January 25, 2009

Means on the Inaugural Address

Obama Announces “Final Solution” to the “Indian Problem”The inaugural address is THE most important speech a President EVER makes. Billions of People look at it. The speech is written over a period of many weeks by a whole team of writers. It is edited and re-edited. Each word and each phrase is scrutinized so as to not offend anyone.

“For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus--and non-believers.” He has placed our successful AND peaceful way of life and Spirituality into the category of “Non-Believers!”

Then he uses the phrase “the lines of tribes shall soon dissolve.” What does he mean? Certainly, NOT the tribes of Israel. Who, but the American Indians are referred to as Tribes? We are the ONLY ones.

Obama’s “Final Solution” to the centuries-old “Indian Problem” is total dissolution.
Comment:  I think Means's first point is wrong. Obama wasn't trying to list all the major religions and then label everyone else a non-believer. He picked four of the world's major religions as examples. He probably said "Hindus" rather than "Buddhists" because the phrase "Jews and Hindus" has assonance. He included "non-believers" because they're a big group of Americans who never get a shout-out in speeches. No doubt he's aware of Confucianism, Taoism, Shintoism, Sikhism, Bahai, Zoroastrianism, Wicca, Native religions, and New Age spirituality among many other belief systems.

But still, Obama could've found a better way to phrase this passage. He could've guessed that someone might think he meant there are only five belief systems in the US. Obviously he wasn't presenting an all-inclusive list, but it's best not to leave these things for literalists to (mis)interpret.

Means's second point is more on the mark. Obama's comment about "tribe" (not "tribes") was insensitive at best. Few people are aware that there are tribes in places such as Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. If you gave Americans a word association test, I'm guessing about 95% would respond "Indian" to the word "tribe." America's Indian nations are the most famous political groups known as "tribes."


dmarks said...

"Confucianism, Taoism, Shintoism, Sikhism, Bahai, Zoroastrianism, Wicca, Native religions, and New Age spirituality".

And if he did indeeed include very fake religions like Wicca and "New Age", he could have included Scientology and the Jedi too.

Rob said...

I doubt Wiccans or New Agers would agree that their religions are "fake." Whether a religion is real or not often depends on whether you're a believer or not.

Native religions also get classified as "fake"--i.e., as mere variants of spirituality or philosophy--when it comes to government decisions. For example, see the court ruling on Arizona's Snow Bowl.