Friday, September 02, 2005

Lieber Jürgen – halts maul, and eat me

Germany’s Minister of the Environment Jürgen Trittin trotted out the usual armchair pieties that make American and much of the world take their comments for what they are, not serious, even in spite of the comic value:

«At a moment when the dead on the Gulf Coast are still being counted, the German minister of the environment could think of nothing better to do than -- in an essay published Tuesday in the center-left daily Frankfurter Rundschau -- to blame the US itself for the catastrophe. The piece is 493 words long, and not a single one of them is wasted to express any sort of sympathy for the victims of the storm. The worst of it is that Trittin isn't alone with his cold, malicious tenor. The coverage from much of the German media tends in the same direction: If Bush had only listened to Uncle Trittin and signed the Kyoto Protocol, then this never would have happened.
[ … ]
It's not the American people's fault that the storm hit and they couldn't have stopped it. The Germans, on the other hand, could have done a lot to prevent World War II. And yet, care packages still rained down from US troops. Trittin's know-it-all stance is therefore not only tasteless, it is also historically blind.»
Even more amusing when you consider that the US is a net absorber of CO2. The idea is of course that membership in an alphabet soup of international talking shops will somehow have an effect on the weather. Indeed... Most logical, Captain… If Tritten's polite fiction is about anything other than getting re-elected and a politician"s ego, I'd really like to know.

Claus Christian Malzahn continues:
«Hurricane Katrina has cost the lives of hundreds and devastated the US Gulf Coast. But instead of aid donations and sympathy, the Americans have heard little more than a haughty "I told you so" from Germany. It's another low point for trans-Atlantic relations -- and set off by a German minister. How pathetic.
[ … ]
Nevertheless, German aid money delivered to American aid agencies would surely be welcome on the other side of the Atlantic. But apparently, people over here believe that the Americans over there don't really need help. Strange. The same people who normally spend their time pointing their holier-than-thou fingers at the ghettos and slums in the US, the same ones who describe America as an out-of-control capitalist monster, are now, when the Americans could really use a bit of help, oddly quiet.»
Also writing in SPON Charles Hawley writes:
«The litany of sorrow and suffering caused by Hurricane Katrina is simply astonishing: the slow sinking of the city into Lake Pontchartrain; the dead bodies floating in the flood waters; the entire towns in Mississippi which have disappeared.

What makes it all the more appalling is that some German politicians are going out of their way to score political points out of the natural disaster. Yes there is a political campaign going on in Germany at the moment -- one that stands to send Chancellor Gerhard Schröder into retirement and for the near future send his coalition partners the Greens into political obscurity. But blatantly playing the anti-Bush card for votes, as Minister of the Environment Jürgen Trittin did on Tuesday and his Green party colleague (and party leader) Reinhard Bütikofer (Bush is an "eco-reactionary") did on Thursday, seems cheap.

But that's only the half of it. After publishing the comments by Trittin in English, SPIEGEL ONLINE was inundated with angry letters from the United States. We posted some, but a disturbingly large percentage of them were simply unprintable.»
Judging by the resoponses from Spiegel Online’s German readers, one little bit of miscommunication remains – the American letter writers’ reaction didn’t have anything to do with global warming, it had to do with Tritten and the Stepford children repeating the same nonsense. Some of the letters are amazingly out of touch with reality – following the “evil invaders of Iraq” vector, or the “can’t deal with criticism” track… seems to me that a response means that they dealt with it very well! Here’s a really hilarious one when you consider the nature of the German press:
«Can we criticize the Americans now, or is this just going to be a one-way exchange?»
- Sascha Langer (Presumably still banging his spoon on his highchair.)

You can get in touch with our caring friend Mr. Tritten on the following: (tel.) 49551-531-6090 / His two office flunkies can be reached on 49302-277-2248 /

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