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Obama in Istanbul

Here is the complete video of President Obama’s question and answer session with Turkish students.

Comments

Comment from Kaya
Time: April 9, 2009, 17:46

Obama rocks in Istanbul just like he does in the US.

PS: (Thanks for making this video available for a view!)

Comment from Bouba
Time: April 11, 2009, 02:51

Eatbees, thank you for the video. I appreciate the courage that Obama has to sit with students and listen to their questions and give answers. A great model for politicians internationally. There are, however, so many cross cultural bumps as you might have noticed through the meeting. There is still something totally “superioriste” about how Americans of this caliber practice these kind of conversations across language and culture. Obama spoke from very inside his circle as if he was talking to students of Northwestern College or Berkeley. This is not about language. It is about how meaning is reproduced to say what. Obama talked about the behavioral side of stereotypes “preaching” how wrong they are which sounds like it is a “sin” to have stereotypes.
Well, how much can we really say about Obama’s own glairing stereotypes about the very same people sitting with him in the same room articulated ant thrown at their faces, in English.
Again another American missed another opportunity to be humble and modest. The US has a lot to learn from the world outside, the world of “them”.
EB, keep the great work and safe travels.

Comment from eatbees
Time: April 12, 2009, 10:31

Bouba, it’s good to see you again! Honestly I had the same reaction you did to this exchange. Of course the students he was speaking to were the Turkish equivalent of students from Northwestern or Berkeley — elite students from elite schools, on their way perhaps to international careers. So Obama was in his element in that sense. But he was definitely talking “outside the room” as much as to the students themselves. On the one hand, he had to be careful what he said that could be too easily attacked by conservatives back home, while on the other hand, he was clearly hoping to “send a message” to the Middle East as a whole, particularly young people. However, the young people in that room were almost props. They asked some good questions, ones that American journalists should be asking, but they were amazingly sedate, polite, waiting their turn and never talking among themselves. That allowed Obama to be the answer man, the wise elder, and lecture the Middle East about avoiding stereotypes and hate, as you said. In a way, the whole exercise was self-defeating, because what Obama is “allowed” to say in such a context has to stick to the already-received truths of American foreign policy, so when the young man asked him, “How do we know you’ll be any different from in the past?” all he could say was “Trust me,” and “Wait and see.”

That said, no one threw their shoes at Obama, and for an American leader to actually talk to foreign students in this way, especially in the developing world, is sadly a noteworthy event in itself. It’s as important to educate Americans with such an event as to send a message to the young people of the Middle East. Obama is saying to the people back home, “You see, these polite young people are nothing to be scared of, it could be Northwestern or Berkeley.” I suspect there will be more of these, in Latin America, Indonesia, India and so forth, as Obama continues his visits abroad, and I hope they become a fixture of his travels. As he develops his own record, too, distinct from Bush, the questions he is asked will be examining his own policies, and he’ll be able to speak more freely in their defense. I see this as a “breaking the ice” gesture with more to come. Obama is a professorial, lecturing guy by nature, which may explain the “superioriste” tone that even many Americans note in him. But he does listen, reflect on what he’s heard, and revise his ideas. A refreshing change from the recent past!

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