European Obamaphiles Trash the U.S.

In the week leading up to the presidential election in the United States, the British media have been ramping up their disapproval of Sarah Palin, their adoration of Barack Obama, and their collective contempt for the American electorate. In the Guardian of October 28, George Monbiot trashes everything he can conjure up and concludes America is a vast wasteland of uneducated nincompoops. (Watch out, George: your long diatribe, which has already attracted the ire even of lefty bloggers, may backfire and cause millions of swing voters to go for McCain, as Ohioans did in 2004 when the Guardian mocked the stupid folks of that crucial state.)

Now in the final hours of Election 2008, London's mayor, Boris Johnson, has endorsed Barack Obama. There is nothing wrong with this: despite his pukka accent Boris is an American citizen, having been born in New York and never renounced his allegiance to the Star-Spangled Banner. Although he is a Conservative and should show support for his counterpart party, the GOP, he chose to write an impassioned ode to Obama in the Daily Telegraph of October 21. This was followed on by a furious rebuke from the same paper's Washington correspondent, Toby Harnden, in the same twenty-four-hour cycle. Harnden sees Johnson's act as "silly" and cumbersome, inasmuch as Johnson had been ringing the praises of Hillary Clinton at the beginning of the primary season.

My complaint, however, is a specific one: I am sick and tired of Britons and Europeans pontificating about "American racism." It defies belief that nations who plundered vast continents and colonialized the Hottentot are now telling Americans they should shed their shameful past. There is no denying the United States has a legacy of misfortune in the context of the era of slavery and that segregation was a blot on its history, but the impact of African-Americans on every aspect of American culture is something to be celebrated and that has no equal in Europe and Great Britain. Whether one supported Hillary Clinton or Mike Huckabee, or whether one will be voting for John McCain or Barack Obama, the United States has just shown the world it is capable of staging an energetic exercise in democracy that cannot be rivaled anywhere on the planet. Yes, there have been nasty moments aplenty but no blood has been shed. The cheerful faces of blue- and white-collar campaigners across the great nation are a welcome contrast to the ugly scenario now unfolding in Britain over the peregrinations of grim government officials on the yacht of a slimy oligarch whose shenanigans have left him banned by the FBI from entering the U.S.