today thomas friedman writes in the new york times about egyptians' positive reaction to the election of obama as presidential candidate. this type of thing is a double-edged sword, making me smile and making me nervous at the same time. yes, friedman claims that egyptians "know...that if America — despite being attacked by muslim militants on 9/11 — were to elect as its president some guy with the middle name “hussein,” it would mark a sea change in america-muslim world relations." great. a sea change. let's hope.
but i can't help but worry that obama is viewed similarly within our own borders: as some guy with the middle name "hussein." i hate to distrust my fellow americans, but i know there are those who see acceptance of, even excitement about, obama in the middle east as a red flag.
i can say that from my corner of the world there is similar enthusiasm about obama. a student of mine said the other day "america is a great country. sometimes they make us hate them, but sometimes they do something that is inspiring to the rest of the world." a black person could never get elected in spain, or in most of europe for that matter. they will look at us and see that it is possible.
friedman voiced a similar sentiment: "But every once in a while, America does something so radical, so out of the ordinary...that it revives America’s revolutionary 'brand' overseas in a way that no diplomat could have designed or planned."people are impressed with us, that we elected a black man; and if we can successfully eject bush's party from the white house they'll be even more impressed.
i'm ready to be the type of america that impresses rather than disgusts people with our choices. although this american "brand" isn't something i believe in too strongly, it obviously carries weight in the world -- they are all following our election, after all. i would say that people, at least in spain, feel less hatred than disappointment in america. i would love nothing more than to begin to turn that around.