Barack Obama

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It is understandable why cross-culturalists around the world are showing greater-than-usual interest in the lead-up to the US Presidential elections.

It is hard to imagine a more classic example of an outstanding multicultural being than Barack Obama. Of mixed German and Kenyan parentage, Obama was partly brought up in Indonesia, then pursued his education in Harvard before entering politics in Illinois and emerging as the first black American with credible aspirations to the Presidency.

What a breath-taking chance for the American public! If they vote Obama in, they will in one majestic stroke not only elect a President who possesses understanding of and sensitivity towards European, Asian and African cultures, but they will atone – to the best of their ability – for centuries of unpardonable injustice (also perpetrated by England and other countries) to the millions of slaves and their descendants who make up a significant proportion of the populace of the United States. Rarely can a nation have such a heart-warming opportunity!

Americans cannot re-write their history, but by permitting a citizen of the humblest origins to assume the highest office in the land, they would display a magnanimity and vein of wisdom that America sorely needs. United States’ allies of all colours and creeds would applaud the ‘correction’ of history’s misdemeanours. America’s foes and critics would be largely confounded. The errant policies of a needless war, of Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib would be seen as aberrations, rather than characteristics, of America’s role in the world.

Sweeping changes are in the air. Multicultural Obama would seem to have the breadth of perspective to propose the right ones.

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3 Responses

  1. Edgar Valdmanis says:

    I’m not quite sure electing Barack Obama to office would get us all the way there “in one majestic stroke”, but at least it would be a lot further than today’s situation.
    It means the Americans (many of whom do not have a passport…)rethink their view of the outside world. And that rethink alone would get us a long way towards better understanding (of each-other).

  2. Michael Zarin says:

    Obama may have many virtues, but I believe Richard inflates the significance of his candidancy in terms of its multicultural impact. With that caveat that I am an American living overseas and therefore not in as close touch with my countrymen as I used to be, it seems to me that Europeans are more likely to ascribe great signficance to Obama’s multicultural background than most Americans probably do.
    In fact, most Americans probably don’t much care that he lived in Indonesia. That his father was a goat herder plays well to the uniquely American mentality of rags to riches, up by your bootstraps, anything is possible. But it’s only the liberal elite class to which Obama now belongs who would suggest his election would atone for centuries of injustices.
    There just aren’t too many other Americans these days who go around feeling guilty about something (slavery) for which they bear no responsibility. Americans are very future-oriented. Everybody recognizes the awfulness of slavery, but it ended a long time ago. It’s not very present in most Americans’ consciousness.
    What I find most interesting is that it is largely only the Clintons and their political henchmen who are making race an issue. A pretty significant number of Americans probably don’t care that much that Obama is black or bi-cultural. Americans want to know (about any candidate for president), what does he believe in? What specifically would he do about X, Y, or Z? Where would he take the country? What would his election mean to me?
    These are the questions Americans are already beginning to ask. Pretty down-to-earth stuff.

  3. Guy Cookson says:

    I agree with this post entirely; at long last America has the opportunity to demonstrate to the world – and perhaps most importantly to itself – that the values it has long claimed to hold dear are more than rhetoric, more than myth. That the son of an African man could become President would be hugely symbolic in itself, the almost perfectly poetic response to the shameful crimes of the past. His unique personal history, from Kansas to Kenya, is everything the American story should represent, and now, finally, could represent. I hope that Americans seize this opportunity with both hands and hold tight, and bring a much desired end to the Bush years in the most dramatic way possible, by lifting their eyes from the fearful headlines and looking forwards, without prejudice.

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