In a PressThink post, Jay Rosen takes issue with our recently published forum on Barack Obama. We asked two dozen thinkers and writers, "Is Barack Obama exaggerating when he compares his campaign to the great progressive moments in US history?"
Writes Rosen, "Obama really said something like that? His campaign is a 'movement' comparable to, say, the civil rights movement, or to second wave feminism, or to the labor movement after the industrial revolution? If so, I had missed it."
Rosen is really insistent on this point. He also writes, "any statement from the candidate himself that compared Obama '08 to the great movements for freedom and justice in our history would have been quite the controversy, what with the McCain camp already mocking his messiah complex and calling him "The One." Why would Mother Jones, a progressive magazine, accuse Obama of the same thing McCain is attacking him for?"
To answer the question that ends that passage, we may be a progressive magazine, but we're still journalists who believe in refereeing and commenting on the campaign as fairly as we can. Nothing we write is in service of the Obama campaign and its goals. Occasionally, we'll write posts and articles that hurt Obama; the New Republic, the Nation, and the American Prospect all do the same.
But to Rosen's larger point — Obama does indeed put himself in a historical context alongside the great progressive movements of the last century. Here are four examples, one of which Rosen has already seen. They get long. Feel free to skim. Also feel free to visit the links to get a better sense of context.