Tag: Berlin Wall

“Miracle on Ice” Remembered

 

Can this be forty years ago? It’s hard to explain to younger people what an earth-shaking, tear-jerking win the 1980 gold medal in hockey was for us. This was no simple rivalry. This was David vs. Goliath. This was Luke Skywalker vs. Darth Vader. This was Hobbits vs. Mordor. And the good guys won.

To provide some necessary background for the younger readers: Western countries such as the United States and Canada were constrained by the Olympic rules, which had long mandated that athletes must be amateurs. Our teams were composed of college players who had not yet begun their professional careers. The Soviets, as usual, simply cheated. They took their very top adult players, world-class, full-time athletes with years of international experience, and gave them phony job-assignments with the military or government so that they could be called amateurs. It was like putting the all-stars of the NFL against a college squad. It was a joke. Of course, they always won the gold medal, and they always would win the gold medal; it was a fact of life that would never change, kind of like the Iron Curtain and the Berlin Wall. Nothing to be done, we were just supposed to suck it up. Then this team of scrappy college kids did the unthinkable. They brought down Goliath. And less than ten years later, the citizens of both sides of Berlin brought down that “fact-of-life” wall with simple tools and bare, bloody hands and tear-stained faces. It reminds me of one of my favorite lines from Lord of the Rings: “Where tears are the very wine of blessedness.” This hockey game, this “miracle on ice” was the prelude to that miracle in Berlin.

In this week’s podcast, we celebrate that day in November 1989, when the Berlin Wall was finally destroyed 30 years ago. Rather than continuing to focus on the famous remarks delivered by President Reagan in 1987 when he asked Gorbachev to tear down the wall, we thought we’d go back in history, to recall the story of the Wall and review some of the President’s early remarks about the Wall… because for many years, our 40th president viewed it as the ultimate symbol of Soviet aggression and totalitarian control, unyielding to its innocent prisoners. Let’s listen.

The Unbelievable Night the Berlin Wall Fell

 

Two scenes from the end of the Cold War:

Scene one: On June 12, 1987, President Reagan stood before the Berlin Wall, the Brandenburg Gate rising behind him, to challenge to the leader of the Soviet Union. “General Secretary Gorbachev,” the president said, “if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate.

“Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

U2, “The Playboy Mansion”

 

The year was 1997. At the end of the 20th century, how did everything end up depressive but frenetic? The ’90s started with the greatest political shift since WW2–after the Berlin Wall fell, so did the USSR. What a Christmas gift! A new world was supposed to open up. A great world. No more fear, no more war.

U2, same as every artist, rushed to Berlin. They came back to report with Achtung Baby and Zooropa. The title says it all, Europe is now a zoo. We’re no longer real people; we’re the caged beasts of our past selves. We’re the pets of the people we fear we’ve become. But of course–that left America. Ten years after The Joshua Tree, which was Bono playing high priest in the temple of Americana, U2 went back to America, the great rock-Christian hope of the world. They reported with Pop, their most maligned album, but perhaps morally the most realistic. It’s criticism that is finally self-criticism; rock stars without any of the sanctimony or self-preening left. Our moral crisis belongs to all of us; that’s our last form of equality.

Peter Robinson 30 Years After “Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down This Wall”

 

On this special 50th episode of Whiskey Politics, we are honored to welcome Peter Robinson, Speechwriter to President Ronald Reagan. Among hundreds of other speeches, Peter is now celebrating the 30th anniversary of the history-making Brandenburg Gate speech where against advice from the White House, State Department, and Germans, President Reagan called on General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall!” We discuss this pivotal moment in history, the relationships with Margaret Thatcher and Milton Friedman and his upcoming Ricochet and Uncommon Knowledge interview with Pat Sajak at the Reagan Library.

Presidents are defined by rhetorical moments: Reagan and Kennedy at the Berlin Wall; George W. Bush rallying the nation after the 9/11 attacks. And Donald Trump? So far his presidency hasn’t been one of major addresses. Hoover fellow Peter Robinson, author of Reagan’s famous speech at the Brandenberg Gate, discusses the art of presidential wordsmithery in this age of shock tweets and nonstop news cycles.

Presidents are defined by rhetorical moments: Reagan and Kennedy at the Berlin Wall; George W. Bush rallying the nation after the 9/11 attacks. And Donald Trump? So far his presidency hasn’t been one of major addresses. Hoover fellow Peter Robinson, author of Reagan’s famous speech at the Brandenberg Gate, discusses the art of presidential wordsmithery in this age of shock tweets and nonstop news cycles.

Member Post

 

I’m sure you all know of the worldwide–world-historical, as our Marxist friends would say–popularity or importance of Miss Taylor Swift. May I draw your attention to the title of her recent album of such popular music? 1989. Say it with me, if not for my sake, then for Miss Berlinski’s: 1989 is really about what’sherface! […]

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Member Post

 

During my recent internet searches on all things David Bowie I came across this great article: In the 1970s, while living in Berlin, Bowie wrote Heroes, inspired by the sight of a couple embracing in front of the Berlin Wall. On June 6, 1987, two years before the Wall opened and six days before Ronald Reagan’s Tear […]

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