Back in the summer of 2013, my host-father Bernd had told me that the trends that take place in the United States make their way to Germany twenty years later. The topic at hand at the time was regarding the NSA scandal, and he had wistfully puffed on his smoldering cigarette as he scratched away at the wooden dinner table with his other hand.
“We have to stop these trends from coming to Germany. The security state – you know, we already have experience with that – will try to wiggle its way into our politics and society. The people must be vigilant, they mustn’t allow that kind of change to take place in our country. Because it’s more than just this spying scandal, I’m talking about other trends, like increasing cost of education, too.”
Living in Europe and watching the rapid change in attitude that has taken place firsthand, I wonder what he would say now. After the attacks in Brussels, polls conducted by ARD-Deutchslandtrend showed that seventy-seven percent of polled Germans responded that they wanted a permanent increase in security measures in their country. Johannes Kahrs, member of the Social Democratic Party and chairman of the budget committee, called for an increase in police presence and hinted that the hiring of three thousand federal police officers may just be the beginning. The same kind of paranoia and empowering of police power that Europeans have mocked Americans for now sit clearly in the view of Germany’s side mirror.
As Germany pantomimes post-9/11-America, I imagine that Bernd is still wistfully puffing away on his cigarettes, perhaps disappointed that a trend he had hoped would not manifest itself in his country has permeated into Germany’s political and societal membranes. Then again, objects in mirror are closer than they appear.