Germans just can’t “talk” to one another anymore. And I don’t suppose that they will ever be able to. They are simply not souverän (confident, poised) or gelassen (even-tempered) enough. Think of two emotionally-charged Americans facing each other across the Grand Canyon of our beloved American political divide who attempt to calmly “discuss” George W. Bush. Only that Germans get hot about everything they discuss. They get this way when talking about “issues” like introducing longer store hours or having dog owners dispose of the crap their dogs produce.

And then there are the “real issues”, or the real issues which are perceived to be real issues over here. And that’s when the German sausage really hits the fan. News reading celebrity Eva Herman either very stupidly or very cleverly stuck her finger into such a real thing recently when putting “family values” and “Nazis” together in public. She was then promptly fired and then publicly executed two nights ago on a big talk show here. She was literally kicked off the show after she refused to apologize for her comments and depicted herself as being the victim of a media witch-hunt (I must add that she also just published a book, if you know what I’m sayin’).

Anyway, her real crime is asking a forbidden kind of Gretchenfrage (Gretchen question) here, or perhaps indirectly asking it. The Gretchen question means posing a question about someone’s religious or political convictions, as the character Gretchen did when posing the question to Faust about his attitude toward religion. She is basically provoking her fellow Germans, of all people, by asking them to 1) take their stand on Nazism (as if we already didn’t know where that was) and said family values and while doing so to 2) calmly discuss certain aspects of the Nazi past, which they are clearly not able to do. She then, an ex-talk show host herself, was rewarded for this by being promptly entsorgt (disposed of) and then later publicly humiliated by being asked to leave a broadcast with the cameras still running.

All this really did was create some sympathy for her (and sell a few more of her books) and possibly get the odd German or two (there are actually a whole lot more) to ask him or herself why it is that they just can’t talk with one another. But maybe they already know damned well why they can’t talk with one another. Maybe the really odd things would start happening once they ever started to do so – again.

Come visit me at Observing Hermann…

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