Matt Yglesias makes an observation that many colored people I have known have made (including family members):
There’s often a kind of conventional idea on the left that the United States is an unusually racist society. And I think there’s also often a kind of image of Europe as a place where more of the progressive agenda has been achieved than in the USA. But I think that you’ll find if you look at Europe through the eyes of the liberal agenda that while the German left has certainly been more successful than the American left at securing universal health care, it’s been much less successful at promoting a tolerant, integrated, multicultural society. And allowing for the errors implicit in making any kind of sweeping generalization, I’d say that’s pretty generally the case across Europe. This Swiss People’s Party campaign poster would, I think, make Jesse Helms blush. And I’m not even sure which of the Northern League posters from Italy is the most egregious.
It’s not only on the Left, many Europeans think that the United States is particularly racist, until you point out to them that Americans are actually less anti-immigrant and more pro-diversity than most Europeans. This isn’t that unknown of a concept, years ago Jonah Goldberg argued for a pro-immigrant policy because it would dampen any tendency toward socialism. This sort of argument is to me a classic illustration of overemphasis on the power of the free market totally extracted and abstracted from concrete real world institutions and societies (and Goldberg isn’t even a libertarian).
Just a reminder to everyone on the Left and the Right that we don’t live in the world of Dr. Pangloss, there are trade-offs in this world.