Assessing Obama: The Audacity of Embracing Conventional Values
Below is an email exchange with a friend. I hope you enjoy it. I know I did.
On Wed, Apr 19, 2017 at 4:18 PM Peter Schultz <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
piece. Seems balanced to me……to you too?
On Aug 3, 2021, at 7:33 AM, Matthew B. wrote:
From The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming
the American Dream
"Eventually, my rejection of authority spilled into self-indulgence and self-destructiveness, and by the time I enrolled in college, I'd begun to see how any challenge to convention harbored within it the possibility of its own excesses and its own orthodoxy. I started to reexamine my assumptions, and recalled the values my mother and grandparents had taught me. In this slow, fitful process of sorting out what I believed, I began silently registering the point in dorm-room conversations when my college friends and I stopped thinking and slipped into cant: the point at which the denunciations of capitalism of American imperialism came too easily, and the freedom from constraints of monogamy or religion was proclaimed without fully understanding the value of such constraints, and the role of victim was too readily embraced as a means of shedding responsibility, or asserting entitlement, or claiming moral superiority over those not so victimized" (Obama 30-31).
On August 3d Peter Schultz wrote:
Well, golly gee, Matthew, I thought one reason young people left home to go to college was to stretch, if not break, the influence of the family and its conventional moral base. If Family values were to be questioned, even challenged, it would be beneficial to leave its confines and enter the “academy”. Apparently, if we are to believe Obama’s account here, when he went to college he ended up not challenging the family’s conventional beliefs but reinforcing and then re-embracing them to avoid “the excesses” of challenges to “convention.” Or, perhaps, he became aware that in order to be a success and be honored and even achieve fame as a result of that success, it would be “prudent” to embrace the conventional “values my mother and grandmother had taught me.” So much for “denunciations of capitalism or American imperialism.” I guess Obama didn’t meet any teachers who could successfully challenge the lessons he learned from his mother and grandmother. I was more fortunate at Wake Forest where I met those who challenged me to question the conventional values I had imbibed at home. I feel sorry that Obama didn’t get to experience something like that, sorry both for him and for the nation.