The head of the Summer School at Kansas University in Holzkirchen in an interview about Donald Trump’s role in the storming of the Capitol

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From: Bettina Stuhlweissenburg


American idyll: William Keel stands in front of the house of his daughter Liesel Buschelman in Fairfax, near Washington DC Here his son-in-law, a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force, works for the Pentagon. © Liesel Buschelman

On January 13, 2021, the US House of Representatives opened the second impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump. The Democrats accused the then president of calling for a storm on the Capitol on January 6, 2021. We talked about it with the retired professor of German studies, William “Bill” Keel, who lives in Lawrence / Kansas.

Holzkirchen – The 74-year-old is no stranger to Holzkirchen: for 40 years he headed the summer school at Kansas University in the market town. Keel is a keen political observer, an advocate of the German-American dialogue – and a Trump voter.

Professor Keel, on January 13, 2021, Trump was charged with inciting an uprising. What do you think?

He has called on his supporters to demonstrate peacefully. A state overthrow or a riot was not planned by him, even if many people think so. I didn’t think what happened would happen.

How did it come about then?

We are now also a land of unlimited lies. It’s really terrible. I don’t want to defend Trump. He should have accepted the election result, that is, his loss to Joe Biden, even if there was a botch. But the Democrats are no angels either: when Trump unexpectedly won against Hillary Clinton in 2016, she didn’t accept the result either. This attitude has spurred its supporters to call for impeachment, when Trump was not even in office. Even before the election, the Democrats, with the help of the media and the FBI, spread lies about Trump. It was Clinton’s campaign strategy to claim that Trump was collaborating with Putin. I watch the Today journal regularly. There I hear Trump is lying. I don’t hear that Clinton and the Democrats are lying. Well, Trump pays back with the same coin.

The images of the storm on the Capitol were reminiscent of a civil war. What’s going on in the US?

We are a divided country. All the year before that, there were protests over the racial issue in many cities – Portland, Washington, New York. Shops were burned down, people killed. In Seattle, after the death of George Floyd, an area including police headquarters was conquered. Trump wanted to send the National Guard to liberate this area, but the mayor of Seattle didn’t want that. Democratic presidential candidates even supported the unrest. The division in society is also reflected in politics: the seats in the Senate are evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans. This stalemate is a big problem. Even in the House of Representatives, the Democrats only have a slim majority and allow themselves to be led by the radicals. In US history, majorities used to be much clearer. I don’t know how Democrats and Republicans are supposed to talk to each other. They talk past each other.

Is there a threat of civil war in the USA?

Not with weapons. But with words. The pandemic has turned everything upside down. Trump didn’t want the economy to lockdown, but he had to. It was during this turbulent time that George Floyd died.

Is the USA still the land of opportunity?

For the individual, they still are. Why else do millions of people come to the United States across the Mexican border if they don’t believe that they can lead a better life here? Not only Latin Americans cross this border, but also Chinese, Africans and many more. They come without a corona test and are then flown to Florida, Virginia and other states – without asking or preparing the state governments there.

Why did you choose Trump?

For the sake of his politics, not for his person. Trump should have done what he thinks was right – and then he should have been silent. Unfortunately, he didn’t remain silent, he tweeted. But the economy flourished until the pandemic. Its economic policies were also good for Latinos and African Americans. Therefore, compared to 2016, it has also gained votes from the Latinos and blacks. In contrast, because of his personality, he did worse in the suburbs of the big cities than in 2016. In the country, 80 percent and more often voted for him.

Has the friendship between the USA and Germany suffered because of Trump?

The Germans were a little offended when Trump demanded that they spend two percent of their gross domestic product on defense. He also asked why there are still American soldiers in Germany 75 years after the end of the war. But one can ask this question.

And the friendship between Kansas University and Holzkirchen?

That friendship lives on, no matter who is president. Of course we also talk about critical issues. It was like that when Bush and Reagan were presidents. In the war against Iraq we really feared that something might happen to this friendship. But especially in times of political tension, it is important to keep talking to one another. Perhaps a former participant of the summer school in Holzkirchen would have to become president to bring peace to America (laughs). I’m only joking in part: the ability to talk and understand each other is important.

When are you coming back to Holzkirchen?

It’s been almost three years since I was there. I hope Omikron becomes an acceptable cold and the hospitalization rate – I learned that word from the Today Journal (laughs) – remains low. Then I hope to be able to come this summer and look forward to seeing you again!

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