Ich Bin Schwarz

On June 26, 1963, President Kennedy spoke in West Berlin to an audience of nearly half a million, and showed his support for their hopes to preserve freedom in spite of being surrounded by the communist empire, by declaring “Ich bin ein Berliner” — I am a Berliner.


The rise of neo-nazi white nationalism in the U.S.A. is just as much a threat to the American principle that all are created equal, so beautifully expressed by Thomas Jefferson in the declaration of independence, as the communist empire was to the free people of West Berlin. Kennedy said “All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words ‘Ich bin ein Berliner!’

All who love the virtue of equality, whatever color they may have been born, are brothers and sisters to black Americans, and therefore, as one who loves the principle of equality, I take pride in the words “Ich bin schwarz.”

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38 responses to “Ich Bin Schwarz

  1. Thank you, Tamino.

    Earlier today, I wrote (lightly edited here):

    Although I’d heard President Trump’s initial remarks on Charlottesville, I hadn’t seen the video until last night. I was sickened and enraged. It was Mr. Trump reading a script he doesn’t understand, let alone believe: his body language betrayed no indignation, no passion, no sincerity–beyond that of irritation at having to read another set of ‘hard words’–like “egregious”–without stumbling or mispronouncing any too badly. Many have condemned his abject failure to lead in time of crisis, and they are right. But it’s deeper than that: he didn’t just fail to condemn racism and white supremacy. He’s deeply enmeshed with it; in fact, supremacists form a crucial part of his base. Why would he offend them by calling them out for their apostasy from humanity? I know: none of this is really news. But it was shocking to see it so blatantly displayed. Let me say it plainly: I’m an ‘old white guy’ and this makes me sick. Call me a “race traitor” if that’s the way you categorize people–I’m just going to call myself a “human being.”

  2. The US has jumped the shark. It’s very sad, but it is a logical end to the Reagan revolution. This is the world they fought for.

    • It’s not the end. Americans of good will are going to prevail. It’s tragic that this so-called presidency was required to rip away the facade of deniability on various topics, but these Nazi thugs are not the nation. Not even close.

  3. This brings back old bad memories of when we moved south in the early 60’s. Isn’t it time to bury this fear that somehow giving someone opportunities means that you lose yours? This is not a zero sum game.

    • A crucial point, IMO. Obviously, a lot of folks implicitly model such things precisely as a zero-sum game. IIRC, there’s even a name: “zero sum bias.”

  4. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse

    Folks may already have seen this – but it’s worth reviewing…

    • Susan Anderson

      I will never get back the time I spent watching the beginning of that. He’s more than nauseating.

  5. livinginabox

    According to the evidence that continues to accumulate that supports the ‘out of Africa’ hypothesis. Wir sind alle schwarz.

  6. Sorry, but “Ich Bin Schwarz” is not enough. White supremacists and nazis don’t just hate blacks, they hate people of any color other than white. They hate anyone professing a religion other than Christian, and they even hate many Christians, including Catholics. They hate Hispanics, Native Americans, Asians, Roma, etc, and pretty much anyone who doesn’t speak fluent American English. They hate those with mental or physical challenges, they hate gays, lesbians and transgendered people. And they hate center right conservatives, liberals and social democrats alike. In short, they hate anyone they don’t see in their distorted mirror.

    I wish America luck in peacefully countering and marginalizing their brazen and open hate, but history has shown again and again that the only effective way to fight fascism is to beat the living shit out of fascists until they unconditionally surrender. And even that only worked for a couple generations in Europe.

    • “…history has shown again and again that the only effective way to fight fascism is to beat the living shit out of fascists until they unconditionally surrender. And even that only worked for a couple generations in Europe.”

      Are you quite sure that all other avenues have been tried? I don’t believe that that is the case, however alluring the proposition may be on an emotional level. (*Their* emotional level, actually.)

    • Don’t be naive, Doc. Listen to some of the interviews of the nazis and racists who participated in the Nuremburg-style torchlight march and rally in Charlottesville. We’re talking about the new Sturmabteilung here.

      • Actually, one of the most effective defenses against neonazis and other racist movements has been to simply point and laugh. I mean, one look at the dumbasses in Charlottesville parading with their Bed, Bath and Beyond tiki-torches should be sufficient to negate any claims they have to supremacy.

      • Jim, I’m not naive about the evil ideas and psychopathology of some of those folks. However, your proposed countermeasures are dubious at best. For instance, street warfare was pretty common in German during the rise of the Nazis–the Communist Party could see the writing on the wall, and were just as enthusiastic and adept at ‘beating the shit out of them’ as you could wish. Well, except that the Nazis were better.

        https://searchworks.stanford.edu/view/7900085

        “The Prussian province of Saxony-where the Communist uprising of March 1921 took place and two Combat Leagues (Wehrverbande) were founded (the right-wing Stahlhelm and the Social Democratic Reichsbanner) – is widely recognized as a politically important region in this period of German history. Using a case study of this socially diverse province, this book provides a comprehensive analysis of political violence in Weimar Germany with particular emphasis on the political culture from which it emerged.”

        Here in the real world, the Boston counterprotest, in which 20,000 counterprotestors–overwhelmingly non-violent, if that phrase isn’t too much of an oxymoron–dwarfed the gathering of supremacist assholes, has reportedly caused the abandment of dozens of planned rallies by the ‘alt-right’ fascisti.

        http://www.newsweek.com/alt-right-america-first-rallies-move-online-after-boston-free-speech-protest-653372

        http://gizmodo.com/pro-trump-rallies-in-36-states-canceled-will-be-held-a-1798299229

        There are other approaches, too:

        https://www.lifeafterhate.org/

        http://www.thedailybeast.com/meet-the-black-blues-musician-who-befriended-the-kkk

        Now, I’m not claiming to know ‘the answer.’ But the idea that the only way to fight Nazis is to use typical Nazi approaches to, er, “problem-solving”, seems a bit flawed, somehow.

  7. David B. Benson

    “Ich bin ein Berliner.” And the audience, after a moment of shock, roared with laughter. “Ein Berliner” is a sausage as is “ein Frankfurter”, “ein Weiner” and “ein Hamburger”.

    [Response: BULLSHIT. That’s an urban legend, and you fell for it (the usual version is “jelly donut”). The crowd responded with cheers, not laughs, and it was a triumph for both Kennedy and for Berlin. Considering that he vetted his speech with none other than Willy Brandt (chancellor of Germany), it’s not even a plausible urban legend. See this.]

    • @David B. Benson:
      Taminos link to Wikipedia explains it good.
      “Ich bin ein Berliner” is the perfectly correct German version for “I am a citizen of Berlin”, and native German speakers can not understand what should be wrong.
      “Ein Berliner” means “a citizen of Berlin”, as “ein Frankfurter” means “a citizen of Frankfurt”. “Weiner” is a family name. You mean probably “Wiener”.

      • A Frankfurter would also be a sausage. And a Berliner is also jelly donut without hole (except in the eastern part of Germany including Berlin itself, were a Berliner is called a Pfannkuchen.) The audience will have been able to guess whether Kennedy was referring to food or to the citizens. Humans are quite good at such tasks which language often poses even if you hardly notice it in your own language because you do it intuitively.

      • David B. Benson

        Thank you, Uli.

    • On a visit to Berlin I met a resident who remembered the speech, though he was quite young at the time.
      “Everyone knew what Kennedy meant” he told me.
      He also said that the citizens of Berlin will always remember Kennedy with gratitude. He was there for them in one of their darkest hours, just like the US and UK were there for them in the Berlin Airlift of 1948.

  8. Anyone who wants to check it for themselves can watch the movie on youtube, the shot of the crowd when he said that shows they are not laughing!

    • Michael Beschloss thinks this was Kennedy’s greatest speech. A great speech from a great orator.

      “There are many people in the world who really don’t understand, or say they don’t, what is the great issue between the free world and the Communist world.
      Let them come to Berlin.
      There are some who say that communism is the wave of the future.
      Let them come to Berlin.
      And there are some who say in Europe and elsewhere we can work with the Communists.
      Let them come to Berlin.
      And there are even a few who say that it is true that communism is an evil system, but it permits us to make economic progress.
      Lass’ sie nach Berlin kommen.
      Let them come to Berlin.”

  9. “The rise of neo-nazi white nationalism in the U.S.A. is just as much a threat to the American principle that all are created equal,”

    As far as I can see, in my admittedly biased points of view, is that America was originally a hot bed of white nationalism, that is how it was founded, by white people who believed in their supremacy.
    Since that start things have only improved to the stage where people who believe in it now appear as smaller minority groups, protesting their loss of privilege and desire to return to the past.
    No rise, a decline and fall.
    Look at the evidence.

    [Response: Benjamin Franklin founded the first anti-slavery society in America. John Adams almost derailed the declaration of independence because it didn’t condemn slavery strongly enough. The world was racist at then, but some of our “founding fathers” were well ahead of their time about it.]

    • If the United States was a hotbed of white nationalism, how do you explain the confederacy, or the states, for that matter? Lots of free people participated in the American Revolution. They weren’t all white. The colonies, including the southern colonies, were home to a lot of free blacks. But as usual, angech is a conflated mess.

      Nazism became fairly popular in the United States as it rose to power in Germany after WW1. Anti-Semitism was widespread in the United States before WW2. WW2 brought many people to their senses, but not all. Nazism support post war was very low. Its support has steadily grown through the decades.

      As a son of the confederacy, monuments to rebel soldiers should only be displayed at national and state parks that have been established as Civil War battlefield parks: places like Gettysburg, Antietam, Shiloh, etc. That’s history. The Jim Crowe era monuments that were erected, mostly in the 20th century, in front of courthouses and public parks and universities, etc., should all be removed. They have nothing at all to do with the Civil War.

  10. While having not enough background and insight into the recent regretful event in the US to take any position on it, I would prefer the use of the word ‘supremacist’ over ‘nationalist’. ‘Nationalist’ is the swearword that Moscow used to suppress eastern european nations and the 100+ nations within the USSR. There are many different interpretations of many different forms of nationalism. What was practiced in nazi Germany was imperialism, not nationalism. Even unified Germany was unified by the colony of Prussia which emerged from the Northern Crusades and Drang nach Osten. Alfred Rosenberg left a national state to become a nazi in imperial Germany. In my opinion, colonial nationalism is nonsense (it is being practiced in Crimea and Donetsk at the moment). Having said all that, I think Trump is not up to the level of the POTUS, not the least because of his administration making crusades against EPA and NASA.

    • IMO, “nationalist” and “supremacist” are not interchangeable in this context. A “white nationalist” is someone who wants to found an exclusively white society, one with no place whatever for people of color. Obviously, the distribution of power within such a society will not be determined by color/ethnicity, since it would be homogenous in that respect. A whilte supremacist, on the other hand, might well like to have lots of ‘lesser orders’ around to do the dirty work.

      A tangential, but perhaps illuminating point: Last night a local TV station reported a meeting between local “white nationalists” and “black nationalists”, who joined together to call for a respectful dialog between all parties, despite what the reporter termed their ‘widely differing views.’ Clearly, though, whatever differences they may have are logically subordinate to one over-arching point of agreement, which is that both call for strict racial segregation.

      • Again, there are different interpretations of many different forms of nationalism. But in a (recent post-)colonial context, one cannot really speak of nationalism. A post-colonial nationalism would try to slowly build a new nation, anything else would be colonialism, not nationalism. Founding an exclusively white nation in the US or in Canada would be a form of colonialism, not nationalism, in my opinion. An exception might be Newfoundland, where the natives have already died out and the newcomers are almost exclusively white.
        White swedes furthering fennoswedish in white Finland was not nationalism, it was colonialism. White finns in Finland trying to restore the prior state of being (by trying to get rid of the swedish language as second state language) can be called nationalism.
        White brits in Ireland cultivating GB are not nationalists, they are colonialists. White irish in Ireland, on the other hand, are nationalists.
        Similarly, native americans trying to keep their ranks more or less (let’s say genetically above 50% level) pure to keep their wealth within tribal reach can be called nationalism.

      • Well, I don’t feel inclined to argue about whether there is ‘really’ such a thing as “nationalism”; there are most certainly people who use the term for themselves. Usually they mean that they want to create a “nation” for themselves, via the ethnic cleansing of whomever they think constitutes the ‘other.’

  11. russellseitz

    Dr. Franklin’s verbatim views may not give Tamino joy:
    Why should the Palatine Boors be suffered to swarm into our Settlements, and by herding together establish their Language and Manners to the Exclusion of ours? Why should Pennsylvania, founded by the English, become a Colony of Aliens, who will shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us instead of our Anglifying them, and will never adopt our Language or Customs, any more than they can acquire our Complexion.

    Which leads me to add one Remark: That the Number of purely white People in the World is proportionably very small. All Africa is black or tawny. Asia chiefly tawny. America (exclusive of the new Comers) wholly so. And in Europe, the Spaniards, Italians, French, Russians and Swedes, are generally of what we call a swarthy Complexion; as are the Germans also, the Saxons only excepted, who with the English, make the principal Body of White People on the Face of the Earth. I could wish their Numbers were increased.

    And while we are, as I may call it, Scouring our Planet, by clearing America of Woods, and so making this Side of our Globe reflect a brighter Light to the Eyes of Inhabitants in Mars or Venus, why should we in the Sight of Superior Beings, darken its People? why increase the Sons of Africa, by Planting them in America, where we have so fair an Opportunity, by excluding all Blacks and Tawneys, of increasing the lovely White and Red? But perhaps I am partial to the Complexion of my Country, for such Kind of Partiality is natural to Mankind.”

    • In fairness, the founding fathers were ambiguous about slavery. Many of the revolutionaries freed their slaves, Washington did so in his will, Jefferson (who co-habited with a slave woman, and had children by her) wrote “I tremble for my country when I remember that God is just”. Washington and Jefferson achieved something good (at least I think so). It took hundreds of thousands of lives to stop Davis and Lee from perpetuating something evil. There is no equivalence.

  12. Reinhard Bösch

    what was practiced in nazi Germany was racism. Racism inflated to the determining factor of everydays life.
    The Nazis than sang” Deutschland über Alles”.
    Mister Trump today says” America first”.
    The shocking thing is, that nearly one half of the voting Americans elected
    him.

  13. How ironic that today these Nazis feel more comfortable spewing their hatred in the U.S. than they would in Germany.

    Thanks Donald. Thanks Republican Party. Thanks Fox.

    • As Donald himself would say, “Sad!”

      Except I mean that by way of ironic understatement, because it’s tragic beyond bitterness. That’s an emotional register I fear Mr. Trump is too psychologically damaged to perceive.

  14. Only there isn’t a “rise” in neo nazi’s and the kkk. 50,000 kkk members paraded down NYC on their way to the Democrat convention in 1920.

  15. Let’s put to rest that the founding fathers promoted slavery. It was the culture back then, just as fossil fuels are (still) part of the culture now.
    It’s too bad that a bloody and slowly agonizing till death, war happened in this country. The racists forget how bad it really was here and elsewhere. Are they willing to inflict, and be inflicted, to such stupidity and pain, all over again. They have no justification whatsoever!

    The global warming deniers might be glad, as that would definitely slow down the pace of clean energy automation.
    FAR from Kennedy, the current president of the USA is apparently a racist. That will cause us to become even more divided, and fall,
    unlike the great positive unification actions that Kennedy endorsed.

  16. The German punk band “Die Ärzte” got the neo nazis spot on in “Schrei nach Liebe”. The song is from 1993 and got back to #1 in the German charts in 2015, when a teacher called to buy the song again as a sign of solidarity with refugees and against racists, with the band donating all gains to a refugees advocacy organization.

    The core lyrics translate as:

    You violence, your rage
    it screams just a silent cry for love.
    Your Doc Martens very much,
    crave a gentle, loving touch.

    You’re mess,emotions never learned to express.
    Parents never gave you a dime,
    and never had time.

    Asshole!

    Here’s the complete lyrics in English:

    http://www.die-beste-band-der-welt.de/texte/translations/schreinachliebe_english.htm

  17. russellseitz

    Lets us all take time off from the Climate Wars, to watch the skies :
    https://vvattsupwiththat.blogspot.com/2017/08/the-eclipse-of-reason.html

  18. A little off topic

    Javier called Tamino a ‘curve fitter’ lol

    http://peakoilbarrel.com/open-thread-non-petroleum-aug17-2017/#comment-612798