Archive for January, 2011

She is the victim…. again. And I wonder, why, for once, can somebody who held high political office and strives for even higher ones, not step up, take responsibility and own it.

Sarah “Blood Libel” Palin, always tries to turn affairs in a way that makes her look like the wronged party (or “the victim” as David Frum mentioned). And I am sure, if I were  a somewhat more important voice in the choir of commentators, critics and scholars who reflect and discourse about important (and sometimes not so important) events, I am sure she’d, or her media lackeys would, respond to me with some concentration camp reference and how she is a victim of that too, given that I am German.

And no, this is not a polemical and politically incorrect comment about Sarah Palin, nor is it about the events of Tuscon bing the fault of Rush “Straight Shooter” Limbaugh or other Republican Tea Party favorites. This is about a very crucial difference that people who are think in a one-dimensional linear cognitive style do not seem to get right: the difference between blame and responsibility.

This is a difference that I know well because (!) I am German, and it is a difference that, sometimes, I have  to hammer into the heads of the many historians who offer one-dimensional accounts of the Nazi years and the Holocaust.

Sometimes it is just not about “who is to blame”, sometimes it is about a lot of people sharing responsibility for something. And as for what happened in Tuscon, AZ, there is one man to blame and a whole lot of people who share responsibility for it.

The man who is to blame is the man who pulled the trigger. Period. Whether he is guilty or just insane, that is for the courts to decide. But in either case, the shooter is also a product of a culture and a society that made him and the events possible, and the factory of this event is “multi-factorial”.

Some Democrats chose to blame Republican vitriol, or some blame lax gun-laws, or some blame rich people, or some blame faulty (mental) health care. Some Republicans blame the Democrats, or blame Liberal vitriol, or  blame their health care reform, or blame heavy metal music or hip hop, or blame computer games, or blame too restrictive gun laws.

But the sad truth is, it is all of the above and more. It is a culture that has borne and was born by Republican hatred and vitriol same as Democratic bickering, same as Gangsta Rap, same as same as.

Sadly enough, most people in public office or influential positions in the mass media, all of whom are well-paid to assume and execute responsibilities, fail to take responsibility.

Many citizens of Tuscon and, as one of the few members of the political class, President Barak Obama, seemed willing and able to actually own up to the responsibility bestowed upon them by these tragic events.

And even though in the first few seconds after the memorial and Obama’s speech, most media commentators seemed able to shut up or, at least, praise their President, they quickly fell yet into old habits, criticizing the timing of the speech, the setting and visual presentation of the memorial,  even commenting on the effects of the speech for Obama’s reelection campaign, and so on and so.

There was a time, when responsible people in positions of responsibility knew when something larger than themselves was going on and they, with the rest of the crowd, got line behind their President and just…. shut up.

My dear friends overseas, I say to you, all of you, about the culture you created that led to the tragedy of  Tuscon, the same I say to my fellow Germans about our nation’s tragic past:  Take responsibility, learn from it and do better. In short: Own it.

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Dreams can die, and not always do they get to be reborn dressed in white wearing an emerald.

The European Dream, that Jeremy Rifkin was musing about a few years back, hopeful that such musings might indeed finally breathe some life into this stillborn project and return some clout to its American step-brother, well, that European Dream was effectively buried during the last two years, during which European leaders failed to execute their power in steering their ship: Leader-ship indeed, run aground, sinking and wrecked. More so, the same mixture of calculated opportunism, historico-political short-sightedness and clad incompetence of the rising number of careerists among national politicians, mass media representants and global finance and industry elites that prophesied and promised during the dawning age of institutionalizing the EU that  from the three (plus X)  necessary institutional columns and their intra-European harmonization, it was only to be the harmonization of the economic market – via the Euro – that was really necessary, not because the others wouldn’t matter but – by way of invisible handling – the rest would all install itself. As has been done before so many times (just think of how Germany botched its re-unification), cautious critics were effectively silenced, usually by way of calling them intellectuals, unrealistic, spoil sport, and so forth. Countries like Greece were rushed into the Euro-zone, despite their widely known and reality-defying accounting and budget practices. Invisible Hands indeed, well more like “the grabbing hands grab all they can”.

But before you call me a spoil sport, an intellectual, or, worse, continental, and, of course i am all that, right you are, let me get to my point which is, of course not so much about the EU but the US of A. What I am getting at is that Rifkin or rather some of his likes were trying to point out that Europe might actually want to be a little bit more unified, more like the US, that is. Of course, nobody in Europe wanted to be the US, not back then anyway, and probably not ever. A United States of Europe was, largely, out of the question, given that Europe was continually growing, and prospective countries like Belarus, Serbia, or Turkey just aren’t Texas. Also, in its own troubled history, the Franco-German-Austrian core and its continued awkward gestures amongst one another and with its Eastern European neighbors, the stiff resistance of the United Kingdom to put its trust into the whole thing, let alone abdicate the British Pound and submit to those defaulting rules that the European commission seems to come up with for anything from banana curves to the end of the light-bulb, well: No Way!

Respectively, Europe, other than the USA, is a disbanded lot who share in their Union, well, what actually? Three things actually, the Euro, a dumping ground for used up or unwanted national politicians – Brussels  , oh, and, of course, you cannot find any lightbulbs anymore – even though Germans are discussing returning to them, or maybe not, or maybe halfway. the Germans, you must know (see illustrated the recent ban of smoking in pubs), are the kings and queens of repeal, repeal the repeal, repeal the repeal of the repeal, and so on. Actually, such repealing actions are rather costly, as the American Republican party just found out, when the figure of repealing health care came out to be some $230 billion – although, I guess it’ll be at least double that. And with this, we come to the actual thing I wanted to say. When it was suggested that Europe and the United States should be more alike, I think, nobody had in mind what currently seems to be happening: The United States of America turn into an American Union. What, I sometimes ask myself, holds these people together as a nation? I feel very little. Of late, they seem just as dispersed, divided, and spiteful as the Europeans always have . And I am afraid, it won’t be long until we will have some actual calls for secession. As of now, this sounds preposterous,  hilarious and crazy, I know. But then again, the same was said of those who claimed that Greece wasn’t ready for the Euro.  

Well, dreams can die, and they are usually not reborn. About nightmares, well that is a bit of a different matter.

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