BBC BLOGS - Justin Webb's America
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A moment in history

Justin Webb | 00:52 UK time, Thursday, 28 August 2008

It was stunning - a moment of brilliantly produced political theatre and a moment to cherish forever. Television conveys something but to be there, to see a death and a birth; that was something else.

What made it was the chaos, the crowd, the press of bodies, the tears, the consequence of it all. It reminded me of the British parliament at its best, rowdy and physical yet serious of purpose and aware of its potency: consequence.

People died years ago for America's right to be able to have these moments and their descendents have done them proud, though in a way most of the nation's founders would have found impossible to imagine.

The roll call went state by state (Hawaii happy, talk of sunshine, Michigan miserable, talk of lost jobs in the Bush years) and all was proceeding with that ceremonial and genteel decorum that America is so good at ("Guam, can you repeat your numbers please? Oh thank you Guam!") - and then came New York.

What made it was the physicality of the moment - she swept in from a tunnel, on to the crushed, cramped floor, arm-in-arm with the governor of the state and its other senator. When she took the microphone, it was not at a distant podium with music and autocue and clocks to time the start and the finish.

There on the floor Hillary Clinton uttered the words that she needed to utter, in slightly courtly language (reminders of the Brits again) but clearly and with awareness of their consequence.

Then Nancy Pelosi called for the seconder to the motion that Obama be selected, and the roar was surely felt down the years. She did not pause for those opposed - they were crushed too. That, too, is politics. A reminder that all this is the exercise of power, of one group of human beings forcing others to accept their dominance.

As people cried and hugged each other and the music blared, I thought of the little black children stolen from their parents, the daily cruelty and humiliation suffered by black people in this country for so long in what one historian calls "America's Original Sin" and, to a lesser extent, the daily miseries they still endure. From slavery to the nomination of a black man as the leader of a major party. Sometimes it really does appear that our political evolution matches our physical progress...


  • 1. At 01:16am on 28 Aug 2008, gunsandreligion wrote:

    Justin, I'm glad that I'm not in your presence
    now, because this very un-British-like gushing
    of emotion would certainly wind up with us
    singing spirituals in a Pub somewhere.

    But, do have a good time.

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  • 2. At 01:17am on 28 Aug 2008, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Well, Justin, you wax Cooke-ian...First person at last!

    "As people cried and hugged each other and the music blared, I thought of the little black children stolen from their parents, the daily cruelty and humiliation suffered by black people in this country for so long in what one historian calls "America's Original Sin" and, to a lesser extent, the daily miseries they still endure. From slavery to the nomination of a black man as the leader of a major party. Sometimes it really does appear that our political evolution matches our physical progress..."
    We live in hope.


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  • 3. At 01:19am on 28 Aug 2008, molesworth_1 wrote:

    Given Hillary's "floor-show", what can Bill say against Obama that wouldn't undermine his wife's movement of the acclamation..?

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  • 4. At 01:34am on 28 Aug 2008, clarke_j wrote:

    I had always thought that selecting Hillary as running mate would be a mistake. Not so sure now. Admittedly, I think that HC has done everything that could be expected of her (although I think that she has done damage with the ad hominem attacks of the primaries). To split the Clintons over two nights also a mistake. Ultimately, better to have Hillary on the inside properly rather than coming across as a gracious losing candidate. This race will be very tight.
    One thing is for certain: Biden has a big ask ahead of him tonight to draw media attention from the Clintons. You know who will attract the most headlines; and that in itself suggests his selection may have been an error. Get hold of power first; worry about its distribution later.
    All this said Obama is more electrifying than all the above at the stump.

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  • 5. At 01:41am on 28 Aug 2008, David Cunard wrote:

    Without meaning to crow, some months back I suggested, on this blog, that Mrs Clinton should do exactly as she has done - ask for the nomination by acclamation. It really was the only thing she could do, and although theatrical, will endear her to a large public. Whether it will be enough to reverse my prediction of a McCain victory can't be foretold, but if she continues in this way, then I might just be wrong.

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  • 6. At 01:43am on 28 Aug 2008, clarke_j wrote:

    Anyone watching live? This guy Evan Bayh seems to have too much to say in too little time. Apparently the US is borrowing money from China, Japan and "*even* Mexico": Sure that will go down well in Albuquerque. I also miss Charles Wheeler's august commentary RIP.

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  • 7. At 01:50am on 28 Aug 2008, proles wrote:

    "Political theater" is about the size of it - something on the order of 'much ado about nothing'! And far from "the crowd, the press of bodies, the tears" of the theatrical convention of a political party and a nation 'by, for and of' the elites, the downtrodden of the world will be shedding a few tears of their own for real. No "hope" and "change" will be forthcoming in the next few years. People around the world will have to continue to die because of these kinds of faux conventions that nominate these kinds of imperial candidates. Now the roles are reversed, once America was the colony fighting for freedom, now it is the tyrant, thwarting freedom and self-determination in the Moddle East, Latin America, Asia. The new inclusive, iidentity politics has midwifed the Hillary's and Pelosi's and Obama's to join their 'white male' class cronies in celebrating the new grotesque multicultural version of American imperialism and "all this is the exercise of power, of one group of human beings forcing others to accept their dominance" from Palestine to Paraguay, meet your new emperor!

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  • 8. At 01:55am on 28 Aug 2008, gunsandreligion wrote:

    proles, lighten up, would you? We'll surely
    become a colony again, we just haven't decided
    upon whose doorstep we will land.

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  • 9. At 01:59am on 28 Aug 2008, DJRUSA wrote:

    I think Mr. Webb nailed the moment and the atmosphere as good as anyone could. Alistar Cooke couldn't have done better.

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  • 10. At 02:08am on 28 Aug 2008, allmymarbles wrote:

    Clinton had to ask for the nomination by acclamation when the New York vote was up because her own state would not have voted for her unanimously. I forgot what the exact vote was going to be. Does anyone remember.

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  • 11. At 02:09am on 28 Aug 2008, allmymarbles wrote:

    I see it as a case of not wanting to lose face in her own state.

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  • 12. At 02:13am on 28 Aug 2008, Xie_Ming wrote:

    A well-written piece, Mr. Webb!

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  • 13. At 02:15am on 28 Aug 2008, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Well! Well! William Jefferson Clinton! A cracking speech! Talk about hitting it out of the park...can't wait for Joe.

    Virtual drinks are on me!

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  • 14. At 02:25am on 28 Aug 2008, Candace9839 wrote:

    Watching live and Bill C behaving so far. Going on a bit, but endorsing Obama. Whew!

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  • 15. At 02:41am on 28 Aug 2008, Ed Iglehart wrote:


    "The McCain campaign is ecstatic over this report from Reuters: "Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's big speech on Thursday night will be delivered from an elaborate columned stage resembling a miniature Greek temple."

    By noon, three emails mocking Obama over the columns had been blasted out by the Republican National Committee, with more sure to come."
    And, then how's this, for hypocrisy?

    Salaam, etc.

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  • 16. At 02:45am on 28 Aug 2008, Candace9839 wrote:

    The Mondale interview earlier was good and Kerry is now whipping up enthusiasm for Obama quite effectively.

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  • 17. At 02:48am on 28 Aug 2008, Candace9839 wrote:

    Columns like the Lincoln Memorial say?

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  • 18. At 02:58am on 28 Aug 2008, SaintDominick wrote:

    Never underestimate the Clintons. Bill was awsome.

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  • 19. At 03:05am on 28 Aug 2008, RealFrigid wrote:

    Hi Justin,

    Ever heard of Frederick Douglass?

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  • 20. At 03:05am on 28 Aug 2008, LoquaciousIvy wrote:

    #10 Marbles,

    I thought Clinton was allowed to ask for the nomination by acclamation. Sort of a further show of solidarity, because other states that could have put him over the top passed on the roll call. I could be wrong.

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  • 21. At 03:23am on 28 Aug 2008, Candace9839 wrote:

    Biden has been nominated for VP by acclamation and accepted. Good video.

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  • 22. At 03:37am on 28 Aug 2008, Candace9839 wrote:

    Excellent speech by Biden. Obama chose well.

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  • 23. At 03:41am on 28 Aug 2008, allmymarbles wrote:

    20, Loquacity.

    Whatever they did, it was programmed. In any case Clinton could not afford to have New York polled (which I said some time ago). How would it have looked for her if her own state did not give her a resounding vote?

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  • 24. At 03:48am on 28 Aug 2008, Candace9839 wrote:

    Re:#20. Voting would normally proceed until a candidate got enough votes to win and then they would end the vote and nominate by acclamation. The deal they worked out ended it early after a few states with New York so that she could ask for Obama's nomination by acclamation.

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  • 25. At 03:54am on 28 Aug 2008, David Cunard wrote:

    #20. LoquaciousIvy "I thought Clinton was allowed to ask for the nomination by acclamation." That appears to have been the arrangement worked out to satisfy both camps. It was reported that there was to have been some kind of roll call at breakfast, with delegates still in their hotel rooms! Obviously that wasn't going to be acceptable and this way had all the theatre one could hope for. I'm sure it was no surprise to Nancy Pelosi or anyone else involved on the platform.

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  • 26. At 04:02am on 28 Aug 2008, clarke_j wrote:

    I thought that Kerry was excellent and exorcised a number of demons. Clinton good too; not as good as his wife, though. Chelsea has lovely hair. Biden a bit of a mixture for me. His mum was good value. Obama out now in an *unscripted* preliminary to his speech tomorrow. Quite a nice touch though. Will be interesting how well it goes in Mile High Stadium.

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  • 27. At 04:03am on 28 Aug 2008, Candace9839 wrote:

    Obama and Biden together on stage surrounded by family with the crowd on their feet cheering. Slainte Mhor!

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  • 28. At 04:05am on 28 Aug 2008, Gary_A_Hill wrote:

    I just hope no dogs or ponies were injured in the making of this convention.

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  • 29. At 04:10am on 28 Aug 2008, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Slainte Mhor right backatchya!

    G'night all

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  • 30. At 04:27am on 28 Aug 2008, justcorbly wrote:

    AllMyMarbles (#10): The Clinton motion for acclimation was worked out between her camp and Obama's. It was a way of allowing Clinton to be placed in nomination to go through a roll call vote. By the rules, once the ballot began, her first chance to speak came when it was NY's turn. It had nothing to do with who in the NY delegation may or may not have voted for her.

    On slavery's legacy: Slavery's mark on America obviously lingers, as it does elsewhere in this hemisphere. But, more fundamentally, slavery was the result of the racist mindsets of those Europeans who colonized the hemisphere and who grew rich off the slave trade. Britains and other Europeans would do well to acknowledge that they brought that evil institution to our shores and share our culpability for it.

    So then, Obama's nomination is also a triumph for Europe.

    Now, let's see you Brits do it.

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  • 31. At 05:45am on 28 Aug 2008, GhostRiderYVR wrote:

    Great piece, Justin... Say Hi to RS from PD when you return to the Strand....

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  • 32. At 06:18am on 28 Aug 2008, jacksforge wrote:

    well screw the republican and nohope supporters.that whole lot rocked as Obama put it.

    Bill did real well for a beginner, I care little about hillary in the future except that she did her bit.
    That vp choice seems quite articulate.

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  • 33. At 06:27am on 28 Aug 2008, MikeIL wrote:


    Perhaps slavery was America's original sin. But Britain played Eve to our Adam -- When will we see the UK's first black Prime Minister?

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  • 34. At 06:34am on 28 Aug 2008, NoRashDecisions wrote:

    "I thought of the little black children stolen from their parents, the daily cruelty and humiliation suffered by black people in this country for so long in what one historian calls "America's Original Sin" and, to a lesser extent, the daily miseries they still endure."

    Yes we've come a long way and I, like everyone else, couldn't be more thrilled!! But Justin, while yes African-Americans still endure cruelty and miseury today, if it is due to raceism, those people are few and far between!! Largely it is because of what all people of all colors suffer from...poverty! You make it sound as if raceism is very much alive and kicking in this country, nd I causion against that!

    Otherwise, wonderful description and thanks so much for the lovely comparison to the British houses of parlament!! Its nice to know that in some cases in America one can be themself in politics, although I do still think congress should have an equivalent of prime minister's questions!

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  • 35. At 06:45am on 28 Aug 2008, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    What do you mean "our political evolution" kimosabe?

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  • 36. At 06:48am on 28 Aug 2008, NoRashDecisions wrote:

    justcorbly #30: While they haven't (yet) had a prime minister of a different race, they had a woman prime minister a good 20 years before any women seriously entertained the idea in this country, and not only that, but a prime minister who's tenyor in no. 10 has outlasted any prime minister before, and any prime minister since! They do egnoledge slavory, and the British parlament has (I think) apologised for it officially, something which is still being debated in congress.

    So its 1/1. First woman leader goes to the British, while the first leader of a different race (hopefully and God willing!!!) goes to America.

    Excuse the misspelled words...its late.

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  • 37. At 06:59am on 28 Aug 2008, allmymarbles wrote:

    34, NoRash.

    The impression foreigners get from our media is that whites and blacks spend all their time killing each other. The media would disappoint their advertisers if they showed blacks and whites working side by side, or a white going to a black doctor. And what about the increase in interracial marriages and the new generation of tan-colored children? Nope, that doesn't sell papers.

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  • 38. At 07:02am on 28 Aug 2008, allmymarbles wrote:

    36, NoRash.

    Didn't Indira Ghandi come before Thatcher? and Golda Meir is somewhere around the same time.

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  • 39. At 07:15am on 28 Aug 2008, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    " It reminded me of the British parliament at its best "

    What a fantastically contrived analogy. Do you work jig-saw puzzles with a pair of scissors too Mr. Webb?

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  • 40. At 09:53am on 28 Aug 2008, GavinH wrote:

    I must be thick.What does"nomination by acclamation" actually mean.
    Does it mean that if everybody shouts "Yo"
    loudly that Obama is the winner or is it something more subtle.

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  • 41. At 10:05am on 28 Aug 2008, Ian_3Q wrote:

    I heard this piece (or a very similar version of it) delivered by Justin on Today (R4). If anyone deserves to inherit the mantle of Alastair Cooke then surely it's Justin Webb - a perfect piece that conveys the 'personal' without compromising the professional journalism.

    And a piece that makes me want to go and practice my word craft...

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  • 42. At 10:53am on 28 Aug 2008, Cyril_Croydon wrote:

    Well written Justin.

    I was watching till late last night on CNN. Bill and Joe's speeches were perfect. Hillary's intervention was a special moment. Pure theatre and why we Brits love you Americans so much! You'd never see anything like that at our party conferences.

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  • 43. At 10:56am on 28 Aug 2008, TrueToo wrote:

    This is a shameless demonstration of political bias in favour of the Democrats:

    It was stunning - a moment of brilliantly produced political theatre and a moment to cherish forever. Television conveys something but to be there, to see a death and a birth; that was something else.

    Now if you say anything remotely similar at the Republican Convention, provided you actually bother to attend it, I'll eat my monitor.

    This last bit is also quite instructive, if one wants to understand where you, and so many of your fellow-travellers at the BBC are coming from:

    As people cried and hugged each other and the music blared, I thought of the little black children stolen from their parents, the daily cruelty and humiliation suffered by black people in this country for so long in what one historian calls "America's Original Sin" and to a lesser extent, the daily miseries they still endure. [My emphasis.] From slavery to the nomination of a black man as the leader of a major party.

    So here we have the North America editor from the 'impartial' BBC bearing the banner aloft for a political party with emotion-laden prose: Barack Obama will be the hero, the black Superman who will fly in, cape billowing behind him, to right the wrongs still endured by black America. This is actually insulting to the memory of Martin Luther King. If King were alive, I have no doubt he would explain to you that the dream has long been realised, that blacks have full equality and rights in America and to keep on blaming the white man for their problems is the mother of all cop outs.

    You are not simply biased here, you are actively campaigning for the Democrats - and revealing your own ‘liberal’ left orientation along the way.

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  • 44. At 11:01am on 28 Aug 2008, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Ian (41),

    Steady on! It'll take more than one venture into the first person to start catching up with the Old Man...

    Still, the kid done good.


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  • 45. At 11:05am on 28 Aug 2008, Ricardo7191 wrote:

    I don't like to rain on Justin's parade, but isn't the BBC faintly embarrassed by the fact that its US correspondent seems to act as a kind of cheerleader rather than a reporter?

    Still, he is covering what he calls 'the world's most fascinating, open and complex place', so perhaps its charms would cause even the sturdiest of us to lose our sense of balance, not to say objectivity.

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  • 46. At 11:43am on 28 Aug 2008, Simon21 wrote:

    "People died years ago for America's right to be able to have these moments and their descendents have done them proud, though in a way most of the nation's founders would have found impossible to imagine."

    Not sure on this. Jefferson, for one, would have abhored such populist spectacles and, as he kept slaves, he proably would have thought the process that saw a blackman telling white people what to do, an inversion of the natural order.

    There is much to be said for the electoral process to mature and either revert to or develop beyond the crude theatre currently on display.

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  • 47. At 12:14pm on 28 Aug 2008, SaintDominick wrote:

    While I readily admit that I was inspired and reassured by Hillary's, Bill's and Joe's speeches I think the topic that should be addressed at this point is McCain's impending announcement of his VP choice. The lack of attention that the BBC is paying to the GOP candidate demonstrates bias and ignores the obvious reality that the outcome of the upcoming election is far from certain.
    I still think Romney is the logical choice, but I would not discount Meg Whitman, the old President and CEO of eBay. Not only would she introduce a new dynamic to this presidential campaign by virtue of gender, but she would offset one of McCain's greatest weaknesses: his lack of familiarity with economic and fiscal matters. Needless to say, Romney's selection would produce the same result with the added benefit that he could very well move one or two states that are currently at play to the Republican side. Charlie Crist has a chance but I doubt he will be picked.

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  • 48. At 12:44pm on 28 Aug 2008, Wicked_Witch_of_the_West_Coast wrote:

    #30 That should be Britons, not Britains. If you're having a dig, at least spell it properly! ;-)

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  • 49. At 12:47pm on 28 Aug 2008, hms_shannon wrote:


    Nice one Cyril,

    My thoughts totally.

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  • 50. At 12:58pm on 28 Aug 2008, Jonathan wrote:

    But it's all so overblown. McCain is hardly going to mind - his whole campaign seems to comprise poking fun at Obama's tendency towards the grandiose.

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  • 51. At 1:53pm on 28 Aug 2008, justcorbly wrote:

    #46, (Simon21): Jefferson would have relished the convention. Of all the revolutionary figures, other than Thomas Paine, he was the closest to being a populist.

    #40, (Gavin): Acclimation is what you saw last night: A motion is introduced to suspend the state-by-state roll call vote and, instead to allow the delegates a voice vote as a group. Clinton made the motion, it was seconded, the chair (Pelosi) called the vote, the delegates voted, and Obama was nominated. In the modern era, i.e., since nominees have been determined during the primaries, convention voting is typically by acclimation. Failure to do that is seen as a sign of party discord.

    #34, (NoRash): Racism is alive and well across the planet, not just here in the U.S. We have eliminated Jim Crow and de jure (legally enforced) segregation, but we have not eliminated expectations determined by skin color or actual segregation. The law may stand up for the rights of African-Americans, but many Caucasian Americans have not fundamentally changed their attitudes. Meanwhile, the anti-immigrant movement is shot through with racist overtones and motivations.

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  • 52. At 2:22pm on 28 Aug 2008, Ed Iglehart wrote:


    You're right about Jefferson and Paine, two of the greatest Heroes in my crowded Pantheon, and your final paragraph is right on the mark. It is changing, but, sadly, it takes several generations...I remember the "White Only" and "Coloured" signs, which are now gone, but there are still mostly dirt roads in the darker-pigmented parts of most Southern towns of my acquaintance...

    We live in Hope
    Salaam, etc.

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  • 53. At 2:59pm on 28 Aug 2008, NoRashDecisions wrote:

    allmymarbles #38: Yes that's true, but 'justcorbly was refering specifically to Britain, and so I was just explaining to them some of the facts which they may not have been aware of.

    Gavin Humph #40: No. 'Vote by aclomation simply means the role call is interupted, so that the pre determined party's nominee for president (vie the primarees) can be decided upon. Where as in previous decades the nominee/all the people around them were actually all decided upon at the conventions, now they are all done so before hand and the conventions are largely for show.

    Cyril Croydon#42: '"Pure theatre and why we Brits love you Americans so much! You'd never see anything like that at our party conferences."

    Thank you so much for the warm sentament (in my opinion people don't compliment other nationalities nearly enough!!) But that is probably because you get the luxury of desplaying pashonit knock-out theator every week in the house of Commons! I think its great! Its like the best of Hollywood and Washington (the drama, whitty jibes etc, and the seriousness and awareness of the gravity of decisions made as Justin pointed out) combined!

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  • 54. At 3:16pm on 28 Aug 2008, NoRashDecisions wrote:

    justcorbly #51: People self segrigate. I don't agree with it, and don't understand why people do, but the laws are no longer in existance segrigating people, so if they still are, its soley their fault! Who exactly holds these "expectations" of African-Americans? I hthink that's hipicritical if any whites do but still claim not to be racest! I personally don't care what race you are, I'll judge you the same whether you do something good or bad, whether you excell or falter. The imigration debate is driven by racest undertones by the Republicans (and few of them) largely. I'm not saying raceism doesn't certainly stil exist, but neither am I agreeing that it is ubiquitous in this country!

    ukwales #49: Thanks as well!

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  • 55. At 3:20pm on 28 Aug 2008, G_K___ wrote:

    I agree about the fittingness of the spectacle, in that it reminds us what American democracy really is - a form of public theatre.

    But for the idea that the country's "political evolution matches our physical progress", I can see no evidence whatever. A black man at the helm is an inspirational symbol undoubtedly: but this is a political system which has long ago learned how to use inspirational symbolism to manipulate and control the human beings within its ambit. Anyone who gets within a light year of the US presidency is already so deeply compromised to the vested interests which run the country that the possibility for real change has been brought close to zero by the time they secure the party nomination.

    The people who wield the real power in the United States have simply realised that they can make more money, more safely, from an outwardly empowered (black) population, than they can from one whose enslavement is naggingly visible.

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  • 56. At 3:37pm on 28 Aug 2008, AlanDR wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 57. At 3:48pm on 28 Aug 2008, justcorbly wrote:

    #53 (NoRash):

    Yep, I'm pretty aware of Thatcher, etc.

    Here's what I'm getting at: Comments often posted here and elsewhere by Europeans condemning the U.S. for slavery and racism carry more than a suggestion that their European cultures were, and are, immune from such burdens.

    Of course, those sentiments are patently false and guaranteed to be read by Americans as examples of snobbish European bigotry.

    Slavery existed in Europe for millenia, as did its cousin, serfdom. Europeans introduced African-American slaves to all the Americas, not just Britain's North American colonies. (Consider the legacy of slavery in Brazil and how he Portuguese profited.) A century earlier, Spain had enslaved multitudes of native Americans.

    Racism is a human failing, not something peculiar to any one society.

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  • 58. At 4:05pm on 28 Aug 2008, kagallag wrote:


    Thanks for pointing out all the "tan-colored children" in this country. In fact, Senator Obama is actually tan. I'm so tired of hearing about how he is the first black man nominated for President. This is disrespectful of his presumably English heritage (his mother's maiden name was Dunham) which I think he should be as proud of as his Kenyan heritage. Tiger Woods proudly proclaims himself to be mixed (African and Asian). Why can't Obama do the same? What he has achieved is certainly historic, but not for the reasons repeatedly proclaimed by the BBC.

    I'm sure I'm about to be slammed here for this comment, and labeled a racist, but I argue that racism goes both ways. We'll never be able to put our terrible past behind us until everyone, regardless of their race, can stop judging others by the color of their skin. Obama could help by showing pride in both sides of his heritage.

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  • 59. At 4:07pm on 28 Aug 2008, Gary_A_Hill wrote:

    allmymarbles (#38) Mary I of England and Mary of Scotland preceded Indira Ghandi by a considerable time.

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  • 60. At 4:14pm on 28 Aug 2008, Gary_A_Hill wrote:

    gavin_humph (#40), "acclamation" means that a voice vote is taken, and the affirmative must be at least two-thirds under Democratic Party rules. I suppose one could shout "yo" instead of "yea"; it hardly matters.

    Generally, it is done when it is clear that it will succeed easily.

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  • 61. At 4:18pm on 28 Aug 2008, Gary_A_Hill wrote:

    justcorbly (#51), I think "acclimation" is getting used to the thin air in mile-high Denver.

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  • 62. At 4:19pm on 28 Aug 2008, ArgyllJenny wrote:

    #38 allmy and others

    . . . then there was Mrs Bandaranaike in Sri Lanka, Mrs Bhutto in Pakistan, a women president of Ireland, Iceland, the present German chancellor, and I'm sure I've missed others around the world

    but I take your point about the missing colours amongst European leaders

    Why women? Why not representatives of non-whites? Point to ponder, since there are a reasonable number of other-race or mixed race members of parliament, in both houses.

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  • 63. At 4:23pm on 28 Aug 2008, TimothyR444 wrote:

    A British journalist giving Americans lectures on race: that is the definition of irony - and arrogance.

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  • 64. At 4:28pm on 28 Aug 2008, Gary_A_Hill wrote:

    kagallag (#58), Tiger Woods emphasizes his mixed parentage because he does not choose to serve as a role model for one race. He transcends race. Obama does the same. It is not Obama himself describing him as a "black" candidate.

    I am reminded, however, of an interview with August Wilson, a noted American playwright of mixed parentage who, when asked about it, said that society identified him as a black man; his entire experience was that of a black man; "I am black."

    A lot of Americans, especially the young, want to get past racial divisions.

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  • 65. At 4:29pm on 28 Aug 2008, wrpatton wrote:

    I have been fascinated by the convention - brilliant television. Annoyingly, the commentators seem to think that their personal thoughts are more important than the speeches of rather clever people, and interrupt coverage at will. The BBC was right up there in this regard.

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  • 66. At 4:30pm on 28 Aug 2008, Ed Iglehart wrote:


    "Obama could help by showing pride in both sides of his heritage."
    I think he does - every day and every time he invokes his mother and grandparents.

    I fully agree with the thrust of your argument in other respects, and can't imagine how you expect it to be "slammed". When I meet anyone from a different background, I'm interested in the differences and perspectives arising therefrom. I am not colour-blind - I celebrate the differences and opportunities to learn. If that makes me a racist, so be it.

    Peace to all

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  • 67. At 4:51pm on 28 Aug 2008, invisibleserendipity wrote:


    You may be interested to know that Thomas Jefferson, in his original draft of the Declaration of Independence (it was Jefferson who penned it) declared all men free - yes, this included the slaves. Franklin and Adams convinced him to take it out as the South (in particular, South Carolina) would not endorse the Declaration if those words were contained. I do not believe that he would feel as you think he would feel?

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  • 68. At 4:54pm on 28 Aug 2008, Gary_A_Hill wrote:

    "British parliament at its best"? Isn't this remark rather over-the-top? I've never observed parliament, I admit, but I know that it is a forum where matters may be debated, whereas a convention is not. Well, in principle they can, but not in this one. No way, no how, no disunity.

    It is my understanding that in the House of Commons, members are expected to speak without notes. Most of the speakers at the Democratic Convention were using a TelePrompTer. I'll bet Joe Biden is the only one among them who could make a respectable showing speaking extemporaneously.

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  • 69. At 5:00pm on 28 Aug 2008, Gary_A_Hill wrote:

    TimothyR444 (#63), I agree. Somebody send Mr. Webb a copy of Heart of Darkness (Joseph Conrad).

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  • 70. At 5:09pm on 28 Aug 2008, David Cunard wrote:

    #68 Gary "It is my understanding that in the House of Commons, members are expected to speak without notes." Not so - Churchill always used them and said something along the lines that if you use notes, flaunt them. When the Prime Minister is questioned weekly, he always has a large folder to quote from. There are of course impromptu remarks, but it is not a requirement. You can watch debates in the House of Commons on TV, even in the US; so doing might be of interest for you. The difference in behaviour to that of the American Congress is very marked - little deference and often far more raucous.

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  • 71. At 5:10pm on 28 Aug 2008, The Notting Hill Hammer wrote:

    63 TimothyR444.

    A British journalist giving Americans lectures on race: that is the definition of irony - and arrogance.


    Really? Ask some African Americans how they view white British people as opposed to white Americans. I think you would be surprised. My experience of the 2 countries is that black people are integrated into British society far more than in the USA.

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  • 72. At 5:18pm on 28 Aug 2008, gunsandreligion wrote:

    #63, TimothyR, I'm sure that Justin can defend
    himself, but surely the nomination of a black
    candidate for the highest office of the land
    is a milestone for this country, somewhat
    comparable to JFK being the first Catholic

    Far from lecturing us on race, I believe that
    Justin was complimenting us on how far we
    have come.

    Notwithstanding what I have just said, Obama
    being black is neither a positive nor a negative
    for me. I am far more interested in the actions
    that he would take if he were elected.

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  • 73. At 5:20pm on 28 Aug 2008, Ed Iglehart wrote:


    The story
    In Jefferson's own words. :

    " The clause too, reprobating the enslaving the inhabitants of Africa, was struck out in complaisance to South Carolina and Georgia, who had never attempted to restrain the importation of slaves, and who on the contrary still wished to continue it. Our northern brethren also I believe felt a little tender under those censures; for tho' their people have very few slaves themselves yet they had been pretty considerable carriers of them to others."
    And the relevant text:
    "He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating it's most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. This piratical warfare, the opprobium of INFIDEL powers, is the warfare of the CHRISTIAN king of Great Britain. Determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought & sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce. And that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the people on whom he also obtruded them: thus paying off former crimes committed against the LIBERTIES of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the LIVES of another. "
    But I see no freeing of the slaves...Jefferson died over fifty years later, still possessed of around 300 slaves, and leaving some mixed-blood descendants. I still hold him a hero - nobody's perfect.

    Salaam, etc.

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  • 74. At 5:22pm on 28 Aug 2008, Gary_A_Hill wrote:

    David_Cunard (#70), thanks for the clarification. I would love to watch the House of Commons, but I am "channel challenged," to put it in contemporary American language, so cannot.

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  • 75. At 5:29pm on 28 Aug 2008, gunsandreligion wrote:

    #73, Ed, another case of special interests
    trumping men of principle and retaining the status quo.

    So, what else is new?

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  • 76. At 5:44pm on 28 Aug 2008, invisibleserendipity wrote:



    But, if we reprobate this action - thereby, attempting to decimate it in its future course - therefore, a natural abolition - would that not count towards freedom? Hmmm ...

    That is one of the only issues I have with the founding fathers - they didn't speak plain English - does it mean this? Does it mean that? Ha! How clever were they?

    Regards (from another Jeffersonian ...)

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  • 77. At 6:00pm on 28 Aug 2008, Ed Iglehart wrote:


    I like to think that the young Jefferson hoped that, having achieved independence, abolition and emancipation could be achieved in due course. He is also on record elsewhere advocating repatriation to Africa. Washington freed his slaves in his will, but I don't believe Jefferson did the same.

    My ancestors, in their writings, never used the term "slave", referring instead to "servants" and "field hands". They took pride in their piety and regularly read to the servants from the Bible....they were people of their times, as are we all.

    In Hope,

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  • 78. At 6:22pm on 28 Aug 2008, TimothyR444 wrote:

    Notting Hill Hammer:

    Really? There is more integration in Britain?

    Not from what I have seen in London.

    It is precisely this sort of absurd arrogance that I find so disasteful. Surely it is preferable to address the problems of your own nation before presuming to give lectures to Americans.

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  • 79. At 6:25pm on 28 Aug 2008, TimothyR444 wrote:


    For someone from Bitain to scold Americans for our "original sin" is beyond patronzing:

    "As people cried and hugged each other and the music blared, I thought of the little black children stolen from their parents, the daily cruelty and humiliation suffered by black people in this country for so long in what one historian calls "America's Original Sin" and, to a lesser extent, the daily miseries they still endure. "

    Many people of all skin colors endure misery in the US.

    When the people of Britain have solved the problems of their own nation, then perhaps they might have the right to teach us.

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  • 80. At 6:27pm on 28 Aug 2008, Gary_A_Hill wrote:

    Ed (#77), it's all speculative, anyway. Had Jefferson actually lived another 200 years, or if he somehow got a look today without having to live through it, who knows what he would think? I expect that, like all older folks, he would be astonished at some things and appalled at others.

    I guess he would be most suprised at the esteem in which he has been held for such a long time, and might think the Jefferson Memorial a bit overwrought.

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  • 81. At 6:34pm on 28 Aug 2008, jacksforge wrote:

    70 but you won't try till someone goads you.

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  • 82. At 6:43pm on 28 Aug 2008, Ed Iglehart wrote:


    "I expect that, like all older folks, he would be astonished at some things and appalled at others."
    Are you getting personal? I shall be pleased for your manservant to meet with mine to arrange satisfaction!


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  • 83. At 6:46pm on 28 Aug 2008, gunsandreligion wrote:

    #79, TimothyR444, I believe that you would have
    to agree that slavery was a potentially fatal flaw
    in America, and that it was one of the main factors
    leading up to the Civil War. The divisions wrought
    by slavery did not start to heal until the 1960's.

    But, I agree with you that nowadays, divisions
    in America are socio-economic, and not racial.
    Justin is perhaps drawing the wrong conclusion
    when he writes about the "daily miseries they
    still endure." A poor white family has more in
    common with a poor black or hispanic family
    than with a rich black family. All of their jobs
    were sent to China or India.

    I say, let's give Justin a little time. He's a smart
    guy, and he will figure it out. He was raised
    in a society which does not have the social
    mobility, up or down, that ours has, and so
    he doesn't understand that in America what's
    important is the amount of money in your
    bank account, whether you are one of the
    winners or losers in the world economy, not
    what you look like.

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  • 84. At 6:52pm on 28 Aug 2008, Gary_A_Hill wrote:

    Ed (#82), I include myself in "older," so no offense was intended.

    Does your challenge mean that I may choose the weapon? I choose the pen, which, as we know, is "mightier than the sword" (Edward Bulwer-Lytton).

    Would that I had a manservant, I would hope for one as helpful as Jeeves in getting me out of scrapes.

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  • 85. At 7:01pm on 28 Aug 2008, invisibleserendipity wrote:


    Jefferson was fairly voiciferous, in a mild manner, of his ideals, so it is more than likely that Ed has it right.

    Jefferson was not interested in grand-standing, so you probably have it right regarding the memorial.

    Of course, I know this as I was communing with this past president at a seance last night ...

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  • 86. At 7:12pm on 28 Aug 2008, Ed Iglehart wrote:


    Keyboards at dawn, then.

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  • 87. At 7:19pm on 28 Aug 2008, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    A modern Jeffersonian

    "... I am a member, by choice, of a local community. I believe that healthy communities are indispensable, and I know that our communities are disintegrating under the influence of economic assumptions that are accepted without question by both our parties-despite their lip service to various non-economic "values." The "conservatives" believe that an economy that favors its richest and most powerful participants will yet somehow serve the best interest of everybody. The "liberals" believe just as irrationally that a merely competitive economy, growing always larger in scale and controlled by fewer and fewer people, can be corrected by extending government charity to the inevitable victims: the dispossessed, the unrepresented, and the unemployed. No agrarian or community member could look kindly upon or wish to serve either belief."
    Maybe it should be Typewriters at dawn


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  • 88. At 7:36pm on 28 Aug 2008, HabitualHero wrote:

    Pilger wasn't kidding when he described Webb's musings as "treacle". Just reading this piece has rotted half of my teeth.

    Really, who gives a damn about a politician's pigmentation?

    It's what people do that matters, not what they are.

    If elected, will Obama continue the great American tradition of attempting to annihilate poorly-defended countries because they possess something that the US covets - and then taking it?

    We shall see.

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  • 89. At 7:39pm on 28 Aug 2008, NoRashDecisions wrote:

    justcorbly #57: Agreed. But unfortionately if we are going to continue to be the world's most powerful nation, and if we are going to continue to profess this self-anointed lable of the "moral leader" and the "beacon of hope" of the world, then unfortionately we'll be enviteing the slanderers, anti-American crowds, judgers etc to comment (most unfairly) as we always have been since we asumed this position in the world!! And most importantly it means that we aren't allowed to make any mistakes...ever!! But then again, am I being too harsh? Perhaps the Europeans do have a right to lecture us. I mean as several people have pointed out (very shamefully) on this blog, countless other countries around the world have already had, or currently have a woman for their leader!! Germany! Almost France! Great Britain! New Zealand I think now Arginteana! And again, many of them long before Hillary Clinton even thought of running for president!! So ArgyleJenny (#62), don't beat yourself up too much!! Europe in my opinion has done a much better job at demonstrating its diversity in its leadership than we have, the nation of moral leadership in the world!! Don't worry! I have no doubts what so ever that a European country will elect a prime minister/presedent/chansilor of a different race very soon, and you can bet that they won't have to jump through all of the rediculous pointless hoops that Obama had to jump through (I.E. pastor Wright, unpatriotic accusations) in order to secure the leadership position!!! The US having a woman president? Well that's another ball of wax, but at least the prospects have somewhat been achieved with Clinton's run (all be it far too late!!!)
    Gosh! For the world's moral leader we sure don't live it very much!

    The Notting Hill Hammer #71 (or is it 72), That is because blacks in Britain see themselves (rightfully so in my opinion) as "British" first and black second, where as blacks in America (while viewing themselves as American of course!!) focus more on their haritage and history as a race more than they do in Britain. I don't think the majority of white people in Britain are any less racest than white people in America, merely I think its just a difference in how our respective countries's black populations see themselves within the context of their country's society. But I am jealous of the UK's ability to show itslef as the "true" meltingpot of the world!!May be we could learn a thing or two from you?

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  • 90. At 7:58pm on 28 Aug 2008, jacksforge wrote:

    a society which does not have the social
    mobility, up or down,

    despite the best efforts of many americans to delude themselves that they are the only nation where "class" can be changed, it is not true.

    Richard Branson,Margret thatcher(grocers daughter?)that rich guy with the Huge mausaleum ,the slum landlord from brighton.

    Making money in the UK is not prevented by class, as much as most americans percieve.
    Grammer school graduates as top diplomats,etc
    the Big thing in both countries is the over emphisis on degree holding as being a qualification for anything.

    Sir Clive sinclair.

    there are plenty of examples from both countries.

    America just has it's own version of class system.

    In UK they were called nouvaux riche.

    to differentiate from old rich.
    but they still succeded.

    beter than my spelling

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  • 91. At 8:06pm on 28 Aug 2008, NoRashDecisions wrote:

    I think you all would be interested to know that the United States would not exist were it not for the comprimise on slavery, and the inclusion of it in the constitution. That is why the civil war was inevidabley and eventually fought.

    David Cunard #70 I have watched Prime Minister's Questions countless times. The prime minister (Brown now, but in the past Blair), always has a stack of papers in front of them. Cameron always has a stack of papers in front of him when viberally beating the snot out of Brown now (and then Blair). I don't know how offten they actually use them, but they are clearly allowed to have them. The British are the greatest orators in the world, but they're not inhuman! Surely one neds at least a note card when delivering those stiring speeches?

    As regards the difference between congress and parlament, in congress the parties face the speeker at the front of the hall. In parlament the parties face each other. In congress the congressmen act (as it is expected in any profesional setting) profesionally and with respect, with decorum, but politely firm in debate. In parlament one is free to be themselves and rip into the oposition so long as they don't cut others off or curse. That is why I admire the parlamentary system so much! Not only does it mold people into exalent speekers, but politics is possibly the most pashonate subjects on earth! It surves one right (if they are a politicion especially) to express themselves and tir opinions to their colegees!! If regular folks can do it, why not politicions? Overall its just a difference between similar systems that's all.

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  • 92. At 8:22pm on 28 Aug 2008, Pancha Chandra wrote:

    The Democrats have rallied around Obama. The stirring call by Hillary and the equally gracious call by Bill should heal the wounds and any bad blood between the Clintons and the Obamas. Their united call is to dislodge the Republicans and seat Obama firmly at the White House.The eight dismal years under Republican watch should galvanize and secure total Democratic support for Obama. Americans desperately want change!

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  • 93. At 8:30pm on 28 Aug 2008, NoRashDecisions wrote:

    I know post 91's spelling sucks...sorry I didn't proofread!!

    Obama has refered to himself as both African-American and mixed race.

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  • 94. At 8:46pm on 28 Aug 2008, gunsandreligion wrote:

    90, jacksforge, I'm really surprised to hear this.

    Likewise, we are starting to have a class
    system. As the middle class comes under
    more and more pressure, fewer middle
    class kids are going to college, while their
    upper-class friends are not seeing any
    reduction in their opportunities.

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  • 95. At 9:07pm on 28 Aug 2008, justcorbly wrote:

    $48 (glasgowgooner): Sorry, I do know the difference. And, my comment wasn't intended as a dig, just a statement of fact. We aren't responsible for the sins of our ancestors, only how we deal with the mes they left behind.

    #54 (norash): The laws no longer mandate segregation and do forbid discrimination in housing, etc., but it still happens. It is not unknown for a realtor to show white clients houses that are not shown to an African-American client. Yes, it's illegal, but to fight it requires the victim to sue in a civil court. As for expectations, white people have a different set of expectations for black people than for themselves, even if they don't realize it.

    #58 (kagallag): I've seen Obama and he doesn't look like he's some blue-eyed Englishman who's spent a summer in the sun with his shirt off. He's a member of the African-American community because that's what every white American would assume on sight. Obama constantly mentions both sides of his heritage. Last night, at the convention, Sen. Kerry introduced Obama's great uncle, a WW2 vet. His great uncle is an elderly white guy who seemed more than a little stunned by the cheers he received. BBC is justified in describing Obama as the first African-American persidential nominee of a major party because he is. Remember, when I was a child, Obama would not have been able to vote in much of this country, send his kids to my kids' schools, eat dinner in the same restaurants that I might, stay in the same hotels or buy a house in the same neighborhood.

    #65 (wrpatton): If you have access, CSPAN is doing a much better job the the cable shows, who do seem convinced that their chatter is more importance than the convention itself. Failing that, I believe the DNC is offering a free gavel-to-gavel internet feed.

    #68 (gary) A political convention is not a parlliament. Of course they use teleprompters to deliver set-piece speeches. No politician ad libs an important speech. Also, members of Congress certainly don't engage in the freeforall that Question Time can be, but they do speak off-the-cuff, usually when the cameras aren't on.

    #73: (Ed Iglehart) Jefferson's attempt to address slavery in the Declaration did not, in fact, survive to the published version for fear that the southern colonies would not join the revolution. Similarly, attempts to crack down on slavery were eliminated from the Constitution because the slaveholding states made it clear that they would not otherwise join the new union. (Jefferson's hands in all that are far from spotless. Eventually, later in life, he simply stopped talking and writing publicly about race and slavery.) Blackmail, in other words, and it continued until the Civl War, and afterards, in a new guise.

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  • 96. At 9:12pm on 28 Aug 2008, justcorbly wrote:

    #77 (Ed Iglehart): Jefferson did not free his slaves in his will. Rather, his family sold some of those slaves to help pay the significant debt Jefferson had accrued, a level of debt that endangered the family's chances of retaining Monticello.

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  • 97. At 9:21pm on 28 Aug 2008, justcorbly wrote:

    #83 (gunsandreligion): Slavery was the single and sole factor leading to the Civil War. No slavery, no war. The slave-holding south saw itself, and was seen, as a region of distinctive values that rested squarely on th institution of slavery. That reality existed, and was acknowleded, even before the revolution.

    The great Constitutional crises of the ante bellum era all were provoked by the slave states' requirement to spread slavery into new territory. When the new Republican party coalesced around an anti-slavery agenda and elected Lincoln, the south went to war.

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  • 98. At 9:37pm on 28 Aug 2008, gunsandreligion wrote:

    #97, I'm not an expert on the subject, but
    I believe that there were other North-South
    tensions. The South wanted access to British
    machinery and capital, and the North wanted
    protectionism for its industries. There was
    also some conflict over currency and whether
    gold or silver should be used to back it.

    Of course, we don't have the last problem today!

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  • 99. At 9:58pm on 28 Aug 2008, justcorbly wrote:

    #98 (gunsand religion):

    Yes, other issues existed, but none of them drove the south to seccession and war. The south precipitated the war because they believed Lincoln and the Republicans would block further expansion of slavery.

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  • 100. At 10:06pm on 28 Aug 2008, Xie_Ming wrote:

    Did Jefferson's Sally ever have any offspring?


    To see how times have changed, go back to around 1898 and read Rudyard Kipling,

    I think, particularly, of "Take Up the White Man's Burden" as a justification for imperialism.

    I think of the British installing their clergy in China while using military force to require the Chinese to buy the opium that the British were growing.


    Yes, it is time for charismatic leadership, to higher levels than what we have experienced in the past eight years.

    Money cannot measure the good life.

    Legalism has no place in ethical judgement in either British or American cultural tradition. (In contrast to the NeoCon mindset).

    We need a renewal on a liberal, rather than a totalitarian, basis.

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  • 101. At 10:26pm on 28 Aug 2008, clivemacd wrote:

    "A moment to cherish forever"?

    The BBC appear to entering Barbara Plett territory once more.

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  • 102. At 11:26pm on 28 Aug 2008, IVTolkien wrote:

    RE # 30. When did the United Kingdom legally do away with slavery? Way before we Americans did. (Oh, we have not actually done away with slavery, not entirely. The right of the state to impression a person is the one form of slavery specifically allowed by the Constitution.)

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  • 103. At 11:32pm on 28 Aug 2008, allmymarbles wrote:

    98, guns.

    Thank you for bringing up the other factors that led to the Civil War. The antagonism between North and South went well beyond slavery.

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  • 104. At 00:32am on 29 Aug 2008, justcorbly wrote:

    #102 (IVTolkien):

    The question to ask is when did Europeans stop profiting from slavery by acting as middlemen in the slave trade?

    Besides, slavery in the UK and elsewhere wasn't encouraged by climate or by economics. In contrast, the plantation economy of the south existed only because of slavery.

    Meanwhile, you description of imprisonment as slavery is perverse.

    #103 (allmymarbles):

    Ad I've said, slavery was the sole cause of the war. To argue that other differences motivated the south to secede is to give them credit they do not merit. The south valued owning humans more than it did preserving the union. Full stop.

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  • 105. At 00:46am on 29 Aug 2008, IVTolkien wrote:

    #87 Nice, although it sounds more like Franklin or perhaps Adams.

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  • 106. At 01:05am on 29 Aug 2008, jacksforge wrote:

    I don't know why you are surprised.
    (except at how bad I spell) .

    Rich get richer that's the rule of class, where ever you are.

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  • 107. At 01:12am on 29 Aug 2008, IVTolkien wrote:

    justcorbly, in response to your comment that comparing imprisonment to slavery is perverse, so it would seem. However see below:
    Amendment 13 - Slavery Abolished. Ratified 12/6/1865. History

    1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

    2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation. (From

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  • 108. At 01:19am on 29 Aug 2008, Ed Iglehart wrote:


    "Slavery was the single and sole factor leading to the Civil War. No slavery, no war."
    Doing a McCain? Single and sole?
    "Yes, other issues existed, but none of them drove the south to seccession and war."

    "Did Jefferson's Sally ever have any offspring?"
    Yes, and descendants alive today.

    "A[s] I've said, slavery was the sole cause of the war"
    It's just as easy to say that the North's refusal to accept secession was the sole cause of the war.

    Salaam, etc.

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  • 109. At 01:37am on 29 Aug 2008, Ed Iglehart wrote:


    Your No.1 would seem to expressly rule out the practices at Guantanamo....

    Salaam, etc.

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  • 110. At 01:54am on 29 Aug 2008, bethpa wrote:


    Sally Hemmings had 4 children

    William Beverly and Harriet
    Madison and Eston

    Eston's descendents share a Y chromosome with known descendents of Thomas in some way they are related with a common male relative.

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  • 111. At 02:09am on 29 Aug 2008, allmymarbles wrote:

    104, Just.

    As to the causes of the Civil War, your view is simplistic. The situation was much more complicated and not all of it altruistic. Full stop.

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  • 112. At 02:39am on 29 Aug 2008, bethpa wrote:

    The South is a different culture within the US today..and that was probably...possibly... true back in the 1800's too.

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  • 113. At 06:27am on 29 Aug 2008, IVTolkien wrote:

    Ed (109) As to your comment about my take on Guantanamo, I had not thought of it that way. I was simply pointing out a much overlooked reality vis-a-vis the U.S. Constitution. Two thoughts come to mind. While I accept your comment in general, in practice it might well bring into question our domestic penal system. More significantly, I'd be thrilled if any U.S. politician had the guts to write an amendment to have stricken from the Constitution both the linkage of "slavery" and "involuntary servitude" and that most shameful line about any, any class or group of people counting only as 60% of a person. If the junior Senator from Ill. really wants change that would impress me a whole lot more than all that he said tonight.

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  • 114. At 07:16am on 29 Aug 2008, allmymarbles wrote:

    93, NoRash.

    More and more "blacks" are calling themselves mixed race. If I remember correctly that classification was listed on the 2000 census.

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  • 115. At 2:05pm on 29 Aug 2008, justcorbly wrote:

    #108 9(Ed Iglehart): there is no contradiction in my remarks. A number of issues obviously existed between the north and the south, and had since the early colonial period.

    But the south went to war over the threat to slavery. The south did not go to war over any of the other issues.

    When southerners spoke of states rights or of protecting their culture, etc., they were simply twisting language to defend slavery and the institutions that depended on it. When southerns spoke of preserving their culture or their institutions, they were talking about, and they knew they were talking about, preserving slavery because those culture and those insitutions depended on slavery.

    Look at the letters betwen Jefferson and Madison and even there you will see it clearly laid out that the south deliberately and knowingly used these arguments to counter the threat to slavery.

    As I said, the south valued human bondage more than preserving the union. Any such culture forfeits all right to exist. The south was fully responsible for the war, politically and morally. The souls of slaveholders should rot in hell, as I suspect they are.

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  • 116. At 10:08pm on 29 Aug 2008, alanskillcole wrote:

    Justin as the North America editor, he's got to say something from his/the BBC's(?) perspective on what he sees - as an outsider looking in.

    If he couldn't comment on where he is and what he sees, he'd have a problem.

    To those who take umbrage and go off on "address the problems of your own nation before presuming to give lectures to Americans"...why be on a blog of the BBC?
    The problems in the UK can be commented on by the likes of Andrew Marr and the other BBC correspondents within the UK.

    As for integration, folks who have lived in various areas of the US and been back have different tales to tell on how comfortable/integrated things seem...not just the mix of what's perceived in relationships between different groups...or even something as minor as how that is reflected in films / commercials...but the way people are dealt with...the community mix...then again that's a perception thing...

    Nations like people have their strengths and weaknesses - nobody's perfect and no nation is either.

    Shouldn't think it means commentators daren't critique something because their home doesn't seem - again another's perception? - as good? And who wants to or can teach another? We're just passive observers to the greatest show on earth - in the greatest nation on earth.

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  • 117. At 04:02am on 31 Aug 2008, GenieUSA wrote:

    Hey you guys.... when are the Brits going to put an East Indian in power over there.... sort of the same scenario. Most of us White Americans are proud of this historic moment, and so ashamed of our past treatment of Black Americans. Ahead of the times or behind the times - doesn't matter - we are getting there that is what matters!

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  • 118. At 04:13am on 31 Aug 2008, GenieUSA wrote:

    Civil War.... South's economy would have fallen apart without slave labor in the cotton/tobacco fields - North had no cotton plantations their wealth was industrial - altruism was a secondary factor to say the least. Bottom line "All's well that ends well"

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  • 119. At 04:18am on 31 Aug 2008, GenieUSA wrote:

    I think the earliest slave traders had a Brittish accent - actually - how does who separate the the English from the Americans in the beginning of the slave trade era. You are us and we are you

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  • 120. At 8:13pm on 31 Aug 2008, Bryn-UK wrote:

    Re. GenieUSA and the UK's Indian PM - the UK doesn't really have an equivalent to the US black population. The UK's ethnic communities (on the whole) came later, are fewer, and are here for different reasons than the US black population.

    The black population is as old as America itself, and in that sense is more part of the social and political furniture than are the UK's non-white communities - at least, so far.

    The UK has had a Jewish PM (Disraeli) and ... um ... a Canadian (Bonar Law). Well, maybe you're right and more diversity would be good. Does anyone know if there has ever been an Irish PM here?

    More generally, I see yet more unlovely chippiness from some US contributors here and am reminded why I don't read this blog much any more. Shame!

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