This week, we had a 19-year old young woman from Italy, visiting the U.S. for the first time, staying at our home. She is very interested in politics, and hopes to major in international relations to perhaps become a diplomat one day. Over dinner last night, and then a walk across the Brooklyn Promenade, we discussed the perception of U.S. politics in her home country.
She said that the election of Barack Obama was a very happy and big event for Italians, and for many Europeans. In some ways, she said, Obama's election had comparable impact on Italians and Europeans as did the events of 9/11/01. (Our guest did visit the Ground Zero Memorial yesterday, as well, and was very moved.) "What about Bush?," I asked. Her face grew dark, and she just shook her head.
What did it mean, I wondered, that the election of an American president could be a cause for celebration in other western countries?
Of course, the Deliverance crowd would say that it means Obama is selling our country out, that if other countries like us, even our own allies, instead of fear and loathe us, we must be doing something wrong. Peace and international cooperation after all, is for pussies and elites with college degrees. Real Americans, with Bazooka Bubble Gum jokes for an education, don't want the United States to be appreciated by the rest of the free world. That's wimpy shit! You know, it should be, like... "Speak loudly to hide your little stick!"
Anyway, it was very gratifying to hear from our Italian friend that America can still be a light for the world.
Avere un grande giorno!