An Open Letter to Americans from a Concerned German,

Our German Head of State is lambasted by the US Government because he obeys the very German constitution the United States once had helped to create.

The United States have been my second home for a long time. As a teenager I was an exchange student, in the following years I visited friends in Florida and California many times, and later I attended Graduate school in Hawaii.

But times have changed. Now I am not the only European who is cautious about traveling to the United States - a feeling of insecurity prevails. This insecurity is not related to crime or potential terrorist threats but to the policies of the Federal Government which more and more seems to move along a totalitarian pathway. I do not feel safe in a country that only talks about war and security and at the same time is engaged in a systematic dismantlement of civil rights. Travelers and legal aliens have been arrested and kept in custody without charge for extended periods. Security forces already have been granted rights normally only common in dictatorships.

More disturbing still is that the traditionally humanistic values of the US now have been replaced by an almost religiously founded imperial paradigm that allows the relentless pursuit of US economic and political interests against international law and against the interest of global - and even national - civil society, no to mention humanitarian considerations.

I shall quote my grandmother who is 82 and lived through the horrors of WW II, experiencing the fate of a refuge in Poland who lost everything. She observes the development in the US with horror and said last week: "This is exactly how it all began under Hitler". Perhaps she is right. And perhaps it is true that Europeans have a more sensitive historical awareness than the people of the United States. Those who dare may go about and compare the speeches, events, actions and pictures from the Third Reich and our current time. The similarities indeed are astonishing. And our German Head of State is lambasted by the US Government because he obeys the very German constitution the United States once had helped to create. It states that under no circumstances whatsoever must Germany participate in or support an attack on another country without formal decision of the United Nations. Our Chancellor currently is charged with violation of the constitution because US forces are granted the right to operate in German air space in preparation of the war against Iraq. This is a direct violation of the constitution that - I say it again - was created with the support of an enlightened US Government. Of course the US Government apparently discarded its own constitution, so I assume the constitutions of other democratic nations will not be considered overly relevant.

Last but not least I must say that I am hesitant to send this E-mail. Will I be refused the right to enter the United States because I expressed my free opinion? Will I have to face any consequences in the future? Will I be arrested for making objectively verifiable historical comparisons? Will someone even come and assassinate me? Are such fears merely signs of paranoia? Not so long ago I had considered to permanently move to the United States. It seemed a free and tolerant country to live, and peaceful, qualified and hard working people appeared to be welcome. Now the country lacks these two key aspects that would make me and my family want to live there: freedom and tolerance.

Yours very concerned,

Stefan Thiesen

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This story was published on March 19, 2003.