Friday, May 04, 2007

plus ça change

I read this piece on Queen Elizabeth's visit to Jamestown and I think: Times have changed.

As the 81-year old monarch stepped to the microphone to address a commemorative session of state legislators at the newly renovated Capitol, she was somber and reflective in celebrating the 400th anniversary of Jamestown, the first permanent English colony in the New World.

“Over the course of my reign and certainly since I first visited Jamestown in 1957, my country has become a much more diverse society, just as the commonwealth of Virginia and the whole United States of America have also undergone a major social change,” the queen said. “The ‘melting pot’ metaphor captures one of the great strengths of your country and is an inspiration to others around the world as we face the continuing social challenges ahead.”

In February, Virginia became the first state to pass a resolution expressing official regret for slavery. In recent weeks, some scholars and minorities had asked whether the queen would consider making a formal apology for Britain’s role in slavery and the way early English settlers mistreated the Indians.

Though she offered no such apology, she observed that human progress rarely came without a cost.

Gov. Tim Kaine echoed the importance of how much had changed since her visit in 1957.

“We didn’t tell everybody’s story; we didn’t include everyone; we didn’t honor all the accomplishments,” Mr. Kaine said at a news conference. “We didn’t acknowledge that the progress came at a cost and there was huge pain along the way. This time, we have a chance to really get it right.”

I read this piece on Barack Obama and I think: Not as much as they should.

Democratic Sen. Barack Obama was placed under Secret Service protection, the earliest ever for a presidential candidate, the agency said Thursday ... Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., told reporters Thursday night that several weeks ago he received information -- some of it with a racial bent -- that made him concerned for Obama's safety. The number of people Obama was attracting at campaign events also worried him, Durbin said.

Durbin said he approached Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., six to eight weeks ago and that Reid and Republican leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., went to the Secret Service last week.

''I expressed concern because of my affection for Barack and his family. I've traveled with Obama. I've witnessed enormous crowds,'' Durbin said. ''This is a relief.''

According to a senior law enforcement official, the security detail was prompted by general concerns about the safety of a prominent black candidate. Although there was no direct threat to Obama, several factors raised concerns, including some racist chatter on white supremacist Web sites.

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