A couple of days ago, the NYT’s Thomas Friedman sounded a slightly hyperbolic note about Barack Obama’s popularity on the global stage: “It would not be an exaggeration to say that the Democrats’ nomination of Obama as their candidate for president has done more to improve America’s image abroad ... than the entire Bush public diplomacy effort for seven years.”
Well, if Obama’s nomination has done wonders for our image, just imagine what an Obama presidency would do, right? The WaPo’s Anne Applebaum suggested this week that this might not be as easy as we’d like, because, as she put it, “foreigners” might not “accept a black American president.”
I realize that this, too, may seem like a rather offensive question, particularly if one believes everything that one reads in newspapers…. But has Europe changed? And have Asia and the Middle East changed? I hate to put it so crudely, but — European newspaper reporting to the contrary — racism is not unique to the United States. The situation of ethnic minorities in Europe and Asia is completely different from that in the United States, and in many ways our societies aren’t comparable: Most nonwhite inhabitants of European societies are recent immigrants, not descendants of former slaves, and the particular circumstances of, say, the black Christian population in Arab-dominated Sudan are unique.
Given this, Applebaum argued, “do not be surprised if there is some backlash” against an Obama presidency overseas.
Fortunately, it looks like Applebaum doesn't know what she's talking about.