April 2005 Archives

Its good to be home!

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Friday afternoon at work.. beer on the patio... a live band.. some poker going on, and an endless blue sky..

Not bad at all!

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Wheh...

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Well, I'm back in Austin now, and have had a whirlwind of activity around home and work. That, combined with jet lag that had me passing out around 9pm each night, has kept me from taking care of emails & posts & laundry. Things are slowing getting back to normal.

The journey home has begun...

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Here I am with my co-passengers on what is hopefully my last flight from Hannover to Munich.

While I'm really enjoying being here, the brush fires at work and being away from home are pretty pronounced. I'll be home Friday evening, hopefully in time to catch the Friday special at Chuy's: fish tacos.

I think its impossible for anyone to think of Germany without thinking of the second world war and fascism. And I also think that most people think that chapter of history is far behind the German people. Unfortunately, the past is right in the rear-view mirror still. This weekend, the neo-nazis had a march scheduled in Munich from the Thieresenwiese to Sendlinger Tor, and in response, counter-demonstrations were organized across the town.

I went briefly to the largest counter-demo on the Marienplatz where the mayor and a number of other prominents & dignitaries spoke. The speeches were impassioned and dramatic, and the crowd of young and old, left, center, and right, were emotional and fierce in their responses to calls for rooting out nationalism. Amidst families with kids in strollers, rabid left punks with spiked hair and pierced noses, and grandparents with their felt hats and long coats, the organizers' volunteers wandered through the crowd pinning white roses on everyone they could find. For this early resistance movement, the threat to their liberty and their global standing is real and tangible, and it moves them to action.

According to the news reports, 6000 attended the counter-demo, while the neo-nazi's had only 300 among their numbers. The police presence was 1400 across town. The good news of the weekend was that although the streets were blocked for their parade, the neo-nazi's didn't get organized enough to start their march. There were some arrests, and only one incident of violence.

The numbers are staggering - for each individual that was willing to stand with the nationalist right, there were 20 people shouting them down with the position that there is enough room at the table for everyone from every corner of the world here. When I consider the current ratio of far right to the rest of the population in my homeland, I'm at once disappointed and frightened.

The lesson here is that freedom of expresssion goes both ways. For every voice advocating a closed society, those opposed are willing to take a stand and drown it out. It's powerful. While also unfortunate that the message of an inclusive society needs to be constantly repeated, it will be repeated by the public over and over and over again. In a town where a mountain was made out of the rubble of a war, the people do not take their liberty for granted: not for one single moment, not for one single step on a march.

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