Standing before the Siegessaule, the Victory Column that commemorates Prussia's triumphs over Denmark, Austria and France in the wars that birthed the Second Reich, Barack Obama declared himself a "citizen of the world" and spoke of "a world that stands as one."
Globalists rejoiced. And the election of this son of a white teenager from Kansas and a black academic from Kenya is said to have ushered us into the new "post-racial" age.
Are we deluding ourselves? Worldwide, the mightiest force of the 20th century, ethnonationalism -- that creator and destroyer of nations and empires; that enduring drive of peoples for a nation-state where their faith and culture is dominant and their race or tribe is supreme -- seems more manifest than ever.
"Vote Reflects Racial Divide" ran the banner in The Washington Times over Tuesday's story datelined, "Santa Cruz, Bolivia." It began:
"The Bolivian vote to approve a new constitution backed by leftist President Evo Morales reflected racial divisions between the nation's Indian majority and those with European ancestry."
Provinces where mestizo and Europeans predominate voted down the constitution. But it carried with huge majorities the Indian tribes of the western highlands, for this constitution is about group rights.
In 2005, Morales came to office resolved to redistribute wealth and power away from Europeans to his own Aymara tribe and other "indigenous peoples" he contends were robbed by the Europeans who began to arrive 500 years ago, in the time of Columbus.
Pizarro's victory over the Incan Empire is to be overturned.
According to Article 190 of the new constitution, Bolivia's 36 Indian areas are authorized to "exercise their jurisdictional functions through their own principles, values, culture, norms and procedures."
Tribal law is to become provincial law, and national law.
Gov. Mario Cossio of Tarija, which voted no, says the new constitution will create a "totalitarian regime," controlled through an "ethnically based bureaucracy." To which Morales replies, "Original Bolivians who have been here for a thousand years are many but poor. Recently arrived Bolivians are few but rich."
Bolivia is Balkanizing, dividing up and being divided on the lines of tribe, race and class. And, hailed by Hugo Chavez, Morales' Bolivia is not the only place where the claims of ethnicity, tribe and race are conquering the forces of universalism and globalism.