Friday, August 15, 2008
During the final floor exercise in the Olympic women's gymnastics competition, the Russian tumbler used a quintessentially American song (written by a Russian Jewish immigrant, Irving Berlin) as accompaniment, "Puttin' on the Ritz," while the eventual gold medalist from America used the almost iconically Russian song (written by a Ukrainian and a German), "Dark Eyes" (sometimes called "Russian Nights.") (I still have Ivan Rebroff -- a German probably of Russian ancestry, but maybe that was marketing) singing it on vinyl, which I plan to digitize for the iPod now that I have the equipment.) But then the American, Nastia Liukin, was born in Moscow, and her father and mother both won gold in gymnastics for the Russians -- guess it was still the Soviet Union -- 20 years ago. But Nastia, who has lived here most of her life, seems almost more American than most native-born girls that age. All of that strikes me as highly benign internationalism.