Intern extraordinaire Bharat Ayyar listened to NPR’s Michael Martin interview David Paterson,who waxed poetic on NPR about his speech to the N.A.A.C.P. yesterday (where he was uncharacteristically outspoken about that New Yorker cover).
Today, Paterson talked about African-American leadership. Of the civil rights leaders, he said, “These people had to invest their energy on the abolition of slavery, preempting of segregation and the establishment of civil rights when they should have been spending their God-given talents finding new inventions for manufacturing, creating new transportation ideas, medical and scientific research, and perhaps nuclear physics.
“We have just wasted so much of our talent forcing African-Americans, Hispanics and women to invest their great ability in trying to make the Constitution valid and the Declaration of Independence read true,” he said.
When Jesse Jackson’s recent off-air comments about Barack Obama “talking down to black people,”Paterson said that complaint is essentially beside the point. “We shouldn’t pity [black] communities for not knowing who their leaders are,” Paterson said. “We should pity the communities because they need them.
“The reason that there’s been this discussion about whose philosophy is right is because our neighborhoods have been so beset with poor housing, and substance abuse and crime and unemployment and underemployment that we had to find someone to speak collectively for the suffering we all endure.”
Specifically addressing Jackson, Paterson seemed, if anything, mildly dismissive.
“Now, I don’t think the substance of what Reverend Jackson said was much better than the expression,” he said. “The point is that what Senator Obama is saying to America is that, ‘I’m going to fight for some of these same programs but I’m not going to allow people who are the recipients of these programs to walk around without any responsibility.’
“I think that is really a step toward a new culture and really a higher plane of thinking than we’ve seen in American government in a long time,” Paterson finished.