On the night of America’s election last Tuesday, an Ethiopian American immigrant told Peace and Freedom that Barack Obama had more a global impact on the image of America than any other man ever…
The Washington Post
Sunday, November 9, 2008; Page B01
CAPE TOWN I am rubbing my eyes in disbelief and wonder. It can’t be true that Barack Obama, the son of a Kenyan, is the next president of the United States.
But it is true, exhilaratingly true. An unbelievable turnaround. I want to jump and dance and shout, as I did after voting for the first time in my native South Africa on April 27, 1994.
We owe our glorious victory over the awfulness of apartheid in South Africa in large part to the support we received from the international community, including the United States, and we will always be deeply grateful. But for those of us who have looked to America for inspiration as we struggled for democracy and human rights, these past seven years have been lean ones.
A few days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, we had our first shock, hearing your president respond not with the statesmanlike demeanor we had come to expect from a U.S. head of state but like a Western gunslinger. Later, it seemed that much of American society was following his lead.
When war began, first in Afghanistan and not long after in Iraq, we read allegations of prisoner abuse at Bagram air base in Afghanistan and of rendition to countries notorious for practicing torture. We saw the horrific images from Abu Ghraib and learned of gruesome acts performed in the name of gathering information. Sometimes the torture itself was couched in the government’s euphemisms — calling waterboarding an “interrogation technique.”