Thursday, June 13, 2024

An American, Technically

The Daily Beast notes

Justice Samuel Alito’s wife, Martha-Ann, once again unwitting made herself the internet’s Main Character on Tuesday after an undercover reporter released a secretly recorded conversation in which she nastily complained about her neighbor’s Pride flag and bizarrely declared “I’m German.”

 “Look at me. I’m German, from Germany. My heritage is German,” she told a documentary maker who was posing as a conservative activist. “You come after me, I’m going to give it back to you. And there will be a way—it doesn’t have to be now—but there will be a way they will know. Don’t worry about it.”

It was a single soundbite among a conversation full of flat-out MAGA-fueled weirdness from Martha-Ann....

MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell asked "What cold Samuel Alito's wife possibly mean when invoking Germany and being German to inspire fear in the people who in her mind, at least, come after her?" He began answering his own question with "many peoples of the world have much to be ashamed of- non more than Germany and Germans. Mrs. Alito sounds proud of being German."


An article entitled "Other Nations Could Learn From Germany's Efforts to reconcile after World War II" appeared in 2015 in Johns Hopkins Magazine. Greg Rienzi drew heavily on the work of Lily Gardner Feldman. The British-born Feldman grew up in London "yet spent several formative years living and working in Germany" and recently had written Germany's foreign Policy of Reconciliation: From Enmity to Amity. Rienzi explained

On September 10, 1952 a reparations agreement between Israel and West Germany was signed in Luxembourg. The first reparations payment to the Israeli state as goods in kind began in 1953 and ended in 1965; payments to individuals continue to this day. By the end of 2008, Germany had provided 66 billion euros in all forms of compensation, with the largest share going to Israel....

Germany's ongoing relationship with Israel is unique, Gardner Feldman says, but one can see similar reconciliatory themes, approaches, and patterns through Germany's relations with its other former enemies. In her book, she argues that the "cornerstone, perhaps the very definition, of German foreign policy after World War II became, progressively, reconciliation." Germany had to reconcile with the countries and people it had attacked, occupied, and slaughtered during a brutal six years of war and destruction. Gardner Feldman examined all German chancellors from Adenauer to Merkel and found a common strain: an imperative to repay a deep moral debt.

O'Donnell displayed an image of a series of Nazi-era German banners and added of Mrs. Alito

She's also proud of flying flags and here's the flag that was used to express that specific pride, the pride of being German beginning in the 1930s. Is the fear that flag created around the world the fear that Mrs. Alito wants to create in her threatening use of her heritage? Look at me, look at me. I'm German, I'm German. My heritage is German.

That may be the case. However, Alito instead may have been projecting what she believes is a (positive) stereotype of Germans and German-Americans as prone to retaliation and in general as a people not to be messed with. However, in my experience, the common pejorative was "domineering" but my heritage isn't German, so there is that.

O'Donnell continued

O.K., Mrs. Alito. Tell us more about your family. What did they do during the war? I mean, your relatives who were still in Germany living under and perhaps like most Germans, supporting Adolf Hitler and everything he did. Tell us more.

It certainly would be interesting while not particularly important because it was approximately 80 years ago, sins of the father and so forth. More interesting-and significant:

The sad-sack loser (redundancy day!) from Two and a Half Men makes a good point, where "interesting" could be replaced with "derogatory."

More importantly, Martha-Ann Alito isn't German. She's an American. From Kentucky. From a portion of the country the right likes to refer to as the "real America" or "America."

Once calling a work colleague "Polish," I was reprimanded by being told "I'm an American." More specifically, the colleague could have added "a Polish-American." And yet, decades later the wife of a United States Supreme Court Justice has told documentary filmmaker Lauren Windsor "I'm German, from Germany. My heritage is German..." Her heritage presumably is German but she is an American. 

She is an American, unquestionably. However, whether she is happy about that, aside from her husband having a coveted, well-paid job with lifetime security and no accountability, is far more dubious. Flying an American flag upside down in support of an insurrection against the federal government is a pretty good clue. Martha-Ann Alito is a German-American and American but the America she longs for is one our Founding Fathers would not recognize.

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