Monday, September 7, 2009


Here, at home in the United Sates, friends often comment on my “European attitudes, while my European relatives and friends scold me for having become “so Americanized”. One can’t win for losing . . . .!

There have been times of impatience and embarrassment in the past several decades. I’ve been impatient with the European resistance to new marketing or management ideas, and demonstrated little tolerance for the business and career obstacles women in “The Old World” face. On the other side, however, I’ve suffered some moments of embarrassment. Such as when I tried to explain to a cousin how it was possible for my new home state to have a segregationist (Lester Maddox) as governor, years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act. Or when I traveled in Italy, Switzerland and France in 1998 and was confronted everywhere with questions about the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, each of them ending with: “Have you Americans all gone mad?”

I’m in another embarrassing moment now.

President Obama will deliver a speech about education tomorrow, directed to American K-12 students. Many parents have objected and told their school administration systems they do not wish their children to hear or see it; some are threatening to keep their children home. Why? Because they are afraid it will be a political speech, inconsistent with their “values”, they say. There is already talk in the blogosphere of an “opposition speech”, from the other side of the political divide. Who is opposed to education, studying more, working hard, turning the TV off and leaving the video games on the shelf?

Well, that’s not really the point here, is it? Those parents opposed to their children listening to President Obama’s speech tomorrow do not really quibble with the message. They just don’t like the messenger. Too bad; he is the perfect example of someone who did not have such a terrific start in life and made it to the top. That’s the American way.

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