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[UPDATED] An Inspiring Speech, As Speeches Operating Within Conventional Assumptions Go

[UPDATE: I finally had time to find a transcript of the speech. I turned my paraphrases into real quotes, and struck out my parenthetical comment about not mentioning feminism since I somehow missed his reference to the suffragettes.]

Dear Barack Obama,

There are lots of good examples of Americans struggling successfully for justice and happiness that you could use to illustrate your point of "yes we can"* in your concession speech. You hit a bunch of the good ones -- abolition of slavery, the labor movement, the civil rights movement, and immigrants** (though I notice feminism didn't make the cut -- have your staffers filled you in on how you lost among women by a sizeable margin? -- nor did environmentalism, much less the LGBT rights movement or the disability movement). But why did you have to try to inspire us with the image of "pioneers who pushed westward against an unforgiving wilderness"?

That "wilderness" had a lot of people living there, most of whom your pioneers killed either directly or indirectly (not to mention the fact that westward expansion of European settlement was as much a government-managed enterprise as a grassroots movement). And the idea of people struggling against the wilderness perpetuates the idea of a fundamental opposition between humans and nature, which is something you shouldn't be reinforcing if you're serious about your earlier line about eliminating oil dependence.

* I was hoping that, while he was chanting "yes we can," he'd drop in a "sí se puede."
** Immigrants from "distant shores," hence implicitly the good European or possibly Asian ones, not the Mexicans.


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