11/05/2008, 00.00
UNITED STATES - ITALY
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Fr. Gheddo: I am happy with the victory of Barack Obama

by Piero Gheddo
The new face of the presidency could help the United States to be better appreciated in the world. And it's redemption for all black people in the world. Religion is still a force of reference.

Milan (AsiaNews) - I am content with the electoral victory of Barack Obama. The truth is that I'm happy that he won. We will see what he will be able to do, but for the moment I am happy, for three specific reasons:

1) We are living in the time of television,  the internet, and all of the other media that transmit news and images in real time. Politics now also take place in this context. I think that as a black man, Obama is well suited to give a different and more positive image of America in world public opinion. I am also happy because today America is often looked upon poorly, even hated, all over the world, both in Europe and on the other continents. On September 11, I was in Bangladesh, at the leper colony in Dhanjuri. We had heard nothing about the collapse of the Twin Towers in New York. The morning afterward, traveling by car to Dinajpur, we passed towns and cities where the people were celebrating, but we didn't know why. Then we found out: the people were happy over the humiliation suffered by America and by the West in general, even though 70% of the state budget of Bangladesh is provided by England, the United States, and other Western countries through the UN. The events of the past century have demonstrated that the United States of America plays a fundamental role in the defense of democracy and human rights. Out of 180 countries in the world, 67 are recognized as "democratic." I hope for a better future for humanity, and I believe that the United States can be positive in this sense, just as all of the Christian West can be. The black African countries demonize European colonialism, but now that they are experiencing Chinese colonialism, everyone agrees in saying that this is much worse!

2) Obama is the first black president of the United States. The people of the most powerful country in the world have overcome racial prejudice, handing Obama a decisive victory over his opponent. I think that this fact will have a very positive impact on all forms of racial discrimination, which are still very present, especially toward black people in Europe and in other parts of the world. A black president as head of the United States of America, as a sign of redemption for black people all over the world, is an extraordinary event. As a missionary, I have seen up close the humiliation of black Africa and of black people in various northern and Latin American countries. This milestone makes me happy.

3) America, as a country and as a people, has preserved a different image of religion, according to the constitutional charter signed by the founding fathers in 1788, which is still in effect, with some amendments. As soon as he found out that he was the new president of the United States, Barack Obama exhorted the crowds in Chicago, concluding with these words: "God bless you, and God bless America." In Italy, a secularized country like the rest of the European community (living as if God did not exist), this would not be possible. Even our constitution does not mention God by name. The United States, with all of its personal and collective defects and sins, is essentially a Christian country, in which religion is at the basis of popular sensibility, the national culture is respectful of religion, and the presence of religion is widespread and much more broadly shared than in Europe. Except in the intellectual fringes, there is no militant atheism in America as in the European community. America's national roots are not in the Enlightenment, nor are they anti-clerical, and American culture has not been influenced by the Marxist and Nazi ideologies that have shaken and devastated our continent.

I have no judgment on the person of Obama, whom I do not know, nor do I know what he will do as America's president (even he doesn't know this), but for these two reasons I am happy that he won the election and that he is the new president of the United States of America.

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