Wednesday, November 05, 2008

More Thoughts, Part 4

Continuing in a string of observations:
  1. Seeing Jesse Jackson weeping had a big effect on me. I always thought of him as an opportunistic blowhard (the fathering a child out of wedlock while employed as a Protestant minister rubbed me the wrong way)... but his weeping, which is hard to simulate for cameras, showed me that he at his core was genuine about race relations and history. Bravo to him.

  2. If McCain had won, it would have meant that 3 out of the past 4 presidents were fighter pilots (HW Bush, W Bush, McCain) and that would have implications for that profession. Generally it appears to be a way that those with military obligations - and who have family influence (as all three did, Preston Bush's son, HW Bush's son, Admiral McCain's son) manage to be in as little of the organized military as possible. Fighter pilots, often in single seat planes, have missions but aren't at the mercy of a superior, possibly. In any case, it didn't happen and I hope we can put the role-identity to rest.

  3. What we do have is an establishment of a new presidential paradigm of *youth*. Clinton was 46, Bush was 54, and Obama is 47. 54 is on the young-end (most presidents were between 50-60), and it emphasizes the paradigm that between 1992 and (at least) 2012 the presidency is held by a young person.

  4. I don't feel equipped to describe the full implications of having a black first lady, either. As we know, having a black male president doesn't mean he'll be wed to a black woman. I am a fan of Michelle, and not only because she's a Princetonian (but that's a big boost). It can be argued that Obama's upbringing, and even his ethnicity, makes him a different category from what we consider to be typically "African-American." That label is a bit of a misnomer, as shown in Barack's case, because for other ethnic groups, the term refers to the origin country vis-a-vis voluntary immigration, while the population we usually label as African-American were "involuntary immigrants," a.k.a. Slaves.

    When you are in America because your forebears were kidnapped, beaten, raped, and bought-and-sold as property, then you will treat America with a set of unique attitudes that are specific to a hostile environment. Note, this singularity is different from, yet shared with, Native Americans (and to some extend native Hispanics), and those relationships will be excepted from my analysis). Yet we have other hyphenates - Italian-Americans, Jewish-Americans, etc - who were voluntary immigrants, and while they are ethnically different, they share some basic, similar characteristics with each other: they wanted to be in America, and they see America usually as a place of promise, opportunity, and greatness.

    Obama is the child of a voluntary immigrant. Like Colin Powell, an important fellow-traveler, who is a child of Jamaican immigrants, Obama's attitude towards America will be much more like mine (or my parents) than the attitude of the vast majority of "African-Americans" (the involuntary immigrants). Obama's father and Powell's parents were presumably like American Jews: they perforce saw America as a place of opportunity, and purposefully came here to avoid the home country.

    Note, I came across this difference in attitude following the Amadou Diallo tragedy. After he was killed by the NYPD, perennial bottom-dweller Al Sharpton tried to hijack Diallo's family into his cause of racial grievance. And I remember (I need to find the exact source) Diallo's family protesting Sharpton's characterization of America as a land of permanent racism and danger. They responded that they wanted to be in America because it was a land of opportunity: i.e. they were talking like immigrants.

    In any case, all of this is to come around to Michelle Obama. She is a descendant of slaves. And now first lady. That's big.

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