Sunday, August 31, 2008

The rise of Barak Obama, regardless whether he will win or not, will now allow Americans to engage in their favorite sport: self-praise and self-congratulations. You remember what Alexis de Tocqueville had said about Americans: "The Americans, in their intercourse with strangers, appear impatient of the smallest censure and insatiable of praise. . . . They unceasingly harass you to extort praise, and if you resist their entreaties they fall to praising themselves. It would seem as if, doubting their own merit, they wished to have it constantly exhibited before their eyes." I say this because I already hear words about how great it was for America to have an African-American rise to the highest position (or candidacy more accurately). I mean, women led empires and countries centuries before it has ever happened in the U.S.--and it still has not happened. The French revolutionaries sat a freed slave in the National Assembly almost right at the same time when Thomas Jefferson wrote his Notes on the State of Virginia in which he compared African-Americans to monkeys. Also, many white Americans love to say: how far we have gone. Many African-Americans prefer to say: how far we have to go. Personally, I prefer to ask: where are we going anyway.