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Talking Germany

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A few things you possibly didn’t know about our own Brent Goff

A man of many opinions 
Brent Goff is a colleague of mine. Brent is never lost for words. It’s a real talent and he’s quite an entertainer. When you’re sitting in the studio with him and the show’s about to begin, he’ll regularly come up with something outrageous or brazen, just to get in the mood for what’s to come. Brent is an American. Brent is an American through and through. But he’s a man of the world, too, and after living here for so long he has some very interesting things to say about Germany in particular. And he’s also my latest guest on Talking Germany.

Brent says that, when it comes to popular culture, nobody does it better than the US of A. Brent loves movies, and one of his favourites at the moment is “The Help” – a drama, as you probably know, set in the deep south of the US: “You’ve got to watch it Peter!” Brent himself comes from the south. His hometown: Wilson, North Carolina – famous for it’s “beautiful trees and impressive highways!” Brent’s great-grandfather was, I understand, the last in the family line to work as a tobacco farmer.

Brent has no doubt that the US is still a world leader, perhaps the world leader, in terms of hard power. However, Brent’s favourite American – living or dead – isn’t a power politician, but the writer Nathaniel Hawthorne. It’s a great choice, although I still prefer Hawthorne’s close friend Herman Melville. Brent’s favourite German, by the way, is Angela Merkel. “Begrudgingly,” he hastily adds, “because she’s not doing very well on the Euro crisis.” Brent says that, for its part, Germany is a world leader in: “Soccer!” Now, for me, that is hard power.

But, putting sport aside, Brent says Germany faces two “politically explosive” challenges. The first is, “the growing gap between rich and poor.” The second: integration, where he worries that Germany is, “trying too hard to be a homogenous society, trying too hard to be German.” It’s a good point and a very American piece of wisdom. So, what does Brent believe that Germany can learn from the US? “To let go!” And the US from Germany? “To hold on!”


June 3, 2012