National Review Online: Leader of the Pack

National Review Online

Leader of the Pack

What British commentators on the U.S. election campaign lack in knowledge and perspective they make up for in sheer nerve. 

This is particularly true when it comes to the question of race and America. See for example thisby historian Tristram Hunt or this and this. Supposedly the candidacy of Barack Obama offers us benighted Yanks an opportunity for redemption: a chance to rise above our appalling history, heal our wounds, and perhaps show that for once that the lot of the black man in a racist America is beginning to change.

That’s pretty rich coming from a country which is decades away from offering blacks and other minorities the kind of opportunities available in the U.S. 

It is indeed significant that we Americans have an extremely popular black candidate for president. But we have long had black Supreme Court justices, beginning with Thurgood Marshall in 1967. We have had black CEOs of major corporations, like American Express’s Kenneth Chenault. We have had Black university heads and star academics like Henry Louis Gates.

We have long celebrated great American novelists who happen to be black, like Ralph Ellison and James Baldwin.

How close is the British army to having a non-white brigadier general, let alone a non-white chief of defense staff? How many decades is it likely to be before Britain has a black foreign secretary or Lord Chief Justice? At this point Britain cannot even boast a non-white police chief or mayor of a medium sized city. The records of countries like France and Germany are even worse. America’s record on race deserves less condescension and a lot more respect from Britons and Europeans.

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