Zakaria’s ‘The Post-American World’

I meant to post this thought-provoking article yesterday, but just remembered it now. It’s an interesting and insightful look into how America fits into the world – and how that has changed a lot over the last few years. While Americans still consider much of the rest of the world to be “anti-American,” in reality, they’re “post-American” – they’re just, like, totally over us.

Excerpt: Zakaria’s ‘The Post-American World’ | Newsweek International | Newsweek.com

Look around. The world’s tallest building is in Taipei, and will soon be in Dubai. Its largest publicly traded company is in Beijing. Its biggest refinery is being constructed in India. Its largest passenger airplane is built in Europe. The largest investment fund on the planet is in Abu Dhabi; the biggest movie industry is Bollywood, not Hollywood. Once quintessentially American icons have been usurped by the natives. The largest Ferris wheel is in Singapore. The largest casino is in Macao, which overtook Las Vegas in gambling revenues last year. America no longer dominates even its favorite sport, shopping. The Mall of America in Minnesota once boasted that it was the largest shopping mall in the world. Today it wouldn’t make the top ten. In the most recent rankings, only two of the world’s ten richest people are American. These lists are arbitrary and a bit silly, but consider that only ten years ago, the United States would have serenely topped almost every one of these categories.

The article’s not all doom and gloom; he points out the positive aspects of this global shift:

The post-American world is naturally an unsettling prospect for Americans, but it should not be. This will not be a world defined by the decline of America but rather the rise of everyone else. It is the result of a series of positive trends that have been progressing over the last 20 years, trends that have created an international climate of unprecedented peace and prosperity.

I know. That’s not the world that people perceive. We are told that we live in dark, dangerous times. Terrorism, rogue states, nuclear proliferation, financial panics, recession, outsourcing, and illegal immigrants all loom large in the national discourse. Al Qaeda, Iran, North Korea, China, Russia are all threats in some way or another. But just how violent is today’s world, really?

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African American Lives 2

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I just watched part of this PBS program, and it’s fascinating. A description from the website:

journeys deep into ancestry of an all-new group of remarkable individuals, offering an in-depth look at the African-American experience and race relations throughout U.S. history. Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. returns as series host, guiding genealogical investigations down through the 20th century, Reconstruction, slavery and early U.S. history, and presenting cutting-edge genetic analysis that locates participants’ ancestors in Africa, Europe and America. Joining Professor Gates in the new broadcast are poet Maya Angelou, author Bliss Broyard, actor Don Cheadle, actor Morgan Freeman, theologian Peter Gomes, publisher Linda Johnson Rice, athlete Jackie Joyner-Kersee, radio personality Tom Joyner, comedian Chris Rock, music legend Tina Turner, and college administrator Kathleen Henderson, who was selected from more than 2,000 applicants to have her family history researched and DNA tested alongside the series’ well-known guests.

Check out the site, there are a lot of really interesting videos and stories. Try to imagine what it would be like if you were part of an entire race of people who know almost nothing about their ancestors.