What a year it has been so far! As 2019 drew to a close, all eyes were on the US Primary season, the dysfunction in Washington and the polarized public opinion regarding politics. Now, as we currently look at the events unfolding around the world, and especially in the United States, we wonder where this all will lead.
Following weeks of lockdown due to COVID-19, despair has set in for millions of newly unemployed in the United States, whose future ability to sustain their livelihood is in question. Faced with an administration in DC that is operating with mere unilateral support of one party, the majority of the population feels alienated and that their voice is not being heard. Yet, all agree that George Floyd was grossly mishandled by police officers in Minnesota last week. This has led to millions marching daily in the streets, in all 50 US States plus Washington D.C., protesting what many view as systemic injustice, and the failure of holding police officers accountable for their actions. Racial tension has been simmering for years (or even centuries), and this week it has reached a boiling point, yet again. Fifty years ago, many civil rights reforms were achieved under the Johnson administration, and our hope is that the pain we are currently going through will lead to positive outcomes in the end, to further advances, especially in light of the impending elections on November 3.
On June 1, 1980 CNN was launched, exclusively bringing newsworthy international events into the living rooms of Americans and audiences all over. Now 40 years on, hundreds of news channels are streaming live protests from the US around the world. Previously unseen events can now seen by be seen by billions on their smart phones. And, if you closely look at the pictures, the encouraging news is that people of all colors have turned out for these mostly peaceful protests in unity of the oppressed. In the words of Abraham Lincoln, “A house divided against itself, cannot stand.”
Nearly every country around the world has had to deal with its maltreatment of large population groups, and right now the United States is in the spotlight. Germany has endured a bleak period in its history, and most Americans who come here would say that the German people have dealt with their self examination fairly well, and have come out better because of it. Our hope is that following this period of unrest, concrete actions and positive results will be achieved for those oppressed in the United States, and that we will all be better for it.
At the American Club of Hamburg, we aim to remain politically neutral, exposing both conservative and liberal points of view in our events that address politics. We take a firm stand against racism. We stand for the rights and opportunities of everyone, regardless of race and creed. You can be assured that regardless of headlines and statements made by some politicians, the vast majority of Americans also agree with this point of view. And, the German-American friendship remains as important as ever to people on both sides of the Atlantic.
Since we have been restricted from our usual events of meeting in person, due to the pandemic, we have adjusted to the new reality by holding weekly online events, on a range of topics. We began in March with political expert Andrew Adair, reporting on the state of affairs in the US. On April 1, US Consul General Darion Akins held an intimate fireside chat, followed a few days later by a wine-tasting event. Then, American Club Member and Minister of the German Bundesgtag Metin Hakverdi gave us behind-the-scenes perspectives of how Ministers in Berin were dealing with COVID-19.
In May, the former German Consul General to 13 US Midwestern States, Herbert Quelle enlightened us about the harmonica, an instrument exported to the US more than 200 minion times, contributing majorly to the foundation of blues music. Then, we celebrated the 90 anniversary of Adler Planetarium in Chicago, with statements received from Chicago’s Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Mayor Tschentscher, US Consul Darion Akins, German Consul General Wolfgang Mössinger, jointly hosted by Hamburg Planetarium Director Thomas Kraupe. And last week we had a wonderful photographic presentation of the iconic STERN photographer Perry Kretz by Donald Schneider, former Art Director of STERN, who wrote a fascinating book called Peryworld. In case you missed these events, some can be watched online via our website (https://americanclub.de/blog/).
Next week we will hold an online beer tasting event, followed by a BBC reporter speaking about his observations of German “Ordnung.” Afterwards, we will have a US Newspaper editor to speak about the current state of affairs. Several upcoming events are in the planning stages, including hearing from US politicians, from NASA officials, cultural icons and compelling business leaders.
Until we see each other in person, we at the American Club of Hamburg hope you and your family stay safe. Do feel free to reach out and send me a direct message, regarding any feedback or suggestions for events you may have.
Looking forward to seeing you at one of our upcoming online events!
All the best,
David Scott Zeller