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"I want to be an American" - Obama fever taking over Europe
Granted, this is anecdotal, but still. A friend was telling me that one of her Dutch friends, after watching the Obama South Carolina victory speech, said "I was listening to it and I wanted to be an American."
Thursday, February 7,2008 13:46
by Shadi Hamid Democracy Arsenal

Granted, this is anecdotal, but still. A friend was telling me that one of her Dutch friends, after watching the Obama South Carolina victory speech, said

"I was listening to it and I wanted to be an American."

This is amazing. In my travels abroad, all I"ve heard is anger, frustration, and hatred toward America. But here is someone who listened to Obama and saw the possibility of a different kind of America, one that he could believe in. I"m used to defending America at every turn and pleading innocence whenever people bring up the Bush administration"s various crimes ("it wasn"t me. Despite the fact that I support U.S. democracy promotion, I"m not actually a neo-con"). But not so much anymore. Weirdly enough (and again this is anecdotal and based only on my circle of non-American friends and colleagues here in England), but anti-Americanism seems to have gone down ever since Obama"s dominated the headlines.

Everyone I meet here almost inevitably brings up Obama, often without prompting and usually followed by an accented attempt at "fired up, ready to go." I was at an, um, costume party the other night, and this German guy, almost two minutes after meeting me, started gushing about how excited he was about Obama. Then this other Irish guy started quoting Obama speeches and going on about how pumped he was for Super Tuesday. And I was like, what the heck is going on here? Am I in some parallel universe? And, for a moment at least, I was. I saw a glimpse of a universe where people see America not for what it is, but for what it still can be. Some people still believe in us. It in these moments that I really begin to appreciate the opportunity we will have in January 2009 to start again, to start over.


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