By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN: And so it came to pass that on Nov. 4, 2008, shortly after 11 p.m. Eastern time, the American Civil War ended, as a black man Barack Hussein Obama won enough electoral votes to become president of the United States. A civil war that, in many ways, began at Bull Run, Virginia, on July 21, 1861, ended 147 years later via a ballot box in the very same state. For nothing more symbolically illustrated the final chapter of Americas Civil War than the fact that the Commonwealth of Virginia the state that once exalted slavery and whose secession from the Union in 1861 gave the Confederacy both strategic weight and its commanding general voted Democratic, thus assuring that Barack Obama would become the 44th president of the United States. This moment was necessary, for despite a century of civil rights legislation, judicial interventions and social activism despite Brown v. Board of Education, Martin Luther Kings I-have-a-dream crusade and the 1964 Civil Rights Act the Civil War could never truly be said to have ended until Americas white majority actually elected an African-American as president. That is what happened Tuesday night and that is why we awake this morning to a different country. The struggle for equal rights is far from over, but we start afresh now from a whole new baseline. Let every child and every citizen and every new immigrant know that from this day forward everything really is possible in America.

 

And if you want to understand clearly what is happening with our environment, read Friedman’s new book, “Hot, Flat, and Crowded.” He spoke at Caltech last week and brilliantly sums up the crisis we’re facing.

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