Tuesday 25 Sep 2018 | 07:53 | SYDNEY
Tuesday 25 Sep 2018 | 07:53 | SYDNEY

Race: Americans way ahead of pundits


Sam Roggeveen


3 November 2008 09:57

Having recently praised the 'inestimable' Time Magazine journalist Joe Klein, I must now retract slightly, after reading this embarrassing bit of fawning over Barack Obama. I love Klein's line near the end of the post: '...cynicism is what passes for insight among the mediocre'. He's right, but cynicism is surely little worse than dewy-eyed optimism and talk of bursts of creativity and the dawning of a new America.

So why is Klein is such an exalted mood? Because he saw a Hollywood film involving an interracial wedding, 'which seems to phase none of the participans in the slightest'.

But I'd argue that when it comes to social trends, Hollywood is a trailing indicator, not a leading one. The US has clearly come a long way in a short time (did you know LBJ's Secretary of State offered to resign when his daughter announced her engagement to a black man?), but let's not forget that Colin Powell was a pretty popular figure, who surely had the Republican nomination in his grasp if he'd chosen to run in 1996.

If Obama wins, we're going to see a lot of purple prose about racial healing in America, but my guess is, most Americans will shrug their shoulders and wonder what the fuss is all about.

UPDATE: I should have noted that my observation about Colin Powell came from an interview I heard over the weekend with Shelby Steele from the Hoover Institution. I see The Australian has published a transcript of that interview.