Mozart vs. Hitler
“Divine and demon dwell in German land
In ways that do not always meet the eye.
We find our everlasting, asking why?
Of horror God alone can understand.
The melodies that let a spirit soar
Compete with cramped and dour civic soul;
Which hides a fear and loathing: In control
For now, lest it should seek another war.
The Alemani have confessed their sin
Against mankind in many earnest ways.
The more convinced are former victims, who
Can count the Marks expended on their kin;
And while they resolutely withhold praise;
Dare dream of Goethe’s Germany anew.” – Charles M. Barber, Kraków, Poland, March 26, 2000 (shortly after a visit to nearby Auschwitz)
“…the ability to make sense of one’s life in the world is a function of freedom…If a modern country has no sociologists, psychologists, or philosophers, what can it know about itself? And what can its citizens know about themselves?…[Boris Yeltsin’s commissioner for a new Russian national idea, Georgy Saratov] proposed [that they] borrow a page from West Germany’s post-Nazism playbook, combining a program of economic healing with what he called ‘national penitence.’ The proposal flopped.” – Masha Gessen, The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia, 2017
“Americans prefer narratives of progress…happy endings. Our stories are more aspirational than actual. We may acknowledge that wrongs were committed in the past, but we want to believe they were righted in a roughly straight line…Frederick Douglass, the former slave turned abolitionist, said it early on; racist violence occurs most often when black people advance.” – Susan Neiman, Learning From the Germans:Race and the Memory of Evil, 2019
“…race war is itself nothing new. Indeed, it is as old as human greed, the fears and hatreds of inequality, the distrust of difference, the arrogance of strength. But its dimensions have terribly changed, and a world which wishes to escape the consequences must learn in time adequately to control the human stupidities behind it.” – Ronald Segal, The Race War: The World Wide Clash of White and Non-White, 1966
“The breaks we have made from patriarchal thinking come from lesbians daring to create something new. Such focus, away from control, on integrity and agency, and toward the courage to take risks and try changes, yields the energy of Lesbian Ethics.” – Sarah Lucia Hoagland, Lesbian Ethics: Toward New Value, 1988
“These women (the Kurdish Women’s Protection Units [YPJ] fighting ISIS, 2014-2017) followed the teachings of the jailed Turkish Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan, whose left-leaning ideology of grassroots democracy insisted that women must be equal for society to truly be free.” – Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, The Daughters of Kobani, 2021
“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2014 was a reality test for the European Union and the United States…. Totalitarianism is its own true enemy, and that is the secret it keeps from itself by attacking others…The advisor [Paul Manafort] of the first pro-Russian American presidential candidate had been the advisor of the last pro-Russian Ukrainian president. Russian tactics that failed in Ukraine succeeded in the United States…This is all one history, the history of our moment and our choices…If we wish to have a better account of good and evil, we will have to resuscitate history.” – Timothy Snyder, The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America, 2018
“I believe that order is better than chaos, creation better than destruction. I prefer gentleness to violence, forgiveness to vendetta. On the whole I think that knowledge is preferable to ignorance, and I am sure that human sympathy is more valuable than ideology.” – Kenneth Clark, Civilization, 1969
One year after the erection of a wall between the two post WWII Germanys (August 13, 1961), I travelled to Munich in West Germany on a scholarship for a year’s study in preparation for a Ph.D. at the U. of Wisconsin-Madison on the last Chancellor before Adolf Hitler, Kurt von Schleicher. I also brought my guitar to sing folksongs when I wearied of the archives, and stepping over TV cables at the Institute for Contemporary History in Munich, where scholars were assembling photographic and documented Hitlerian horrors for West German public television in 1962. Lili Marlene, Heinrich Heine’s and Friedrich Silcher’s Lorelei, Bob Dylan, Peter, Paul and Mary and the Weavers were the fare that earned me free beer at a café named after Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer. This longest stay was the second of fourteen trips to Germany from 1960-2019. Since undergraduate days, I have spent my life in academia and public discourse, trying to explain to myself, and others, how a people who had supported Nazism in the 20th Century, a menace to humanity; reinvented themselves to uphold humanity; absorb a million refugees from Syria in 2015 and, perhaps, before it is all over, even more than that number from Ukraine in 2022. To that end, scholarly insights have been enhanced by experiences as a singer of German Lieder and American folksongs, on my own, as well as within the friendly confines of two German American choruses based in Chicago.
At the same time that I was asking questions about Germany, I was also reading James Baldwin, hearing Malcolm X speak in Cambridge, MA, and asking myself how my own country could be so mired in the scourge of injustice in the 1960’s and 1970’s that had uncomfortable flashbacks to Germany in the 1920’s and 1930’s. After graduating from Evanston Township High School (IL) in 1956, where diversity was a possibility among my peers, if not our parents, I spent my undergraduate years, 1956-1960, at an Ivy League university with two black classmates out of 750, stunning revelations of anti-Semitism in 1958 and that didn’t admit women until 1970. My judgements of Germans would have to be made from a glass house.
Also, pictures of Vietnamese victims of napalm during the U.S.A.’s “special military operation” began to be televised. Letters from American officers in 1965 were appearing in my Alumni Weekly that told a different story from what was being fed to American media by the Lyndon Johnson administration. By 1968, I was teaching European and World History at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, when Mayor Richard J. Daley’s “Police Riot” took place during the Democratic Party Convention. My students asked if it meant that “our democracy didn’t work.” My answer was to work with them to organize at the precinct level in Chicago and Cook County to defeat Mayor Daley’s chosen candidates in 1972. History shows that we were successful to an astonishing degree, as well as in 1983, when Chicago elected its first African American Mayor, Harold Washington. I was also active in the Nuclear Freeze Movement, headed by Cold War Containment Policy architect, George Kennan, and with ties to Lutheran Ministers in East Germany. We lobbied heavily in Washington, D.C.- our nuclear physicists going toe to toe with President Reagan’s “Star Wars” nuclear experts. Later in 1983, I took part in a seminar in Berlin on both sides of the Wall, sponsored by Bradley University (Peoria, IL). I proudly wore my blue and white “Harold Washington” campaign button at each and every opportunity. Almost every Berliner knew about him…and approved of this sign of American democratic progress. It was far less depressing than the Reagan administration’s planned installation of “Pershing Missiles,” amidst constant fears of nuclear escalation in the Cold War.
In 2022, we once again have a beacon of African American achievement shining a light through the darkness of Cold War conflict: President Biden’s nomination of Circuit Court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court, in the midst of Russia’s invasion of Vladimir Putin’s devastating invasion of Ukraine – reminiscent of World War II carnage, and other hot wars of the 20th and 21st centuries, also amidst nuclear escalation fears. I asked my KGB animal friends for help in sorting out this mixing of dreams with horrors and nightmares.
High Plains Reader: Dear friends. Why are Senators Cruz (R-TX), Cotton (AR) and Hawley (R-MO) trying so hard to convince white folks that black folks are out to “get them,” when history shows that it has been the other way around?
Jim Crow XV: Without racist and sexist dog whistles, most Republican Senators would be politically dead. They’re doin’ what comes naturally. History as it actually was, actually hurts.
Becky Badger: Other than industrial strength whining, they aren’t doing a very good job of it. Republicans like Lindsay Graham (SC) seem to have discovered a loathing of child predators in 2022 that they managed to suppress in 2018 when an actual former teenaged victim showed up to testify against the alleged predator that Graham and other Republicans had picked to elevate to the Supreme Court: Justice Bret Kavanaugh.
HPR: Thankfully, Republicans like Ben Sasse (NE) have been respectful of such an obviously qualified candidate for the Court as Judge Jackson. Is the Cruz and Graham kind of hate and fear mongering the same thing that Vladimir Putin was doing as he was invading Ukraine by calling their President, Vlodymyr Zelensky, who happens to be a Jew, a Nazi?
Rasputin: Of course. Just because Republicans are lobbing word bombs into Senate hearings and Putin is lobbing cluster bombs into Ukraine doesn’t mean that there isn’t race warfare going on in both places. It’s all about one set of self-anointed people controlling the unanointed. It isn’t always based on color, but it’s almost always based on some form of ethnicity or gender.
HPR: I see that on the matter of gender, Senator Marcia Blackburn (R-TN) seemed confused. As a woman, she asked Judge Jackson to define a “woman” for her. Maybe the Senator’s never met a woman that qualified for her position, who doesn’t wait for a man to tell her what to do.
Lena: More likely, Marcia Blackburn was lobbing gender war word bombs just like Ted Cruz was lobbing race war word bombs. You are witnessing a confluence of American race and gender warfare in the verbal violence of Senate Judiciary Hearings, stretched out over the 2022 election cycle; that mirrors the physical violence going on in Ukraine – individual and national self-determination versus oligarchies of varying kinds; racial, ethnic, gender, religious and corporate – gangster government vs. rule of law. These issues are by no means resolved.
HPR: Yet Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) seems to think Senators Cruz, Hawley, et.al. are out of touch with a white America which – post-George Floyd and post-Covid- has come to believe that black lives and women’s rights to choose who and how they wish to be, really do matter.
Brenda Bison: Mitt Romney ran against and lost to a black man, Barack Obama, for President in 2012, but emerged with his humanity intact. A classic corporate type, Senator Romney signals the strides that corporate America has taken in directions of diversity. Money talks and corporations have been doing a lot of it in underwriting diversity, and, in some cases, pulling away from gangster governments they recently coddled: polluters at home and autocrats abroad. Some, alas, still fail to attach their bottom line to democracy rather than autocracy.
Mr. Swamp Fox: For example, big bucks boys who are backing Tucker Carlson’s pro-Putin propaganda at FOX News, while their front line reporters are being killed while documenting the truth about Czar Vladimir’s war on Ukrainian civilians in pursuit of his gangster Empire.
Ms. Recovering Republican Lap Dog: Tucker Carlson doesn’t care about the lives of FOX reporters any more than Vladimir Putin does. Like his temporary idol, former President Trump, Tucker is an aspiring gangster with some money, but no balls. He needs a platform. Trump has his MAGA rallies. Tucker has high ratings among those same rabid believers in a “Greatest Generation” that wasn’t as great as past pundits at other networks made it out to be.
Kim Dog Un: Pundit proponents of 20th Century American Empire have used World War II victories all along to cover up stalemates and defeats in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Omar Khayyam: Vladimir Putin, in pursuit of his 21st Century Empire, with the support of Tucker Carlson, spouts the same rhetorical garbage about real sacrifices of millions of Soviet peoples (Ukrainians included) in “The Great Patriotic War,” against Nazi Germany to justify his devastations in Georgia, Chechnya, Syria, and Ukraine.
Schickelgruber: Unfortunately for Czar Vlad, the Nazi Germany of his rhetorical fantasies does not match the democratic Germany of NATO. Germans today use their considerable economic might and historic abilities to absorb massive numbers of refugees to act as a partner, not a conqueror – an anchor for the efforts of the West to underwrite self-determination for Ukraine.
Señora Perro: Joe Biden’s and the Democrats’ humanity towards women and people of color is the political beneficiary of his resolve to underwrite humanity in Ukraine. In evoking the American patriotism necessary for such a task, President Biden has available word bombs of his own to lob into the ranks of a Republican Party united in their resolve to defeat any and all proposals from his side of the aisle: decency, resolve, determination to support democracy).
Mr. Crying Wolf: Putin can whine all he wants about Biden’s calling him a war criminal, but Putin Wimps and Pimps (PWPs) in the Republican Party don’t have the luxury of blocking all the obvious examples of war crimes committed by Czar Vlad’s troops shown on world media. There are too many central and eastern European Americans among their voters, with memories of Stalin’s crimes and Soviet horrors, to sustain Republicans’ continued abject support for nonsense spouted by Vlad Putin’s No. 1 cheerleader, Donald Trump.
Annabelle Anaconda: Only Tucker Carlson has the luxury of a viewership that is more blindly oblivious to reality than the average Russian; doomed to watch only one source of information. Such a level of stupidity takes real effort, but some Americans still seem up to the task.
Prudence Possum: As he now has to watch his back when passing any camera man at FOX, even Tucker is beginning to doubt whether he isn’t riding the wrong horse on his gallop to fame.
Our swamp creatures, through the Scrooge connection, were able to find this evidence of Tucker’s dreams of glory turning into the nightmares of an American Quisling:
Really! Is It Something I Said?………………………. ……………..Tucker’s Ghost of Conscience Lost
I’ve liked my bigot’s role while on TV;
The power trip alone is worth the price,
That others pay so I can feel so nice
And mighty; “Populur” for all too see.
But lately I’m accused of Putin’s lies;
Of aiding and abetting Nazi deeds.
How dare they speak of one who only heeds
The losers who’d enhance their tawdry lives!
As Putin shows the will to kill his own,
I fear my star might suffer a decline.
My popularity, for sure, depends
On ignorance and arrogance; Well known
To demagogues with gall, but not a spine.
My means may not suffice to reach my ends.