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Posted by on Sep 22, 2010 in Media, Politics, Society | 0 comments

The Forest and the Tree

Real Clear Politics does a “gotcha” on Barack Obama’s comment made in a speech to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus:


“Long before America was even an idea, this land of plenty was home to many peoples. The British and French, the Dutch and Spanish, to Mexicans, to countless Indian tribes. We all shared the same land,” President Obama told the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

Mexico declared its independence on September 16, 1810. It was recognized on September 27, 1821.

The United States of America declared its independence in 1776.

James Joyner does the “gotcha” on RCP’s (and other bloggers) pointing out the tree and missing the forest (my emphasis):

It may well be that Obama was speaking off the cuff and simply didn’t understand this.  It’s commonplace, even among educated people, to think that the United States is one of the newer countries in the world when, in fact, only a relative handful of existing states predate us.  Perhaps, though, Obama meant “Mexicans” in the more abstract sense of “Spanish speaking mestizos living in the southern portion of North America.”   Most of us think, for example, of the German and Italian peoples outside the context of their relatively recent organization as nation-states.

In any case, what’s amusing to me is that the bloggers writing about this so far are focusing on the dates issue rather than the more fundamental flaw in Obama’s remarks.  Except in brief instances, we were in no sense “sharing” the same land.  The history of the settlement, establishment, and expansion of the United States is one of pushing out the others through a series of wars, real estate transactions, ethnic cleansing, and other behaviors not taught in kindergarten.