Tear Down This Wall

Last Tuesday marks one of the darkest hours of democracy since 1933, with the American people electing a fascist and liar of monumental scale. It is an irony of history that almost to this day, 27 years ago, the Berlin Wall came down. It was also an US president, Ronald Reagan – who was an outsider, not a politician – that spoke to the world and demanded:
“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

It was that speech about freedom and liberty that helped to bring the wall down. But last Tuesday the American people elected a president – again an outsider, not a politician – that does not believe in freedom and liberty but that wants to build a wall.

The German Chancellor found just the right words: “Germany and America are connected by values of democracy, freedom, and respect for the law and the dignity of man, independent of origin, skin colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or political views.” and further: “I offer the next President of the United States close cooperation on the basis of these values.”

I agree with her but I fear that Trump does not share these values. To illustrate the deep sadness I feel about last Tuesday, let me contrast some of Reagan’s statements with those of Donald Trump. You should watch the whole speech as it feels like President Reagan is talking to us today.

To me the United States are a symbol of hope, the brave and the free that helped to overcome the divide between East and West Germany. Many US presidents came to speak in Berlin. I am sure you all know the JFK quote: “Ich bin ein Berliner“. You can imagine the excitement when President Reagan made the German question not just about Germany but about freedom in general.

… as long as this scar of a wall is permitted to stand, it is not the German question alone that remains open, but the question of freedom for all mankind.
What a contrast to the rhetoric of Donald Trump. In times when the world should grow closer together, he is promoting the one thing that no German would ever expect from the leader of the free world.

Ronald Reagan also quoted Secretary of State George Marshall, whose name will be engrained forever in German history for the Marshall Plan that helped Berlin to stay alive while under siege by the Soviets.
Our policy is directed not against any country or doctrine, but against hunger, poverty, desperation, and chaos.
What a contrast to the fear mongering language used by Trump in light of the tragedy happening in Syria. Hunger, poverty, desperation, and chaos is exactly what happens in Syria.

And President Reagan went on to demonstrate what separates the United States from the Soviets: Freedom. He particularly pointed out freedom of speech, referencing the first amendment of the US constitution.
… just as truth can flourish only when the journalist is given freedom of speech, …

And Ronald Reagan continued his speech on freedom, referencing the superior results free markets have created for the people.

… prosperity can come about only when the farmer and businessman enjoy economic freedom. The German leaders reduced tariffs, expanded free trade, lowered taxes. From 1950 to 1960 alone, the standard of living in West Germany and Berlin doubled.

Even that very core US idea was taken down by Trump, going back to the dark ages of trade wars and trade walls. I couldn’t find the Tweet by Trump but a quote in the New York Times about his plan to tax imports from China.

I would do a tax. and the tax, let me tell you what the tax should be … the tax should be 45 percent,” Mr. Trump said.

After all the United States represent the counter balance to many evils in the world. Which makes it such a sad moment in history: that the same country that once brought freedom to my world is now led by somebody that is spreading hate.

Perhaps this gets to the root of the matter, to the most fundamental distinction of all between East and West. The totalitarian world produces backwardness because it does such violence to the spirit, thwarting the human impulse to create, to enjoy, to worship. The totalitarian world finds even symbols of love and of worship an affront.

Looking at that quote of Reagan and the fact that pure hate and evil was able to get 60 million votes is something I won’t forget for the rest of my life. I should have written this post many months ago; I should have not stayed quiet and should not allowed this to happen. So I take hope and motivation – to stay alert and become more active – in the prophetic words of President Reagan:

… this wall will fall. For it cannot withstand faith; it cannot withstand truth. The wall cannot withstand freedom.

About two years after this speech, the Berlin Wall was history. I can speak for many of my fellow Germans, that there is a nation grateful and proud for the liberties we enjoy, thanks to our American friends. We owe you and I fear the time has come to pay that debt.

Never backward, always forward. Always.

Here is the full video and transcript directly from the The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute.

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