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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Obama Support

I just returned from a trip to East Africa (Uganda). While there I had an opportunity to meet with several (more than 14) Kenyans at a leadership conference where I was teaching. Oddly enough, they wanted to talk about the new American president, Barack Obama. It seems that they claim him as "a child of Kenya" because that's where his father was from. (Never mind the fact that he's never lived there.)

I had encountered enthusiastic support for Obama in Africa when I was teaching in a Ugandan prison last September. Even the prisoners knew about his presidential candidacy in America and were rooting for him. It was much the same now that he's been elected. No matter whom I talked to in Africa, there seemed to be unbridled support for Obama. One of the Americans I had traveled with somehow let it slip that he hadn't voted for Obama. The Kenyans and Ugandans reacted with shock. They hadn't imagined that anyone had voted for anyone else!

My colleague explained to them that he liked Obama in general, but had to take exception to some of Obama's social policies. Again, they couldn't imagine what about Obama anyone could take exception to. So my colleague explained to them how Obama's social policies tend to allow gay marriage. (Mind you that homosexuality is illegal in Uganda, punishable by long prison sentences!) "Oh, we didn't know that!"

My colleague continued by explaining Obama's social position on abortion. He explained that Obama is pro abortion, and that one of his first acts as president was to repeal a presidential prohibition on using U.S. government aid money to pay for abortions in other countries. "Oh, we certainly didn't know that!" Our Kenyan and Ugandan friends were in a stupor. Their whole perception of Barack Obama as "knight in white armor" had just crashed around them in a few short minutes.

It is interesting - this support for Obama from the rest of the world. What is most interesting is that the world will draw conclusions about a man that it knows virtually nothing about. We've always known about the concept of "guilt by association," but it seems we have vastly under-estimated the concept of "qualified by association." In other words, it seems that mankind will assume someone is highly qualified for a job if he or she seems to be like us!

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