In this edition, I want to offer excerpts from two of Joe Biden’s recent important speeches, once again arguing that reading reinforces hearing.
But before I do, I wanted to make some brief observations about the happenings in Kenosha.
Last week, Penny and I timidly ventured beyond a five-mile radius from our house, renting a remote cabin from a hotel in Kohler, Wisconsin, for all of three days. To inform ourselves, we stopped for a short visit in Kenosha on the way. Years ago, I used to go there to make investment banking calls on Snap-on Tools, which is headquartered there.
While even the most serious news organizations have focused on the inexcusable destruction in the wake of Jacob Blake’s shooting, we discovered that there is another, more uplifting, side to the story. The arson and looting did cause severe damage in a few areas of this small city of 100,000 (about 35% larger than our hometown of Evanston, IL; coincidentally, Jacob Blake’s father graduated from Evanston Township High School in 1984.) That destruction spread fear more broadly in downtown Kenosha and its surrounds.
That fear led hundreds of businesses and others to board up their windows and doors But, here’s the heartening part. Virtually every piece of plywood we saw bore amazing artwork, almost entirely sending messages of hope, overwhelmingly supportive of the protestors (as distinct from shaming the looters and arsonists). It was an incredibly positive display of community goodwill and creativity. Light over darkness. Take a look at the attached photos.
Joe Biden delivered his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention on August 21st. He embraced light and hope, rejecting darkness and fear. Here are some excerpts. Notice how simply and unadorned his language is. A stark contrast to President Obama’s, but perhaps more accessible to more voters. The full text and video can be found here https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/20/politics/biden-dnc-speech-transcript/index.html
Ella Baker, a giant of the civil rights movement, left us with this wisdom:
Give people light and they will find a way.
Give people light.
Those are words for our time.
The current president has cloaked America in darkness for much too long. Too much anger. Too much fear. Too much division…
United we can, and will, overcome this season of darkness in America. We will choose hope over fear, facts over fiction, fairness over privilege…
No generation ever knows what history will ask of it. All we can ever know is whether we’ll be ready when that moment arrives.
And now history has delivered us to one of the most difficult moments America has ever faced.
Four historic crises. All at the same time. A perfect storm.
The worst pandemic in over 100 years. The worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
The most compelling call for racial justice since the ‘60s. And the undeniable realities and accelerating threats of climate change.
So, the question for us is simple. Are we ready?
I believe we are…
Character is on the ballot. Compassion is on the ballot. Decency, science, democracy.
They are all on the ballot…
America’s history tells us that it has been in our darkest moments that we’ve made our greatest progress. That we’ve found the light. And in this dark moment, I believe we are poised to make great progress again. That we can find the light once more…
The Irish poet Seamus Heaney once wrote:
Don’t hope on this side of the grave.
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up.
And hope and history rhyme”
This is our moment to make hope and history rhyme…
For love is more powerful than hate.
Hope is more powerful than fear.
Light is more powerful than dark.
Jacob Blake Speech
On August 23rd, just two days after Joe Biden gave his acceptance speech, Jacob Blake was shot in Kenosha. On August 31st, Biden responded to the aftermath in a speech in Pittsburgh, aligning himself with protestors while sharply criticizing the violence. Here is a link to the text
In the early days of World War II, Franklin Roosevelt told the country, and I quote, “The news is going to get worse and worse before it gets better and better. And the American people deserve to have it straight from the shoulder.” Straight from the shoulder. The job of a president is to tell it straight from the shoulder, tell the truth, to be candid, to face facts, to lead, not to insight.
This is a tragic fact of the matter, how he’s dealing with this perilous hour in our nation. And how we have to stand against violence in every form it takes…I want to make it absolutely clear…rioting is not protesting. Looting is not protesting. Setting fires is not protesting. None of this is protesting. It’s lawlessness, plain and simple. And those who do it should be prosecuted. Violence will not bring change…it’s wrong in every way…
The simple truth is Donald Trump failed to protect America. So now he’s trying to scare America.
Joe Biden knows that rioting, looting, and arson are not protesting and cannot be tolerated. And, the unnamed artists of Kenosha can see the light in the darkness.
Please, as always, pass it along.