Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Wow

You've read my past posts. You know my views on race. It's not fuzzy.

But I'll be honest.

I cried last night when CNN called the race for Obama.

Sure, maybe I'm brainwashed by the liberal media and the DC environment. Or maybe it was the pure euphoria in the streets of liberal DC after the election, when people who have never appreciated being American before are now crying and draping themselves in the flag.

Or maybe it was McCain's incredibly eloquent concession speech.

But let me put this in context. Long post but hey, I haven't written alot recently so bear with me.

Almost ten years ago, I was living in Moscow, Russia. Walking with my American friends in red square, I was singled out by the military police and they demanded my documents. Shrill screaming from my Russian and American counterparts didn't assure him, and I was pulled away before he did anything. But that singular moment forced me to confront the idea that my being an Indian American made me different from white people.

And that same year 9/11 happened. Living in NYC I saw the skyline change from my school. And all of a sudden people looked at me differently. My anti-Islamic views hardened as a result of feeling defensive when people thought I was Muslim.

Years later I worked on the Kerry campaign, from the ghettos of Philadelphia to the festivals of Ohio and lots of irritated callers. What drove me to the blue side was The Republican's shameful manipulation of 9/11 to question the patriotism of those who opposed the Iraq war. It was VERY upsetting when Kerry lost. I was ready to write off the country.

But then shortly after the election I went abroad. In the ghettos of the third world, I saw desperate families sell off their daughters, condemning them to a life of prostitution. These girls had a fundamental belief that they were neither responsible for nor entitled to lead the life that they wanted to do. Their lives were products of Karma and that was it. And the political system was designed to either serve the elites or pander to the masses continued to prevent social mobility. In Malaysia I was stopped by police and they demanded to know MY RELIGION. I went to Vietnam and was shocked by the positive views that the people in southern Vietnam STILL had for the US, when we bled for their freedom decades ago.

I realized there was something special about the United States and despite the fact that I disliked the current president, the country remained an inspiration to billions, a force for good in the world, and a nation united by its love of freedom.

But in Thailand I was then faced with a disturbing realization: that I was not an American. In the eyes of the Thai, my skin color defined me. If I told them I was American, they joked and said they were American too. If I showed them my id, they would take it as losing face by being wrong and still wouldn't talk to me. They treated me differently from my white friends. I mean, it's still an incredibly friendly country with fantastic people. But yet their idea of nationality is DEEPLY connected to race. The country of Thailand had a connection to the previous kingdoms of Thailand, and so has an ethnic identity deeply rooted. And this is still a relatively liberal country. Just next door, Cambodia, is still recovering from the Khmer Rouge, which systematically killed off foreigners who were not ethnic Khmer (as well as innocent dissidents). I was face to face with hundreds of skulls and couldn't sleep that night-this is what happens when government divide their people.

Two years ago I traveled Latin America and was confronted by a police officer at the border. He asked me the standard questions and then after taking a look at my passport casually asked for a 300 dollar bribe to cross the border. I was shocked, and then found out why: he thought I was an Islamic terrorist operating under a false passport.

I'm not kidding. The idea of an Indian American was that alien to the official, or at least, rare enough, that he thought he could intimidate me into lining his pockets. Didn't happen. I was saved by the US consulate that certified I was a US citizen.

Traveling in Europe last summer I was struck by the state of Indians in those countries. All stuck in blue collar jobs. Having nothing to do with the locals. Same thing with the African and Asian minorities. And if you look at the status of their Islamic minorities, it is clear why Europe ultimately will never have the appeal of the United States. They are prisoners of their history. Sure, they may be more sympathetic to atheism, but at what cost? The Inquisition, the 30 years war, Adolf Hitler, Communism, the list goes on. Only an Italian can be an Italian. Only a Spaniard can be Spanish. Only a German can be German, and the Turks there don't even want to be German. They go there to make their money, and then leave, or establish themselves in ethnic enclaves.

So, what is special about the United States? We may be the oldest democracy in the world, but as a people with an identity we are one of the youngest in the world. Americans may be criticized for being forgetful of history, but I consider it a blessing. Because history doesn't matter, anyone can become an American. The United States will not be limited by human history. With the exception of the Native Americans and African Americans, the United States is a country of people that choose to be Americans. The American identity is not one of race, religion, ethnicity, or any other narrow demographic factor.

It is a nation of people who crossed oceans or took long flights because of a simple idea: your life is yours, and you deserve the opportunity to be the person you want. Nothing is inevitable in this world.

And so, the American identity is uniquely appealing to the world but yet so transcendent. And I only realized this after I left the US.

And so returning back to the fierce immigration debate on Steve Sailer's web site I was struck by the lack of a middle ground. The so-called HBD realists were simply white supremacists who wanted to keep America a white nation. The liberals wanted to let everyone in. I admit, at times I felt as if I'd never be considered a true American.

And then Barack Obama came along. And even as far back as a year ago I realized that if he could be elected president, then there truly are no limits in this great country.

How hollow the rhetoric of the dictators of the east, who say that American democracy is a sham to justify their regimes. Their people now know the false nationalism of their leaders is just a cover to justify their grip on power.

How bereft the Islamic religion appears now! While we elect a man with the Middle Name Hussein, the birthplace of Islam (Saudi Arabia) still does not allow people to bring religious icons into their land.

How absurd the ravings of Chavez and Ahmadinejad, the Mugabes, the Morales, who say that the imperialism of the United States continues to oppress the minorities of the world.

How laughable the accusations of the Europeans that America is a racist nation, while they condemn their minorities to ghettos and never accept them as true citizens. The same Europeans who long for a leader such as Obama in their countries but will never be able to find such a person.


If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.



And it is important for people to realize this, both in the US and abroad.
From the Wall Street Journal:

One promise of his victory is that perhaps we can put to rest the myth of racism as a barrier to achievement in this splendid country. Mr. Obama has a special obligation to help do so.


This is important. Obama's election should demonstrate a simple fact that I've long discovered over and over again while traveling: the United States is not a fundamentally racist country. In fact, the rest of the world is much, much more wedded to race than we are. Even before the election, an Indian American, Neal Kashkari, was chosen to run the bailout program.

So, what happens if African Americans are confront with this?

Despite the admirable openness of the American people, the achievement gap and high prison population remains. Africa remains a basket case. While Saletan's landmark piece on race and intelligence was widely condemned, the data remains and the state of the modern African American is still dismal.

I think this election will allow moderates and those tired of Al Sharpton's rants a chance to shed their guilt and instead focus on perfecting the Union for ALL americans.

So what happens when HBD clashes with the reality of the American promise? People will start asking questions. And people will demand solutions.

And this is where the singularity comes in.

We are a nation of transcending identities. Your birth DOES NOT MATTER in the United States.
From today's times editorial


This is one of those moments in history when it is worth pausing to reflect on the basic facts:

An American with the name Barack Hussein Obama, the son of a white woman and a black man he barely knew, raised by his grandparents far outside the stream of American power and wealth, has been elected the 44th president of the United States.


If you listen to the pundits, they are literally breaking down in tears (and I have a lump in my throat too) as they acknowledge that they can FINALLY tell their children that they can aspire to be President of the United States. In Eugene Robinson's column, he talks about a new pride in America.


For African Americans, at least those of us old enough to have lived through the civil rights movement, this is nothing short of mind-blowing. It's disorienting, and it makes me see this nation in a different light.

You see, I remember a time of separate and unequal schools, restrooms and water fountains -- a time when black people were officially second-class citizens. I remember moments when African Americans were hopeful and excited about the political process, and I remember other moments when most of us were depressed and disillusioned. But I can't think of a single moment, before this year, when I thought it was within the realm of remote possibility that a black man could be nominated for president by one of the major parties -- let alone that he would go into Election Day with a better-than-even chance of winning.

Let me clarify: It's not that I would have calculated the odds of an African American being elected president and concluded that this was unlikely; it's that I wouldn't even have thought about such a thing.

For African Americans, at least those of us old enough to have lived through the civil rights movement, this is nothing short of mind-blowing. It's disorienting, and it makes me see this nation in a different light.

You see, I remember a time of separate and unequal schools, restrooms and water fountains -- a time when black people were officially second-class citizens. I remember moments when African Americans were hopeful and excited about the political process, and I remember other moments when most of us were depressed and disillusioned. But I can't think of a single moment, before this year, when I thought it was within the realm of remote possibility that a black man could be nominated for president by one of the major parties -- let alone that he would go into Election Day with a better-than-even chance of winning.

Let me clarify: It's not that I would have calculated the odds of an African American being elected president and concluded that this was unlikely; it's that I wouldn't even have thought about such a thing.



But genetics matters.

This moment the United States embraces change and rejects the notion that birth matters.

At the same time, totally ignored by the media, we are on the cusp of a technological revolution that will fundamentally change the human condition. At this point, a very small (nerdish) part of the population is comfortable with the changes we can enact on ourselves in the coming decades.

The convergence of genetic engineering, nanotechnology, and artificial intelligence will lead to immortality, intelligence enhancement, physical augmentation, and such an intense level of interconnectedness that the concept of the individual will be gone. The concept of geography will slowly disappear. You want change? Just wait.

But back to Obama:

What was the theme of Obama's campaign? Change.

From his speech last night:




And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of our world - our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand. To those who would tear this world down - we will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security - we support you. And to all those who have wondered if America's beacon still burns as bright - tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.

For that is the true genius of America - that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that's on my mind tonight is about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She's a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing - Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.

She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn't vote for two reasons - because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.

And tonight, I think about all that she's seen throughout her century in America - the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can't, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.

At a time when women's voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.

When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs and a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that "We Shall Overcome." Yes we can.

A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination. And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change. Yes we can.

America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves - if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time - to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth - that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people:

Yes We Can. Thank you, God bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.


This country is demanding change. It is now guaranteed that the American people will not tolerate more failure from our government and we will have true reform and changing the country. Some of those changes will run into opposition from human nature. But now we will now longer be limited by human nature.

In this moment we have shown the world the uniquely fantastic entity that is the United States of America. We have again demonstrated the genius of our founders and the continued decency of the American people.

That in our entire universe, of one of the many galaxies, around an insignificant star, on a tiny planet barely distinguishable outside the solar system, life forms that have formed over billions of years of evolution have collectively have decided to take control of their future and restore honor to the greatest political entity that has ever existed. On a tiny speck of dust in the infinite chasm that is the universe, the convergence of transformative technology and a new political consciousness has the chance to remake humanity and alter the course of history.

Change is coming.

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