Suzanne Fields

None of this impressed the clowns, of course. They derided the summit as obsolete "political marketing," as if the demonstrators themselves were not obsolete, behind the curve and even quaint. "Globalization," said Frau Merkel, "offers enormous opportunities for all countries to grow and prosper." She observed that 8 million German jobs are dependent on exports already, and Germany stands to benefit even more as robust economies emerge from stagnation. Graffiti decrying the summit was scattered throughout Berlin, but for the average German the summit was a yawn. Business as usual was the order of the day, and Germans love order. Europe is enjoying unusual summer weather, and if it's global warming that's causing it, hooray, anyway. The outdoor cafes, parks, swimming pools and nearby lakes are crowded with families catching the friendly rays.

Only in Kreuzberg, a neighborhood devoted to "alternative" attitudes (Che Guevara T-shirts are still popular), was there much fuss about the summit. Kreuzbergers are descendents of the West Berlin neighborhood that spawned a punk protest culture before the wall came down. The red flag was once raised in solidarity with the Communists, and the neighborhood proudly calls itself a "McDonald's-free zone." The Kreuzbergers mean it, too. Ronald McDonald, the clown mascot for the Big Mac and all the little Macs, has been warned not to set his splay foot anywhere near their falafels.

The postal service, in a stealth move five years ago, sold a piece of property in Kreuzberg to McDonald's, and the community rallied with cries of "Kein McDoofin Kreuzberg" -- "No McStupid in Kreuzberg." Now they have a website that unites anti-capitalists with anti-burger burghers, arguing that it's "a health issue." But Turkish entrepreneurs hear no criticism of their doner kebab, made of lamb (or mutton) at 550 calories, which compares to the 505 calories in a Big Mac. Observed der Spiegel newsmagazine: "And wasn't there some report on the news about spoiled meat being used in doner kebabs?"

McDonald's has added salads and yogurt to the menu, and showed sensitivities to Islamic cultural considerations with the introduction of a "halal" burger in England, made of meat from animals killed in keeping with Islamic dietary laws. Whether its new salads and yogurts, to accompany the burgers and fries, can compete with kebabs and falafels in Kreuzberg and add the McCulture to multiculturalism will depend on how open the Germans, and their neighbors in the European Union, really are to an open market. Ronald McDonald was conspicuously not among the other clowns at the summit.


Suzanne Fields

Suzanne Fields is currently working on a book that will revisit John Milton's 'Paradise Lost.'

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