Monday, November 21, 2011

Ich bin ein Berliner

There are so many things wrong with that phrase. The first one being, I am not a jelly-filled doughnut, although I do eat so many of them so often, I might as well be. Also, I am more than three hours away from Berlin, so if I were to be some sort of German I would be a Kieler, not a Berliner. And no, "Kieler" is not funny, and no, it does not sound like "Killer". Long and short vowels are there for a reason. In addition to the previously stated, I would never say "Ick", like the famous person said it, nor would I say "Ish", like the foreigners say it. I would use a perfect "Ich", thus actually reinforcing my point:

I am a German. I found this out as I was trying to make a point in two different classes last week.

In the first class, American 20th Century Short Fiction, I was supporting my claim that there is a European-settler-vs-Indigenous-People trend in Hemingway's "Indian Camp". I mentioned how the doctor, Nick's father, Nick and Uncle George all "cross over" to the Indian camp and go take care of an Indian woman giving birth. Upon hearing her screams, the doctor, Nick's dad, tells Nick that he need not hear them, for her screams are not important. And here is what I said: "It is a very clear reference to you people coming over to my land, to my continent, and taking command of my people."

Because I am totally indigenous, right?

In the second class, Remember The Alamo, I claimed that although Santa Anna was well known for his pleasure and desire of war and dominion, we could not ignore the fact that the Americans had come over and pushed "my people" to the other side of the border, thus wanting to take control of a land that had originally belonged to "us".

Because I am totally mexican, right?

At some point in between the two classes the issue got mixed (because of race, the train of thought is easy to follow) with black people and slaves and all that stuff. To which I appropriately mentioned, that "my people" had been mistreated by The White Man for centuries.

Because I am totally black, right?

My teacher includes me when counting the Germans, she (actually, they both do) include me in the collective "we". "We" symbolizing Germans, Europeans, The White Man in general. And they do so because I am white. Very white. As white (whiter?) as the Germans that are around me in both of my classes. I am educated following the western educational system, which is different from that which one would expect of an indian, a mexican or a black person back in late 19th - early 20th century America.

But more than that, beyond the preconceptions that Europeans might have of "my people" (whoever "my people" are), I follow all the preconceptions "my people" have of Germans: I am on time, always, if possible early. I am prepared, always, if possible even further than expected. I am serious, always, if possible with some wit here or there. I wish I could say I was also tall and green-eyed and blond - I am working on the blond thing.

I am a German. I dislike what the Germans dislike and like what the Germans like (except for the Rotkohl thingy...). I think like a German. I try to act like a German. I include myself in the German collective "we". I hang out with Germans. I spend time with Germans. I try to talk like the Germans do (that might take a while longer than expected...).

I am a German. Ich bin ein Berliner.

1 comment:

  1. Came across this some time ago. Found it again today for you!

    http://urbanlegends.about.com/cs/historical/a/jfk_berliner.htm

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