Edward Snowden: “Ich bin ein Berliner”

Friday, 1 November, 2013

Stern Once upon a time… Well, July 2008, actually, and the Guardian titled it, “Obama wows Berlin crowd with historic speech.” Reading it today, one cannot help but smile. Jonathan Freedland described it as “a summer gathering of peace, love — and loathing of George Bush.” The madness of crowds, and all that. Freedland reminded readers that “the latest edition of Stern magazine features Obama on the cover, above the line ‘Saviour — or demagogue?'” Ah, fickle media. The current issue of Stern features Obama on the cover, too, but the title is “Der Spitzel“, a German term redolent of a Gestapo-Stasi horror that can only be approximated in English with informer, rate, fink, snitch or stoolie. But back to the Guardian and its treasure trove of mirth. Freedland noted an outbreak of “warmth” when Obama explained his belief in “allies who will listen to each other, who will learn from each other who will, above all, trust each other”. Yeah. Listen.

Were Obama to appear in Berlin now, “The young and the pierced, some with guitars slung over their shoulders” would, no doubt, pelt him with rotten eggs, or worse. The “Love Parade” affection that was paraded back then for the Democratic candidate would now be demonstrated for the data thief Edward Snowden. Today, Hans-Christian Ströbele, a German politician and lawyer, who once defended RAF terrorists, announced that he had met Snowden in Moscow and had invited him to Germany to testify about US intelligence gathering activities. Ströbele is noted for his hatred of America and it would be the ultimate irony of recent trans-Atlantic relations if Snowden, at the behest of Ströbele, and guaranteed exemption from extradition, were to appear at a mass rally in Berlin and declare “Ich bin ein Berliner.” Sounds daft, of course, but 200,000 crazy Germans turned out to hear another American promising “Hope and Change” in July 2008. The madness of crowds.

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