2018-04-02T13:04:00+03:00

Darya Aslamova: "African Americans fear Obama will be assassinated like Kennedy" Part Two

KP correspondent Darya Aslamova headed to the U.S. to speak with Americans before the 2008 presidential elections
Rich, a teacher in the U.S., mocks Bush with his T-shirt.Rich, a teacher in the U.S., mocks Bush with his T-shirt.
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I left Thomas alone with his depressing ideas, and started chatting with Rich, a computer programming teacher. The white-bearded man wore a T-shirt that said: "I went to Washington to ask for $700 billion, but all I got was this T-shirt."

Rich is absorbed with the essential issues of democracy and the freedom of expression. This playful enthusiasm both charmed and angered me during my stay in the U.S. Every other "Joe" would talk my ear off anxiously about the hungry Africans in Zimbabwe or democracy in Pakistan, as if these issues were a matter of life or death for the American people.

"Have you read Orwell's '1984?'" Rich asked me. "I'm afraid that someday they'll persuade us, like the main characters in the book, that 'war is peace, freedom is slavery and ignorance is strength.' We live in a world where personal freedoms are constantly being damaged. We are searched thoroughly before we get onto planes, our things are inspected continuously and our calls are monitored. And for what? In the name of safety?! Benjamin Franklin once said: 'He who gives up freedom for safety deserves neither.'"

"And what's more important for you? Personal freedoms, or a powerful nation?" I asked.

"Of course, personal freedoms! Can there really be another answer to that question?" he said. When we started talking about invading Iraq, Rich said: "This was in fact probably the wrong thing to do. But you have to understand, it's hard for us Americans to accept that a people can't be free." "Do you really think, though, that freedom can be served on a tray?" I asked. "Especially against the will of the people?" "Of course not," he said. "But we can help them to become free!"

"Of course, personal freedoms! Can there really be another answer to that question?" he said.

When we started talking about invading Iraq, Rich said: "This was in fact probably the wrong thing to do. But you have to understand, it's hard for us Americans to accept that a people can't be free."

"Do you really think, though, that freedom can be served on a tray?" I asked. "Especially against the will of the people?"

"Of course not," he said. "But we can help them to become free!"

Looking into his earnest eyes, I remembered an even more baffling conversation with a student from Columbia College on the train from Washington to New York. For 30 minutes, I told the young man, Julian, about all the bloody, irreconcilable acts the U.S. had committed against Iraq and Afghanistan — bombing villages and killing children. My words were the testimony of an eyewitness.

But as I took a deep breath to continue, Julian interjected an impenetrable argument: "Of course, this is horrible and all — so many deceased. But these are inescapable effects of war. Missiles don't always hit their targets, right? But most importantly, you see the deceased in Afghanistan and Iraq as victims. That's wrong, though. These people died for a tremendous cause — freedom and democracy."

"And the babies, too?" I said sarcastically.

"Of course!" he said. "When democracy is established in Afghanistan and Iraq, they'll even thank us Americans for what we have done. And they'll raise a statue — not to the victims, but rather to the unknown heroes who died in the name of democracy." I first thought Julian was one of those half-crazy idealists who are prepared to kill half of all mankind to defend an idea. But I later realized he's just an American — an ordinary American. On idealism and "idiotism" "Getting involved with idealists is terrifying punishment," I said to Columbia College Professor Robert Jervis. "At least you know how to act when you're dealing with cynics." "Idealism and naivety are two very American things," Jervis said. "If you say something naive and are even criticized for doing so, that's okay in the U.S. But in Europe, naivety is frowned upon. This is one of the major differences between us." "We Russians have an expression that goes: 'Simplicity is worse than thievery.'" I said. "Naive people do much more harm than people who actually have the intention of being cruel." "That's the typical European position," Jervis said. "Our vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is an example of such simplicity. The success she's achieved in the U.S. would be unfathomable in Europe, where simplicity just isn't forgivable."

"Of course!" he said. "When democracy is established in Afghanistan and Iraq, they'll even thank us Americans for what we have done. And they'll raise a statue — not to the victims, but rather to the unknown heroes who died in the name of democracy."

I first thought Julian was one of those half-crazy idealists who are prepared to kill half of all mankind to defend an idea. But I later realized he's just an American — an ordinary American.

On idealism and "idiotism"

"Getting involved with idealists is terrifying punishment," I said to Columbia College Professor Robert Jervis. "At least you know how to act when you're dealing with cynics."

"Idealism and naivety are two very American things," Jervis said. "If you say something naive and are even criticized for doing so, that's okay in the U.S. But in Europe, naivety is frowned upon. This is one of the major differences between us."

"We Russians have an expression that goes: 'Simplicity is worse than thievery.'" I said. "Naive people do much more harm than people who actually have the intention of being cruel."

"That's the typical European position," Jervis said. "Our vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is an example of such simplicity. The success she's achieved in the U.S. would be unfathomable in Europe, where simplicity just isn't forgivable."

"Americans naively believe that democracy evolves naturally," he added. "But this simply isn't so. They have forgotten about their own Civil War, and what price they paid in blood for democracy. When you ask Americans why they think democracy can be imported into Afghanistan and Iraq, many reply: 'Well everyone wants to live in a free, democratic society!' I was against the war in Iraq and NATO's first expansion into Eastern Europe. I really think this was a serious mistake. And I think the attempt at a second expansion into Georgia and Ukraine is doubly so. Fortunately, the U.S. can't make decisions on its own, and any NATO member can veto our proposals."

Part One

Читать русскую версию: Дарья АСЛАМОВА: «Афроамериканцы боятся, что Обаму убьют, как Кеннеди»

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США. Борец с войной в Ираке на фоне Белого дома.Жаркий осенний день в Нью-Йорке. В самом центре города на Таймс-сквер ребята в майках с надписями «Обама» и «Маккейн» бойко торгуют презервативами с портретами кандидатов в президенты. Презерватив с Маккейном гордо заявляет: «Старый, но не просроченный. Одобрено для ветеранов». Презерватив с Обамой осторожно советует: «Использовать по трезвому рассуждению». «Ну, а какой лучше?» - пристаю я к парнишке-продавцу. «Берите Обаму. У него смазка лучше», - продавец весело ухмыляется. «А сам ты пойдешь голосовать?» - спрашиваю я. «Конечно, - парень мгновенно серьезнеет. - Я буду голосовать за Обаму. Я верю в Демократию!» Именно так это слово прозвучало - с большой буквы. Съемка: Дарья Асламова

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