Roger L. Simon

Bush Bashing in Berlin

Davids Medienkritik has excerpts and a link to what he calls The Interview of the Year with Jeffrey Gedmin, director of the Aspen Institute in Berlin. Gedmin says of dining out in Berlin –

“Why has it become so acceptable that – at elegant dinner parties – very distinguished people openly say, ‘I’m not anti-American, but Bush disgusts me and makes me physically sick? He is a war criminal and a real threat to world peace.’ I can only interpret such statements as being partly about Bush and partly about using him as an acceptable cover to bash America.”

According to Gedmin, much of this began with European shame at being dependent on America during the Cold War. There’s a lot more via Medienkritik. And I agree – this is a must read.

UPDATE: More from the Gedmin interview

Gedmin considers that since 2002 it has been simultaneously the most interesting as well as the worst time to be an American in Berlin. He expressed public support for the war in Iraq in German newspaper columns and in television interviews. In a methodological approach to assessing today’s confused situation, Gedmin believes that vignettes often illuminate it best. They put key issues more in focus than detailed analysis might do.

“As a Catholic I was struck by the amount of virulently anti-Semitic hate letters and email I received. There were many dozens of items. I was called a ‘Jewish war criminal,’ a ‘Jewish pornographer.’ Pardon my language, but more than once, these texts stated that I was a ‘Jew fucker’ or ‘a son of a whore, who should be covered with napalm.’

“During the last two years in Berlin I was publicly insulted, heckled, and refused service in a restaurant because I supported the war to remove Saddam Hussein. Once I was sitting on a bench in Berlin, in front of the famous Adlon Hotel. Three young men recognized me as someone who supported this war, and heckled me from a distance. They were nicely dressed twenty-something youngsters in polo shirts, not skinheads. They said, ‘You’re not wanted here. You don’t belong here. Why don’t you get out of this country?’ It made a deep impression on me.

“The debate about Iraq in Europe generally and in Germany specifically struck me. The German chancellor said that even if the United States acts multilaterally or with a UN mandate, Germany will not participate in the war. One socialist minister in his cabinet, Justice Minister Herta Daeubler-Gmelin, compared George W. Bush to Adolf Hitler. A leading Social Democratic parliamentarian compared the American ambassador in Berlin to a Soviet one. Two German ministers marched in the streets calling the Americans war criminals and chanting ‘no blood for oil.’