Monday, January 08, 2007

About Face

[posted by Callimachus]

News item:

President George W. Bush intends to nominate the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, as the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Monday.

Among other reactions, I have this one: So the Secretary of State -- an African-American woman from Alabama -- announces the appointment of America's next likely U.N. ambassador -- an Afghan-born Sunni Muslim.

Fifty years ago, within the living memory of many people, the Secretary of State was John Foster Dulles, son of a Presbyterian minister, grandson and nephew of two previous secretaries of state, Princeton graduate and prominent New York City attorney. (He succeeded Dean Acheson, an even purer blue-blood.) The U.N. representative was Henry Cabot Lodge Jr., grandson of the famous Republican senator from the Boston brahmin clan.

The changing public face of America. How did it happen in our lifetimes? You can say America finally achieved its ideals, that the slow-growing seeds planted long ago by Jefferson and Jackson and Lincoln finally came to flower.

You can say it was forced up, against conservative resistance, by the power of protest and the dynamism of democracy. You can call it the blind and inevitable outcome of statistics, as embodied in birth rates and immigration tables; the WASPocracy was doomed all along. The numbers just caught up with them.

You can see it as an outcome of the Cold War itself, the long struggle accepted by Dulles and Acheson and Lodge and their ilk in that generation. Who knew that to win it America had to, among other things, transform itself. In just this way.

You'd be right each time.

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