Wednesday, November 12, 2008
The election of Barack Obama was greeted in Europe with euphoria.
Many are asking if there could be a French, British, German or Italian Obama, but everyone knows the answer is no. At least not anytime soon.
It is risky to make racial comparisons between America and Europe, given all the historical and cultural differences. But race had long been one reason that Europeans, harking back to the days when famous American blacks like Josephine Baker and James Baldwin found solace in France, looked down on the United States, even as Europe developed postcolonial racial problems of its own.
“They always said, ‘You think race relations are bad here in France, check out the U.S.,’ ” said Mohamed Hamidi, former editor of the Bondy Blog, founded after the 2005 riots in the heavily immigrant suburbs of Paris.
“But that argument can no longer stand,” he said.
“In this election, the Americans not only chose a president, but also their identity,” said Dominique Moïsi, a French political analyst. “And now we have to think, too, about our identity in France — it’s the most challenging election ever. We realize we are late, and America has regained the torch of a moral revolution.”