Nombre de messages : 8252
Localisation : Canada
Opinion politique : Indépendance totale
Loisirs : Arts et Musique, Pale Ayisien
Date d'inscription : 02/03/2007
Feuille de personnage
Jeu de rôle: Maestro
|Sujet: Only in the USA? NO, it happened elsewhere already. Mer 3 Sep 2008 - 8:05|| |
August 31, 2008
Only here? The hazards of hubris
From the guy who just last week went on and on about the unprecedented diversity of the 2008 presidential campaign, a word of friendly discouragement:
Yes, hallelujah, we have a black major-party nominee for the nation's highest office and we nearly had a female nominee. Out of nowhere, we have a woman running for vice president. Countless marginalized Americans can say at last they had one of their own in the mix, not just on the list.
What we've also had is an eruption of self-congratulation that threatens the progress toward e pluribus unum that this healthy tossed salad represents.
When Barack and Michelle Obama, for whatever combination of sincere and strategic reasons, join the chorus that calls his a uniquely American story of overcoming, they miss a few things.
With due deference to the dream the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. voiced beneath Lincoln's marble gaze when Obama was a toddler, this nation has yet to name a descendant of slaves as a major-party standard-bearer. Haiti's slaves rose up and created their own state in 1804.
While we haven't seen a black president in 232 years, South Africa elected Nelson Mandela only four years after he ended a 27-year prison term for fighting for the right to vote at all. Sure, blacks were a majority; but non-violent transitions are supposed to be our specialty.
Women? From stuffy old England to seething India, they've been elected honchos for decades.
Asian-Americans? Only South Americans; Peru had a president of Japanese descent.
My (belabored) point here is not to deny the greatness of this country but to push back against the smugness that would award us a corner on the social mobility market. We can't call ourselves the pure and pre-eminent beacon of opportunity when we've yet to put a non-white, a non-Anglo, a non-Irish ethnic, a woman, a Jew or a poor person in the White House. And we're certainly not beyond learning from other societies.
Haiti's saga is as sobering about us as it is harrowing and inspiring about those forsaken people. They clung to their hard-won sovereignty in spite of the ruthless antagonisms of the enlightened French and Americans; and a century after throwing off colonial rule, they elected a champion of the poor over the direct, moneyed opposition of the United States. Slandered and undermined by the U.S. from day one, Jean-Bertrand Aristide finally succumbed to a coup and spent Obama's historic moment in exile.
If that comes across as so much rain on the joyously tearful parade that left Denver last week, let's remember the three-part message of the sainted King we so freely evoke: that America has the creed to lead the world in justice, the power to make the creed a reality, and a habit of using that power to the opposite end. For the Obamas to say they have lived out America's possibilities is fair and poetic, not to mention politically astute. To say, as Obama lyrically does, that his story could happen only in America runs the risk of surrender to the narrow-minded complacency that created the mess we're in, and created the candidate for change.