Some feedback


image of issue 65 frontpageTBR’s Nov./Dec. 2008 issue brought much feedback in response to the editor’s note on the front page concerning the U.S. elections.  Below is the editor’s note, followed by a sampling of reader feedback:

 Local news:  Much cheering in the streets over Obama’s win in the U.S.  I have to rethink my position over here; it’s not the world as I knew it:  Where are the burning U.S. flags and smashed windows in McDonalds and other U.S. chains?  Why isn’t the U.S. consulate smeared with paint?  We Americans abroad have lived so long under the ugly American that it is hard to register that, gulp, Americans are liked again!  It’s going to take some getting used to, I can tell you. I feel for those hard-core protesters who were just itching to have a go but were left with no reason to burn or bash anything.

Yes, there is a different feeling in the air.  Truly, I have never experienced anything like it in my 21 years here.  After following the election all night on the internet, all alone, I woke up on the 5th to dozens of congratulatory emails, and the phone calls started at noon.  Now, when I go to the local café or bar, the bread shop, the pharmacy—anywhere and everywhere—I am immediately welcomed with ¡Felicidades! ¡Felicidades!, and everyone there looks at me and joins in.  I am made to feel special because of my country—an entirely new feeling, let any American abroad tell you. More than one person has said: ¡Esta es la América que amo!   (That is the America I love!)    

And that is the America I love.  Thank you, Barack Obama, thank you. The world, for now, stands with you. That support and enthusiasm might waver in the tough days ahead, but I don’t think it will disappear altogether, not soon anyway.  The people want Barack Obama to succeed, and there is immense power and hope in that.  Bless. 

from Judith van Praag:

We totally relate to your report on Obama winning. I'm Dutch and my Texan husband has had to answer a lot of questions the past 8 years. We as well received messages from Europe and elsewhere to congratulate us with the new president. It's as though people are finally able to look us in the eye again.

from Hosanna Marshall:

I enjoyed your account of the Spaniards response to Obama's win. I was living in Buenos Aires at the time and had a similar experience.  Cab drivers were most informed and eloquent on the topic.  I, a black woman, was astounded at the level of genuine support from a country that many think of as racist.  It's a testament not just to Obama's power, but to the world being ready and desperate for a change. America doing the impossible means the world can do the impossible. On the night of the election, I found myself at a viewing party hosted by Democrats Abroad at a bar in Palermo Viejo. It was full of sweaty people of all nationalities standing on their feet and screaming in various accents, " O-BAM-A, O-BAM-A!" When CNN projected the Latino vote 67% in favor of Obama, the entire crowd erupted in the historically charged chant, "Si se puede, Si se puede!" The feeling of solidarity was overwhelmingly powerful and my eyes teared involuntarily. In that moment, I saw one world in favor of peace and justice and opportunity for all. I saw America restoring its reputation. And I was proud to be an American.

from Kathe Kokolias:

Your comment about no longer living in the shadow of the Ugly American since Obama's victory hit a chord with me. I spend every winter in Mexico helping my husband with his kayak tour business (he takes people bird watching at a nearby lagoon) and for too long (the last eight years at least) have felt embarrassed and apologetic about the actions of the US government. Like the Spaniards you described, the Mexicans were delighted with Obama's election, saying that they never imagined the American people would elect a person of color. They are filled with hope, as are we. When I visited a friend in Ireland in mid-November, it was the first time in years that I have not been ashamed to travel under a US passport. Everywhere I went, people expressed their enthusiasm and support for our new president.