Wed, 09 Jul 2003

America's magic

The first American to produce magic, in my view, was Abraham Lincoln, through his speech at Gettysburg in 1863 proclaiming democracy for the first time, as a system "from the people, by the people and for the people," which also became the pillar for the Republic of Indonesia when it was proclaimed on Aug. 17, 1945.

Another name worth mentioning in this category is George Marshall (1880-1959), creator of the Marshall Plan of U.S. economic aid for the reconstruction of post-World War II Europe. Perhaps also George Washington and Thomas Alva Edison (1847- 1931), who invented the electric bulb, not to mention Neil Armstrong, first man to step on the moon.

It is a pity that George Walker Bush cannot be described as an American able to create magic in the eyes of the press, having failed to produce the rabbit of mass destruction from his Republican hat, at least until now.

Fortunately, many American citizens today are still contributing to the American record book of magic. The most recent example has been the Williams sisters, Venus and Serena, at the Wimbledon tennis championships in London, who met dramatically in the final, and not for the first time. Their fairy-tale feat has, indeed, been an inspiration to many people around the world.

Former world heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali was also an American capable of producing magic. If you work for the postal service, the name of Lance Armstrong may come to mind, for it is he, an American, who has won the grueling Tour de France four times already, in spite of cancer.

Today, in many respects, American aspirations and practices, notably in the field of politics, have lost their appeal while the world is still hungry for American magic as in the person of Charlie Chaplin, Katherine Hepburn, singer Louis Armstrong and comedian Bob Hope, who has reached the age of 100, or Ronald Reagan, who made it to his country's presidency from being an actor who played cowboys.

It is expected from Americans that they play more a role of the magician rather than that of sheriff of the world. Ideally, magicians with a lot of cash, not guns, for distribution to needy economies.