Archive | February 21, 2008

Clinton Exegesis

At the end of tonight’s debate – a debate in which Clinton seemed willing to take quite a few sharp jabs at Obama – she wrapped things up by shaking his hand and saying something like “I’m honoured to be sitting next to Barack Obama. And whatever happens in this election, he and I will be fine – we have support from our families, our friends. The question is whether we’ll be able to say the same of the American people, and that’s what this election is about.”

All the tv commentators seem to be referring to this as a “conciliatory” remark on her part. Am I the only one who heard the last part of her line as a veiled barb – suggesting that the American people might not be fine if they voted for Obama?

Sins of the Father

[cross-posted at Liberty & Power]

NO MEXICAN TRUCKS Robert Higgs confesses a dark secret from his family’s past:

[M]y father had done something quite remarkable: he had left the sovereign state of Oklahoma, crossed the sovereign states of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, and entered into and established permanent residence in the sovereign state of California, all without the permission of any of the rulers of these states. Imagine that! …

Many of the Mexican children with whom I grew up might have told a tale similar to mine. The only difference would have been that for them, the origin of their migration to California happened to be not one of the states of the United States of America, commonly known as America, but one of the states of the United Mexican States, commonly known as Mexico. Was this difference important? If so, why? Do the lines that government officials draw on maps sever the heart of humanity?

Read, comme l’on dit, the whole thing.

Brother From Another Planet, Part 2

[cross-posted at Liberty & Power]

cover of French edition Four Black History Months ago I blogged about Alexandre Dumas’s neglected status as a black writer. France’s most commercially successful writer, the author of The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo was also the grandson of a freed Haitian slave; in response to a racial insult he once responded: “It is true. My father was a mulatto, my grandmother was a negress, and my great-grandparents were monkeys. In short, sir, my pedigree begins where yours ends.”

I’m happy to see that Georges, the Dumas novel that most directly addresses issues of race, is now back in print in a new English translation. For a plot summary see here.

It would be fun to see a conference on issues of race and slavery in French romantic literature, organised around Dumas’s Georges, Hugo’s Bug-Jargal (which I see is also out in a new translation), and Verne’s A Captain at Fifteen (which desperately needs a new translation).

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