A Nation Run by Grown-Ups

When Americans pay attention to Germany at all, which is rare, they often display no curiosity about the German political landscape, except perhaps for its fringes. Many journalists also seem to follow an unwritten rule that the only things that qualify as ‘news’ from Germany are neo-Nazi hi-jinks and tales of economic woe.

An American named Kali, who lives in Berlin and runs an interesting blog, argues that if Americans looked harder, they could learn something from Germany:

Yes, there is a racist, fascist element in Germany, and I believe that it’s good that it’s public enough to expose its ass in front of a generally disapproving nation. But the percentage of Germans who support those right-wingers is demonstrably tinier than the percentage of U.S. citizens who support repressive racial and social policy. Germany has no Guantanamos, after all, and no recent history of wars of aggression, and no Christian fundamentalist power bloc capable of preventing the teaching of science, rationalism, and critical thinking in its school systems. It isn’t proposing legislation to legalize torture and secret military tribunals. This is because Germans are not in danger of being led into political action by blind patriotism; they have been burned by that before.

Finally, there is a huge difference between maintaining a complex and realistic view of life under communism and being an apologist for it. The truth is that there were both good and bad things about living in the ex-Soviet bloc, and it’s pretty natural for progressive Germans to want to keep or re-establish the good things (universal access to education and health care, a working welfare system, full employment, legal sanctions against discriminatory behavior towards individuals based on their race) while wanting very much to ensure that the violations of human rights, legal rights, and the abridgment of political rights under those regimes is never repeated. It’s hard for many Americans to understand such a nuanced approach to the world of politics and social culture and, in that area, I think the Germans are far more sophisticated and reasonable than we are. I, for one, am happy to learn from them in this regard, without giving up my right to critique them when I think they are wrong.

29 thoughts on “A Nation Run by Grown-Ups

  1. I’d say the precise opposite is true regarding political maturity: the German system (yes, I’ve been both places) has precisely zero tolerance for non-proscribed political language, has an actively pre-scribed and pre-positioned landscape any and all subjects are brought up in, and brooks dissent only in tiny ideological circles. You did get one thing right: there is hardly a wierdo right. But then, there is hardly an anything: the political landscape of Germany runs the whole gamut from the right-wing of the American Social Democrats and the left-wing of the American social democrats. The key words, bandied about endlessly and untruthfully, are “consensus politics” (and variations on that theme). It has nothing to do with consensus and everything to do with “we will tell you the parameters of your thought”. Germany is the children’s version of politics.

    Or, more accurately, its politics for retarded children, the ones where all the sharp corners of outdoor exploration and wide open front yards of political confrontation are instead restricted to one child-proofed room in the middle of the house. In point of fact, the only actually mean things you can say in German politics are about Americans. I don’t think the Americans (I am not one) should be taking lectures from Germany. Forget the fact Germany still has living war criminals- ok, let’s say that one’s in the past and its harped upon too much, even if it’s only been a few years. Instead, let’s attack them for having a repressive system right NOW. I don’t care if Gunter Grass was in the Waffen-SS back when, but I do care that he helps forge the intellectual justification for having a backward, repressive system of political speech laws that effectively outlaws free speech. Call it the Nazi test, a test Germany fails and America passes: the Americans have a system where Nazis are both legal and utterly irrelevant, thus passing both the tests of freedom (legality) and maturity (irrelevance). The Nazis hardly exist in Germany at ALL: yet the system still feels the need to bring down draconian Big Brotherian laws and tremble about imagined the resurgance of a long dead political ideology. I don’t mind you making them illegal, let’s just not claim Germany can do it and be a free and grown up Republic as well.

    As for East Germany, I would respond that she should understand Guantanamo in context and in its complexity in dealing with non-standardized war prisoners…but then I suspect she doesn’t “do” nuance about Guantanamo. No reason to do all that complexity business when it’s Americans as the subject, is there? (And yes, I know she’s an American. However, I use her article here as proxy for a very common German attitude, because all these types of articles think and sound exactly alike)

    What I don’t like about your blog is your implicit and explicit enunciations that Americans, if they only knew more about Germany, would naturally come ’round to the superior German way of thinking. The last I checked, it really pissed off Europeans when Americans imply or baldly state their way is inherently superior, yet you seem to live and breath this way of thinking. The sad thing about it all is, I think you really are pro-American for your political milieu: I think you’re probably in what could be termed the “most pro-American 10%” of the German population, and yet even you can’t keep your dripping hauty demeanor on the leash for ten minutes. I think you could do well to note that someone intelligent and well-educated could live in both countries for extended periods, and ACTUALLY PREFER THE AMERICAN ONE. I did, and do.

    She’s right, one can look at Germany and learn a lot. For example, how how to run a middling-sized Central European social democracy into the ground in slow-motion, for one. Maybe if you’re not a social democracy and don’t care to be one, though (Australia, US) or you’re a social democracy that actually wants to be well run (Iceland), you’ll have to look elsewhere. Say what you want about the Americans, but the country that isn’t whithering and dying on the vine probably has the healthier and more grown-up overall political outlook, I would hazard.

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  2. “America passing both the tests of freedom (legality) and maturity (irrelevance)”?

    Really? To call a country where a president is not free to have a private sexual life without prosecutors hunting him down “mature” seems, at least, debatable. As for political freedom: last time I was on the plane to the U.S., one question I had to answer on that questionnaire was whether I was affiliated to a communist organisation.

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  3. Forget the fact Germany still has living war criminals- ok, let’s say that one’s in the past and its harped upon too much, even if it’s only been a few years.

    No, it’s actually a point that’s germane to the discussion at hand. The USA, too, still has living war criminals. Only that Lynndie England is 24, while Friedrich Engel is 97. More proof that Germany is more mature than the USA 😉

    (Oops, I lied, according to Wikipedia Engel died this February.)

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  4. Interesting blog? A diatribe from a self-hating American. This Kali person talks in clichés. Which means she thinks in clichés. Which means she doesn’t think at all. It’s amazing how people can sound so earnest without knowing what they’re talking about.

    “there are folks who seem to be in Germany to make money, or because they feel they have German “roots” (and exhibit a level of German nationalism that most Germans appear to find distasteful)”

    My, aren’t we painting with a broad brush! In her universe, making money means exploiting somebody. Don’t give her a seizure by asking her exactly who is being exploited. As for identifying oneself for being German? Distasteful! I guess being aware and proud of one’s ancestry, culture, and heritage counts these days as “nationalism”.

    “Germany has no Guantanamos, after all, and no recent history of wars of aggression, and no Christian fundamentalist power bloc capable of preventing the teaching of science, rationalism, and critical thinking in its school systems”

    Of course she has to trot out Guantanamo. What’s her alternative? Send the terrorists to Club Med? No, of course Germany doesn’t have a Guantanamo. But it did have a Stasi. But, I guess that was back when she was playing with her Barbie dolls. No Christian fundamentalist power bloc. Instead a Muslim fundamentalist power bloc. As for teaching “rationalism and critical thinking”, she’s got me there. I think our school system has utterly failed her.

    “It isn’t proposing legislation to legalize torture and secret military tribunals.”

    In the DDR, they didn’t need legislation. No, Germans today would rather let their country become a safe house for terrorists.

    “The truth is that there were both good and bad things about living in the ex-Soviet bloc”

    I am personally offended by this remark. This is typical for someone who has no idea of what life was like under Communism. The bad thing? You had no choice. The good thing? You didn’t have to worry about what to choose. My American passport allowed me to go in and out. My relatives had to stay in.

    “A natural disaster of hurricane proportions in Germany would NOT result in a situation like post-Katrina New Orleans.”

    If Germany ever actually has a disaster like Katrina, then she could make that comment. Until then, she is engaging in speculation, if not fortune-telling. The size of Katrina would have completely covered the entire country of Germany. Also, I guess that she didn’t hear about the 10,000 people who died in France three years ago from just a heat wave.

    “Yes, there is a racist, fascist element in Germany, and I believe that it’s good that it’s public enough to expose its ass in front of a generally disapproving nation.”

    Broad brush again. I guess if you question foreigners coming to Germany, refusing to assimilate, sponging off the social welfare system, and demanding that everybody accept their customs without question (honor killing, anyone?), then you are labeled a racist and a facist. This is an issue that is worthy of open and honest debate. To respond with labels is avoiding debate. With no debate comes no persuasion, no compromise, no solution. Have Germans forgotten “Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis”?

    “The thing is, Germans *are* educated. German literacy rate far exceeds U.S. literacy rate and German students perform better than U.S. students at pretty much every level”.

    Confusing being “educated” with being smart. I know many smart people who are not educated and some educated people who are hopelessly stupid. I guess she also doesn’t know that 58 million Americans claim full or partial German descent. Among those, I would say the literacy rate is about 100%.

    I could go on and on. This is the pseudo-intellectual rambling of someone who is parrotting her “progressive German friends” and wallowing in self-loathing. Hates her parents too, probably. As a German born American who grew up in a very German household, I am insulted on how she says “Germans think this way…” It’s like saying “You’re Chinese, so you must be good at math!” It seems fitting that such a person should feel confortable in a nation that so publically loathes itself.

    Enough typing wasted on that idiot. Now for “A Nation Run By Adults”:

    Part of being an adult means that one has to make decisions and take responsibility for those decisions. An adult has to be able to stand up for himself. Sometimes an adult has to be able to say “No” to one’s children because not giving them something will be better for them in the long run. An adult realizes that to give in to every want will cause a child to become demanding, lazy and spoiled. An adult has to say to one’s child: “If you want it, get it yourself!” so that they become self-reliant. An adult sometimes has to let one’s child get hurt so that they learn from their mistakes. An adult has to teach a child what is right and what is wrong and why it is so. An adult should be able to figure out who his real friends are and who is just using him to get something. And an adult has to, above all, protect his family from those who would cause them harm.

    Does any of the above sound like Germany?

    If there is one leitmotif of Germany (or at least, of the Wessis) since World War II, it’s blame avoidance. Germans don’t want to be blamed anymore for anything. Collective guilt was drummed into the Germans by the western Allies. Now, the Germans can do that all by themselves. Thank you, Günther Grass. (The Russian method of “Good German (Ost) – Bad German (West)” was probably more realistic and caused less psychic damage).

    The best way to avoid getting blamed is not to do anything. Don’t make waves. Surrendering your democracy to Brussels will do the trick too. Having a “nuanced view” is a code word for not being able to make a moral judgement or hard decision.

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  5. “Only that Lynndie England is 24, while Friedrich Engel is 97.”

    Are you equating Ms. ‘Dog Leash’ with s real war criminal, Sebastien? Do you care to defend that?

    The Allies would not have bothered to prosecute someone like England in 1946, because there were hundreds of thousands who did worse things and who walked free after the war. Not merely those who escaped to South America. Those who remained. And the postwar German government did nothing about most of them, for good reason perhaps. But still.

    So when you think about Lynndie England is 24, remember that she is serving time in a military penitentary right now.

    That is American justice……

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  6. Looking at the cases of Lynndie England and Friedrich Engel we find the following from Wikipedia:

    “England faced a general court-martial in January 2005 on charges of conspiracy to maltreat prisoners and assault consummated by battery.”

    and:

    “On September 26, 2005, England was convicted of one count of conspiracy, four counts of maltreating detainees and one count of committing an indecent act. She was acquitted on a second conspiracy count.[1] England has been sentenced to three years for her crimes and given a dishonorable discharge.”

    On Herr Doctor Friedrich Engel we see:

    “Dr. Friedrich Wilhelm Konrad Siegfried Engel was a German SS officer who was convicted in absentia of 246 murder charges by an Italian military court in 1999 for his role in the 1944 execution of Italian captives in retalition for a partisan attack against German soldiers”

    and:

    “brought before a German court in Hamburg in 2002, he was tried and likewise convicted on 59 counts of murder, being sentenced to seven years in prison, although because of his advanced age, he was given a stay of that ruling and was able to leave the court effectively a free man.”

    and:

    “In 2004, Germany’s highest court, the Bundesgerichtshof, overturned the previous ruling on the grounds that, despite acknowledging that Engel ordered the executions, the case of criminal murder had not been proven.”

    “Prior to this, he had been investigated by German authorities in 1969, but no charges were laid and the case ended in 1970.”

    Sebastien, the lesson I draw from this is that US authorities punished Lynndie England with 3 years of incarceration for mental cruelty imposed on prisoners at Abu Ghraib, and that the German authorities failed to impose any punishment for at least 59 acknowledged murders of innocent civilians ordered by Herr Doctor Engel. His advanced age is cited as a reason but note that the German authorities failed to pursue the charges thoroughly enough in 1969-70 – when he was not too old. The evidence against Herr Doctor Engel existed in 1999, so presumably it also existed in 1970 – when German authorities dropped the case.

    It seems that Herr Doctor Engel was a war criminal any way one cares to define the term. About England I think there is some doubt. She acted criminally – but was she a ‘war criminal’ in this sense? Or merely a criminal?

    In any case justice was done in Ms. England’s case by the US military. In the case of Herr Doctor Engel justice was undoubtably not done – by the German government.

    Given that I often hear the argument that the US military cannot be trusted to punish there own and requires the help of German civilians. Hmmmmm. I will own that it is possible that German civilians would be willing to mete out forms of justice that they were unwilling to give their own – that much is true. But why should the US populace consider that as justice? The chances are much better that German judges would have allowed England to walk free – based upon their demonstrated track record. Is that jsutice?

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  7. In the case of Herr Doctor Engel justice was undoubtably not done – by the German government.

    Hey, I never claimed that the Engel case was handled – shall we say – in the best imaginable way by the German justice. I just claimed that he is older than Lynndie England. Which is the undeniable truth. Of course it is also utterly irrelevant, but then the whole question of which nation is more “mature” than the other was idiotic from the start. Which was my point. No need to assume that I was somehow trying to say that American war crimes are just as bad the Nazi ones or something like that.

    On an unrelated note, Don, stop spelling my name as if I were French – we Germans don’t like that 😉

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  8. No, Trevor. The pilot of the ‘Enola Gay’ likely never will be quesioned or tried – because what he did was no more a ‘war crime’ than the pilot of a German bomber dropping bombs on East London in 1941.

    The ‘war crimes’ (if such they were) came from the President of the US and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. The honorable Harry Truman and General George C. Marshall, respectively. But of course bombing Hiroshima was not a war crime.

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  9. Sebastian, I was responding to the point you made that the US has ‘living war criminals’ and that Germany does not.

    Unfortunately any comparison equating Ms. England with Herr Doctor Engel dissolves like communist-era toilet paper when subjected to the facts. Which are that what Ms. England did does not begin to compare with what Engel did. Nor did the justice meted out compare – on any level.

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  10. Sebastian, I was responding to the point you made that the US has ‘living war criminals’ and that Germany does not.

    I didn’t claim such a thing and it’s untrue, by virtue of the fact that people like Erich Priebke or Aribert Heim are still with us.

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  11. Ok, Sebastian. But you failed to adress my other point, so let me restate it. Can you defend your apparent position that the offenses of Ms. England (dog leash) and Herr Doctor Engel (at least 59 reprisal killings of innocent civilians) are somehow comparable (on the grounds that they are both ‘war crimes’)?

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  12. @James Versluys
    Alright, got it. It’s ok to say that one country is better than the other, as long as you ACTUALLY PREFER THE AMERICAN ONE. How you read something like “if they only knew more about Germany, would naturally come ’round to the superior German way of thinking.” into a blog entry that is about pointing out that there’s more to German politics than neo-nazi fringe groups and a crippling economy is beyond me.

    If in Germany, Nazis hardly exist at all, why doesn’t it pass your maturity/irrelevance test?

    @Kurt
    Bringing up the Stasi and the DDR in a discussion about contemporary politics is just a tiny bit inappropriate. As far as the heat wave in France is concerned: last time I checked France wasn’t a German state. Also, if Germany is so keen on staying out of all kinds of international conflicts, how do you explain the presence of German soldiers in Afghanistan and Lebanon?

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  13. “Really? To call a country where a president is not free to have a private sexual life without prosecutors hunting him down “mature” seems, at least, debatable.”

    That’s so naively and willfully misunderstanding and caricaturedly simplistic a thought, I don’t know to say. Oh, wait, yes I do- you’re a knuckle dragging simpleton of an ideologue.

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  14. “No, it’s actually a point that’s germane to the discussion at hand. The USA, too, still has living war criminals. Only that Lynndie England is 24, while Friedrich Engel is 97. More proof that Germany is more mature than the USA”

    I take it back, Trevor. You’re veritably an intellectual compared to this fella.

    This cringe inducing thing about your post is you clearly think you’re making a point here. Wow. I hope you’re not representative of the political sophistication of your country.

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  15. “Alright, got it. It’s ok to say that one country is better than the other, as long as you ACTUALLY PREFER THE AMERICAN ONE”

    Well no, it was more of an attack on the hypocrisy of it from the European perspective. I wouldn’t have brought it up had the whole “how dare Americans say they’re good” thing came up. I’m pointing out that the Americans don’t simultaneously claim their way is better AND complain that someone else does the same thing. See how that works?

    “How you read something like “if they only knew more about Germany, would naturally come ’round to the superior German way of thinking.” into a blog entry that is about pointing out that there’s more to German politics than neo-nazi fringe groups and a crippling economy is beyond me”

    Yeah, I’m sorry, I was writing in english. My fault. All those confusing words and everything, I know how off-putting that must be for you.

    “If in Germany, Nazis hardly exist at all, why doesn’t it pass your maturity/irrelevance test?”

    Because like 17th Century Salem, they’re fighting something that doesn’t exist by banning free speech. In the US, Nazis are legal and paid attention to not a jot. In the fatherland, they’re fretted about, obsessed over, seen in every tree, and the net result is that speech has charmingly been made something for those “free speech fundamentalist” Americans, not intelligent Germans who know better.

    Now, lesse here, I can raise my arm in a Nazi salute. I’ll do it right now. Ok, I did it. Now let’s say I was in Germany, in the privacy of my own house. I did an illegal act.

    I suppose I think this is a lot more funny than it is. To call this childish is to miss the sinister aspects of it and to conform it to the offhand “grownup politics” designation. Making political speech and symbols illegal is clearly childish, or rather it’s rules to be made when your citizens aren’t grownups. If they were, you wouldn’t forbid them from having a potty mouth, forbidding this or that gesture or imagined insult.

    The US has got its hair-pulling stupidities and I’m a regular critic of them (in fact, I hardly bother with criticizing anyone else- this is a departure for me), but they haven’t codified political correctness yet. In other words, they haven’t put PC into general law, making the infanilization of the American people an objectively incontestable factual designation rather than just the claim of some silly blogger woman. Germany has. The German political system is objectively more childish, as well as subjectively being ridden with a tight leash on political parties (who are allowed to be everything from Left to centre-Left) and their joke/ papers who can criticize nothing freely except the United States.

    Wouldn’t it be nice, and actually grown up, if you could criticize anyone like you could the US? I’m not advising you to cut out the US criticism, I’m just thinking maybe you could expand it to, say, your tax system or the social democrats or Gunter Grass his own dumb self. But I suspect I’m being hard to understand, using those difficult “words” again.

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  16. “The ‘war crimes’…came from the President of the US and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff”

    Why was the bomb a crime? What distinguished those deaths from the people who died from all other bombs dropped? Does how cool the explosion look make it worse?

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  17. “Why was the bomb a crime? What distinguished those deaths from the people who died from all other bombs dropped? Does how cool the explosion look make it worse?”

    No, it does not make it worse. The dropping of “all other bombs” (I assume you’re talking about the bombs Germany dropped) qualifies as a war crime as well. Simpleton never denied that. And please do NOT waste your time explaining why Hiroshima was not a (war) crime. I already know what arguments will follow from you to justify why it was not.

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  18. Can you defend your apparent position that the offenses of Ms. England (dog leash) and Herr Doctor Engel (at least 59 reprisal killings of innocent civilians) are somehow comparable (on the grounds that they are both ‘war crimes’)?

    Yes, both cases are war crimes. I don’t think this is controversial at all. Humiliation of prisoners by military police is a war crime, and retaliation killings in response to guerilla attacks are too. It would be a mistake to think that it’s not a war crime if people don’t die, or are physically injured, etc.

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  19. “Yes, both cases are war crimes. I don’t think this is controversial at all. Humiliation of prisoners by military police is a war crime, and retaliation killings in response to guerilla attacks are too. It would be a mistake to think that it’s not a war crime if people don’t die, or are physically injured, etc.”

    So are you arguing that a ‘war crime’ is a criminal offense committed during a war? You do run a certain risk of trivialising the term – much as has been done in the US to the term ‘Fascist’, which has become a synonym for a member of the Republican Party.

    Let’s say that I committed a criminal driving offense in a countryt which is in a state of war – that would be a ‘war crime’?

    What Lynndie England did was akin to ‘false imprisonment’ or the like. What Herr Doktor Engels did was mass murder. Hardly comparable – on any level.

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  20. “I’m pointing out that the Americans don’t simultaneously claim their way is better AND complain that someone else does the same thing.”

    Well, it would be hard for Americans to complain about it since most other countries refrain from the kind of chest-beating patriotism you find in the US, where you’re told on a daily basis that there’s no other place on earth that matches the greatness and perfection of the US of A.

    “they’re fighting something that doesn’t exist by banning free speech”

    I thought that was the freedom (legality) part of the James Versluys test, not the maturity part. Anyway, I’m sure victims of neo-nazi attacks in Germany will be comforted by the fact that they were attacked by something that doesn’t exist. And the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern shouldn’t worry about the non-existant members of their newly elected parliament.

    “political parties (who are allowed to be everything from Left to centre-Left) and their joke/ papers who can criticize nothing freely except the United States.”

    The CDU is a left party? Well, I guess, it depends from which direction you look. Maybe you should reconsider that Nazi salute workout of yours. German papers exclusively criticize the United States? You don’t read, speak or understand any German, do you? No criticism of Gunter Grass (who, by the way, was most passionately defended by an American: John Irving) or social democrats? You obviously haven’t bothered to follow any German debate.

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  21. “Why was the bomb a crime? What distinguished those deaths from the people who died from all other bombs dropped? Does how cool the explosion look make it worse?”

    You didn’t read far enough in my comment, James, where I wrote that Hiroshima was not a war crime. There was no difference between the Hiroshima bomb and any other bomb of whatever size, except what some people are trying to sell – after the fact….

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  22. @James W.
    “Bringing up the Stasi and the DDR in a discussion about contemporary politics is just a tiny bit inappropriate.”

    I brought up the DDR to make a point about how people who complain about repression in the US don’t have the faintest idea about what real repression was like.

    “As far as the heat wave in France is concerned: last time I checked France wasn’t a German state.”

    The point here was to rebut the idiotic comment in the “interesting blog” that a post-Katrina situation could never happen in Germany. I rightly pointed out that just next door was a event that was ten times worse in terms of fatalities than Katrina. You’re right, France is not a German state. It’s more like Germany is a French vassal state. Also, didn’t Germany have a flutkatastrophe a few years back that sent everyone into hysteria?

    “Also, if Germany is so keen on staying out of all kinds of international conflicts, how do you explain the presence of German soldiers in Afghanistan and Lebanon?”

    As for German troops in Afghanistan: “Germany has a few thousand troops in the north of Afghanistan, but their rules of engagement prevent them from being moved into combat in the south – and the indication is that that is unlikely to change.”BBC News, Sept 12, 2006

    So Germany can send troops. Just so long as they don’t have to do any fighting. As for Lebanon, we’ll see.

    “where you’re told on a daily basis that there’s no other place on earth that matches the greatness and perfection of the US of A.”

    I guess you don’t read The New York Times.

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  23. “Also, didn’t Germany have a flutkatastrophe a few years back that sent everyone into hysteria?”

    Except for the hysteria bit it’s true. A considerable number of people died in it. It’s also true that there was a Tsunami. What the hell? This is like comparing apples and pears. All these events are totally different. To try to compare these catastrophes or how the respective countries’ governments handled them is absolute NONSENSE. That’s why I second Kurt in saying that Kali’s statement on Katrina is completely idiotic. As is this discussion here.

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  24. So are you arguing that a ‘war crime’ is a criminal offense committed during a war?

    No, there are certain laws of war – among them the protection of civilians from all kinds of rigours – which must be observed by the military. I think a war crime is generally considered to be a violation of these laws. A quick search comes up with the 4th Geneva Convention, which says:

    “Persons taking no active part in the hostilities […] shall in all circumstances be treated humanely […] To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons: […] (c) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment”

    You do run a certain risk of trivialising the term

    Admittedly, that’s true.

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  25. “Well, it would be hard for Americans to complain about it since most other countries refrain from the kind of chest-beating patriotism you find in the US, where you’re told on a daily basis that there’s no other place on earth that matches the greatness and perfection of the US of A.”

    True, they instead prefer sneering anbd knowing versions of it the way, well, we see here. It’s the same thing, chief. I’ve been everywhere and I’m utterly immersed in international media- to my experience, it’s more prevalent in central European media than the United States, although to be fair it’s more because the US doesn’t pay much attention to Europe. You’d be on better ground if it were an American site with an American blogger snidely reminding everyone how much better the US was than them fereners, but alas we’re on a German site discussing how much better Germans are. Kinda detracts from your thesis, don’t it? I think the Americans get beat up over it because it’s been agreed that’s what they do, not because it’s what actually happens.

    [me: “they’re fighting something that doesn’t exist by banning free speech”]

    [you: “I thought that was the freedom (legality) part of the James Versluys test, not the maturity part”

    Your point being?

    “Anyway, I’m sure victims of neo-nazi attacks in Germany will be comforted by the fact that they were attacked by something that doesn’t exist. And the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern shouldn’t worry about the non-existant members of their newly elected parliament.”

    You know, Micronesia had more car wrecks last year than there were killed in German neo-Nazi attacks. True to form, you like it that I’ve noted the neo-Nazis aren’t some huge threat and use it when it helps your “Germany has grown up” thesis, but now that it doesn’t help you’re right back to the “Nazis are waiting under every bed to get you!” now that it doesn’t. Please, drunk driving is more of a threat than Neo-Nazis. Neo-Nazis occupy the same place in Germany (threat-wise) that Klu Klux Klanners occupy in the US: a laughably distant threat harped upon for completely external political reasons. They don’t even have a tenth as many attacks as Russian neo-Nazis. You’d think Julius Evola was hiding in immigrant closets.

    “The CDU is a left party?”

    Center-Left, yes. I agree it’s very mildly center-Left, but maybe since you’re sooo much more sophiticated about these things you could explain the Thatcherian ideological logic of the massive increase on VAT tax to me. Wow, frau Merkel really wolloped the Left that time! That’ll show ’em, I’ll bet those democratic socialists are quaking in their sandals!

    “Well, I guess, it depends from which direction you look”

    How about from an objective consideration of the lattitude and depth of political debate in Germany? I’m sorry, I should have wrote “debate”, with quotes around it.

    “Maybe you should reconsider that Nazi salute workout of yours. German papers exclusively criticize the United States?”

    That’s not what I said. I said they exclusively criticize the United States in a manner free of restraint for the obsessively enacted political correctness that they reserve for almost every other nationality. I’m pro-‘being able to say what you want’, I just wish they would criticize, say, Russia or South Africa the same way. Just once I’d like to see a leering *Chinese* crazed rapist as the metaphor in Stern or Bild. Why doesn’t Metall portray the *Chinese* as blood sucking insects on their covers? What gets me about all of this is I’m pretty sure you know what I’m saying is true, you just don’t want to be seen admitting it. But then, it’s always pretty easy; antiAmericanism is an almost entirely emotional bit of cultural baggage. It’s not a very reflective creed.

    “You don’t read, speak or understand any German, do you? No criticism of Gunter Grass (who, by the way, was most passionately defended by an American: John Irving)”

    Hell, he was defended by more than that- several of their literary luminaries have crawled out of the woodwork to give ol’ Gunter the once around: Gore Vidal and the great amulance chaser himself have come out swinging in his defense. I’m sure there are more I’ve missed.

    “You obviously haven’t bothered to follow any German debate”

    I know he’s being smacked by many quarters, I’m just trying to figure out how this fits into our little talk here. So what if he’s getting crap for it? You seem to want to change subjects a lot.

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  26. I wasn’t changing subjects, you were the one who brought up Gunter Grass. Sorry for addressing something you wrote:

    “I’m not advising you to cut out the US criticism, I’m just thinking maybe you could expand it to, say, your tax system or the social democrats or Gunter Grass ”
    “I know he’s being smacked by many quarters, I’m just trying to figure out how this fits into our little talk here. So what if he’s getting crap for it?”

    Which one is it?

    So the CDU, along with the SPD, raises the VAT tax. Of course, my bad, that means they’re socialists. Nothing conservative about them, not their stance on education or culture, nope. It’s all center left because they raised taxes. Very insightful, thorough analysis.

    Your only German news source doesn’t happen to be Davids Medienkritik, does it? Because you share their obsession with that trade union paper title from over a year ago. I wonder when people are gonna stop bringing up that thing. It’s a trade union paper, for Christ’s sake, of course, they’re going to be partisan. We’re not talking about German mainstream media here. The magazine, from what I know, can’t even be bought at a newsstand. But for some reason it’s always presented as the one representative illustration. Look, I am not going to argue that it’s a despicable caricature, or that there are anti-American tendencies in German society which are reflected in the media. But to say that other countries are exempt from German criticisim is plain wrong. The US happens to be the most important, influential country in the world, so of course, it’s getting more attention.

    What I don’t understand is why people who criticize the German media’s reporting on the US alwas call for, what was it? “*Chinese* crazed rapist as the metaphor in Stern”. Where is the rapist coming from? What title are you referring to? And why would you be more content if unfair reporting extended to other countries? Shouldn’t the goal be a more fair and balanced take on the US, not tendentious articles across the board?

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  27. “but alas we’re on a German site discussing how much better Germans are.”
    No one – except for Kali maybe who made dumb generalising statements on HER blog – has argued here that “Germans are better”. Where did you get that from? Please elaborate on how you’re reading that into any of the statements made here.

    “How about from an objective consideration of the lattitude and depth of political debate in Germany? I’m sorry, I should have wrote “debate”, with quotes around it.”
    Now, that’s a little bit arrogant, isn’t it? Latitude has only one “t”, btw.

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  28. “What gets me about all of this is I’m pretty sure you know what I’m saying is true, you just don’t want to be seen admitting it.”

    I shall keep that one sentence in my mind forever. It’s wonderfully phrased, can be used as an irrefutable argument in any kind of debate and the best thing about it, it isn’t self-righteous or arrogant at all!

    Like

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