(The Palestine Chronicle, June 5, 2009)
The upheaval in America’s relations with the Muslim world after 9/11, as well as its content and language, make the eagerly-awaited address by President Obama in Cairo on June 4 an event of great significance. Speculation in recent weeks had focused on how different Obama’s message would be from that of his predecessor, George W Bush. That it would be different was not in doubt. Obama had spoken of the unclenched fist meeting the extended hand soon after his inauguration as president. Recent speculation had centered on the vision and its detail. Those expecting were not disappointed. The reaction fills the spectrum of opinion.
A revolutionary speech has several essential qualities. It must address major problems of the day and generate widespread interest. It must inspire hope and be a pointer to long-term solutions. A revolutionary speech touches the lives of ordinary people, effortlessly overcomes ethnic, racial, religious divides. Its call is for fairness and justice. It must be without extreme language. The time and the place have to be right. More