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the Gauntlet

No love for this bug

The Beetle's passing takes a piece of Germany with it

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A country generally defines itself through its "things." Language, currency, politics and products produced for export all become symbolic of a nation, they are how a country becomes known throughout the world. The United States has always done a great job forcing the world to take notice of them in many of those areas, however things have gone very wrong in Europe lately.

By founding the European Union, the countries of Europe are slowly trying to unify their politics. By admitting more and more countries, they are becoming somewhat successful in their attempt to "speak with one voice."

So far, so good.

Then came a slap in the face for Germany. While the rest of Europe chose whether or not they would give up their respective currencies for the Euro, the German population was not asked whether or not they wanted to give up the Deutsche Mark. When the Mark disappeared, another aspect of the country's identity went with it. While Germans and other European countries are still far from giving up their language--even though those languages have become infested with a considerable amount of Americanisms--other things have gone wrong.

After the political and economic unification of Europe was well underway, some countries lost their best and most widely known export products in one sad way or another. Ford bought Jaguar, Britain auctioned off Rolls Royce, and nobody stopped Volkswagen from halting production of the company's most memorable car, the iconic Beetle.

The last Beetle, and we are not talking about this posh shopping bag on wheels they call a Beetle these days, was produced in Mexico just days ago. Germany has lost a legend, a star among cars that stood, and still stands, for the post-war era. The Beetle was the first and most widespread family car and was one of Germany's best-known exports. The Beetle is known around the world and it made Volkswagen the company it is today.

That's why it is such a shame they killed it.

In recent years, other cars may have sold better than the good old "VW Kafer," but this was more than a car, it was a German cultural icon. It even had movies made about it--remember "Herbie," the love bug? He was a star, the main "actor" on-screen, carrying a feature film.

So cherish and support your Canadian cultural symbols. Keep your currency, make sure you fight further Americanization, but please, keep on buying German cars.

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VW's are lemons! - Thanks Northland Volkswagen for showing me the way to the service department.