The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Wednesday, December 10, 2003

The Eternal German again?

According to War Party darling Winston Churchill,
The Hun is always at your throat or at your feet.

It's ironic, perhaps, that the racial theory of Germanity seems to continue to inform attitudes amongst foreigners. Bismarck famously said that
Nach Canossa gehen wir nicht:
in the last fifty years or so, the Germans on the whole have practically been permanently encamped around the wretched place!

(I have somewhere a tome from - as far as I can recall 1939 or 1940 - called (words to the effect of) Germans: Aggressors Throughout the Ages which delves back a millennium to show a lust for conquest down dozens of generations. A sort of foreword to the Morgenthau Plan.)

The latest manifestation of the fear of the corrupt blood of the Teutons is a CSM story (December 10 - link via Joanne Jacobs) on the readiness of Germans to believe all sorts of lies about the US.

In Graf 1, we are introduced to one Wenzel Mielke, a teenage Ossi, the better to understand the pathology:
In the past six months, Wenzel, a teenager from the eastern German town of Strausberg has read four books by his new favorite author - American filmmaker, humorist, and vocal critic of President Bush - Michael Moore. Wenzel recently attended one of two sold-out appearances by Mr. Moore in one of Berlin's largest concert halls.

Not only do I really like what Michael Moore is saying, but I can really imagine that Bush had something to do with the [Sept. 11] attacks," says the ninth-grader. "It could, of course, be a coincidence - but a really good one for Bush; it is too good an excuse for his wars. The Americans needed a good reason to attack so that they could exploit other countries for oil or whatever.

Clearly a crazy mixed-up kid, who's never heard of Spinsanity. But not, I suspect, in any immediate danger of invading Poland.

(I've heard tell that some Americans even consume Moore's hack-work. They can't all have corrupt German blood, surely? And, should that be Herr Moore?)

But the US Embassy guys are sounding the alarm:
...officials are calling a growing potential for violent anti-Americanism

The evidence the hack seems most concerned about is that
A survey carried out in the spring...shows that 1 in 3 Germans under the age of 30 says that the US government had something to do with the terrorist attacks, which sparked Bush's war on terror.

How could so many from a well-educated, Western people in the 21st century believe in such a baseless, crazy theory?

Morons, surely?

Let's review: according to this, a 2001 Gallup poll showed that 48% of Americans believed in creationism, while only 28% went with the theory of evolution. And, according to this, another poll showed that
...79 percent of Americans believe creationism has a place in public school curriculum.

Meanwhile, in a recent poll, some 57% of Americans said they believed that more than one gunman was involved in the assassination of President Kennedy.

Morons, surely?

(I suspect, in passing, that those manufacturing fancy racial theories about the Germans would be the first to scream blue murder about similar theories directed at other nationalities or ethnic groups.)

Cui bono? After seemingly making an effort to return the US-German relationship to one approaching civility - the Bush-Schroeder meeting in September - we have the poke in the eye for all surrender monkeys from Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz on Iraq reconstruction contracts [1].

Of course, there's no indication that the CSM was USG-inspired: references to the Berlin Embassy in the piece are no evidence; Charles Hawley is, it seems, a freelance - but the decision to take the piece would have come from the CSM editors in Boston, presumably.

It's puzzling all round.

And the racial theory? The final grafs make it clear that the piece is looking at current German attitudes in a historical context, quoting Klaus Hillenbrand, editor of Die Tageszeitung:
While mistrust of the US has pushed many Europeans to embrace such theories, some observers say that there is a uniquely German aspect to their proliferation here.

"I think that some - not all - of the people who believe in these theories see a certain pardon for Germany's history there," says Hillenbrand. "They see that Germany is still measured against the Holocaust, and they have now found a point where the Americans are also very evil and that we Germans then don't have to feel inferior to them."

There's a very welcome partitive there; but the suggestion that any substantial number of Germans think they've finished doing their porridge in Canossa [2] and are ready to face the world free of ancestral guilt would be apt to cause alarm in all sorts of circles.

  1. Not a matter of substance: US firms were always pretty much guaranteed to get the prime contractor goodness - and Germans are not barred from subcontracting. It's a carefully calibrated diplomatic flip-off.

  2. Bearing in mind that a man aged 18 in May 1945 would be 76 today: it may be hard for some to see that visiting his sins on his great-grandson - the misguided Wenzel, perhaps? - does not imply a substantial racial element.


Surprising how often disillusion with the lack of integrity and competence of one bunch of politicians (and their attendant pundits) inspires blind devotion in another lot.

Of course, Germans should distrust US politicians! Don't Americans?

(This piece from 1997 says a:
nationwide survey taken by Fox News Sunday/Opinion Dynamics in February found that 55% of Americans think prostitutes are likely to tell the truth, compared to only 12% who chose politicians.

And the pig got up and slowly walked away...)

But the need to believe is apparently so great that someone has to be the beneficiary of the gullibility thus denied to Yank pols, regardless of merit. Hence Moore.

But that's hardly a Teutonic phenomenon: much the same happened in 1997 in the UK with the election - or canonisation, it was hard to tell - of Tony Blair as prime minister. It took six years of his lie machine in 24 hour operation and a war without public consent to make any impression on the fantasy.

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