18th December 2010




Last week, in "le Courier International" (yes, it's kinda my favorite newspaper :) ), I found a fascinating article on the so-called "American exceptionalism". The columnist, chronicler for the New York Times, imagines that secret misives talking about the United States and sent by Chinese diplomats would have been revealed by a WikiChina. That makes a really funny and scathing article, which reveals a new face of the USA.


"WIKICHINA
Thomas Friedman, The New York Times, New York
While secrets from WikiLeaks were splashed all over the American newspapers, I couldn’t help but wonder: What if China had a WikiLeaker and we could see what its embassy in Washington was reporting about America? I suspect the cable would read like this:



Washington Embassy, People’s Republic of China, to Ministry of Foreign Affairs Beijing, TOP SECRET/Subject: America today.
Things are going well here for China. America remains a deeply politically polarized country, which is certainly helpful for our goal of overtaking the U.S. as the world’s most powerful economy and nation. But we’re particularly optimistic because the Americans are polarized over all the wrong things.
There is a willful self-destructiveness in the air here as if America has all the time and money in the world for petty politics. They fight over things like — we are not making this up — how and where an airport security officer can touch them. They are fighting — we are happy to report — over the latest nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia. It seems as if the Republicans are so interested in weakening President Obama that they are going to scuttle a treaty that would have fostered closer U.S.-Russian cooperation on issues like Iran. And since anything that brings Russia and America closer could end up isolating us, we are grateful to Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona for putting our interests ahead of America’s and blocking Senate ratification of the treaty. The ambassador has invited Senator Kyl and his wife for dinner at Mr. Kao’s Chinese restaurant to praise him for his steadfastness in protecting America’s (read: our) interests.
Americans just had what they call an “election.” Best we could tell it involved one congressman trying to raise more money than the other (all from businesses they are supposed to be regulating) so he could tell bigger lies on TV more often about the other guy before the other guy could do it to him. This leaves us relieved. It means America will do nothing serious to fix its structural problems: a ballooning deficit, declining educational performance, crumbling infrastructure and diminished immigration of new talent.
The ambassador recently took what the Americans call a fast train — the Acela — from Washington to New York City. Our bullet train from Beijing to Tianjin would have made the trip in 90 minutes. His took three hours — and it was on time! Along the way the ambassador used his cellphone to call his embassy office, and in one hour he experienced 12 dropped calls — again, we are not making this up. We have a joke in the embassy: “When someone calls you from China today it sounds like they are next door. And when someone calls you from next door in America, it sounds like they are calling from China!” Those of us who worked in China’s embassy in Zambia often note that Africa’s cellphone service was better than America’s.
But the Americans are oblivious. They travel abroad so rarely that they don’t see how far they are falling behind. Which is why we at the embassy find it funny that Americans are now fighting over how “exceptional” they are. Once again, we are not making this up. On the front page of The Washington Post on Monday there was an article noting that Republicans Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee are denouncing Obama for denying “American exceptionalism.” The Americans have replaced working to be exceptional with talking about how exceptional they still are. They don’t seem to understand that you can’t declare yourself “exceptional,” only others can bestow that adjective upon you.
In foreign policy, we see no chance of Obama extricating U.S. forces from Afghanistan. He knows the Republicans will call him a wimp if he does, so America will keep hemorrhaging $190 million a day there. Therefore, America will lack the military means to challenge us anywhere else, particularly on North Korea, where our lunatic friends continue to yank America’s chain every six months so that the Americans have to come and beg us to calm things down. By the time the Americans do get out of Afghanistan, the Afghans will surely hate them so much that China’s mining companies already operating there should be able to buy up the rest of Afghanistan’s rare minerals.
Most of the Republicans just elected to Congress do not believe what their scientists tell them about man-made climate change. America’s politicians are mostly lawyers — not engineers or scientists like ours — so they’ll just say crazy things about science and nobody calls them on it. It’s good. It means they will not support any bill to spur clean energy innovation, which is central to our next five-year plan. And this ensures that our efforts to dominate the wind, solar, nuclear and electric car industries will not be challenged by America.
Finally, record numbers of U.S. high school students are now studying Chinese, which should guarantee us a steady supply of cheap labor that speaks our language here, as we use our $2.3 trillion in reserves to quietly buy up U.S. factories. In sum, things are going well for China in America.
Thank goodness the Americans can’t read our diplomatic cables.



In order to shed light on the notion of "American exceptionalism", I invite you to read some of the few things written on Wikipédia about it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_exceptionalism

In addition to this article, it is also interresting to watch the video below, which is pointing out why America is so great and why the USA is not like the other countries.





What do you think about it ?


In my opinion, I found it edifying. 
Hey, don't misunderstand me. I'm not saying that all the people in the United States are haughty. No way. This article only made me think about a "new global order", where every country, acting properly and consciously, would be heard. Not an order where a few countries, especially in America and in "the old Europe", would emphasise his own history or his own power in order to be better heard or to act according to his desires.
Is it clear ? I'm not so sure... I find this idea hard to translate :s.

xoxo :)


4th December 2010



When I got out of my bed this morning, I saw an abnormally white light coming from behind my curtains. I opened them partway and I discovered, to my surprise, countless snowflakes dancing in front of my window. My street was entirely white, frozen into a deep and strange sleep.
So I put softly my slippers on, I took a sweater and I slowly came downstairs, so I didn't break this wonderful peace.

For such a day, it's really enjoyable to stay at home in a warm room, starring at the snowflakes sipping some hot chocolate. That is what I really love : wrapping up myself warmly, thinking of how lucky I am not to go outside today.


Have a lovely day !





-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



1st December 2010



Rosa Parks
The Woman Who Changed
a Nation

55 years ago exactly, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man : a way to freedom and better understanding.
Here is a really interesting paper about it.

By Kira Albin, interview conducted in 1996
Photos courtesy of Monica Morgan Photography and ZondervanPublishingHouse
When Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man forty years ago on December 1, 1955, she was tired and weary from a long day of work.
At least that's how the event has been retold countless times and recorded in our history books. But, there's a misconception here that does not do justice to the woman whose act of courage began turning the wheels of the civil rights movement on that fateful day.
Rosa Parks was physically tired, but no more than you or I after a long day's work. In fact, under other circumstances, she would have probably given up her seat willingly to a child or elderly person. But this time Parks was tired of the treatment she and other African Americans received every day of their lives, what with the racism, segregation, and Jim Crow laws of the time.
"Our mistreatment was just not right, and I was tired of it," writes Parks in her recent book, Quiet Strength, (ZondervanPublishingHouse, 1994). "I kept thinking about my mother and my grandparents, and how strong they were. I knew there was a possibility of being mistreated, but an opportunity was being given to me to do what I had asked of others."
The rest of Parks' story is American history...her arrest and trial, a 381-day Montgomery bus boycott, and, finally, the Supreme Court's ruling in November 1956 that segregation on transportation is unconstitutional.
But Parks' personal history has been lost in the retelling. Prior to her arrest, Mrs. Parks had a firm and quiet strength to change things that were unjust. She served as secretary of the NAACP and later Adviser to the NAACP Youth Council, and tried to register to vote on several occasions when it was still nearly impossible to do so. She had run-ins with bus drivers and was evicted from buses. Parks recalls the humiliation: "I didn't want to pay my fare and then go around the back door, because many times, even if you did that, you might not get on the bus at all. They'd probably shut the door, drive off, and leave you standing there."
Forty years later, despite some tremendous gains, Parks feels, "we still have a long way to go in improving the race relations in this country."
Rosa Parks spends most of her year in Detroit but winters in Los Angeles. Her day is filled with reading mail,-"from students, politicians, and just regular people"-preparing meals, going to church, and visiting people in hospitals. She is still active in fighting racial injustices, now standing up for what she believes in and sharing her message with others. She and other members of the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development have a special program called Pathways to Freedom, for young people age 11-18. Children in the program travel across the country tracing the Underground Railroad, visiting the scenes of critical events in the civil rights movement and learning aspects of America's history.
Says Elaine Steele, Parks' close friend and cofounder of the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development, "Mrs. Parks is a role model that these students look up to, and they feel very honored and privileged to be in her company. And she's very gracious to accompany the students to these activities."
February, Black History Month, seemed a relevant time to evaluate youth and their sense of history. But Parks thinks bigger and broader. "We don't have enough young people who are concerned and who are exposed to the civil rights movement, and I would like to see more exposure and get their interest," she says, pausing to reflect, "but I think it should just be history, period, and not thinking in terms of only Black History Month."
Parks is quiet, soft-spoken, and diplomatic. But she is firm in her belief that enough people will have the courage and dedication to make this country better than it is. "And this young man that's taking over the NAACP, Kweisi Mfume, I admire him a great deal," she adds. About Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Black Muslims, she says, "Well, I don't know him personally, but I think it was great that he spearheaded the million man march."
Parks has met many renowned leaders and has traveled throughout the world receiving honors and awards for her efforts toward racial harmony. She is appreciative and honored by them but exhibits little emotion over whom she has met or what she has done. Her response to being called "the Mother of the Civil Rights Movement" is modest. "If people think of me in that way, I just accept the honor and appreciate it," she says. In Quiet Strength, however, Parks is careful to explain that she did not change things alone. "Four decades later I am still uncomfortable with the credit given to me for starting the bus boycott. I would like [people] to know I was not the only person involved. I was just one of many who fought for freedom."
In August 1994, Parks was attacked in her home by a young man who wanted money from her. Of the event, she writes, "I pray for this young man and the conditions in our country that have made him this way. Despite the violence and crime in our society, we should not let fear overwhelm us. We must remain strong."
Parks' belief in God and her religious convictions are at the core of everything she does. It is the overriding theme in her book and the message she hopes to impart: "I'd like for [readers] to know that I had a very spiritual background and that I believe in church and my faith and that has helped to give me the strength and courage to live as I did."

Strength in Numbers
Donations to help support and expand Pathways to Freedom, are welcomed. Send a check or money order to: Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development, 65 Cadillac Square, Suite 2200, Detroit, MI 48226.


http://www.grandtimes.com/rosa.html
| edit post