My dear American friends,
As a citizen of Germany I’d like to share some of my thoughts concerning the future.
Last year I noticed something happening a little more often than during the previous eight years. Americans were apologizing to me for their newly elected President. In recent months, I hear and read more Americans apologizing to Germans and Europeans for the elected President of the United States. Please stop it!
Your apologies only confirm an annoying attitude present in Europe, and above all, in Germany: a condescending moral superiority.
There’s really nothing to apologize for!
I couldn’t imagine any other country besides the United States which can manage transformations of presidential power from the likes of a Bill Clinton, to a George Bush, to a Barack Obama and even to a Donald Trump. It’s unimaginable that such handovers of power would function peaceably in any European country. There are European nations which would descend into civil war over a change of power from a man like Bush to Obama and then again from Obama to Trump. A peaceful transition of power between such extremes is unthinkable in Europe.
Only in the USA are such transitions possible. Why? Because the United States of America has the most beautiful documents ever put in writing: The Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
Sure, with a president like Trump, there’s certainly more heated discussion at the Thanksgiving table. Parents and children may argue a little more under the Christmas tree. Brothers and sisters haggle more than usual during the Seder. Ultimately, you’re being held together by something that had saved Europe from at least two disasters: The American flag, which stands for the Constitution of the United States of America and the Bill of Rights.
Your men and women fought for Europe. Today, I live in freedom because Americans of Asian and African descent, of different beliefs, Americans from all walks of life fought for a free Europe and a free Germany.
America has a constitution that gives every person and every group the right to play a part in the national destiny. Indeed, Donald Trump was able to unite enough men and women to make him President. But he won’t be President in seven years at the latest. Maybe not in three years. Maybe even sooner.
At present, however, he is the President. You can praise and criticize him. You can insult and belittle him. The Constitution allows you. You may even be ashamed of him and apologize for him. Nevertheless, I’m asking you to refrain from apologizing at every opportunity to Germans and Europeans.
These know-it-alls, to whom you’re apologizing simply can’t get over the fact that the banjo playing and bubble gum chewing black Jew from America had to bail out a highly cultivated Europe not once, but twice during the last century. Even today, many German poets and philosophers resent the fact that Germany had to be liberated from self-inflicted barbarism by Yankee Doodle Dandy.
Today’s Germany would presumably drift back into its barbaric ways if a change of government to a Trump-like politician were to occur. Already fearful people in Germany are restricting freedom of expression and letting themselves be intimidated by neo-Nazi and Islamic violence to such an extent that they are willing to compromise fundamental rights and European treaties. I see Germans who’d rather hold their religious and quasi-religious ideals above the German Constitution so much so that human lives are jeopardized.
It is the legal constitution of a state that ensures security and is the best means of protection against tyranny. A constitution can be changed at any time, but it must never be broken.
You should be proud of your country and a Constitution which will survive even a transition such as that from Barack Obama to Donald Trump.
That Donald Trump can be President after Barack Obama without your country sinking into chaos and barbarism is not something you should take for granted. Instead, you should remind yourselves that the following truths are „self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
A Trump can come and a Trump will go. But the Constitution will remain. Be proud!
Gerd Buurmann (Cologne, Germany)
(Translation: William Wires)