A Special Kind of “Freedom”

From my Writing Room
Copyright © 2021 by Uwe Bahr

In 23 years of living in the US, I never really “warmed up” to the American culture of life. The closest I came to supporting America in recent years was related to the US women’s soccer team – and not only because of their enthusiastic play, but also how civilized they behaved off the field, especially when it came to showing true character by unitedly rejecting the visit to the White House, where a perverted buffoon was president.

Unfortunately, this nation is not as united in its sanity and a responsible-minded, true devotion to the Fatherland as this outstanding soccer team.

The sometimes unnerving American bluster about freedom can certainly correspond to an individual’s view of things – or to a widespread self-deception. Americans obviously have to stress over and over again how free they are because in reality they are unfree, and they are unfree because there is no basic guarantee of fair wages in their country, much less of universal health care affordable to everyone.

How can people call their country a free country when the vast majority of their own population does not even have the freedom to not have to constantly worry about the essentials of life that define a true and just democracy?

American Opportunities, American Unscrupulousness

From my Writing Room
Copyright © 2021 by Uwe Bahr

It is often said that the USA is the land of unlimited opportunity. For me, this proud claim seems to come from a bygone era. I must have missed that time. And even if this statement was ever in common use – which it was -, it is inherently false: for not everyone has the doors open to them that are opened to others by skill and ability, and not infrequently by pure chance. Perhaps this is called the luck of life, and not everyone is a born academic. The non-academic or someone who has not progressed beyond a simple school-leaving certificate has no less value for society, because there must also be someone who puts his hand in the dirt to produce food. After all, well-heeled people can’t eat their money.

Over time, the sayings about the U.S. that circulated in Europe, especially after World War II, must have relativized themselves. Because the “freest country on this earth” has long ceased to exist. A country in which a very small upper class is allowed to hoard most of the wealth, almost untroubled by any legislation and at the visible expense of the majority of its own citizens, thereby restricting their possibilities, can hardly be considered unreservedly as a free land. A country that allows individuals to outsource entire branches of production to India or China because profit is more important than the well-being of their own compatriots is probably better served by the term “dictatorship of money.” And when it is obvious that any political, federal administration of this country, including the branches of legislature, stand idly by and watch these goings-on because they are part of the deal, then the structure of this country is almost taking on mafia-like forms.

Taking all these phenomena into account, the arc from the American oligarchy mentioned here to the events of January 6, 2021, is not stretched far. For the storming of the Capitol by propaganda-blinded hordes is nothing other than an expression of the abuse of American idealism by the influence of power and money – led by unscrupulous, populist politicians interested only in their own selfish gain. The fact that they are risking the fate of the entire country in the process is apparently not realized by millions of Americans, which no longer rules out Donald Trump’s return to the White House.

Dangerous Mixture

From my Writing Room
Copyright © 2021 by Uwe Bahr

The remaining Republican constituency, however numerous, has solidified into an unsocialzed, deluded bunch over a laughingstock like Trump: His followers are filled with a pathetic, populist mindset camouflaged as patriotism, fed by fabricated catchphrases that even the mentally deficient can easily memorize and then parrot as the familiar bird can.

Thematically, most can hardly produce anything coherent from their own thoughts that would make any sense to support their views. Apart from repeating propaganda platitudes, they do not provide any answers to problems that exist in reality. An own fact check with appropriate background knowledge does not take place, because the mental energy is missing and often probably also an honest intention.

It is frightening to observe how much this propaganda-pushed mentality is becoming entrenched in other developed countries as well – but nowhere else as intensively as in the USA. Trump embodies the intellectual decay of much of American society.

There is no end in sight to the dangerous blend of misinformation, lies, conspiracy theories, not-knowing, misdirection, and delusion. For there are millions of people who blindly believe every claim, no matter how abstruse, as long as it only corresponds to their own paranoid fantasies.

Twisted Talent: DeSantis for President

The Man who invented Germany in the Middle Ages

From my Writing Room
Copyright © 2021 by Uwe Bahr

Ron DeSantis is an especially known interpretative twister of facts – obvious at least for those who scrutinize his claims -; and he is somebody who has been talking after Trump’s mouth. He is not bothered by any nonsense he utters because he knows that his willing audience will accept anything.

But maybe someone should give him some private lessons in history, because when he tells a certain story with a religious tinge of the three masons “in Germany in medieval times”, all his ignorance comes through.

True, it’s a brilliant story he’s spinning – but unfortunately with a little flaw: For in the times of the Middle Ages, not only did Germany not exist, neither as a country nor as a unified nation – hardly anyone would have known what to do with the term “Germany” up to the 15th century. DeSantis, however, seems to like Germany, because he mentions the country quite often – unfortunately never in a logical context.

With this in mind: What kind of political leaders are these – in this case an acting governor in Florida – who open their mouths and don’t know what they are talking about? Before one speaks, one should know.

Probably this figure also wants to become the next president of the United States of America.

Remark: The first German nation-state was proclaimed on 18 January, 1871, in Versailles; its founder was the Prussian Prime Minister and subsequent Reich Chancellor Otto von Bismarck. The “Germany” to which DeSantis wishes to refer was, from the 9th century onward, called the “Holy Roman Empire”, later of German Nation – a loose, often obscure association of kingdoms, counties, duchies, numbering 330 in the 18th century and often in enmity with each other. For a long time, Austria-Habsburg was the leading power. – This political entity came to an end only late – in 1806 with the Prussian defeat by Napoleon.

“Far-Left, Radical Socialist Policies”

From my Writing Room
Copyright © 2021 by Uwe Bahr

Under the influence of a primitive demagogue, the Republican Party leadership continues to feed its base with whopping lies.

After Trump’s presidency, many Americans believe that the current administration is destroying cherished American values and drives the U.S. toward socialism. In this context, Elise Stefanik, chair of the Republican House Conference, uttered a phrase that makes a person who had lived involuntarily in a socialism for almost thirty years cringe:

She called the agenda of the current US-Administration “far-left, radical socialist policies.”

At this point it should be noted: Whoever uses dull slogans exposes himself to the suspicion of wanting to take others for fools; he also reveals that he might be unable to contribute any conclusive arguments for the solution of real problems. By no means for the first time in its history is the GOP summoning the specter of socialism to scare Americans away from any acceptance of policies other than its own.

In contrast to Stefanik, this writer experienced socialism firsthand, opposed it in the GDR (“East Germany”) with modest means as much as possible, put up with personal disadvantages in the process, and experienced with millions of others the fall of the Berlin Wall as a result of a peaceful revolution.*

I can say with certainty: this woman has not the faintest idea what she is talking about when she mouths the word “socialism.”

I repeat here what should be easy for even the average person to understand: Socialism is when the means of production are not in private hands, but in the hands of the state. Period. There is not even a hint of a precondition in the USA that can bring the country toward socialism.

What the country lacks are accompanying governmental measures to curb social injustice, which cries out to heaven in the United States. Previous presidents have already denounced this and/or used government power to fight social injustice: from John Adams via Teddy Roosevelt (by the way: a Republican), Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman to Lyndon B. Johnson.

None of them was a socialist because of it.

Whoever manages to compare a policy of social justice with socialism, and in doing so also falls on open ears among the population, is in my eyes an unscrupulous populist. A person who has a minimum knowledge of history and is still of sound mind, will not follow these pipers.

By the way – anyone who fobs off his own base (de facto: his own family) with cheap, propaganda-ridden phrases should not deserve to be elected to any responsibility whatsoever.

What has the Republican Party turned into?

Notes:

*I was born in 1961 at the junction of the Cold War, just 21 miles from the deadly border that once separated Germany. Bear in mind that I grew up behind barbed wire not because of a non-functioning socialism (which we did not want), but as a direct consequence of World War II sparked by Germany. In the further historical development, the inner-German border was built by communists in the midst of increasing tensions and the collision of interests between the U.S. and its erstwhile ally, the Communist-Bolshevik Soviet Union, which eventually morphed into hostility. – Without this illegal, impenetrable border, millions more people would have fled from the Soviet sector to the free West than had already done so before 1961.

“Behind Me are Millions”

A German warning to America from History

From my Writing Room

Copyright © 2021 by Uwe Bahr

It would be a mistake to assume that Donald Trump, the mob-president, depends on the Republican Party. Instead, it must be feared that the bulk of his 74 million voters will foolishly follow him, if not within the GOP, so in any other political movement – after all, idiocy is sufficiently established in this society to serve as the trailblazer. No law will be an issue anymore.

This man with limited intellectual faculties, stricken by pathological egotism and vindictiveness, will very likely be back in public “in one form or the other”, as he himself put it in his last hours in office. America’s democracy, including a shocking number of citizens, has failed in the most despicable manner, which will result in more consequences for this country.

Of course, Trump is not Hitler, who once boasted “Behind me are Millions.” Unfortunately, it was true. And yet, the situation is insofar comparable as Trump, still supported by millions, can play cat and mouse with the Republican Party, and, as the attack on the Capitol has proven, challenge the American democracy and its institutions to the core, virtually at will and without being punished. This fact will not have escaped his followers.

In 1932 and before, when Hitler did pretty much something very similar even before he became Chancellor in the following year, the illusory “Cabinet of the Barons”, the stirrup holders of the Austrian corporal, had degraded itself to powerlessness, because after all the assurances it was now too late to do something against Hitler – for millions were following him in ecstasy, spurred on with simple paroles against the establishment. Notice something?

To be sincere: If there had not been an American 1 June 2020 (when local law enforcement cleared peaceful demonstrators from Lafayette Square) and a 6 January 2021 (when the Capitol riot occurred), any comparisons with Hitler would not have even remotely entered my mind. As an historian, like so many Americans, I would have never thought such events possible as it happened in Washington D.C.

The darkest chapter in German history will certainly never repeat itself in an American way. For this, in retrospect, not least the foreign and domestic policy accents are as different as day and night, not to mention the historical and economic situation of both countries – Germany back then and the US today. But the danger that something more entirely atypical by American political standards could happen on a grand scale, can no longer be considered impossible. Much will certainly depend on the outcome of the next elections, and also if any of the various criminal investigations against Trump as a private individual will derail him.

It is much to be hoped that Nikki Haley, former Republican South Carolina governor and UN ambassador, who broke with Trump, is right about her prophecy: that Donald Trump will not return.*

But, how does she know that?

Note: *Nikki Haley, interview with “Politico”, 12 February 2021.

Blue Grass

A Clueless President Might not be Responsible?

From my Writing Room

Copyright © 2021 by Uwe Bahr

In a recent interview with “Politico”, Nikki Haley, former US-ambassador to the United Nations, whose parents were born in India, made the following, intriguing statement about Donald Trump and his belief that the election was stolen, quote: “That would be like you saying that grass is blue and you genuinely believing it. Is it irresponsible that you’re colorblind and you truly believe that?”*

I have often used the same expression, “Blue Grass”, in a very similar context, not only assigning it to Trump, but rather to at least half of the US populace. Instinctively, one could also compare it to the tale of the people jumping out of the window from the tenth floor because they were told to do so. This is exactly the central issue in this country and the reason why things more than likely will not change as they certainly would have to in order to facilitate social progress: People, not seldom trapped in religious delusion in their desperate quest for stability and thus restricted in their mental powers, have great difficulty to recognize facts and truths – because they have lost the ability of independent thinking.

The telling anomaly of human error refers not only to the election, it is much more: It is the reality of the virus and facts about wearing masks; it is the issue about man induced global warming; it is the propagation of insane conspiracy theories; and it also is, as an example of many, the gun mania in this country. The latter is also a very dangerous problem, and those who think they have Second Amendment rights are simply on the wrong track, to put it mildly. All it would take for them to recognize their error is a look into the history books of their own country and listen to their own scholars, and have the capacity of being candid with oneself: It is not what you wish it would be, because facts and evidence prove otherwise.

But, anticipating the ability from obstinate people to separate fact from fable will be nearly impossible. It is no accident that Trump literally could say and do what he wanted during his term, and he still received the votes of more than 74 million Americans in the past presidential election. There are certainly several reasons that might have contributed to an individual decision voting for Trump. But the core factor remains that Trump perverted the facts nearly on a daily basis, which was visible and audible on-camera, and he furthermore violated and imperiled the standards of American democracy even before he was elected. Those who voted for him anyway should question themselves about the stability and sincerity of their own mentality and character.

As an aside: The same lady mentioned at the outset of this little story, Nikki Haley – a potential Republican candidate for the presidency in 2024 -, also said this a few days ago: “Give the guy [Trump] a break.”

Note: *Haley in an interview with Politico, published 12 February 2021.

The Myth of the Second Amendment

From my Writing Room

Copyright © 2021 by Uwe Bahr

The Second Amendment “has been the subject of one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word ‘fraud’, on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.” [1]
Warren E. Burger, Republican, 15th Chief Justice of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1986

Americans who think they have Second Amendment rights are deluding themselves, and they do so either knowingly in their blindfolded, uncompromising passion for guns, or in blunt ignorance of their own country’s history. The latter, in all probability, may present the larger segments of the population fascinated with gun smoke.

On that score, it is not easy to ascertain the mindset of a sole, highly educated county commissioner who found himself in the position to publicly expressing his personal support for the Second Amendment per resolution – as if his district of responsibility, Union County in North Georgia, had all of the sudden ascended to the hub of the universe. More likely, as an alleged Democrat in charge of an area where 81 percent of the constituents chose Donald Trump, the local man named Lamar Paris might have felt pressure from several sides alike to assure the gun freaks that nobody will take their toys away – just like a kindergartener would comfort her little flock.

In a packed meeting on January 21, 2021, the riflemen’s ardor took on overheated forms in such a way that Paris seemingly had to press every button of his appeasement skills to prevent his county possibly named a “Second Amendment sanctuary county.” Festus, Marshal Matt Dillon, Miss Kitty, and Doc Adams – that’s for sure – would have gotten a real kick out of so much rampant devotion, had they only been able to attend such exceptional meeting.  

The alleged background of the commotion constituted fearful gun owners emotionally backfiring on imaginary government attacks directed at their “Second Amendment rights”, particularly after the political signals in their home state had just recently turned from red to blue.

In such an atmosphere, it is hard to imagine that historic facts, let alone rationality, will play any role to people still roaming through the woods in search for animals like once Daniel Boone. These folks take nothing but their own version of truth to their heart and will never be convinced about the functionality of any logical mechanisms in the human brain. And they will always and with all possible self-confidence stick to their own convictions or whatever they were told by their deluders, come hell or high water, and no matter how surreal these convictions to others might appear.

But, as is mostly the case, historic facts speak a different language and seldom neither match nor serve ardent escapist’s wishful thinking. The Second Amendment, written 232 years ago by a founding father named James Madison, who later was to become the nation’s fourth president, never gave any American citizens the right to bear arms – neither back then, nor today. The infamous lines were clearly born out of necessity, namely, the state’s then-insistence to maintain their own militias, responsible for their defense themselves in preference to a standing, federal army. At the will of the states, the state militias were to constitute the foundation of the national defense.

As a result, the draft for the Second Amendment Madison was working on, originating from Virginia, read as follows: “The people have a right to keep and bear arms; that a well-regulated militia composed of the body of the people trained to arms is the proper national, and safe defense of a free state. That standing armies in times of peace are dangerous to liberty, and therefore ought to be avoided.” [2]

Warren Burger was not the first chief justice expressing his truthful interpretation of the Second Amendment. Alluding to the groundbreaking 2008 “District of Columbia versus Heller” decision by the Supreme Court, US-Historian Professor Joseph Ellis writes: “The Heller Decision by [Justice Antonin] Scalia purports to be an originalist interpretation of Madison’s meanings in the spring of 1789 and the meanings ordinary Americans at that time shared concerning ‘the right to bear arms.’ It is nothing of that sort. And no federal or Supreme Court between 1789 and 2008 ever reached the conclusion. Scalia did. Indeed, the true originalist opinion in Heller is by Justice Stevens, who argued that “bear arms” meant serve in the militia.” [3]

In this context, legalistic legerdemains within the branches of the US-government, conducted by some if not many of their representatives influenced by lobbying, have made this fraud possible and turned the Second Amendment and its true meaning literally on its head.

Epilogue: To me, chief justice’s Warren Burgers remarks from 1991, very likely aimed at the National Rifle Association (NRA), left an even deeper impression since he used the term “special interest groups” – an extremely applicable term from the beginnings of human history on, and distinctive as always. For thinking Americans living in present times, a careful observation of these special interest groups might lead them closer to a more realistic perception about the true reasons for the misfortune in their country. These are the groups (institutions) of interests (the few versus the many – see John Adams) that – undisturbed by law and government – take advantage of people’s widespread simplemindedness, and in addition they are perfectly skilled to clandestinely line their own pockets with billions, sometimes under the pretense of the Good Samaritan, and even referencing to God on their holy Sunday morning sessions. Restraining the veritable, greedy sources that cause bitterness for the majority in this society, is a better approach than according credibility to conspiracy theorists and any other blabbermouths – no matter where they place themselves in front of a seducible audience.

Notes

[1] The quote is taken from “Six Amendments – How and Why we Should Change the Constitution”, page 127; John Paul Stevens, former Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Also available in “American Dialogue – the Founders and Us”, Joseph J. Ellis, page 161. – On the subject: Interview Warren Burger/PBS News Hour on 12/16/1991: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eya_k4P-iEo

[2] See Joseph J. Ellis, “American Dialogue – the Founders and Us”, page 147.

[3] US-Historian Professor Joseph J. Ellis in a letter to the author of this article, dated 04/10/2018.

Game without Referee

From my Writing Room

Copyright © 2021 by Uwe Bahr

I once lived in both Germanys [1] and have watched and listened to (West)-German news from my childhood on to this day, now on the Internet: Over there – at least ever since the wall came down – I have never seen news channels contradicting each other with facts and “alternative facts” to a degree it has long become daily routine in the US. One American station offers its audience a sometimes completely different story about one and the same topic than the other, with the clear intention to affect and often manipulate public opinion. Needless to emphasize that these brainwashers do not fit any category of “independent news.” Americans, it seems, are so used to it that many of them have surrendered their ability for differentiation, inconsiderately choosing the source of information closest to their perceptions best match.

The only weapon against such delusion is knowledge: historic knowledge, in this case. If people in their majority would only – no matter whether they prefer CNN or Fox News – think more for themselves, and, most importantly, ignore everything tossed at them carrying bogus dummy-labels like “Socialism” or “Liberal”, clueless about the fact that their own country has nothing but liberal roots. Instead, leave party ideologies aside and take the time to listen to the history of your own country. The examples are innumerable: 26th President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, a Republican, used the power of government to regulate the market and implement measurements in support of the little guy from the street. He openly sided with the Unions and deemed every American worker the right to join them. Did it make him a Socialist? Certainly not. Franklin Delano Roosevelt created social security and public work programs to pull millions of Americans out of the despair of the Great Depression. Read George Washington, even better: the writings of John Adams and his vision and apprehensions about the American society, and make up your own mind if developing and implementing ideas in support of the ones in need has anything to do with things like the “radical left”, “radical socialists”, or anything else associated with it.

This polarized country could be easily united if certain people would make use of common sense instead of letting ideology determine their political alignment. Opinion can differ and find its expression in arguments – that is part of a democracy in a fair contest of ideas to find the best way possible. But if unsubstantiated and plain rhetorical remarks, not seldom paired with a lack of knowledge, are the result of a different intuition about which course the society should take, then the result can only be an irreconcilable, often even hateful nation. Since the emergence of a party system in the infant USA, stemming from the days of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, this country has endlessly suffered from ideological division – and back then, newspapers were occupying the places of CNN and Fox News to play both ends against the middle. It was already bad at the very beginning of this nation.

The maltreated United States of modern days runs under a free, uncontrolled, exploitative market economy with millions of its citizens subsequently being left behind, virtually without any option to protect themselves at their work place [2], not to mention the ability to obtain adequate health care insurance. The correction of both issues should constitute a basic right, not a privilege. Why does a system of more equal justice works relatively well in other western countries? Why can’t a more fair distribution of wealth be arranged in the United States?

Every football- and soccer game comes with a referee, who is in charge of the unbiased observance of the rules, ensuring a fair outcome of the contest. Without the referee, there would be chaos, and club law would be the order of the day. In a democratic society it is the task of the parliamentary bodies and the government to establish protective rules (laws) for its citizenry; rules that also reach into the work environment, and thereby serve as a referee. This would move the United States’ economy from a wild-west system to a civilized Social Market Economy, whereby “Social” should not to be confused with “Socialism.” [3]

But, the economic and social system in the United States thus far never knew such a full-time referee. Regulation seems to run counter with the American notion of unlimited freedom. And too many Americans will always fall into the trap of dividing populism – a sinister trump card played at the service of the ruthless gentry, taking shameless advantage of the many.

Notes:

[1] After World War II and mounting divergences among the three western powers and the Soviet Union, a free, democratic Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) under the protection of the United States was founded in September 1949 in the west. Sixteen days later, the German Democratic Republic (GDR) was established in the eastern zone, controlled by the Soviets. The GDR disappeared from the world map after a peaceful revolution in 1989/90, tolerated by a transforming Soviet Union under the leadership of Mikhail Gorbachev. 

[2] The author has worked eight years for America’s largest retailer, Walmart.

[3] For a more optimistic outlook, it is my prediction that the United States of America will slowly move toward that direction. Otherwise, the country as a unity would have no chance for survival. With more demographic changes in the future inevitable, I am sure the younger generation will confront the challenges of the 21st century with more progressive determination and a sound sense of reality than most self-declared, conservative farts living in certain hillbilly-regions of the US. Movements like “Fridays for Future” certainly give rise to that hope.  

What will Trump do next?

From my Writing Room

Copyright © 2021 by Uwe Bahr

I do not know any country in the modern western world where a political leader, not to mention a chancellor or a president, had survived any 24 hours in office after first summon and then threatening election officials to “find” a few thousand votes to change the outcome of an election. These were the methods of sinister East German communists and the dictatorship I was born in, and it may be the style of a country somewhere in the Third World. When I moved to America 23 years ago because of my wife, I did not expect to witness something like this again – not in the United States of America.

Mrs. Kelly Loeffler – do you really know what you are talking about by saying “The road of socialism does not go through Georgia?” You have the nerve to babble such baseless nonsense while millions of children, women, and men in your own country are suffering in poverty as a result from economic despair and the consequences of a deadly pandemic? Do you have any solutions to offer at all besides of spreading propaganda of the most primitive sort and playing Americans for a sucker? You are suffering from a delusional disorder when talking about an “American Dream”, but I am sure you are aware of your own baloney you can delude Americans with.

If ten (10) former secretaries of defense from both parties consider it necessary to remind their own military of basic democratic principles to remain neutral during the transfer of power, then I am inclined to the view that there must be a serious concern that Trump could pull more shenanigans in his remaining days as president instead of leaving the White House voluntarily on or before January 20th.

One can only hope for a transition without violence on Washington’s streets and elsewhere in the country. Idiotic as it sounds, but there are millions of people still in support of this president, no matter what he says or does. Are there really that many Americans incapable of understanding reality?