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The German magazine Spiegel says ‘Political Radicalization in US Unworthy of a Democratic State’

As an American expat living in the European Union I’ve come to rely on the European mainstream press corp for opinions and information that is essentially unaffected by the influence of Fox news and right wing talk radio.

This diary is essentially an annotated bibliography of European media sources which are unavailable in the US which contain information and opinion from published German news sources listed by the German Spiegel magazine. Additionally there is also a sampling of news sources outside of Germany, to include Britain and France. This diary attempts to add value to the reader’s experience by providing an international perspective on the Arizona tragedy from capital cities in the European Union. It is important for American readers to note that mainstream European news outlets essentially speaking have universally condemned what’s happened in Arizona in siding with progressive America. It is important for American readers to understand that this condemnation comes from the subtext of a strong European style social safety net.

While we can all be proud Americans, we sure don’t have to be proud of the broken American social safety net. There we can do better.

Because Europe in general and Germany in particular has learned its lessons very well, given the combined experiences of the last century within the collective European memory. Additionally that a strong social safety net prevents politically motivated killings and promotes a more civil discourse on a continent where extreme rhetoric cannot take hold, which indeed by many social scientists is the reason that a European style strong social safety net exists which provides cradle to grave universal medical access, paid sick leave, paid maternity leave, paid annual leave and dental care to all workers to include low wage workers. Even Germany’s unemployed receive medical benefits, as do their family members as part of a jobless benefit package, (which includes jobless benefit 1 and wherein jobless benefit 2 never runs out). Clearly people who are supported by a strong social safety net are going to be more satisfied and therefore harder to radicalize, because these people are not pushed to the wall economically.

Here the Financial Times Germany clearly states that irrespective of whatever the motives of the political assassinations may have been, that the political radicalization in America has become unworthy of a democratic state. Clearly this reference is aimed squarely at Sarah Palin and her Tea Party supporters as clearly the articles accuses them of removing crude imagery from their website. Now why do you suppose they would do something like that? To be clear this is the international press and not the political left in America who levels this accusation at Sarah Palin and her Tea Party supporters.

The Financial Times Deutschland writes:

Regardless of the motives of the assassin, the debate is urgently needed. The political radicalization in the US has reached a point that is unworthy of a democratic state. More than any others, the members of the Tea Party movement made rhetoric of war into normal discourse …”

“It speaks volumes that Tea Party members and former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin removed crude imagery from their websites in a hurry on Saturday …”


Clearly here is yet another reference this time by a conservative German publication whose name translated means The World, which accuses the former conservative Presidential candidate Sarah Palin of again publishing crude imagery. So to be clear here is a conservative German publication, which is not on the GOP’s Tea Party bandwagon providing evidence of condemnation from a German conservative perspective. This provides the caveat that Americans are looking into a mirror blurred by hate and fear. Coming from a mainstream German publication, given Germany’s history of the last century, this caveat speaks volumes in keeping with the old saying that those who don’t learn the lessons of history are destined to repeat them.

The conservative daily Die Welt writes:

“Sarah Palin put on her website Giffords’ district with a target on it. What was meant metaphorically has become a bloody reality … After the attack on Gabrielle Giffords, Americans are looking in a mirror that is blurred by hate and fear.

Whether you’re an Obama fan or not, somehow the quote below from the German Daily Newspaper (Tageszeitung) is reminiscent of a famous quote from Glenn Beck.

Glenn Beck said:

FOX’s Glenn Beck: “This president has exposed himself as a guy over and over and over again who has a deep-seated hatred for white people … this guy is, I believe, a racist.”

The left-leaning Die Tageszeitung writes:

The moment the first elected black president moved into the White House, the right began comparing him to Hitler, and calling him a socialist and the anti-Christ …”

Here again is yet another mainstream German media outlet the Southern German Newspaper (Suddeutsche Zeitung) which presents the caveat that America could be headed for a downward spiral of violence.

The center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes:

One should hope that the leaders of the political right in the US recognize the deadly power words can really have. The time has come for them to stop. Otherwise, America might sink into a spiral of violence.”

The quote below should be left for the readers to interpret for themselves.

The left-leaning daily Berliner Zeitung writes:

It may be that the shooter in Tucson was simply a disturbed and bloodthirsty young man. Maybe he never saw Glenn Beck spin yarns on TV about how he would like to shoot director Michael Moore and poison Democrat (and former speaker of the House) Nancy Pelosi. Perhaps on that black Saturday he would have shot any other politician.”


At this point I’d like to invite our readers to read the full Spiegel magazine article which is available at the link below in English.,1518,738676,00.html

Here’s a quote, this time from a British newspaper: the Guardian.

Arizona is on the brink Tuesday 11 January 2011
Max Blumenthal

Discriminatory bills aimed at Latino immigrants flew through the Republican-dominated legislature, while extremists from around the country poured into the state to join the Minutemen, a far-right vigilante group inspired by Barnett.

Led by lawmakers such as Russell Pearce, a fanatically anti-immigrant senator who has proudly palled around with local neo-Nazis

Here’s a quote from British newspaper: the Guardian.

US congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords shot as six die in Arizona massacre
Ben Quinn and Paul Gallagher , Sunday 9 January 2011 01.53 GMT

Giffords is married to space shuttle astronaut Mark Kelly, and is the first Jewish woman elected to Congress from Arizona

Here’s another quote a British newspaper:

Arizona shootings analysis: Why American politics has become so toxic
by Justin Webb, Daily Mirror 11/01/2011

“But can Fox News find a way of opposing Obama without suggesting that he is a raving socialist, a foreigner or even a hater of white people, as some at the channel have?”

Read more:

Here the British newspaper The Guardian cogently draws an important nexus that Rep. Giffords in support of the Obama administration’s healthcare reform measures advocated for greater access to healthcare for Americans, which would include mental healthcare. Unimaginably the Tea Party crowd therefore called people like Giffords, Nazi’s for advocating for greater healthcare access. The type of healthcare access which to reiterate would have included access to mental healthcare.

Arizona shooting: ‘Does she have any enemies?’ ‘Yeah. The whole Tea Party’
Chris McGreal in Tucson / Sunday 9 January 2011 20.56 GMT
Like other members of Congress who supported healthcare reform, Giffords faced vitriolic attacks at town hall meetings by what she would call the “crazies”. Across the country, Tea Partiers accused their elected representatives of betraying America, of being Nazis or communists for supporting Obama’s attempt to ensure that everyone has access to healthcare. With the rhetoric came the regular allusions to armed resistance.

The French also have some strong viewpoints that for an American audience are worth noting. Clearly they’re right as to the venomous atmosphere that the Tea Party has interjected into the American body politic against anyone who dares to stand up to them from the Democratic party. Clearly Rep. Giffords a Democrat from Arizona is one such brave American. Yet the American plutocrat owned media is all too often too shy to accurately denounce Tea Party rhetoric as venomous. We see however that the French media doesn’t seem to suffer from that affliction, nor do their colleagues throughout the European Union.

From France24:

Arizona shooting brings political tensions to a boiling point.
Though the shooting in Arizona has been condemned as a tragedy across the political spectrum, it has also injected new venom into the relationship between Democrats and the Tea Party movement.

Is the Spiegel right to announce in its headline that the “Political Radicalization in US Unworthy of a Democratic State“? Please let’s remember this headline comes on the heels of the recgonization from Europe that America has the weakest social safety net of any major industrialized country. In America, 59 million of our citizens are without medical insurance; 132 million without a dental plan; 60 million without paid sick leave; and 40 million are on food stamps.

By contrast in Western Europe, please let’s remember that the kind of political radicalization isn’t possible on the scale that it is in America because social scientists believe that the European social safety net wouldn’t allow that happen, because people who aren’t pushed to the wall en mass cannot be radicalized. This lesson, Europe in general and German in particularly have learned very well, so virtually speaking by contrast there are no medically uninsured populations here in the European Union. Everyone has access to some type of dental plan and paid sick leave. There are no food stamp programs that are used to humiliate Western Europe’s poor in the grocery checkout line. As part of the social safety net, everyone has access to mental health services.

While we can all be proud Americans, we sure don’t have to be proud of the broken American social safety net. There we can do better.

Perhaps we as Americans can learn something from the model of the European Union’s social safety net, which doesn’t permit the American style class warfare as led by the GOP. Clearly Europe has learned these painful lessons from their history. It is said that those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Given Germany’s history of the last century, shouldn’t we listen to their warnings?

(Cross posted by author from the Daily Kos.)

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