursday, November 20, 2008
Flying from Jerusalem, I hankered to hear Hebrew poetry. Back in Jerusalem, unpacking, I longed to hear liberal principles. This place is beautiful; that has always been its problem. It is the kind of place that engenders enigmatic words like birthright, which brothers kill each other over. And it makes the word brother a little dangerous, too.
Anyway, the city just elected a new mayor who narrowly beat the ultra-orthodox candidate promising my brothers that Jerusalem is one birthright he would never share. We hung up the clothes, and shelved the hair cream, listening to laconic Israeli reporters talking about what our enemies have been up to, and it suddenly occurred to me that I'd like to hear, of all things, Barack Obama's speech "on race" again. I took out the laptop, and linked over to the site, and we began to listen. After a while we just sat down on the bed; by the time we got to "Ashley," we were in tears.
This is not a speech about race. It is about enlightenment. As we pick apart what choosing Hillary means, or how much stimulus we need, it may be worth listening to this speech again: forty minutes, about the same as Dvořák's New World symphony and about as reliably moving. If nothing else, it will remind us how choking it was to live in Atwatermorrisroveland, the new new world, and how helpless most of our journalists were in defending us against its claims. It makes one grateful for a champion, particularly those of us headed into Bibiland.
Posted by Bernard Avishai at 8:43 AM