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    October 08, 2008

    Overcoming bigotry

    Posted by: Andoni


    I'm back from my Greek island. Of note is that when I arrived in Greece I had to pay 1.5 dollars for one Euro. When I left, I got back merely 1.2 dollars for every Euro. As I said in "The view from Europe," although the Europeans were at first gloating over our economic woes, they soon realized that it would affect them too -- that we are all linked together. As a result many are moving their money to dollars as a safe haven -- and making the dollar rise in value.

    To view our presidential election from outside the United States was fascinating. I speak Greek, so I was able to get unfiltered views directly from the locals.

    One interesting observation was that a great many people referred to our two candidates as "the old man" and "the black man." A few actually knew McCain's name, so it was "McCain" versus "the black man." It's telling that Obama was almost always "the black man." Greece could never be called a bastion of racial equal opportunity (or religious equal opportunity, for that matter). Greeks are not a tolerant people with respect to race. The country is nearly 100% white and any other color really stands out as a visitor or student - and these people are not accepted as intellectually or socially equal.

    So you can imagine my shock when after two weeks there, it became fairly clear that a majority of Greeks are for "the black man." They think he is smart, young, energetic, and has what it takes to re-establish the United States into the leadership role they would like to see it in. Most Greeks have close relatives in the US, so deep down they really are pulling for us.

    When I arrived home I checked in with my Greek relatives who are US citizens, most of whom live in Florida, to see how they are voting. They all used to be for McCain. They are now about evenly split. In particular, one says she is not voting for Obama because she doesn't want a Muslim in the White House. No amount of facts or discussion could convince her that he is not a Muslim. How does she know? From the radio.

    Another relative tells me (in Greek) point blank that he cannot and will not vote for a black man. No reason, end of discussion. Three others, used to be for McCain, but have now flipped to Obama. These are people who still use the "N" word when speaking of blacks and I have heard them refer to Obama that way. They say they flipped out of fear.

    The economy is tanking and they are worried.The downward spiral in the stock market and overall economic conditions have allowed them to actually focus on issues and forget about the color of skin. They listen to Obama and see someone who may be able to lead us out of this mess and they look at McCain, and although he's white, don't see that ability.

    Is this good or bad? I don't know. However, I find it interesting how a jolt to the economy suddenly has made these bigoted people color blind. It's like what Governor Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania is telling his constituents: If you are drowning in the river and there is someone on the bank with a lifesaver and a rope, you aren't going to care if that person is black or white.

    My relatives have proven this to be true.

    I find this all amazing.

    ADDENDUM: A more exact translation of what the Greeks in Greece were calling Obama (o mavros) is "the black one" rather than my more polite "the black man." Does that ring any bells for anyone who watched the debate last night?



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    1. Scott on Oct 8, 2008 11:40:51 AM:

      Why is it so damn difficult for gay media to give attention to the marriage amendment in California? This is the biggest vote on a gay issue ever. It will affect gay people everywhere. Right now NO ON PROP 8 is behind in the polls 42% to 47% and way behind in fundraising $16 million to $27 million. If something isn't done NOW same-sex couples won't be able to marry anymore in California and anti-gay bigots will begin to repeal rights gay people already have in other states and it will slow down the gay rights movement in other countries.

      VOTE NO on PROP 8 in California

      NO on Prop 8 ---> http://tinyurl.com/6ddtf5

    1. Andoni on Oct 8, 2008 11:57:42 AM:

      Scott makes a great point. Marriage Equality in CA is in trouble. The religious right knows this is the ball game and has poured much more money into winning than our side has. Their recent influx of money has changed the polling on Proposition 8. The bigots are winning now and the CA marriage decision is in danger of being reversed.

      If they win, they will set back gay rights 10 to 30 years in this country. WE HAVE TO WIN.

      The current financial crisis has hurt me a lot, but I just gave another $50 to the effort to defeat Proposition 8. Here is where you can give:


      This is like the landing at Normandy in WWII. We have successfully landed on the beach and have a beachhead thanks to the CA Supreme Court. We have to hold it. If the bad guys manage to push us back out to sea, the bad guys will hold the continent for another generation.

      That indeed will be terrible news. Please give as much as you can.

    1. Strict Scrutiny on Oct 8, 2008 3:37:24 PM:

      You guys are exactly correct.

      The GLBT community here in CA became complacent after seeing a number of polls which showed that most people did NOT support Prop 8.

      Unfortunately, this has changed dramatically and now the polls reflect that more people support Prop 8 than oppose it. This is extremely troubling, but not totally unexpected.

      We cannot allow apathy and complacency to win out. It would be an awful setback if Prop 8 passes.

      I am urging every gay Californian who opposes Prop 8 to volunteer time at a phone bank, donate money, or volunteer in some other way to assist in defeating Prop 8. If you live out of state, you can donate money.

      You can visit www.eqca.org or www.noonprop8.com for more information.

    1. Pedestrian Observer GB on Oct 8, 2008 4:11:52 PM:

      If it takes a world wide financial crises for people to be color blind what does it take for people to rise above ignorance? I shudder at the thought of what it will take.......

    1. Lucas on Oct 8, 2008 7:06:19 PM:

      I agree, I'm very disappointed in seeing how racism and discrimination is still rampant in the U.S. -- I mean, we're not talking about some third world country here -- this is the United States of America, the land of the free and home of the brave? You'd think race and sexual orientation shouldn't even matter any more -- yet here we are, still struggling with general ignorance and down right intolerance.

    1. Anellidifumo on Oct 15, 2008 2:47:36 PM:

      OT but not so much.

      Hi folks, do you mind telling me the url of some English/American/Canadian metablogs, i.e. websites where I can advertise the English posts of my blog? Italy has just passed an apartheid law for non native Italian students, and I'd like to inform non-Italian speaker bloggers.

      Thank you!

    1. Anellidifumo on Oct 15, 2008 2:48:32 PM:

      * non-Italian speaking bloggers, I meant :)

    1. Anellidifumo on Oct 17, 2008 9:35:05 PM:

      Hey, don't speak all at the same time, uh.

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