We Are The Ones We've Been Waiting For

Andrew Ferguson on the wit and wisdom of Barack Obama:

What, after all, does [Obama’s line] “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for” mean, precisely? My hunch is that the sentence is one of those things that no one will admit to being confused by, like the movies of Godard or the tenor-sax solos of John Coltrane, lest your peers think you’re a loser or a moron. Certainly Obama fans won’t admit how obscure the sentence is–though several have claimed that it’s lifted from a prophecy of the Tribal Elders of the Hopi Indians. Hopi prophecies are famously obscure.

But this is just wishful thinking. The origins of the phrase aren’t nearly so glamorous or exotic. Two years ago, before Obama even said he wanted to be president, the left-wing-radical-feminist-lesbian novelist Alice Walker published a book of essays and called it We are the Ones We’ve Been Waiting For. Believe me: If the line had come from the Tribal Elders of the Hopi nation, Alice Walker would have been more than happy to say so. Instead she said it came from a poem published in 1980 by the left-wing-radical-feminist-bisexual poet June Jordan. Neither Walker nor Jordan has said what the sentence means. But Walker did offer this hint in the introduction to her book of essays: “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for because we are able to see what is happening with a much greater awareness than our parents or grandparents, our ancestors, could see.”

That’s a clue, anyway. The sentence may not have any positive content, Walker seems to be saying, but it does have an indirect meaning, an implication, as a kind of self-referential gesture for the people who claim it. When Obama’s supporters say “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for,” what they mean is that in the long roll call of history, from Aristotle and Heraclitus down through Augustine and Maimonides and Immanuel Kant and the fellows who wrote the Federalist Papers, we’re number one! We’re the smartest yet! Everybody–Mom, Dad, Gramps and Grandma, Great Grandpa and Great Grandma, maybe even the Tribal Elders–they’ve all been waiting for people as clued-in as us!

Jennifer Rubin takes note of Juan Williams’ criticism of Obama’s judgment and character.

Advertisements
Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: