Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Obama: the world's candidate

The Moderate Voice highlighted a website called Watching America whose tagline is:

"Discover What the World Thinks About U.S.
With Translated Foreign News Available NOWHERE Else In English

Robin Koerner's post on The Moderate Voice reviews the world's fascination with Barack Obama and his symbolic importance.

The prospect of a black leader is engaging the world’s media for some very important reasons.

First, the selection of a leader from an ethnic minority is extremely progressive prima facie.

Second, it would be all the more dramatic following a period of extreme liberal retreat and toothlessness.

Third, the choice faced by America has a special poignancy and self-defining importance by virtue of the brutality and deep cultural importance of the still-raw history that defines the place of African-Americans in the United States.

Fourth - and this is the reason that might be less obvious from the media rooms of these States but may be the most interesting - every open country faces its own huge questions around the integration and enfranchisement of its minorities, and have their own cultural groups which could not easily be imagined as providing a leader: this huge choice for America could, in a way, propel the developed world’s bastion of conservatism, Bush’s United States, to a beacon of progressive societal choice, which would, by its existence alone, shine a new light on racial issues particular to countries very far away, both geographically and politically. And for that reason, whether explicitly stated or not, the foreign press watch Obama’s journey to the White House as closely as they’ve watched any.

The list of articles she points to come from Germany, Nigeria, South Africa, Australia, Israel, Canada and the UK.


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