Friday, February 20, 2009

Obama Day in Ottawa + 1

Well, President Barack Obama’s visit is now just a memory, and yet the MSM is still loaded with stories about it. A whole lot of fawning over this mainly Obama2unproven foreign politician, balanced by the almost daily gratuitous, petty put-downs by the likes of television host Michael Coren. I find neither of these extremes helpful.

Based on the almost all-day coverage we saw yesterday, I’d rate the visit as moderately successful. What it lacked in substance, it made up for in goodwill between our countries. And how can we lose by being viewed favourably by the leader of the free world and chief representative of the most powerful nation on earth?

I’m still not fully persuaded that we Canadians should not be worried by the U.S. Congress’ buy American biases. What does seem to be clear, however, is that Canada’s special relationship vis-à-vis the United States is better appreciated by President Obama than it was throughout former president, George W. Bush’s first term in the White House. And that’s a good thing. Hopefully, both Stephen Harper and Michael Ignatieff were able to reinforce this point in their meeting with the President.

One thing puzzles me: why do most people refer to President Obama a being “black,” as in “…first black president.”? He is of African American descent, of course, but how is he black? Isn’t this old fashioned American (and perhaps Canadian) racism whereby a single drop of “black” blood makes a person black. Since the man is equally black and white, why doesn’t he qualify equally to be referred to as either black or white. Yet, I’ve not heard a single person refer to him as “white.” Clearly he is biracial and not black.

Perhaps this is hair splitting on my part, but the “one-drop rule” of racial classification has always seemed bigoted to me. It is, after all, only really used to describe people with some black African ancestry. And it does not help at all that many African Americans use the rule—it does not make it any less racist.

President Obama is privileged to straddle that great racial divide that is America. He has dual perspectives and will perhaps be a better president and commander in chief for it.smleaf


  1. "He is of African American descent, of course...."

    Obama isn't of "African American descent" at all. His ancestry is 50% WASP and 50% Kenyan, and exactly 0% African American.

  2. Good point, Steve. I should have said “African descent.”

  3. Aw, I was just being an insufferable pedant, Old Bean.