Presented by Fisher Investments: 'Racist' Rhetoric; Ohio's 'Red Flag'; Quote of the Week
Good morning, it’s Friday, August 9, 2019, the day of the week I spotlight an inspiring quotation. Usually, these quotes are from an American; today’s poignant words were uttered to an American -- -- by a German soldier during World War II.
Tall, blond, and handsome, Carl Ludwig Long was a 23-year-old champion long jumper who fit the Nazis’ Aryan stereotype, a notion that would plunge the world into untold carnage. The man himself -- he was known in Europe as “Luz” Long -- was a lawyer and a gentleman. Soon he would be a soldier, one not destined to survive the war.
In a moment, I’ll have more on this man, and the words he imparted to a famous American he competed against on this date in 1936. First, I’d point you to RealClearPolitics’ front page, which presents our poll averages, videos, breaking news stories, and aggregated opinion columns spanning the political spectrum. We also offer original material from our own reporters and contributors, including the following:
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Calling Trump a “Racist” -- a 2020 Dem Talking Point? Phil Wegmann explores the widespread use of the term by the presidential candidates.
Dayton Tragedy Reawakens Push for “Red Flag” Law in Ohio. Julia Mullins has the story.
Five Facts: Trump’s New Tariffs on China. No Labels has this primer on the implications of the trade war escalation.
Transforming “Field of Dreams” for an MLB Game. In RealClearSports, Tanner Garrity sheds some light on plans for next summer’s White Sox-Yankees game amid an Iowa cornfield.
RealClearHistory’s 10 Summer Reads. Brandon Christensen compiled this list.
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The 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin were envisioned in Adolf Hitler’s twisted mind as a venue to showcase the superiority of the “master race.” With the largest delegation of athletes, Germany did win the most medals. But the glamorous events of track and field were dominated by an integrated U.S. team led by the incandescent Jesse Owens.
It was 83 years ago today that Owens won the fourth of his gold medals in Berlin, simultaneously embarrassing Hitler -- who had snubbed him -- while refuting Der Fuehrer’s goofy beliefs about race.
That summer, Jesse Owens filled Americans of all ethnic backgrounds with great pride. Some of this satisfaction was misplaced. As Owens himself noted, “When I came back to my native country, after all the stories about Hitler, I couldn’t ride in the front of the bus. I had to go to the back door. I couldn't live where I wanted. I wasn’t invited to shake hands with Hitler, but I wasn't invited to the White House to shake hands with the president, either.”
There was one man who did more than shake Jesse Owens' hand. Luz Long hugged Owens in the stadium, then circled the track with him, arm in arm. And when Owens returned to the United States, he told people that Long had also given him invaluable advice during the competition.
In the preliminary rounds of the long jump, Owens had fouled on his first two attempts. With one jump remaining, Long suggested to Owens that he play it safe by aiming for a takeoff point several inches before the line. Owen followed this advice and qualified for the final round, where he won the gold while Luz took silver.
“It took a lot of courage for him to befriend me in front of Hitler,” Owens said later.
Although Owens told the story for many years, including to his children and grandchildren -- and to Luz’s son Kai Long -- doubts arose over time about the details. Famed American sportswriter Grantland Rice had his binoculars trained on Owens during the qualifying round and never saw him so much as speak to Luz Long. When sports historian Tom Ecker asked Owens in 1965 about the discrepancy, Owens conceded that he didn't actually meet Long until the competition had been decided.
But if the details in Owens’ morality tale were apocryphal, the gist of his story rang true. It did indeed take guts on Long’s part to embrace Owens in front of Hitler. And the two Olympians did become friends. Real friends. The kind who exchange letters for years, even after one of them joins the military and goes off to war. The kind of friend who goes and finds your son after you are killed in that war to tell him what a good man you were.
Luz Long died in Sicily in a U.S. Army military field hospital after being wounded in battle while wearing the uniform of his home country. In his final letter to Owens, Long anticipated not returning from the front, and made a request of his American friend.
“Someday find my son,” Luz Long wrote, and “tell him about how things can be between men on this Earth."
And that’s your quote of the week.
Carl M. Cannon
Washington Bureau chief, RealClearPolitics