A racially charged atmosphere prevails there?
Yes, it looks the US is a society, with all its great strengths and maturity still feels vulnerable when it comes to the age-old racial issues. There is still, it seems a simmering undercurrent of unease when it comes to racial equality. It is very much like India’s own caste equations.
President Obama is in a unique situation today when he is the president he carries enormous power and authority. And yet, when it comes to racial issues he seems vulnerable, as the US media puts it, in a million sorts of ways! That is why his recent remarks on a US, white police man sparked off a million questions and endless debates and speculations. Finally, after two weeks, Obama sorted out the ticklish issue in his own unique way. He called the police man and the African American scholar who was a friend of the President for a casual meet over a beer session and they, all the two and the three and if you include the Vice President, all the four reached an understanding and learnt a “positive lesson”. They laughed it off, with Obama with his white shirt sleeves rolled up and laughed heartily at one point.
Yes, the solution to the embedded racial prejudices, as to the embedded caste prejudices in India, is not always easy.
Barack Obama apologises? Is it a non-apology of apology?
US Presidential authority compromised? Or, the US Presidential authority enhanced by the glow of a new moral authority?
The American people debate and mull over much on the latest developments on their President’s many challenges.
Yes, the US President is getting into the real world of politics. He had given an unusual number of interviews; the American TV networks are too hot and can get too nasty sometimes. The American press is no less alert and looks for how to make the US President less comfortable.
But then, Obama is perceived the world over as a new messiah type politician. He seems to have disproved many a myth about the modern-day politicians. See how the mighty had fallen? Tony Blair is now an untouchable! His name and face reviled. George Bush is as good as he is forgotten.
Other leaders in the Western world are no better. The more they are seen in public the more they are disliked or even caricatured. See the leaders of Fr4ance and Italy or for that matter other major nations. There are no great men and women in the public arena. So, Obama shines as no other.
That is one major reason why the media and the TV networks are more indulgent to Obama, even after so much news on his front are less than great news. Latest news is that the US President publicly apologised, in Indian terrain, to a police constable! And see how that has come about. The policeman, Sergeant Jim Crowley charged a respectable professor of Harvard, he is an African American professor, with mistaken view that the prof. was opening his own home door but was seen by the roaming policeman as breaking into his house door! The police are a white man, the prof. an African American.
So, when Obama heard this news the President in a rightful indignation said “he acted stupidly”. The police men, obviously they were predominantly white took offence and openly asked the President to apologies for his choice of words! Imagine what would have been the Indian scenario?
The police would have been suspended or sent out of view! Not in the USA!
There the individual liberty and personal freedoms are high. So, what the President did?
Obama, being what he is, took time and obviously he must have consulted his wife and came out with an apology. The President said that he could have “calibrated those words differently”!
Now this is America and there the standards of public conduct are more keenly debated.
Now, there have been a spate of comments and also a spate of polls and the comparisons and contrasts.
Some recent polls have given the president low ratings, one poll 48 per cent approval, 51 per cent said that the US was on the wrong track. Another gave 57 per cent, down from 68 per cent in April.
There are a range of issues on which the American public wants more resolute action but Obama sees things differently. Healthcare is a big headache in the USA at any time and this time too the President is not having his way. The economic meltdown, the economic stimulus package is not working. The war prisoners held in the notorious Guantanamo Bay Island could not be released as ordered by the President, for there are more complicated issues.US public don’t want to have those prisoners among themselves, no other countries are willing to take them. So, what the President himself can do?
So, the press and the public are becoming restless and they see the President is not assertive enough.
This is of course the usual expectations. The war in Iraq, Afghanistan, the very many other world issues, nuclear arms race, disarmament, reduction in nuclear arms, cultivating Russia, China are all weighing on the mind of the President.
The very economic recovery in the US is not an easy thing, it would take time, and he has to wait and watch and has to adopt much patience. This is what Obama is doing, obviously.
Because, this is a new kind of a leader who comes from a different background, it takes time and he seems to adopt a moral approach to solve the world’s issues. Obama is cast in the mould of Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. Let us hope and adopt a more sympathetic attitude to the US President.
The world is full of tensions, of race and ethnic hatreds, in Israel and elsewhere, there is no precedence to what Obama is trying to do. The UN is dead, the EU is also divided and narrowly focused and China is an unknown quantity. May be Obama is taking India for granted. This should not be seen as our weakness. It is our unique strength. I don’t know how the leaders in Delhi view themselves.
As for me, I view the India’s views must be subtly communicated and we must post a more public-spirited Indian face in Washington to vibe with the mood and sentiments of the White House to give India’s moral support openly and in a more creative and meaningful manner.
India is a natural ally of USA and more so, India is a more sympathetic ally of the great new USW President.
Racial divisions and our own communal and caste divisions have so much in common. Our democracy is not as mature as the US one is. The public level of understanding of politics and the outside world is not again as high as the average American citizens’ perception is.
Then, we have to interact with the American people more meaningful way. Already this is happening in some ways.
The Indian human resources are now much deployed in the US, in particular at the White House. The President is also aware of the contribution of Indian talents.
So, it is much better world now with out any hasty decision as taken by his predecessor. There is no major war in the world today. It is a great relief.
The fact that Obama is at the White House has made the world suddenly peaceful and there is a sense of relief everywhere and the world breathes easy, so to say!
The beer they drank is detailed in the press news, one drank one variety and everyone drank different variety, The VP went for the non-alcoholic drink, while the other three went for normal beer, Obama Bud Light!