Sunday, November 9, 2008

Obama's Victory: Excellent perspective on the European reaction

Andrei Markovits of the University of Michigan has an excellent piece on the European reaction to Obama's election in the Huffington Post.

He points out that the Europeans are busy congratulating themselves because Obama is more like them than like America.

They are using their pious happiness over his election to hide their own racism and racial inequity. In what European country would an Obama ever have a chance of being elected head of state???

15 comments:

Sharon said...

Obama himself has repeatedly noted that only in America would his story have been possible.

Toby said...

In defence of the Europeans .... people of African descent have been living in North America since the 17th century, as long as the whites. Blacks have only lived in Europe in large numbers since the 20th century.If for no other reason than this, Obama's story is indeed only possible in America.

In general, though, I agree with the point that Europeans should take time now to consider racism in their own societies. But there is also an uplifting theme of success against the odds that marks Obama's story as appealing to all countries, societies and races.

abravanel said...

Your are so naive: they do it because it mean that this will end jewish domination of US politics. At least that's what Avriani newspaper says... lol

Speaking seriously now it has a point, although we must not forget that more than love for Obama, we have hate for Bush which equally despised europeans. Even McCain appeared better than Bush, (apart from choosing Palin).

Rebecca said...

And how did the people of African descend come to North America? Because Europeans brought them there. And Black people aren't the only category of minority that exists in Europe - how about Roma (Gypsies)? When will they start to get a fair deal in European countries? Can you imagine a Roma president in Italy? In Rumania? In the Czech Republic?

Tamar Orvell said...

My Austrian friend, Stefan, who blogs (in German) at Schadenmeldung, sent this email (one of many on the subject) just before our election:

"i am suspicious of the glorification of obama in media, public here in europe. obama is referred to as messiah, mccain as devil. for me this is interesting. what is going on in people's minds that like a person for usa president just because he is black but at the same time sit in a nazi country and do not manage to move their asses to volunteer for a better society in their own little world."

Deborah Lipstadt said...

Tamar:
I am not sure what your friend means by "sits in a nazi country." which country is she/he talking about?

Tamar Orvell said...

My Austrian friend, Stefan, lives in Vienna. Thanks for asking.

Toby said...

"And how did the people of African descent come to North America? "

It is noticeable how the blame for slavery shifts to "Europeans" rather than Americans when this topic is raised.

I would say that neither Europe not America have much to be proud of in relation to the enslavement of Africans. But the fact is that people of African descent have lived in North America for far longer than in Europe.

The Roma are in a position of being culturally apart. With Obama there is a broad American culture that is becoming (at long last) colour-blind. Eastern European culture is not Roma/ non-Roma blind, and one of the reasons is the Roma themselves, who cling to their own traditional ways. You will probably see the first Native American President before you see the first Roma as President of Romania.

We can also note that Europe is ahead of the US in gender-blindness. Women have effectively led two major European democracies (Margaret Thatcher in the UK, Angela Merkel in Germany)

dan said...

Obama is not black. He is not African-American. If he was elected president of Kenya, would the newspapers say he is the first white president of Kenya? No way. So get over it, everyone, Mr Obama, a great man, is not black, never was and never will be. And yes, Europeans are much less racist toward people with darker skins than so-called white-pink skins of European people, think of how US jazz artists and singers and poets were able to thrive in Europe while being victims of racism back home. Europe is not racist toward darker skinned people in the same way as the USA is because Europe did not have the legacy of slaves living there for 400 years. A man of Obama's background could very well be elected head of a Europeans state one day, and one day soon too.

As an aside, a black man or woman who is the descedant of black slaves cannot be elected president in the USA yet, and maybe not for a long time, and the same is true for a Jewish man or woman. Why? Because the USA remains deeply racist towards slave blacks -- NOT Colin Powell or Barack Obama because they are not slave black -- and the USA also remains deeply antisemitiic, a Jew will be elected president there, ever. Christian triumphalism rules the USA. Let's hope that when Obama says "God bless America" in his future speeches, he doesn't mean the God of the s0-called New Testament that was ripped off from the ancient Hebrews, but the God of all people. Most probably, Obama will be more of the same Christian triumphalism, in that he also believes that Jesus died for "his" sins and that Jesus is the real God of the world. Sad but true, this is how Obama has been taught to believe, and he has said as much on TV interviews. But I like the man, I wish him well. Since there is no God at all, it is not important what he believes. He is wrong about God. As was Bush, Clinton, Falwell and Graham.

hockey hound said...

"We can also note that Europe is ahead of the US in gender-blindness."

Europe is behind the US on all counts simply because Europe is a grave yard for the millions of Jews who were murdered there. So soon you forget what happened in Europe not so long ago.

Europe is now, in terms of demographics, the home of the religion of Islam's many prejudices and the androcratic constrictions that inevitably follow in its wake. You're making typically European pronoid and arrogative assumptions about your "homeland". Europe's problem has always been border-blindness, which has always been far more problematic than gender-blindness. Please, keep Europe in Europe.

Rebecca said...

Slavery in the Americas began long before the United States began an independent nation. I'm not trying to avoid the American responsibility for slavery - after all, it was in the Constitution! All I'm saying is that Europeans should not congratulate themselves on that score.

And about the Roma - why are they culturally apart? Is it simply that they want to be separate? From what I have read, there is a lot of discrimination against them in many European countries - which they surely do not want for themselves, even if they want to preserve their own identity.

Ludovic said...

France had a Jewish Prime minister in 1936. A black president of the Senate from 1947 to 1959.

And the Roman emperor in 244 was an Arab.

Toby said...

"Europe is behind the US on all counts simply because Europe is a grave yard for the millions of Jews who were murdered there."

Not true. EU countries are more upwardly mobile than the US, which is becoming class-ossified since the Reagan years.

As an EU citizen, I hang my head in shame and clench my fists in rage at the Holocaust. But I think any citizen of the US should do likewise. Tell me: what special measures did the US put in place to prevent the murder of the Jews?

Clearly, this respondent believes all the rediculous nonsense that has been published about the growth of Islamism in Europe. Think again.

hockey hound said...

"Tell me: what special measures did the US put in place to prevent the murder of the Jews?"

The USA is not the issue here. Hanging your head in shame and clenching your fists will not erase the shame so much of Europe deserves for how they collaborated with the Nazi genocide against the Jewish people. I could write a book for you here on how many European nationals fought with the Nazis against the Allied armies. Your revisionist views (typically European) carry no weight, nor does your obfuscation of Islam's anti-Jewish shibboleths and the attendent violence and hatreds they create. You would have to have your head buried in the sand not to see the immeasurable disruption Islamists and their relgion are causing around the world. It is not a question of believing or disbelieving "all the ridiculous nonsense"; it has become a matter of SEEING and acknowledging all the anti-Jewish sentiment the religion of Islam and its proponents are spawning within the academia and in governments around the world. It is so typically European to pretend this is not happening. They pretended the Holocaust wasn't happening even while watching from their windows Jewish families being marched down the streets to the trains that would take them to places like Auschwitz, Sobibor, etc.

Remember, they weren't burning Jews in extermination camps in the USA, this happened only in Europe. Yes, you should hang your head.

Ian Thal said...

My experience when I meet Europeans who are in the States for the first time is that they are often surprised that the people they meet in Boston are in many ways very similar to inhabitants of European cities on most political and social issues-- because they are accustomed to seeing our head of state and extrapolating him as the typical American. What I always have to explain is that political leanings tend to be a function of geography: whether one lives in a metropolitan area or more rural area and whether neighbors are culturally homogenous, or heterogenous.

Consequently, it's understandable that European urbanites mistakenly and superficially perceive Obama as "European" and Bush as "American."