As I have listened to the clip from President Obama's Roanoke speech, I have wondered if what he might have been talking about was the fact, which surface a couple of decades ago, that many fortunes were made, based upon slaves and the slave trade, including here in New England. When the President says "You didn't build that" he is echoing the words of others who have said that many long standing fortunes in New England were based on slavery, even down to these days.
I am one of those who recognizes this debt to our past, although I don't see it as the absolute explanation for our economic success as a nation. Recognizing the evil of slavery, I would be happy to pay reparations. That is, I would be happy if we could find someone with the stature and authority to issue absolution and make this issue go away for ever.
On the other hand, President Obama is on record as opposing reparations and calling for helping all the poor in this nation, with things like a college education.
This take on the President's speech—that it is about the fruits of slavery—suggests that all of us need to have a better understanding of our nation's economic history. Also, this is a different spin than that put forward by Professor Elizabeth Warren.
I still think the President's speech runs orthogonal to our American experience of how things happen, but this explanation does call our attention to the mistakes of our past. The founding of our nation, back to the early 1600s, includes both good and bad. We should celebrate the good and acknowledge and repent of the bad.
Regards — Cliff
1 year ago