That’s the quote getting so many people up in arms all over the Internet. Disclaimer: Chris Matthews is an idiot. Watch the video for yourself, but keep watching because here’s what he said next:
“He’s gone a long way to become the leader of this country and passed so much history. I mean it’s something we don’t even think about. I was watching and I thought, wait a minute …he’s an African-American guy in front of a bunch of white people and there he is president of the United States and we’ve completely forgotten about that tonight.” –C. Matthews.
Listen to that and you can see what he means- he’s talking about the American people. That no one is talking about the fact that it’s the first State of the Union speech by a black president or something… That we are just accepting that he is president and moving right along with business.
“I think it was in the scope of his discussion, it was so broad-ranging, so in tune with so many problems and aspects of American life- that you don’t think in terms of the old tribalism, the old ethnicity. It was astounding in that regard, a very subtle fact…”-C. Matthews
Tribalism? Old ethnicity? Both still alive and well. Subtle fact? I’m with you there- there are probably a lot of folks who were more concerned about what he’s going to do about the economy and unemployment instead of him being black. Did anyone forget that he was black? Doubtful. But the astounding, subtle fact that Matthews picked up on was that his race was not a factor- people just listened to what he had to say. Kind of like the role race has played for every other president? Contrast it with the role of race in the token minority placements behind the Virginia governor’s Republican response and you get a sense of subtle vs. brutally contrived.
“It’s so hard to talk about, and maybe I shouldn’t talk about, but I am. I thought it was profound that way.” -C. Matthews
Actually, I am impressed by Chris Matthews. I mean, he just went ahead and talked about it on live television. GOOD. It’s fine- You won’t be fired and you are advancing the conversation at least. It was awkward, like Brenna Ehrlich said on Mashable, but awkward usually means real: “MSNBC’s Chris Matthews awkwardly tried to compliment President Obama and the country at large following the State of the Union by saying, “’ forgot he was black tonight for an hour.’ Naturally a Twitter backlash ensued, and the video is now all over the ‘net like white on rice.”
Good one at the end, and I agree with her, but that’s only half of the story. Yes, he tried to compliment Obama on speaking for America and he was awkward about how he said it. But It wasn’t just a compliment. Matthews was trying to say that we as a nation aren’t making a big deal out of his race and that that in and of itself is amazing. And it is. There is nothing post-racial about the U.S. We are, I would say, still pre-conversational about race, if anything. The fact that this blew up on thin Internet is evidence of that. But you can see it coming out through politicians this year, and it’s teaching the U.S. a lot about how we feel. Harry Reid, Obama himself, and now Chris Matthews have all been on the skewer about race. There will surely be more.
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