In a Europe in which we feel everyday that the reactionary winds are increasing in their velocity against our will, Conchita is a force that says we are not helpless. What did it take to stand up in front of 170 million people and be herself in a Europe where she knows growing numbers would like her and her 'kind' not to exist? Watching her gathered behavior after her win, and her quite deliberate message of peace and freedom, it is obvious to me that her campaign is as well-crafted as her appearance. Conchita had decided that if she could be herself in front of the 170 million, the world we live in would begin to grasp that its identity has changed - grown into many different identities - and perhaps we would stop wasting our time resisting it.
As I watched the beautiful man/woman with the Arab's beard belting out her bond-like magic, it struck me that Conchita faces us with a newness that few of us have been able to assimilate. Even for those working with the idea of tolerance on a daily basis, at an individual level we are still grappling with the red and green lights of our judgment that switch on and off whenever we meet other people for the first time. Each time that I beheld her face - which I must admit confuses my brain's sense of how a person should look - it forced me to ask the question: Who is this person? Why does she look like this? What is her story? And so, Conchita forces me to go deeper, past the green and the red lights, to a place of learning.
At times as I was watching her, I began to fear the worst. My thoughts went back to the history of my grandfather's formative years as a young man during the 1920s in Germany. This was a time of great creativity and experimentation (he would have said great decadence) in urban centers coupled with recurrent economic crisis. During this time, the far right nourished itself in rural areas where people felt alienated from these urban developments and could not understand. We need to remember this pattern and ensure that we can change it. This time we must not switch off the creativity and experimentation. We must carry on. People like Conchita cannot do it alone, and by standing up in front of the 170 million she took her best shot at facing people with the question: Where do you stand? Are you with me?