Wednesday, June 13, 2007

"Tear Down this Wall"

[posted by Callimachus]

GayPatriotWest [corrected 6/20] was in Berlin that day 20 years ago -- I wish I had been. And he remembers another aspect of the scene, one which I can testify was universal in that time and place whenever any American political figure above the level of township supervisor dropped in for a visit.

Anyway, as the Gipper arrived in Berlin, I hiked up to the Kurfürstendamm, then the major boulevard in the free portions of the city. And I watched a rally that absolutely frightened me.

I saw hordes, tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of young Germans marching to protest Reagan’s visit. They accused the Gipper of being a fascist and warmonger and deplored his decision to deploy U.S missiles in Europe. Many carried signs attacking the US while others chanted hateful anti-American slogans or shouted out against the then-incumbent U.S. leader. Replace “Reagan” with “Bush” and the rally would seem similar to many witnessed in recent years in European cities. (This crowd, however, was larger than some recent European rallies.)

What struck me then was the virulence of the anti-American attitudes expressed by the marchers. As I watched, I had flashes of films I had seen of Nazis marching (perhaps on the same street) a half-century previously. Many of the protesters wore nearly identical black outfits (some did sport more colorful attire) and marched in lockstep. It almost seemed that this generation of Germans has replaced “Jews” with “Americans.” Their anger was palpable.

We forget that now. We shouldn't.

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