Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

German Culture's under Boot of False Image

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

German Culture's under Boot of False Image

Article excerpt

TODAY I am beginning an occasional feature called "Insensitivity ALERT!"

Readers are invited to submit offensive public statements that insult ethnic, racial, religious or sexual groups. Or anybody who believes he or she has been dissed.

Note that I said "public statements." I still believe that people of crude nature have the right to tell vile ethnic jokes in the privacy of their homes, locker rooms or taverns, although I disapprove of such disgusting behavior.

What inspired me to create "Insensitivity ALERT!" was something shockingly insensitive that I heard on C-SPAN, the normally dignified and even-handed cable network that brings us the babblings of every windbag in the nation's capital.

There was this panel of moderate Republicans that had gathered to denounce the views of Pat Buchanan, who they consider an extremist and a menace to pleasingly bland thought.

A black Republican denounced him for his attitude toward minorities. A female Republican denounced him for his attitude toward those known as pro-choice on the issue of abortion. Which was totally acceptable. If they believe Buchanan is a jerk on the issues, they have every right to say so.

Then a gay Republican took the microphone, and he accused Buchanan of being anti-gay.

That, too, was a valid beef, since Buchanan has a long history of being insensitive to the aspirations of gays.

But then the gay Republican spokesman crossed the insensitivity line. While describing some of Buchanan's views on gays, the gay Republican, with a smug chuckle, said that Buchanan's words would be more effective in "the original German." I could not believe my little red ears. The "original German"?

What do the Germans have to do with anything Pat Buchanan has to say about gays?

This, to me, was a slap in the face to every decent, hard-working German-American, as well as every decent, hard-working German-German.

After I heard this blatantly insensitive comment, I asked a German-American acquaintance for a reaction.

"Oh, yes, that is a standard insult to Germans. I've heard it dozens of times over the past 30 years. Whenever someone who has a tendency to rant says something that is a bit extreme or insensitive, some smart-butt commentator will say: `Oh, you should have heard it in the original German. …

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