The “welcoming culture” isn’t what it used to be. Martin Luther King is as relevant as ever. New York disses Ted Cruz, while Dirk Nowitzki disses Donald Trump.
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
Since 1986, Americans have paid homage to one of their most important personalities, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In 1963, John B. Emerson, then U.S. ambassador to Germany, used that quotation from King’s book “Strength to Love” in a Berlin speech given as part of each Martin Luther King Day as a reminder not only of America’s racial integration accomplishment, but also as a reminder of the difficulties that had to be overcome to reach that goal.
Fifty-three years later, King’s words remain as relevant as ever. In Germany, ever since the New Year’s Eve attacks on women in Cologne and the public debate that arose from them, the “welcoming culture” seems to have developed a few cracks. Does giving hats and serving tea to refugees at the train station constitute a comfort zone? It at least constitutes a superficial welcoming culture.
Cologne appears to be a turning point in the development of refugee policy. Now they’re here, the controversies and challenges.
The Will to Integrate
With them, they bring comprehensive help and the wish for integration of what’s right and important. Precisely, this includes confronting those who want to use sexual violence to achieve their goal of establishing false equivalences to push through their political goals.
More than 50 years after King’s death, it’s reductive to believe integration was a total success in the United States. Racist police brutality seems endless; millions of illegal aliens live in the shadows of a society that ignores that problem — a problem that many Republicans want to solve by shutting immigration down completely. The already declining number of refugees America is now accepting still scares them.
The history of the U.S. as an immigration nation shows that integration is never completed. In every country, it is an ongoing process that runs contrary to the idea that anything can be accomplished. This is due to the short-term nature of politics, with legislative periods and the pressure to do all that can theoretically be done.
Barack Obama delivered his last State of the Union speech this week. One year prior to his departure from the White House, he finally got back to his old style of oratory: inspiring, combative and of course proud, the way it always should be. It’s the blueprint for an America that Obama imagines with education and quality health care for all, along with a functioning immigration policy.
Change Is Always Possible
Why, one wonders, didn’t he deliver this speech a long time ago? Didn’t these visions characterize both of his presidential terms? But day-to-day realpolitik doesn’t work that way; everyday life isn’t full of visions. It’s full of conflicts and compromises with Congress. In a two-party system, such as the U.S. has, the desire to block everything is often greater than the desire for progress.
One can make the accusation that Obama gave up trying, or one can applaud him for his speech, for this moment full of optimism, and his belief that success can be achieved, that change is always possible.
None of the Republican presidential candidates are capable of doing that. The latest Republican TV debate provided a splendid example: Content? Nothing there. Donald Trump and Ted Cruz — in a dead heat in Iowa with the first primary election coming in early February — go at each other over trivialities. Trump says the evangelical Cruz can’t become president because he was born in Canada. Cruz counters that Trump, being a New Yorker, is incapable of being a conservative.
‘Dirk, Making Dallas Great’
Sure, it comes down to the first important victory of the primaries. But who would have thought that standards could sink lower than they already have? The New York tabloid Daily News runs the headline “Drop Dead, Ted” accompanied by a picture of the Statue of Liberty with an outstretched middle finger.
Without irony, this Republican tragedy is no longer bearable, and now, the irony has been provided by the German pro basketball player Dirk Nowitzki. Wearing a blond wig in an ad for the Dallas Mavericks, he mimics Trump’s voice and says “Dirk, making Dallas great!” a slogan plagiarized from the Trump election campaign.
It’s a clear indication of something when it gets to the point that a parody with all its exaggeration has more credibility than the scary original. Obama the basketball fan might enjoy that video clip.