Friday, March 23, 2012

The Great Communicators: History Without Parsing


President of the United States # 40 - Tear Down This Wall

Arriving in Berlin on June 12, 1987, President and Mrs. Reagan were taken to the Reichstag, where they viewed the wall from a balcony. Reagan then made his speech at the Brandenburg Gate at 2:00 p.m., in front of two panes of bulletproof glass protecting him from potential snipers in East Berlin. About 45,000 people were in attendance; among the spectators were West German president Richard von Weizs├Ącker, Chancellor Helmut Kohl, and West Berlin mayor Eberhard Diepgen. That afternoon, Reagan said,

"We welcome change and openness; for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace. There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. General Secretary Gorbachev, 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, Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall! ”

President of the United States # 44 -Take Down The Crucifix, Crosses, and the IHS

The White House acknowledges that it asked Georgetown University, a Catholic institution, to cover up prominent Christian symbols for President Obama's economic speech this past Tuesday. The symbols, the letters "IHS" which stands for Jesus Christ, and a cross, are engraved on a pediment that stands behind the stage from which Obama delivered his address. Both the cross and the symbolic representation of Jesus' name were not hidden by the background drapes that the White House wanted for the event, and so the Administration asked the school to cover them.

"Decisions made about the backdrop for the speech were made to have a consistent background of American flags, which is standard for many presidential events. Any suggestions to the contrary are simply false."

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