Black - Red - Yellow

Yes, folks, these are the German colors, a well-kept secret over the last few decades. Germans were ashamed to show their colors, so they remained in the closet, only to be trotted out at international sport competitions when a German showed up on the winner's plattform, which by and large is the case, no matter what sport we are talking about.

But now we have the world cup in Germany, and things are changing. You suddenly see cars like this with American-style flagpoles on them (but flying the German colors. This one, btw, is from my university parking lot!). There are flags hanging outside every bar and restaurant that now has a TV and will be having it on during the games. There are flags hanging from many balconies (the newspaper Tagesspiegel notes that you officially have to ask permission from your landlord to do this. What is Germany coming to, if people do stuff they want to without asking permission??). I much prefer the multi-culturalists who hang out a garland of the flags of all 32 participating nations.

The clothing industry laments that no one wants to buy German-colored shoes or clothes. The only thing they can sell is the black-and-white jerseys. But anything in the colors of Brazil, the favorites for winning, anyway, sells like mad.

It this a chance for right-wing patriots to "let it all hang out"? I was discussing this with a friend on Tuesday, I am kind of amused at the lumbering way in which Germans are starting to use flags and colors. She was violently against all this nonsense, seeing right-wing sentiment in all of the colors. And all the patriotism makes her sick, why should she be "proud" of the happenstance of her birth? We progressed to other topics.

Then I heard an interview in the car yesterday on Inforadio. There is a mosque in planning in Pankow/Heinersdorf by a group that currently meets in Reinickendorf, a part of Berlin. And the locals are protesting. They had a demonstration yesterday, chanting "no, no, no to the mosque". Inforadio interviewed participants. And their answers made me shudder. Fear of foreigners and right-wing sentiment all around. "They are only 200 people, they should meet somewhere else" - "I want to be able to walk around nights without getting a knife in the back" (Hey, guys, the knifeman at the opening of the Hauptbahnhof was a "full-blooded" German!) - "They should stay where they are, they are not welcome here" - "There will be more and harder protests if they insist on coming here". A mosque is actually not a political party headquarters, but a place to pray in 98% of the cases. Just like the churches in the US. (Inforadio doesn't seem to have the transcript on its web pages.)

This sent cold barbs up and down my spine. This is the general public speaking, not the people I meet at university. Combined with the flags I am suddenly quite concerned. How do you stop something like this, make the average Joe (or Franz) realize that people are human beings, no matter where they come from? The government had better figure this out fast. Maybe even before the World Cup is over.

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