Moral defibrillators

Ari Berman in the Nation on William Barber’s speech at the DNC on Thursday:

Nation readers are well acquainted with Dr. Rev. William Barber II, this magazine’s civil-rights correspondent, but most Americans have never heard of him. Last night was his coming-out party, when he brought down the house with an incredible speech at the DNC just an hour before Hillary Clinton took the stage.

So I watched it. It’s a stem-winder all right.

As the leader of the North Carolina NAACP and the Moral Monday movement, Barber is leading a multi-racial and multi-issue struggle for racial and social justice that the South hasn’t seen since the 1960s. He’s been traveling the nation in recent months calling for a moral revival—similar to the “revolution of values” that Martin Luther King Jr. once preached—and he distilled that message in a barn-burning 10-minute speech last night.

It’s a faithy speech, but it’s the kind of faithy that an atheist can ally with.

DailyKos has the full transcript. Here’s the punchline:

I say to you tonight, there are some issues that are not Left versus Right, Liberal versus Conservative, they are “right versus wrong.” 

We need to embrace our deepest moral values and push for a revival of the heart of our democracy.

  • When we fight to reinstate the power of the Voting Rights Act and to break interposition and the nullification of the current Congress, we in the South especially know that when we do that, we are reviving the heart of our democracy.
  • When we fight for $15 and a union, and universal healthcare, and public education, and immigrant rights, and LGBTQ rights, we are reviving the heart of our democracy.
  • When wedevelop tax and trade policies that no longer funnel our prosperity to the wealthy few, we are reviving the heart of our democracy. W
  • When we hear the legitimate discontent of Black Lives Matter and we come together to renew justice in our criminal justice system, we are embracing our deepest moral values and reviving the heart of our democracy.
  • When we love the Jewish child and the Palestinian child,  the Muslim and the Christian, and the Hindu, and the Buddhist, and those who have no faith— but they love this nation, we are reviving the heart of our democracy.

Back to Ari Berman:

I was surprised to see Barber speak at the DNC. He’s rarely endorsed candidates and been careful not to get too close to the Democratic Party, which he’s also taken on over the years. So it was great to see the Clinton campaign—known for its caution and carefulness—give a huge platform to a leader who is so bold and honest.

“In times like these, we have to make some decisions and I might not normally be here as a preacher as an individual, but when I hear Hillary’s voice and her positions, I hear and I know that she is working to embrace our deepest moral values and we should embrace her,” Barber said. “But let me be clear, let me be clear, she, nor any person can do it alone. The watchword of the democracy and the watchword of faith is we. The heart of our democracy is on the line this November and beyond.”

It is indeed great to see the Clinton campaign feature Barber. That’s the less corporate side of her, which we all need to see. Mazel tov.

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