Why it’s no wonder that Mike Pompeo would rather fly to Baghdad than to Berlin.
It’s still not entirely clear what the “pressing issues” were that caused U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo to snub our chancellor and foreign minister at the last minute. After all, the nuclear attack against Iran hadn’t occurred yet. Extraordinary contempt was presumably not a reason for the cancellation, either, as the great power Greenland also had to forego a visit from Pompeo for the same reason. And of course, the respects that Angela Merkel and Heiko Maas have been waiting so long for Pompeo to pay are going to be rescheduled soon. There’s no need to hurry, because Donald Trump, in his own words not a normal president, does have, after all, a competent ambassador in Berlin, who frequently shakes his head publicly wondering what kind of wimps we Germans actually are.
And how can we even disagree with him on that? Our politics create doubt and hesitation pretty often, in fact. The formulation that all power originates from the people is, in the end, only valid when one includes among the people the Arab clans that buttress our weak state with additional support, such as their own judicial system. Nonetheless, some politicians are now demanding that a red line must be drawn for a redesign. And look, in our hip capital, it’s already happening. In Berlin, the manager of Görlitzer Park drew – in pink, no less – lines marking zones in which drug dealers can conduct their business undisturbed. Does anyone blame the man? After all, he’s just following the example of our foreign policy.
The recent discussion over our national anthem is also part of the pathetic image that we project, according to the American perspective. It’s truly evergreen, both the anthem and the discussion. Because instead of “flexing our muscles on the world stage” (a recommendation from U.S. Ambassador Richard Grenell himself in the tabloid Bild), we’d rather play around with our scruples again.
This time, the minister-president of Thuringia has demonstrated how well we can still do that. He is calling for a new national anthem, because when the old one plays, he still sees the Nazi hoards marching back and forth in his mind’s eye. Now, the risk may be low that Bodo Ramelow will decide to join them.* And, as he admitted, what he sees in his mind’s eye doesn’t keep him from singing along. But we should be shaken by his observation that many true East Germans can’t pry open their mouths when they are supposed to sing about unity and justice and freedom. Apparently, this lockjaw doesn’t only occur among the members of our national soccer squad.
Ramelow doesn’t want to solve the problem by reinstating the Becher anthem from the former German Democratic Republic or East Germany, because some people would probably see another film. For older folks, it may even be one from 1939. In “Water for Canoga,” Hans Albers sang “Goodbye Johnny” so captivatingly that the melody even fit “Risen from Ruins” perfectly. No, the Left Party demands a completely new song, one so accessible that everyone can identify with it and say, ‘That’s mine.’ Three, two, one … ? Everyone, that’s simply impossible. In any event, we can’t imagine any song that Björn Höcke and Sahra Wagenknecht would find equally good. ** Although …
Anyway, in a flawless democracy like our own, it will again come down to a majority vote, preferably using a tried-and-true model, like a song contest. That could also make the division between east and west more visible than we’d like, even if points had to be allotted according to the accepted rules of the Equalization Payments system.*** Because then Bayern and Bade-Württemberg would just get zero points from the east for their songs.
We can see that Ramelow’s suggestion wasn’t very well thought out. But when we also take a look at the subsequent, never-ending discussion over Berthold Brecht’s “Children’s Hymn,” at least we understand why Pompeo redirected his plane midflight and preferred flying to Baghdad than to Berlin.
*Editor’s note: Bodo Ramelow is a German politician of the Left Party who has been minister-president of Thuringia since 2014.
**Editor’s note: Bjorn Hocke is a German politician and member of the Alternative for Germany Party. Sahra Wagenknecht is a German politician of the Left Part, and member of Bundestag.
***Editor’s note: Equalization payments are a mechanism in Germany to redistribute financial resources both between the federation and states and among the states themselves. They are to be abolished in 2020 and will be replaced by new regulations.