Did Springsteen tear down the Berlin Wall?

    Reuters, a news service known for its straight reporting, has created some heated debate over a radical claim made by its Fan Fare entertainment column: that Bruce Springsteen may have had as much to do with the fall of the Berlin Wall as Reagan or Gorbachev. 20 years ago Friday, Springsteen made his first ever appearance in East Germany after years of being turned down. Springsteen introduced his East Berlin set with the following statement:

    “It’s great to be in East Berlin,” Springsteen said in German as he introduced “Chimes of Freedom”. “I want to tell you, I’m not here for or against any government. I came here to play rock ‘n’ roll for you East Berliners in the hope that one day all the barriers will be torn down.”

    Unlike Kennedy’s "Ich bin ein Berliner" or Reagan’s "Tear down this wall," however, this line was spoken behind the Iron Curtain. 16 months later, the Berlin Wall fell. Reuters’ Erik Kirschbaum sees the two as deeply interconnected.


    Naturally, such a claim has drawn ire from the likes of the American Conservative, who responded with this reactionary response:

    In one of the most ridiculous examples of unbridled hyperbole, Reuters has decided that singer Bruce Springsteen is the one responsible for bringing down the Berlin Wall and ending the Cold War. Yes, that’s Bruce “Scorn in the USA” Springsteen, one of the most anti-American rockers on the scene. I know what you’re thinking, “But what about Ronald Reagan?” Forget it, man, it’s Bruce all the way as far as Reuters is concerned. Maybe it was his gravely warbling that Joshua-like brought those walls tumblin’ down, maybe his caterwauling is what turned the trick, but, quite despite any common sense and in a childishly, foolish and overly simplistic review of history, Reuters is sure that Bruce is the hero of Berlin. It is a great example of reductio ad absurdo if there ever was one, not that Reuters is aware of it.

    While it’s probably true that Reuters’ claim was exaggerated, calling Springsteen one of the most anti-American rockers is hyperbole in its own right. Bad history meets bad political reasoning? I’m sure that’s not what the Boss intended 20 years ago.


    [via The Daily Swarm]