Over the last few days I received a number of messages from friends in the USA who are still dubious about who Obama is. They still ask the question, “Who is Obama?” and then they follow up with a similar responses and comments “It is still a mystery who this man is. Even people around him don’t know him. There are no people who knew him to tell us about him. Not even his thesis at Howard is accessible to read, etc ….”
Is there anything that would convince these people who Obama is? After more than a year in the limelight, with every stone on the path journey he travelled left unturned by media, what else would convince these sceptics about who Obama really is? Few days ago BBC run a news item covering the protests of people who still believe in 9/11 conspiracy. Can we see a parallel here?
Faith and belief are vital to us all, but when we believe (or not believe in this case) despite, or in spite of evidences, that’s madness.
I wanted to post here the testimony of Larry Tribe one of Obama’s Professors at Howard published in the Guardian.
“Barack came to see me during his first year at Harvard. It was 31 March 1989. I found my desk calendar and I’d written his name with an exclamation point. From the late 1960s, when I began teaching as a professor at Harvard Law School, until the present, there has been no other student whose name I’ve noted in that way.
He impressed me from the beginning as an extraordinary young man. He was obviously brilliant, driven and interested in pursuing ideas with a clear sense that his reasons for being in law school were not to climb some corporate ladder, nor simply to broaden his opportunities, but to go back to the community.
He had a combination of intellectual acumen, open-mindedness, resistance to stereotypical thinking and conventional presuppositions. He also had a willingness to change his mind when new evidence appeared, confidence in his own moral compass and a maturity that obviously came from some combination of his upbringing and earlier experience.
I asked him to be my research assistant, a role he filled for a year and a half. We had a much more vibrant dialogue than one typically has with a research assistant. He was witty, he had a lighthearted touch and even though we were dealing with some pretty grave and weighty subjects, it was always a breezy thing to talk to him.
He had a charismatic quality and was very engaging. Other students gravitated towards him and liked him rather than envying him or wanting to compete with him.
Typically in a place as competitive as Harvard or Yale, one student will make a comment and another student will try and one-up him by saying something cleverer or wittier. But Barack would never put anyone else down. If a student expressed a view he didn’t agree with, he nevertheless saw the value in it and built on it.
He found points of communality and gave people the sense that he could see where they were coming from, and what their core beliefs were, and why they were worthy of respect. It was really a precursor to the way he engages in dialogue across ideological and partisan divisions.
In his second year, he became the first African American president of the Harvard Law Review [one of the leading law journals in the world]. It was a position which represented the judgment of his peers about his intellectual acumen and his leadership capacities. He emerged with the enthusiastic backing of other students. In no sense was this some kind of affirmative action; he was chosen as the best person people could find.
We used to take long walks on the Charles River in Boston. Our conversations were enormously wide-ranging and enjoyable, about life in general, not just about work. I had no doubt as I got to know him that he had an unlimited future. I didn’t have a clear sense of what direction it would take, but I thought it would be political and I thought the sky was the limit.
He had a personal quality which was transcendent and I continued to feel that way about him each time we met. And the quality he demonstrated that I’ve always been left with more than any other is authenticity. There isn’t a fibre of phoniness about this guy“.