President Obama, speaking to an audience of mostly young people celebrating India’s Republic Day in New Delhi on Tuesday, told the crowd, “I realise that the sight of an American president as your chief guest on Republic Day would have once seemed unimaginable. But my visit reflects the possibilities of a new moment.” He pointed out that he was the first American president to participate in the country’s Republic Day and boasted, “And I’m the first American president to come to your country twice!”
The president went on to refer to himself an astonishing 118 times in the short 33-minute speech, touching on injustices in the United States and in his own personal life.
Obama told the enthusiastic crowd that he and Michelle have been strengthened by their Christian faith. “But there have been times where my faith has been questioned — by people who don’t know me — or they’ve said that I adhere to a different religion, as if that were somehow a bad thing,” Obama said.
He added that “too often religion has been used to tap into those darker impulses as opposed to the light of God.” He cited as an example the attack three years ago on a Sikh temple in Wisconsin. The American president, who is suing Catholic nuns to force them to comply with Obamacare’s birth control mandate, told the crowd of Indian young people that “every person has the right to practice their faith how they choose, or to practice no faith at all, and to do so free of persecution and fear and discrimination.”
Obama also talked about inequality in both India and America, as if the two countries are indistinguishable — as if poverty in the U.S. is in any way comparable to poverty in India.
“Sisters and brothers of India,” Obama said, “we are not perfect countries. And we’ve known tragedy and we’ve known triumph. We’re home to glittering skyscrapers, but also terrible poverty; and new wealth, but also rising inequality. We have many challenges in front of us.”
Bloomberg noted that Obama didn’t actually see much of India’s poverty during his trip:
Obama stayed insulated from the poor in a country where three of five people live on less than $2 per day, zipping by pockets of slums where residents used corrugated metal and tarps as building materials.
India accounts for about 60 percent of the world’s residents without toilets, according to a report released in May by the World Health Organization and Unicef. The country’s 50 percent open-defecation rate compares with 23 percent in Pakistan, 3 percent in Bangladesh and 1 percent in China, the report said.
Nevertheless, Obama went on to lecture the poverty-stricken country about the perils of climate change, warning that the seas were rising and the Himalayan glaciers are melting. “Few countries will be more affected by a warmer planet than India,” Obama warned.
In case any of the young people in the crowd were tempted to curb their global emissions just to please Obama, the president noted, “I’ll be gone when the worst effects happen. It’s your generation and your children that are going to be impacted. That’s why it’s urgent that we begin this work right now.”
And, of course, no Obama speech is complete until the president has tossed out the race card.
The putative leader of the free world complained, “Even as America has blessed us with extraordinary opportunities, there were moments in my life where I’ve been treated differently because of the color of my skin.”
I’m sure the Dalits — traditionally regarded as untouchable and only fit to remove rubbish and human waste in the Indian caste system — can totally relate.