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US ambassador laments ‘racist jerks’ in Germany

The Local · 8 Sep 2011, 14:55

Published: 08 Sep 2011 14:55 GMT+02:00

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Published on the US Embassy website on Thursday, the letter details an incident last month after some Americans attended a Hertha BSC match, the German capital’s top football club.

“They had a great time during the game, and were pleased to cheer on the home team. One of them was African-American,” wrote Murphy. “After the game, as they were walking away from the stadium, two men came at them and accosted our African-American colleague. One jostled him and the other doused him with beer and directed a deeply offensive racial insult at him.”

The ambassador said although the US Embassy staff tried to de-escalate the situation, a growing group of hooligans appeared set on a violent confrontation. Only after the police arrived on the scene outside Berlin’s Olympic Stadium could the Americans leave unharmed.

Murphy labelled the men “jerks” that needed to be put in their place.

“There are jerks where I come from in America, and there are jerks in the heart of Europe, here in Berlin,” he wrote. “You can’t just let these things go. Regardless of where incidents like this happen, whether it’s in America or Germany or anywhere else in the world, we have to stand up and say it’s wrong.”

Admitting racism was still prevalent in the United States despite the milestone election of US President Barack Obama, Murphy said Americans had to keep working to make things better.

“The same is true for Germany. Society – whether American or German – cannot look the other way and hope that somehow magically bigotry and racism will disappear. We have to speak out and we have to take action,” the ambassador wrote.

Story continues below…

“Racism must be confronted firmly wherever it rears its head – whether along a country lane in America or on a sidewalk outside the Olympic Stadium or anywhere else in the world where jerks think that they can hurt people and get away with it.”

The Local/mry

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Your comments about this article

15:31 September 8, 2011 by outsidecat
Well said Mr Murphy.
15:48 September 8, 2011 by twisted
I am pleased that the police were able to intervene when they did to avoid having the Americans involved in a violent racist incident. Thank you Berlin Police. Had something happen, no doubt the Americans would have been the "guilty" parties. And thank you, Mr. Ambassador, for being big enough to admit that we still have racism problem in the U.S. Unfortunately, some of our so-called political leaders in the U.S. exacerbate those problems....need I say Republicans?
16:52 September 8, 2011 by neunElf
What about the incident of the Black Panther party in Philadelphia, the ones who were carrying clubs and intimidating whites from voting, were they jerks too?

Ambassador Murphy, why did your government's Justice Department refuse to prosecute them, even though the Black Panthers admitted to their deed and refused to show up in court?

All your government had to do was to show up in court and they would have been found guilty as they refused to defend their actions.

Maybe now you can see why many people in America were astonished by your government's lack of sensitivity to the victims of intimidation in Philadelphia!
16:56 September 8, 2011 by Englishted

How long ago was that then?

I believed the black panthers were in the late 1960s, the world has moved on I hope.
17:06 September 8, 2011 by CaSimone
There are stunads all over the world, and neunElf, just cause someone errors, doesn't make it right for another to, or MOST importantly, doesn't make it right to back down and say all can continue to be so.

& it certainly is no excuse to go up to innocent people and pushing them around with violent threats or what have (something the Panthers actually DID NOT DO in 08, as ridiculous and annoying their behavior was I will put down their behavior just as much.)

Bottom Line, there is Good behavior and Negative behavior, and defensive behavior.... if someone isn't in your face threatening you and your family with 100% certain violence... then there is nothing... an evil stare can mean the guy is a jerk or has a cramp....

Stand for good behavior, respect, kindness HUMANITY or stand for ignorant animal blind bad behavior... that's the defining line between True superiority! You are part of HUMANITY or a mindless animal.
17:38 September 8, 2011 by ChrisRea
Hat off to the American ambassador! He expressed a balanced and correct view.
17:44 September 8, 2011 by storymann
These types of people are usually low on the class ladder and by accosting someone else over their color or origin or religion makes them feel superior and a rung higher on the social ladder.

Jerk's, low life, racist ,all apply to these misanthropes .

Of course they only do this if they are superior in number.
18:00 September 8, 2011 by bugger
I know you won't like this way of expressing it, but that's typical german football-unterschicht there.
19:39 September 8, 2011 by Lachner
Great words by Mr. Murphy! There is racism all over the World and we must all stand up against it. Just because a few Germans did something racist, we shouldn't label all of them as Nazis.

Yesterday I was traveling on a local train here in Baden-Württemberg and there was a very mentally disturbed man aboard. He was talking out loud as if he was giving a speech to all the Germans aboard and he was talking about Hitler, the Jews, the immigrant scums, the American occupation of Germany and a bunch of other rubbish. It was the first time that I encountered such behavior in Germany, so I was obviously very nervous about a possible confrontation, since I myself am an immigrant and there were also many others on board. Surprisingly, it was another German man sitting close to me that stood up and told him to shut the F up or he was going to call the police and that he was an ignorant piece of trash. WOW! Way to go for that German man sticking up for morality and leaving a great impression of modern Germany.
19:58 September 8, 2011 by Wise Up!
So much for multi-culturalism!
20:16 September 8, 2011 by bigpainingermany
God bless you Mr Ambassador for bringing such reality to light.

My Baby recently died because of the carelessness and hatrad of the Doctors and nurces at the Hospital in Frankfurt am Main only because the mother is black. I have been living in Germany for some time now but I saw a real rasism in the hands of the doctor. What I surfered in the hands of that so-called team is something, I will never wished to happen to anyone in this world. They mistreated my child to death even depriving me to get closer to my child and lying everytime that it was to possible to take my child to another hospital, which of course my child was not under social class. These so-called Prof. Dr. med. looked into my eyes and told me that there were no Doctors to attend to my child or to even talk to me about my child, and when I asked him, if as a result of what he said my child would be neglected to death, he reply yes so is it. My child died indeed as a result of that.

Racistism is very real in Germany.
20:58 September 8, 2011 by Soonerdiver
For "EnglishTed"... the Black Panther Party is still active in parts of the US today. The incident that was spoken of was just under 3 years ago, during the national elections that put Mr. Obama in the White House. If you must comment, please try and stay current with events.
21:31 September 8, 2011 by finanzdoktor
Sometimes, I feel like the Golden Rule has been thrown out the window. If the shoe, so to speak, had been on the other foot, wonder what the reaction would have been/

Some German fans visiting a U.S. city, attend a MLS game, and afterwards some African-Americans meet them after the game, proceed to pour beer over them, and start anti-Nazi rantings and such. How would these German visitors/guests feel? Not only having beer involuntarily poured on them, but being wrongly associated with National Socialism? Then, how would the German press and "Volks" respond? Condemnation? Moral: GOLDEN RULE RULZ!!!!!
22:35 September 8, 2011 by kay75
They represent a threat only in as much as the German press condones their activities. They probably live very unsatisfying lives and need to blame those different from them for their self-inflicted misery. It is normal German behavior, sadly
22:56 September 8, 2011 by Dizz

I am very, very sorry to hear about your loss. Its almost unimaginable that such things happen. I hope that you and your family are able to heal and to move on with your lives and that you find the strength to focus on what still can be rather than what could have been.
23:17 September 8, 2011 by wood artist
The simple fact is that we all have a long way to go before we can truly claim to be civilized. That's true everywhere.

06:54 September 9, 2011 by consumerxy
First this was a hate crime. I see by the trash written here that no one has the bravery to come out and say it. Second where are the cameras? Only when you put cameras up in public places will cowards think twice about picking on anyone. When I heard that foreign female visitors were singled out for sexual harassment at Octoberfest and they were hading out bracelets to get them safely back to their hotels, I asked myself where are the cameras? I also did not read about any arrests or a desciption of these criminals and a reward for their arrest. Treating this incident as a couple of "jerks" is saying that Germans are too stupid to recognize a hate crime when they see it and maybe they are!
09:57 September 9, 2011 by ChrisRea
@ kay75 #14

"...the German press condones their activities."

Really? I have never seen a German newspaper doing this. Can you please give an example (if there is actually any)?

"It is normal German behavior, sadly"

As the ambassador puts it, jerks are also in America. I would say I met jerks in other countries as well. So instead of German you can probably put in your sentence any nationality. By limiting to Germans, you seem to try to spread hate against them. Why?
10:49 September 9, 2011 by raandy
consumerxy, I would not consider all these opinions trash.....

You don't have to brave to call it a hate crime, your remarks seem a bit hateful to me.
11:03 September 9, 2011 by freechoice
Any signs of standing up to ány social injustice is a sign of higher civilization!
13:27 September 9, 2011 by bigpainingermany
The Local, some of us are seeing your publication as very trust worthy but delecting Prof. Dr. med.'s name on my response made me very sad. It was not any secret, that man promised me and he has delivered. so why delect his name? Are you compromising his action?
16:55 September 9, 2011 by brnskin2010
Some germans are blurman......i was once told never 2 call a german that...i told that person what makes him different from anyone else....he is what he is.....they were nazi blurmen.......@chrisrea ...seems that u r offended...r u married 2 a german....seems that ppl have a tendency 2 spk on behalf of others of another race when they r married 2 a person of the same race that has offended ......and that Dr Med should have been named.........if germany doesnt want foreigners n their country they should let the world know they r not welcomed...i dont believe the world will stop rotating b/c of it......
17:33 September 9, 2011 by finanzdoktor
@brnskin2010: "r u married 2 a german...seems that ppl have a tendency 2 spk on behalf of others of another race when they r married 2 a person of the same race offended" and "what makes him different from anyone else...he is what he is....they were nazi blurman."

Geez, by your remarks: 1) anyone who stands up to such racist remarks as yours must be married to someone of that nationality or race and 2) everyone is determined by the past actions of their nation, no matter what has happened since then, or how much atonement has been made or attempted. In other words, we are all doomed (including yourself), no matter what.

Talk about your stereotyping and racist blinders. Again, the golden rule applies here. If you want others to treat you with respect and diginity, you must do the same. (Note: I am also married to someone of a foreign nationality, and do not stand up for such racism against her, our kids, or anyone else, no matter where they are from).
19:29 September 9, 2011 by marktshark
America has a long history of integration.

Germany is new to the block so to speak. As Merkel put it "we have failed to integrate Turkish into Germany". Germans have not yet accepted multiracial living. There is a lot of work to be done.
19:57 September 9, 2011 by ChrisRea
Hey, what business do Turkish people have with this story? Oops, I guess I am not married to a Turk, too.
20:27 September 9, 2011 by Beachrider
As to Black Panthers:

- The original Black Panthers existed from 1966-1982. There is no reasonable doubt that the group had stopped by that time. Several were sent to jail for multiple nefarious acts and others advised that the rest of the folks that were somehow linked as members had disbanded. Any that are alive today would each be over 65 years old with the major names being over 80.

- This guy Shabazz has started a new activity and calls it 'The Black Panthers'. There was an incident where a white voter claimed that Shabazz associates attempted to impede him from voting. He had nothing to do with the 1966 group. Shabazz was not prosecuted after the claim. The claimant has made some remarkable statements with wide-ranging racial overtones.

.... Soooo, we all have issues about running 'melting pots' or 'amalgamation vats' or whatever. Welcome to the 21st century.
02:44 September 10, 2011 by padu

If what you said were true, go to media and sue the cold-blood suckers in Frankfurt hospital. I am on your side.
05:00 September 10, 2011 by hanskarl

Glittering generalities are so stupid. Racism exists on both sides of any party line. I guess Mr. Hoffa's remarks last week are acceptable since he is a Democrat. The ambassador made it very clear racism is unacceptable regardless of the country or the individuals who provoke racism. It has absolutely nothing to do with political alignment. It is individual responsibility, nothing more, nothing less, and nothing else. Every individual should be called upon to learn truth, apply it and then to act responsibly. If they do not then the laws in place take effect. Unfortunately, these hooligans got away with their diatribe.
06:32 September 10, 2011 by hardly
I wanted to make a comment about the above article, but first I must repudiate storymann's classist statement.

"These types of people are usually low on the class ladder and by accosting someone else over their color or origin or religion makes them feel superior and a rung higher on the social ladder."

Your statement is ugly and reductive, unfortunately I am unable to perceive it as parody; You should be ashamed of this utterance.
11:30 September 10, 2011 by Ludinwolf
It is immer the same:

Get yourself in a black hood and you ll get wiped out of the map.

Get yourself in a rat-neo-nazis area (if you are black, they will whoop your..)

Get yourself in certain times into the chinetown in certain cities around the world,

you may get mugged.

Go to south america ... no, its dangerous! oh, then go to L.A in certain areas... you

are dead.

Every country has its crooks and narrow minded people. Just take a look in most of eastern europe, they cant stand a different person there(not every corner)

We humans are not able to cope with what is different from what we believe is right. That comes religion, races, football.

We are taught to respect and love and stand the differences.

Many of us are taugh nothing of these and worse, many are taught to

hate what seems to be intimidating.

Every nationality has a percent of soul-heart- less capable ones, this is a truth.
15:38 September 10, 2011 by Al uk
Isn't calling someone a "jerk" offensive too?
16:18 September 10, 2011 by Wyatt
Lord, he should be worried about the racists President we have here in the U.S

Obama and his Justice Department Decided not to prosecute the Black Panther case stating there was not enough evidence,when it was all on camera and eye witness spoke out.. Any doubt look at the Church Obama attended for 20 yrs.",Trinity Baptist Church " and you can always read his books which will give you a clear picture on how racists he is. Glimpses of Obama's mindset can be obtained from reading his two books, "The Audacity of Hope" and "Dreams from My Father" where Obama describes his animosity toward white people.
20:30 September 11, 2011 by Saprklemahn
Obama and his "justice" department failed to prosecute Republicans like "Lil" gw bush-league and that dick Cheney, Rumsfeld, and a host of other Republican criminals. Perhaps he let them off because he is part of the same corporate plutocracy which plagues the world. Democrats are Republicans in sheep's clothing; Republicans are the embodiment of pure evil. Either way, the common folks lose, the rich get richer, and the Earth gets a lot more polluted. Now we have the nuttiest of the nutty Evangelical Conservative Republican right wing NUTS running for President. They represent their useful idiot constituency perfectly: those lacking in brains representing those lacking in brains. Only a 3rd party can bring about positive social and economic change in America.
13:47 September 12, 2011 by Vargaz
How ironic - an American spewing contentious horse manure about racial slurs and comments when racism is America's favorite pastime and so deeply rooted in a largely ignorant culture and society, despite it being the 21st century. Check your own country first Mr. Ambassador, the clean IT up.
15:56 September 12, 2011 by Wyatt
Obama is no more than a wanna be dictator, this ignorant fool chooses to ignore any law he doesn't like, such as the Defense of Marriage Act, which the Obama administration abruptly announced they would no longer enforce earlier this year even though it was passed by Congress in 1996 and has been the law of the land ever since. Or consider another recent circumvention of Congress, whereby the Obama administration unilaterally decided they would no longer deport illegal immigrants in mass, but would review every case on a case by case basis, under the guise of freeing up resources to deport the most violent and dangerous illegal immigrants faster. Also consider the violations nationally and internationally of the (Fast and Furious) program. Obama has appointed some what 30 czars to his administration, for the soul purpose of avoiding Congress to change or not obey laws as he See's fit, Obama does not have the authority to change or make laws on his own, that is what Congress is there for, he is there to sign them in to law.
11:09 September 13, 2011 by storymann
hardly, Your entitled to state your opinion as well as myself, you do not have to agree with me.

I will stand by mine, whether you agree or not.

Whats your opinion on the SUBJECT.
00:15 September 16, 2011 by ColoSlim
RIGHT ON AMB Murphy! We appreciate you stepping in and being honest and open about what goes on in Berlin as well as elsewhere but specifically concering what happened at the Stadium. Keep saying it long enough and people will hear and change. You are not over-stating the situation just compensating for other people's complicity. Well done sir.
13:33 September 16, 2011 by hardly
Why is Murphy pointing this story out? What are his motivations? Is it for political maneuvering?

it is quite a banal and cliche' statement these days to point out the racism and 'jerks' exist all over the world. It is insulting to our intelligence to state something so obvious. I am not condoning the behavior of the alleged assaulters, but would this story receive any press attention if Murphy were a janitor coming out of the same game.

I would be more interesting if Murphy discussed forms of institutional racism instead of individual 'jerks'. Wouldn't Americans be better off discussing how specific policies fuel racist structural developments? Germans and other Europeans could be more open about how immigration policies toward have racist consequences.


While I appreciate that you did not follow up with an ad-hominem attack toward me, I disagree that thuggish behavior is monopolized by one sector of the class stratification. Racism against black people as an institution in America originated from wealthy landowners using lies and manipulation to increase their profits during slavery. It is true that poor white people joined in as well, but your statement excludes those in higher class sectors. I do not have time to go into all the contemporary forms of institutional racism in the U.S. , who benefits and what are the resource driven motives.

To counter your position, I will demonstrate individualized 'thug' intolerant behavior through personal experience which I do not find to be exceptional, but ubiquitous across classes.

I spent teenage years living in a suburban middle class community in the U.S.

Peers of mine made it a regular activity on weekends to drive into the city and beat up homosexuals as they left clubs. I didn't know this until it was in the news that some of my peers killed a man. Surprising me later I learned that many people I knew who seemed reasonable and kind had participated in these weekend activities although not the night of the murder. This was not motivated by resentment nor animosity toward a higher class. I observed similar intolerance in the form of racism which did not reach these violent levels, but was still as offensive.
23:20 September 16, 2011 by Sysconfig
A national issue of an artist painting Obamas face several shades darker than he is, while tolerating wars that have killed hundreds of thousands of brown skinned. not as satire but business as usual., and looked the other way, Obama included, as tens of thousands of Blacks, REAL Blacks, are killed and or forced to leave Libya after living their peacefully for years. Total Brown and Black killed with the assistance 30-50k , and counting...

.something is wrong with that picture and I not the Obama Black Face one...The concern and lament in Germany and Europe and by the Pasty faced US Ambasador.s.is highly misplaced.if not hipocritical.
21:33 September 17, 2011 by NeilH1
Englishted says: "I believed the black panthers were in the late 1960s, the world has moved on I hope."

It hasn't moved on very far, at least in some parts of what is generally called "the black community."

The Philadelphia incident involved black thugs intimidating white people trying to enter a voting place, one of the thugs brandishing a club, insulting and threatening whites who approached. This was the work of the New Black Panther Party. The one with the club was later shown on TV in a different setting, haranguing the black crowd and telling them "I hate white people! I hate ALL white people!" He went on to tell them, "You gotta kill white people. You gotta kill their babies. That's the only way you're gonna be free."

He was (and I assume still is) some sort of official in the local Democratic Party, by the way.
21:20 September 19, 2011 by Enough
Well said yes...but his picture makes him look like a European bureocrat...yikes!
11:11 September 21, 2011 by USA_NUMBER_ONE
you Germans are so funny...when we think of Germans here...we think of skinheads, neo-nazis, and ultra-nationalist right wingers...we have these people in the USA ..but ..the perception here is that GERMANY has far greater numbers..after all Germany tried to exterminate the JEWS
11:17 September 28, 2011 by Bigfoot76
USA_NUMBER_ONE, what YOU think and what YOUR perception is should not dictate what the general population of over 310 million people thinks and perceives. Also thoughts and perceptions should not be substituted for facts. Not all Germans were Nazis, not all Germans wanted to exterminate the Jews. Is it safe to assume that all Americans wanted African Americans/Blacks to be slaves? Generalizations can cause many problems for instance the way you generalize your thoughts and perceptions as being that of all Americans.
18:22 December 23, 2011 by cobc
nazi alcoholics!
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