Debts are bought and sold all the time, and Western courts have awarded hundreds of millions of dollars in judgments to debt investors. Peru is the best-known example: In 2000, Elliott Associates, whose founder, Paul E. Singer, is a top Republican donor and a backer of Rudolph W. Giuliani's presidential campaign, won a $58 million judgment on debt it had bought in 1996 for $20 million. Now African countries are in the sights of debt investors. In 1979, Zambia borrowed $15 million from Romania to buy agricultural equipment. Twenty years later, the two governments agreed to settle the old debt for about $3 million. But a hedge fund, Donegal International, bought it first and sued for about $55 million. This year, a British court ruled that Zambia must pay Donegal $15 million.
That has been my experience at Trinity. Like other predominantly black churches across the country, Trinity embodies the black community in its entirety — the doctor and the welfare mom, the model student and the former gang-banger. Like other black churches, Trinity’s services are full of raucous laughter and sometimes bawdy humor. They are full of dancing, clapping, screaming and shouting that may seem jarring to the untrained ear. The church contains in full the kindness and cruelty, the fierce intelligence and the shocking ignorance, the struggles and successes, the love and yes, the bitterness and bias that make up the black experience in America. And this helps explain, perhaps, my relationship with Reverend Wright. As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me. He strengthened my faith, officiated my wedding, and baptized my children. Not once in my conversations with him have I heard him talk about any ethnic group in derogatory terms, or treat whites with whom he interacted with anything but courtesy and respect. He contains within him the contradictions — the good and the bad — of the community that he has served diligently for so many years.
In mature democracies elsewhere and even in some young democracies in Africa, elections are the central institution of democratic representative governments. Why? Because, in a democracy, the authority of the government derives solely from the consent of the governed. The fundamental rationale for translating that consent into governmental authority is the holding of free and fair elections. This is contrary to staged managed elections held by dictatorships and one-party governments to give their rule the aura of legitimacy in the face of public decent. In such elections, there may be only one candidate or a list of candidates, with no credible alternative choices. Such elections may offer several candidates for each office, but ensure through intimidation or rigging that only the government-sanctioned candidate is chosen. These are not democratic elections but a mere academic process of legitimising autocratic and repressive regimes.