Obamamania

Europeans – and others – may regard China’s rise with awe, and hope to find a modus vivendi with Russia, but without the hopes inspired by America, which represents the worst and the best of our battered Western world, we would all be much worse off. That is why they are going crazy over Barack Obama’s election.

NEW YORK – Why do Europeans adore America’s president-elect, Barack Obama? Stupid question, you might say. He is young, handsome, smart, inspiring, educated, cosmopolitan, and above all, he promises a radical change from the most unpopular American administration in history. Compare that to his rival John McCain, who talked about change, but to most Europeans represented the opposite.

And yet, there is something odd about the European mania for a black American politician, even as we all know that a black president or prime minister (let alone one whose middle name is Hussein) is still unthinkable in Europe. Or perhaps that is precisely the point.

Europeans have long been hospitable to black American stars. Think of Josephine Baker, who wowed Parisians and Berliners at a time when blacks could not vote – or even use the same bathrooms as whites – in many parts of the United States. Cities like Paris, Copenhagen, and Amsterdam offered refuge to black American jazz musicians, who needed a break from institutionalized racism. The same was true for other artists. James Baldwin, for example, found a home in France.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

Registration is quick and easy and requires only your email address. If you already have an account with us, please log in. Or subscribe now for unlimited access.

required

Log in

http://prosyn.org/eHIIBVO;
  1. Patrick Kovarik/Getty Images

    The Summit of Climate Hopes

    Presidents, prime ministers, and policymakers gather in Paris today for the One Planet Summit. But with no senior US representative attending, is the 2015 Paris climate agreement still viable?

  2. Trump greets his supporters The Washington Post/Getty Images

    Populist Plutocracy and the Future of America

    • In the first year of his presidency, Donald Trump has consistently sold out the blue-collar, socially conservative whites who brought him to power, while pursuing policies to enrich his fellow plutocrats. 

    • Sooner or later, Trump's core supporters will wake up to this fact, so it is worth asking how far he might go to keep them on his side.
  3. Agents are bidding on at the auction of Leonardo da Vinci's 'Salvator Mundi' Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

    The Man Who Didn’t Save the World

    A Saudi prince has been revealed to be the buyer of Leonardo da Vinci's "Salvator Mundi," for which he spent $450.3 million. Had he given the money to the poor, as the subject of the painting instructed another rich man, he could have restored eyesight to nine million people, or enabled 13 million families to grow 50% more food.

  4.  An inside view of the 'AknRobotics' Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

    Two Myths About Automation

    While many people believe that technological progress and job destruction are accelerating dramatically, there is no evidence of either trend. In reality, total factor productivity, the best summary measure of the pace of technical change, has been stagnating since 2005 in the US and across the advanced-country world.

  5. A student shows a combo pictures of three dictators, Austrian born Hitler, Castro and Stalin with Viktor Orban Attila Kisbenedek/Getty Images

    The Hungarian Government’s Failed Campaign of Lies

    The Hungarian government has released the results of its "national consultation" on what it calls the "Soros Plan" to flood the country with Muslim migrants and refugees. But no such plan exists, only a taxpayer-funded propaganda campaign to help a corrupt administration deflect attention from its failure to fulfill Hungarians’ aspirations.

  6. Project Syndicate

    DEBATE: Should the Eurozone Impose Fiscal Union?

    French President Emmanuel Macron wants European leaders to appoint a eurozone finance minister as a way to ensure the single currency's long-term viability. But would it work, and, more fundamentally, is it necessary?

  7. The Year Ahead 2018

    The world’s leading thinkers and policymakers examine what’s come apart in the past year, and anticipate what will define the year ahead.

    Order now