Thursday, August 28, 2008

Barack and love of (another) country

Barack Obama is accepting the Democratic nomination for president tonight, and it must be the first and only time an American political figure has ever spent significant time in Indonesia. Too bad we won’t hear much about it. The political push du jour is to make Obama as quintessentially American as possible; a wholesome amalgam of apple pie, guns and Archie comics, rather than the more complex international figure he is.

It’s no surprise that conventioneers won’t be directed to his years growing up in Jakarta, since it’s a bit much for heartland voters to digest. But for an account of how formative the experience was, turn to Obama’s book The Audacity of Hope: He writes quite beautifully that when he thinks of Indonesia, “I’m haunted by memories – the feel of packed mud under bare feet as I wander through paddy fields; the sight of day breaking behind volcanic peaks; the muezzin’s call at night and the smell of wood smoke; the dickering at fruit stands alongside the road; the frenzied sound of a gamelan orchestra, the musicians’ faces lit by fire.”

Indonesia obviously still holds a place deep within him. Because of the demands of politics and distance, “I fear it’s becoming a land of strangers,” he writes, and regrets never having brought his wife and daughters to its islands. Here’s hoping that when he rises to the presidency, the estrangement doesn’t last.

1 comment:

One Simple Tech said...

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