Day two of a Pre-Obama presidency and already we see the collective right out in print claiming that their beloved America can’t possibly be racist, because America has elected a black man as her president.
I spotted Greg Sheridan’s piece first off this morning, which starts out with an ignorant but pointed slight at his fellow Oz journalist, Phillip Adams, as well as other known ‘leftists’, in Noam Chomsky and John Pilger. Pilger I don’t have a lot of time for, but Adams and Chomsky I do, and frankly, I regard Sheridan’s piece as nothing more than a poor attempt at saying "look….we were right again". As if conservatism is never in error. The truth being that conservatism just can’t handle being found wanting.
Sheridan, as an example, goes to extraordinary lengths to put down the ‘left liberal’ view that America is profoundly militaristic.
The left liberal caricature of America was always nonsense. The militarism of American society is vastly overstated, just as its profound willingness to make sacrifice for other people’s freedom is under-appreciated. This is the fifth presidential election in a row in which the candidate with the stronger military record lost to the candidate who didn’t serve, or served only in the National Guard. The last war hero to be elected president was George H. W. Bush in 1988. The same Bush lost to the draft-dodging Bill Clinton in 1992, as did another genuine war hero, Bob Dole, in 1996. Al Gore was no war hero but he had served in Vietnam, and John Kerry famously won the Purple Heart. And they both lost.
This is glossing over the fact that for the past seven years, America has been embroiled in a war of aggression, incited by a doctrine of pre-emptive strike, under an administration which is/was decidedly hawkish in both word and deed. The administration before that, while of a different flavour, wasn’t at all adverse to launching military actions in Somalia or launching cruise missiles over Pakistani air space without consultation. The administration before that waged the first Gulf War under the first of the ‘coalitions of the willing’. America is a militaristic nation. The verbage of it’s politics and even that of her citizens is militaristic, aggressive. Evidence the terminology of "Battleground States" used so often in the recent election campaign.
On the issue of race, again, Sheridan couldn’t be more, and desperately wrong. If race wasn’t an issue in today’s America, why did thousands of black, hispanic and latino voters make the effort to lodge their vote, purely on the basis of Obama’s skin colour? Because he’s an orator? because he’s a charismatic personality? because he offered what many perceived to be a new and better way to govern? I’d suggest all of the aforementioned, but had he been white, John McCain would likely be president-elect today. After all, wasn’t the so-called lacking element in Obama’s makeup the fact that he’s a first term Senator with sweet F.A. in the political experience stakes? If there was any doubt about the race issue, one need only have read this article on the same media network, different rag, to recognise Sheridan’s Americentric myopia for what it is. Then there was Joe Bageant’s take on his own self-confessed red-necked culture, as he expressed on Australia Talks yesterday evening. He described what he regards as at least one-third of his fellow Americans as part of an ignorant, mean country. Have a listen. It’s quite revealing.
I can understand Sheridan’s belief in all things Americana. he’s lived there, experienced the best it has to offer, but refuses, as so many on the right will refuse to, recognise that it isn’t nirvana on Earth. Far from it. America – the United States of America – is as flawed and faulted as any other nation on this planet. Because of her position as the sole remaining superpower from the 20th century, she stands out as being even more so because so many expect so much more than she’s capable of offering. Even Janet Albrechtsen, in her own special vain-glorious and holier-than-thou manner admits that America is still a racist nation.
I know it’s a huge ask, and won’t ever come to pass in the ‘sphere, but wouldn’t it be productive if the right stopped trying to cover its own inadequacies by rubbing up against the successes of its ideological opposite, and admit that difference is good and change is even better. People make the world. People en masse expressing fervent desires for change and for better lives. Ideology doesn’t drive that change. Politics doesn’t drive that change. Only collective personal desires drive that change, and Barack Obama offered that opportunity for change. Whether he is able to carry through on his promises remains to be seen, but people acting together have granted him the opportunity. It is all about race. It’s also about will, foresight, ability and above all else, a desire to change what has been. I hope he’s given every opportunity. Only conservatism can ensure he’s allowed that opportunity. I wonder if they have it in them?