Friday, January 04, 2008

World Views Tonight

January. Cold.

I'm warming myself by the warm glow of the computer screen. And the radiator next to me.

Not that I need any more distractions since I discovered Google Earth's Streetview, but I found another one. WorldMeets.US is a fascinating site that gathers international reporting about the United States.

I am fascinated by outsiders' perception of something I think I know so very well. Of course, I'm not an expert on America, though I'd like to play one on TV. While I assume that I know what Americans are thinking, I don't. Like most assumptions, it ought to be challenged. Regularly.

Here are two articles -- commentary, more than factual reporting -- written in response to Barack Obama's victory in the Iowa caucus. The first is by a Nigerian, the second by a German.

I don't know where to begin. I see that someone has corrected the Nigerian's claim regarding the racially charged smear against John McCain from 2000, but I'm not sure if that was the WorldMeets.US editor or the Nigerian editor. While I might want to go on a line by line fisking, I think I'll just let it be.

UPDATE: I don't want to give the impression that I believe that the two articles are wrong and need to be corrected. Rather, I'm delighted to see things from a perspective that is far outside my own, even if at times I am convinced that it is mistaken. Of course I want to jump at what I perceive to be factual errors -- that's much easier than addressing the fundamental differences in perspective.


william said...

Dear Peter,

I just wanted to let you know that our purpose is just to reflect the views and opinions of people outside the country. The Nigerian article about Obama did require re-editing - but the author was very clear about the episode with McCain's adopted child.

William Kern
Managing Editor

peter hoh said...

William, yes, that's exactly what you're doing, and doing well. Rereading my last paragraph, I can see how I might have given the impression that I was upset with what I read, or that I felt the need to correct it. That's not what I meant, and so I've added an update.

There are some factual issues in the Nigerian piece that I'd want to address, were I editing it, but its value lies in showing us how at least one Nigerian sees us from the outside.

I'm not sure that it's fair to say that the McCain rumor had anything to do with his adopted daughter. The rumor was, as the editor's note states, that he had fathered a black child outside of marriage. Perhaps the rumor relied on South Carolinians knowing that McCain had a child with darker skin, but I think that rumor stands on its own, and could have been used against McCain even if he did not have an adopted daughter.

Dr. Dean said...

My opinion about the german article:

The editor Mr. Steingart belongs to an extremistic german-neoconservative movement ("prowestliche Bewegung"). And they dislike Barack Obama very much, because Barack Obama prefers political and diplomatical action. To put things in perspective it is helpful to know something about Mr. Steingart.

In an (german, sorry!) answer in my blog i tried to explain why Mr. Steingarts view is misleading.

peter hoh said...

If Steingart does not reflect the general opinion in Germany, could you point me to some articles that might be more representative of what Germans are thinking about Obama?

My German was never all that good, despite the years I spent studying it. I wish that I had actually lived there -- then it might have worked its way into my brain.

One year in college, I had a German roommate. He was no fan of Reagan. He had a favorite German political cartoon in which Kohl says to Reagan, in English, "You can call me you."