Tag: Germany

A New Day is Darkening

So I was standing in line to vote yesterday, and I was feeling cautiously optimistic. As it turned out, of course, I should have placed more emphasis on the “caution” than the optimism.

In any case, a woman exited the polling station and, perhaps brimming with civic pride after casting her ballot, spoke to all of who were waiting in line.

“Just remember,” she said. “Whether your candidate wins or loses, tomorrow we will still be the United States of America. And we all need to come together.”

ihearts

And I thought her sentiment was nice — and also naïve and ridiculous.

After all, we have just elected a racist, misogynistic bully who will be the only president in history with no government or military experience, and who has total contempt for the US Constitution.

I mean, what could go wrong?

Well, for example, I wouldn’t be surprised if Trump’s first trip overseas ends with him snapping at Angela Merkel to go fix him a sandwich or he’ll nuke Germany.

Now, there are those who say that Trump’s obnoxious behavior will disappear once he is inaugurated. But saying Trump will calm down once he is in office is like saying your boyfriend will stop punching you once you get married.

Still, the country will survive this travesty. It is not the end of the world — well, hopefully not. And I’m sure many lessons about politics and progressivism and racism and delusion and class conflict and all the rest will illuminate us in the future.

And we have to imagine that this future will be brighter than today is.


Gemütlichkeit

Don’t tell me about Oktoberfest.

I’ll tell you about Oktoberfest.

You see, I’m from Wisconsin (specifically, Milwaukee, as I’ve written about). And because I hail from a city that is synonymous with beer and a state that is awash in Germanic culture… well, let’s just say that I’ve partaken a few times in the festivities.

Hint: When you’re drinking from the glass boot with your friends, avoid gulping the heel. It just bubbles up in your face.

beer-boot-funny-square

 

Of course, the tradition of Oktoberfest has spread across America.

Hey, just yesterday, I saw a dozen people dressed in lederhosen, sprinting down the street outside my apartment, in some kind of bizarre footrace for beer. And I live in Los Angeles, far better known for its Latino, Asian, and Armenian influences than its German ones.

In any case, Oktoberfest has become Americanized, just like — yes, it’s true — Cinco de Mayo and Día de los Muertos.

The difference is that there is no movement to sever Oktoberfest from its Germanic roots. And nobody views Oktoberfest as an affront to American values, or complains that everything was fine until those damn Bavarians showed up.

You get the picture.

For some mystical reason, it is fine — even glorious — to celebrate Oktoberfest or St. Patrick’s Day. And there will be no political backlash.

Cinco de Mayo and Día de los Muertos, however, are likely to get at least a few people all huffy.

When we acknowledge Germanic and Irish culture, no one claims that doing so “divides us” or undermines the quest for a colorblind society (whatever that means) or somehow cheapens the label of “American” because we’ve put “German” or “Irish” in front of it.

This is not the case with any holiday that has committed the grievous sin of having a Spanish name.

Well, I’m sure it’s simply an unfortunate coincidence.

So let’s all just relax and have a beer.

 


Semi-free Speech

I try to avoid the whole WWJD game.

And I don’t apply this rule solely to Jesus. I also avoid asking what would Gandhi do, or Abraham Lincoln do, or Jimi Hendrix do.

The reason is that we can’t possibly know what these individuals would think of modern problems because they are so very, very dead. And whenever someone asks that question, the answer is inevitably, “Well, Jesus would agree with my exact political views, of course.”

However, I am going to break my personal rule by asking what would MLK think of last week’s Trump rally in Chicago, where fistfights erupted, some crazy old lady flashed a Nazi salute, and the frontrunner to be the Republican nominee for president cancelled his speech.

trump rally

As I understand it, Martin Luther King was in his fair share of tense situations. And yet I don’t recall hearing of a single time when he shouted down someone who disagreed with him, or reveled in acts of violence. He simply didn’t do that.

And yet, I see plenty of liberals out there who insist that we “won” in Chicago. What kind of odd reasoning is this?

Shutting down one bigot for one night is hardly a victory for tolerance and respect. Because “even the most ardent anti-Trump among us should lament that a political speech was canceled due to fears of violence.”

Yes, I know that Trump is loathsome and would happily take away your freedom of speech if he could. That’s not the point. The issue is that “no matter how right you think you are, you are never so clearly right, never so without fault, never so pure, that you have any moral authority to shut down the other side with violence.”

So preventing Trump from speaking in Chicago was not a bold cultural statement. It is also not going to change anyone’s vote in November.

All is did was make leftists feel good about themselves for a couple of hours.

Now, I understand the frustration. And I don’t know why apparently rational Americans are supporting a man who loudly proclaims his bigotry and misogyny.

Maybe it’s what the late, brilliant monologist Spaulding Gray believed, which is that there are times and places where malevolence just appears. As Gray said, there is “perhaps an invisible cloud of evil that circles the Earth and lands at random in places like Iran, Beirut, Germany, Cambodia… and America.”

 


Rearview Mirror

It is an axiom that no culture can look upon its sins objectively without flinching. Actually, I just made that up, but it certainly sounds axiomatic to me.

For example, here in the United States, we went decades before admitting that putting Japanese Americans in camps during World War II was a bad idea. And that was positively light speed compared to how long it took us to apologize for slavery or to acknowledge that we weren’t exactly nice to the Native Americans.

Before we beat up too much on the USA, keep in mind that nations such as Germany, Turkey, and China all have trouble acknowledging that at some point in the past, they kind of, sort of, did some unpleasant things.

That’s why it’s fascinating that Guatemala is the first nation “in the Americas to prosecute a former head of state, in its own domestic courts, for the ultimate crime.”

The crime is genocide, and the defendant is former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt, whose forces wiped out whole villages when he was in power during the 1980s.

The outcome of the trail, of course, is of great interest to Guatemalans in the United States, many of whom fled here during Efraín Ríos Montt’s reign of terror.

On a larger scale, however, the trail shows how it’s never too late for a nation to face its past, no matter how unpleasant the process.

 


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