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TURNING RED

With us, you know, the Russians were always the whipping boys. If anything was wrong, the Russians were to blame. ‘The Russians are coming.’ You still hear that. But you can’t whip the Russians these days. The Russians do judo. They defend themselves. They fight back. They can speak more languages than us and they can think faster than us—because your school system’s better than ours. You have more world champions in chess, sport and art than any other country. (Picks up the rope) And what do we have? A chancellor in drag, a psychopath president and a gay foreign minister who can’t speak English.

(Skips)

Do you know why we’ve never had any trouble with freedom of opinion?

Because the Germans have never had an opinion. There’s nothing to curb.

(Beat)

It’s different with you. You think freedom of opinion means spouting bullshit, talking about things you don’t understand, stuff you’ve heard about somewhere.

(Skips)

Chechnya? Shall we talk about Chechnya? Okay then, let’s talk about Chechnya. When all else fails, there’s always Chechnya.

(Beat)

What’s your problem with Chechnya? Yeah, all right, there’s a war. Things are nasty. War’s nasty. We all know that. The Germans better than anyone.

(Skips)

What? You disagree or something? When he stood up back then—the only one brave enough to address the issue of Germany’s exclusive responsibility—you think that was out of order, do you?

(Puts the skipping rope down)

What do you know about the war in Chechnya? That Russia was attacked first? That Russian villages were invaded by barbarians and the villagers massacred? That it was a war of occupation, fought for a Muslim theocracy? Did you know that? Can you imagine how it would be if they tried that here? We’d embrace them, right? We’d welcome them with open arms—this is my wife, these are my kids, come in, sit down—or what? The German equation is always so straightforward.

(Starts chicken-dance boxing)

Hey, the guy who charged us with sole responsibility for World War Two has raped a small country somewhere in the Caucasus. Can anyone tell me a bit more about it? Is there any more?

What are you accusing him of? Installing sewers for the people down there? Bringing economic upturn? Improving infrastructure? Do you accuse the Romans of that, too?

Don’t you want to get rid of the bandits? The circumcised. Everyone’s scared of them. Everyone. But nobody knows what to do about them. We all cower here, hoping we’ve been spared—and just look at the minarets sprouting up all over the place. We always complain nice and quietly, don’t we? Um, excuse me, please, would you mind, perhaps, um, relocating this mosque, because, you know, no offence intended, but um—

(Moves onto the gym mat)

If some guy came along now and said, ‘I’ll sweep the whole pack out of the country for you,’ you’d all vote for him. Yes, I know, out loud you all say NO, but at home, under the covers, it’s a different story. Reading books isn’t enough. You have to act on your beliefs. All you do is put your ideas on the bestseller lists.

(Beat)

What’s so bad about having a country you call home? Is there still a taboo on defending the fatherland? Is that why you’re ashamed to open your mouths? Or is it because you’ve no one strong behind you? Your politicians are all wet blankets, incompetent drag queens and stuttering gays, so you act the moral police and point fingers all over the place. Everywhere but in your own country. Don’t you?

 

Tr. Imogen Taylor