Multiculturalism: A Teutonic Shift

German Kanzlerin Angela Merkel created a lot of hoopla Sunday last when she said at a party meeting that “attempts to build a multicultural society in Germany have utterly failed” (BBC) abd went on to add that “those who want to take part in German society must not only obey German laws but also master German language” (Deutche Welle).


Die Kanzlerin (source)

This goes to the very heart of what can, for the lack of a better expression, be described as “post-war values” (keep your shirt on, we’ll get there). That nationalism is on the rise is, of course, hardly news. That public’s disillusionment with mainstream politics is invariably giving rise to extremists of all sorts is plainly visible (the latest examples being Austria, Sweden and The Netherlands). Wherever this starts happening, mainstream parties almost without exception start mimicking those hard-liners who are “stealing their electorate”, using their rhetoric, imitating their rituals and trying to re-establish themselves as points of reference for their wayward voters.

Same old story

This is not new. We’ve seen it time and again and the political menstrual cycle (where parties promise to bleed to the last drop of voters’ blood) is replete with such attempts all over the world, democratic or not. What is new is the fact that this phenomenon has transcended the normal constraints of a political arena and has taken on wider sociological and cultural connotations.

What we are seeing today is parties trying to stay in power not by adjusting their political platforms, but by adjusting their values to accommodate voters which have defected to the extreme poles of either left or right. As a result relatively small groups of fringe voters are increasingly starting to dictate the debate on scores of issues at the expense of those voters who are (from parties’ points of view) “already in the bag”.

Thus we have a triple fuck-up: moderates are disillusioned and increasingly refuse to take part in the democratic processes, thus leaving room for hard-liners. Their importance is amplified even more by mainstream factors – not just political parties, but also opinion leaders, media, and so on – trying to regain legitimacy with hard-liners by “talking the talk and walking the walk”. But what almost invariably happens is that the above mainstream factors loose out on both ends, since moderates will not see them as representing their morals and/or ethics, whereas hard-liners will only see it as proof that they’ve been right all along and will stick with their original leaders.

Ze Germans

So, what Angie M. said the other day is not just your ordinary “hey-I’m-one-of-you” act. It represents a marked shift of proclaimed values vis-a-vis the outer world. The fact that the fields in which this change of values has taken place are 19th century classics (language and ethnicity) makes it all the more worrying. I don’t want to go into a rant on how 19th century romantic notions of national supremacy paved the way for Europe to be raped twice over, but alarm bells are ringing. Especially since this is Germany we’re talking about. No offence, but both World Wars had a lot to do with Germany trying to forcefully “take its rightful place on the world stage”.

What is even more worrying is that Merkel did not say this at a congregation of some Lederhosen-clad old farts munching over an inhumane amount of beer, but to a congress of young party activists (Junge Union) who are always plenty eager to prove themselves in the eyes of the leadership, usually by ways of defending party positions with extreme prejudice and over-zealously executing party politics. I for one would hate to see Junge Union becoming Jugend Union, if you catch my meaning.

An added bonus, so to speak, is the timing of Merkel’s statements. Only weeks after Thilo Sarrazin, member of the board of the Bundesbank published a book where, among other things, claimed that “all Jews share the same gene” and that “Muslim immigrants across Europe were not willing or capable of integrating into western societies.” (HufPo). Sarrazin was forced to resign from his post (and is laughing all the way to the bank as his book became a bestseller) and condemned by top German officials, including Merkel. And yet, she found occasion to say basically the same thing only six weeks later.

So, what of Multi-kulti?

Pengovsky is out of his comfort zone here, as I have never lived in Germany, but I imagine patterns are the same all over this part of the world. The usual game-play is that other cultures are fine as long as they don’t bother the established order. Doubly so if the term “other culture” comes to imply “other religion” as is mostly the case in predominantly Christian- or even Catholic-conditioned Europe. Whenever the concentration of people with “other culture” reaches critical mass, the majority starts having “problems”. These problems are of course nothing but a veiled form of sense of superiority, chauvinism and even racism. Since European nations practically butchered themselves to death in the 20th century and somehow realised that they do indeed all bleed red, a new enemy was found. Or rather, an old one was rediscovered. Islam. With Turks comprising most of Germany’s four million immigrants (5% of total population), it really isn’t such a long walk, no?

But what Merkel describes as death of multiculturalism, is in fact its victory. Members of other cultures have (in this case in Germany) grown so strong, that they became impossible to ignore. Sure, until now these cultures existed parallel to one another and never really integrated, but – if you don’t mind my saying so – this is as much the immigrants’ fault as it is of the German state.

Merkel said that the bulk of these people came to Germany in 60s and 70s and then never left, contrary to Germans’ expectations. Duh? Seriously? You expected that? A woman from East Germany who (let’s be nice and fuzzy here) had to endure Communist propaganda and hardship in order to earn a living and was – due to her belief in a better life and freedom of man – heavily involved in democratic movement in a country with one of the most ruthless regimes of the entire Eastern Bloc is now feigning ignorance as to why immigrant workers came to Germany? C’mon!

Immigrants came in search of a better life (or at least in search of a better pay). Apparently they got it. Or at least got something close enough. And they brought their culture with them. I won’t go into all that All Different All Equal crap, but fact of the matter is that immigrants’ culture now is a part of Germany. It is a part of their cultural production, it is a part of their economy, of their sports, of their politics even.

The perils of a short-lived victory

Multiculturalism succeeded as it put Germany where it is today. A country and a society which can stand on its own two feet and throw its weight around a bit. It’s just that other cultures didn’t go sit quietly in a corner somewhere and remained respectful, but are questioning the world around them as they bloody well should. With this an until then commonly-accepted set of taboos is coming down and is making some people nervous.

But as reactionary forces do what they’re best at – react – there is a clear and present danger of a real defeat of multiculturalism. And with that of Europe as we know is. As this German debate is implicitly aimed against Islam, it may take on the form of a wider lash-out against Muslims in Germany and across Europe. But the continent (and Germany in particular) has a sad history of starting with a specific religion and then pointing their finger on a map of Europe and saying “I sink ve should go zhere.

Fearmongering the Slovenian way

What’s the connection between the economic engine of Europe and a sorry excuse for a nation of two million, you ask? Why, the youth organisation of Nova Slovenija (NSi), of course. The youngsters from this ChristDem party were proud to take part in the gathering of their German brethren in Potsdam and upon returning to home soil issued a scorching press release saying that what Merkel said for Germany goes for Slovenia as well. Only more so.

Because if Germany has problems with cultural co-existence, in Slovenia the nation and the country are at peril if immigrants will continue to refuse to integrate fully. This kind of multiculturation (not my word!) must be stopped immediately, sayeth the NSi.

Obviously, this kind of death-to-all-things-not-Slovenian writing is aimed primarily against immigrants from former Yugoslav republics. That they are mostly of Muslim faith is probably not a coincidence. Ditto for the fact that NSi is a Christian Democratic party. Fearmongering, you see. They refuse to speak Slovene. They will take our jobs. They will take our women. “They” being loosely identified as Muslims. Yesterday it was the Croats. Tomorrow it’ll be the Chinese. Or maybe just Slovenian socialists. There’s always someone you can blame for your own incompetence and inability to provide solutions for mounting problems.

Not all is lost

But there are a few rather humorous points in all of this, which show these fearmongers (at home and across the border) for what they really are: small-testicled windbags.

As a rule, defenders of all things Slovenian have a problem with Slovene grammar and syntax. NSi’s press release is no different. Words that don’t exist (multiculturation), wrong punctuation, incorrect syntax and extremely poor style all point to the fact that these people would probably bankrupt a even gold-mine let alone come to power by means of sparking mass hysteria and bigotry. At least they got the dual form right this time. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other, more capable people waiting in the wings.

Oh, and Thilo Sarrazin’s surname is probably derived from the word “Saracen“, which was a common descriptor of Muslims during the Crusades. A late Austrian psychiatrist would probably go: “I sink hez got issuez…

P.S.: Some people are probably truly offended by now, if they even managed to read the whole text. To you I apologise. I tend to exaggerate to make a point. I also do not think all Germans are either xenophobic, racist or anti-Muslim. In fact, I think most are definitely not. But those who are, are becoming more and more mainstream. So for fuck’s sake, get off your sane German asses and really reclaim the space invaded by extremist loonies. And yes, this goes for Slovenia as well.

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pengovsky

Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.

33 thoughts on “Multiculturalism: A Teutonic Shift”

  1. Yeah, this is truly an interesting piece of writing, as always, but it doth not contain only facts 🙂 Well, obviously people around the world are reaching similar conclusions from reading articles by other people…

    Let’s start with a correct conclusion: Yes, Merkel and her CSU brethren are trying to reach voters on the far right (aka scoring cheap political points). But their most dangerous enemy comes from the middle of the political spectre: it’s the Greens that are becoming more popular than ever. Like: very popular (even more than Social Democrats). And since they could very well play an important part in a government or two (like in Baden-Wü.) they are avoiding mistakes like hell and they are sliding from the left to the centre ground. It’s called Öko-Biedermeier nowadays.:-) They may replace Merkel’s CDU if they continue like that.

    Now, as to Merkel’s/German racism… Actually, this is not about Muslims being the next candidates for a Holocaust. (Most people here think along or agree with these lines. And it is the majority that matters. On the other hand, during the recession, number of people who thought Ausländers should be sent home if there’s not enough work for Germans has increased. Hasn’t it everywhere?)

    Unfortunately, those who claim many immigrants are abusing the German welfare system, are quite right. It is very easy to lead a good life in Germany without ever having seen a workplace from within or having learned a word of German. Ever meaning: for generations.
    You can skip school as soon as possible, do small or larger crime instead, collect you unemployment benefits and have a few children, if you need more money. 1 % of immigrants in Germany are said (not by politicians!) to do exactly that. Then there are numbers of those who wouldn’t learn German. And those who actively hate Germans and would show it on every occasion, like treating you like piece of shit for speaking German.
    So yes, parallel societies do exist. And it is not only that Turks can shop in Turkish shops, they can also enforce their own understanding of Law and Order if they want to. Meaning: yes, daughters can be killed, if they don’t marry their cousins. Yes, the imams will marry their daughters at 13 and they will then go to the registrar’s office at 16 (which doesn’t matter, because it is imam who weds people and not a civil office, in their opinion).
    Actually, even Turks in Turkey think their cousins in Germany are way too backward: because only Turks from very poor, backward parts of the country needed to emigrate. The Turkish President, Gul, said Turks in Germany should learn German and adapt.

    But it’s not only the abuse of the welfare system that is a problem: Since Germany has tried so hard to be a visibly friendly and tolerant country, after both world wars, it has always been a big big taboo to say bad things about immigrants in the public. And it’s not just that: representatives of the legal system, social system, educational system… they all just let them be and didn’t interfere too much (a Slovenian blogger in Berlin, Spina, told me a few weeks ago teachers in Berlin considered it logical that foreign children wouldn’t bother to be good at school so she had to go and persuade them that her daughters loved school…)
    It was the Greens who made Multikulti popular and even they admit things have been swept under the carpet for generations.

    So these modern right-wing opinions are also (but not exclusively) a backlash caused by permissive handling of certain immigrants (not all of them, obviously).

    And as to Thilo Sarrazin: he is of French Hugenot origin and his remark about Jews was simply a clumsy way of saying that nationalities (or religious groups) develop certain features that others may not have. I think he corrected himself on that and explained what he wanted to say. While many of the statements ascribed to him sound really shitty, the one about the Jews does not really say anything about his relation to Jews, because they are not his topic. But maybe I’ll say more about Sarrazin when I get to read his book (my husband’s reading it right now, he wants to find out what Thilo really said in his book and so do I).

    So, yes, right-wing opinions are on the rise here, but noone’s gonna get killed. And they do not come from a vacuum: many people simply know immigrants who are milking the state, treating their daughters and sisters like a precious piece of shit and spitting at Germans for nothing. They do exist. And most Germans like foreigners who don’t do the above. I should know.

  2. Ouch! I wrote a comment that seems to be longer than your post – no wonder it landed in moderation. And sorry for the lack of brevity 😳

  3. @alcessa- i think a lot of the problems are the fault of a policy of multiculturalism as opposed to integration. europe is rife with these sort of “separate but equal” systems that work well during high times and poorly when the economy isn’t doing very well. we had our yearly visit from our dear relatives from Bavaria just last week and they were complaining about the way that Auslanders are taking advantage of the system but WHO, honestly WHO created that system? honestly, considering that German only recently got its first ever MP of Turkish heritage, it seems clear that the immigration system was created BY the ethnic German people only really for the benefit of ethnic German people to the exclusion of others despite the fact that Germany continues to have a desperate need for foreign labour of all kinds. So foreigners can come and be of advantage to the German state without much hope of being able to one day enjoy ALL the advantages of it. That some people (a WHOPPING 1% of immigrants!) have found a way to “work” the system is really not so big a deal, considering the unfair deal German has presented to so many people. Also, it is interesting that people phrase it as “taking advantage” when it is a foreigner who is most likely in the country legally but use the much softer “receiving benefits” when it is a citizen. Where are the statistics about able-bodied citizens of German ethnicity who are on the dole? Let’s compare and contrast, shall we?

    I’m also really appalled by the way that German people are trying to “sugar-coat” the fact that they are riding the big wave of global anti-Islamism by saying they are concerned for Muslim women and children. GIVE ME A BREAK! Where was this concern when the women first came into the country and went to the Auslander bureau to make their papers? From the moment those women came into the country there could be some really active efforts to get them integrated into German society, heck, even making required classes/orientations that they must attend so at least they know their basic rights and options in the country. Same for the men. Whatever people think of the Turks that come to Germany as being “backwards” or “from the village”, that should not reflect on the development of effective policy to improve German society AS A WHOLE. Ethnicity or background should not have to mean destiny.

  4. @Pengovsky – Thanks for the post. I know you try to put a hopeful face on all of this, but nothing can stop me from sweating bullets every time I see a swastika painted on a wall in town or whenever I walk past one of those “Tukaj je Slovenija” shirt-wearing skinhead kids. Things might get better, but I’m getting more and more frightened of what would happen if they don’t. While Slovenia may never explode into full-blown war coupled with some sycophants genocidal fervor, I’d rather not be the victim of the hate crime that signals to the nation that the tide has turned for the worse…

  5. Ok, I haven’t said anything about the unemployed Germans abusing the system – but it is obvious that they exist, isn’t it? They get spanked whenever the discussion is about the unemployed milking the system – and that is very often, believe me. No distinction foreign – not foreign is made there, at least not in numerous public discussions. There are currently 3 millions (5%) of unemployed in Germany and the majority of them are considered to be non-system-abusive.
    Maybe I didn’t make it clear that “foreigners living on the dole for generations” mostly means there exist big family clans who help each other survive their way, that is, outside the system.
    There is a Berlin judge who had to deal with their offspring and who wrote a book about it all, a disturbing book telling everyone that those parallel circuits are indeed dangerous. That was before she hanged herself.

    As to the advantages and disadvantages of the system: OK, if you are a foreigner, you may have some problems getting a job or a flat, but you needn’t do so: depends on the place. And as to the employment/welfare/law/social system, your get the same treatment like everyone else, if you want to. It’s just that people like social workers may receive serious threats when trying to help children or women, it’s just that there are special safe houses for Muslim women in Germany, because they are much needed and nothing else would do, also, the state does invest quite a lot of money into enabling badly treated women false identities, to protect them from their families… You know, the kind of things that need to be done when groups isolate themselves and want to regulate things their way. No talking, no democratic decision-making, nothing. So yes, the system has been partly adapted to protect victims of quasi-Islamic and similar homophobic acts (persons). As to the beginnings of it all: yes, it was taken for granted that the first Gastarbeiters would return to their families and it was only later that they joined them instead. Maybe we shouldn’t forget that they were never lied about the nature of their residence? Maybe they stayed here because life was simply better? Anyway, one thing Germans themselves will always tell you is, that they have made mistakes back when the first Gastarbeiters arrived. It’s a truism here, But since then, both have had to learn their lessons and some did exceedingly well.

    There are foreigners in Germany who will tell you it is Scheiße not to learn German and try to get a job. Because they did and it paid out.

    I don’t know whether you realize you cannot grab a Muslim woman at the Ausländeramt and ask her 1000 questions about the treatment she gets at home and trying to help her straight away… This is Ausländerfeindlichkeit, too, taking it for granted that all Turkish women need help straight away. Actually, no one should be forced to receive help if they didn’t ask for it in any way. And they often don’t.

    And last but not least: there are always things done to improve the situation of the foreigners. There are whole institutions whose work is to provide such programs. But… A friend of mine is teaching German to foreigners in so-called “integration courses”… Lovely stories, she gets to tell.

    So yes, multikulti as a naive way of dealing with all foreigners is dead. Things may get quite real instead.

  6. Great comment, as always (I expected nothing less :))

    I would play the devil’s advocate here and argue that although unto itself the logic of what you described is sound, it actually isn’t.

    Welfare system abuse is rampant, yes. But is that really connected to immigrant status? How many ethnic Germans, or (let’s put it in wider perspective) non-Turks do exactly the same? And, forgive me for being cynical, but 1% out of four million is – what – 40 000 people? In one of the world’s largest economies? I’d call that German efficiency and not “welfare kleptocracy” (a term I read somewhere) Every system has a bit of useless residue 🙂 I hate to add insult to injury but how many Ossies do exactly the same? Or how many students and their families? You see my point? I firmly believe that welfare state abuse bears little or no relation to ethnic origin or immigrant status, but mostly has to do with social status of an individual or a group of individuals.

    Language is a tricky issue, I’ll grant you that. But going with “learn the lingo or else…” is just about the worst possible move, especially in what is apparently an very hot atmosphere. And do not put too much emphasis on what Turkish president says. The last thing he wants to do now is to alienate Germany. His statement about how Turks in Germany should learn accent-free German was aimed at Germans and not at Turks.

    As for schooling: I hate to pass judgement without data to support it, but I’d venture a guess and say that this too is connected not so much to the fact that they’re immigrants but to their social status.

    I’ll draw an unflattering parallel here. Roma people in Slovenia. I know that you’re familiar with situation in Prekmurje where integration between Roma and Slovenes is working, but you’ll also remember the Ambrus situation (Dolenjska region). Roma there were “left alone” and when push came to a shove, same wording was used: they milk the welfare state. They don’t bother with school. They’re criminals. And so on.

    Point being that you’ve got the same kind of excesses all over the spectrum, but somehow it is always fringe groups which get hit first, because they’re the “others”.

    Having said that, I do realize that something need to be done and that there is a need for tighter integration. But it the German state and Germans themselves who will have to be pro-active here. Just establishing a system and expecting immigrants to know their way around it doesn’t work.

    There. That’s my devil’s advocate bit 🙂

    P.S.: The only reason your comment was held up in moderation was the other link. Akismet automatically holds comment for moderation if it conatins more than one link

  7. Oh, and, two more things: the most important reason Germans will never be able to influence those strict, quasi-Islamic patriarchs to change a bit and start thinking of their wives and daughters as real people, is a simple one: you need quite some machismo to impress most of them. That’s why they don’t vote the Green party or the Left party, as a rule.:-) (I say quasi-Islamic because I have learned so far that this is only a bad version of it and the Quran never intended men to lord it over their women in this terrible way)

    Since Germany still relies on foreign workforce, they are going to acknowledge their (non-EU) education in the future. That way, doctors from India needn’t work as taxi drivers. This is something, isn’t it?

  8. @Camille: Not trying to put on a hopeful face at all. If anything, I tend to press the panic button sooner rather than later. But NSi youth tend to come across as pathetic wannabes who try too hard. You know – nice people to whom you’d trust to water your flowers and feed your cat, but never let them dabble in politics. However, as I said – I’m worried about who or what is waiting in the wings. Then, we might have a real problem on our hands.

  9. @alcessa – Just to clarify here, I didn’t mean to intimate that there needs to be some active intervention into the lives of every Turkish woman and child to find out whether they are living under some domestic abuse regime, absolutely not. Really, ABSOLUTELY NOT. I believe that 99.9% of Turkish or other or Muslim or just plain foreign men are not abusing their family members (nor are their family abusing them –hey it happens!). What I am intimating is something much more simple: that Germany give them the REAL DEAL about what it means to be a part of German society and some resources for integration and concrete ideas of where they might fit in, not as a Turkish woman or African man or whoever/whatever but perhaps more in terms of job training and things like that. An article I read in Reuters said that the country is in need of 400,000 more highly skilled workers, howsabout training some of the people who are coming in to the country now or their kids or whatever? Get some of the big companies to bring those willing people on board and train them up. People like to be a part of things, but in a new place it takes an extra effort especially if you have no touchstone/commonality with the people there. It’s like being the new kid at school….on a whole different planet.

    My husband’s family like to point at me as a foreigner who learned the language quickly while “those Bosnians refuse to learn” but I am MARRIED to a Slovenian. If I was married to a fellow American and living here, I don’t know that I’d feel the urgency or desire to learn and I certainly wouldn’t have learned as quickly. The point I am trying to make is that Germany’s system of multiculturalism is just a fancy word for apartheid, and as we saw in South Africa, it’s just not a winning system. If Germany wants people to come and integrate then they need to create a system where that can happen. If they want people to just be fly-by-night workers like they have in Singapore, then again they are going to have to put a system in place to make THAT happen and realize that they are going to have to relax a LOT of restrictions. German people need to decide WHAT they want and then put together a forward-looking policy on what they are willing to do to get there, rather than blowing smoke at youth rallies.

  10. Yeah, I know about the links and WordPress…

    I am going to skip rational comments at this point and tell you something that disturbs me emotionally. I really get to suffer when I read about the treatment of women in traditional quasi-Islamic families (not just Turks, but also Arabs of all kind). Let’s skip the part about Germans doing bad things, shall we, just for the discussion’s sake? The reason I really suffer is I can relate and I feel a bit like personally attacked (yeah, bad experience from the wild Slovenian East). But it turns out many other people hate such stories, too. I know normal Germans who treat me like a normal human being (they are good at that) and when they get to talk about their experience with Turkish or other quasi.Islamic families, it gets obvious that they suffer, too. You know, no one has ever said it is truly depressing having to deal with these stories and that’s why such people get such a bad treatment, but personally, I believe it is true.

    So yes, if you want to point a finger at me for being against quasi-Islam, yes, I am. And no, I don’t believe any beautiful talk will change things. I really don’t.

    Welfare system abuse: as I said, none of it is acceptable right now. That is the state of the things, really.
    And yes, Ossis are mostly good at it (I am not allowed to say more about them because I have developed a hearty dislike for a certain kind of typical Ossis and I don’t want to be called racist because of that, since it is only bad experience)

    Language: you know, if you don’t speak the language, you can avoid quite a few things – not every agency can afford pay an interpreter, they may just send you home and pretend you aren’t beating your wife instead. Which was what you hoped for.

    Unfortunately, I have my own special experience with being “a Roma”, too… Yes, I have been called a Zigeuner in Germany once. By a histeric German blonde whom I disliked. But I have been called ciganica in Slovenia so many times I can’t even count them. Even while trying to get a job. So, as a member of Slovenian non-Roma majority, I cannot personally support the view that people are treated badly only during bad times…

    Which makes things relative, for me. And since we are talking politics, too: I consider myself rather a leftist person. I still don’t believe in multikulti as is, I don’t think one should just leave the welfare system abusers do their thing and I am all for a working knowledge of the language you live in. I guess I have simply seen too much to believe in nice concepts…

  11. @Camille: you are right about the high-skilled workers and also about the fact that something needs to be done. Actually, right now the government says the same and is doing something (acknowledging their foreign education and their real professions) – what I mean is: it is not as if people pretended these topics didn’t exist! The opposite is true: if you skip more populist writing, you’ll get many good in-depth-analyses (typically German and much better than most of Slovenian writing) not trying to protect Germans or foreigners but just stating facts as much as it is possible.
    Maybe it is because I personally trust these authors more that I don’t think the majority of people is stupid and affect-driven… Which is also why I can smile at Merkel and think “election time in Baden-Württemberg” and go on thinking that everything is as it always was, except that we are talking about it now, because other nations do, too, and because Mr. Sarracin laid down the basis for hated discussions…

  12. Well, thanks for giving us the “bird’s eye view” on the matter. I know what I get on the BBC would be a very filtered version of what is REALLY going on. That said, I am still not happy about the level of dialogue and I hope to hear MANY more immigrant voices in there soon!

  13. @alcessa- As an immigrant minority in Slovenia and a domestic minority in America, I don’t think the majority ethnic group of people need to (or even have the RIGHT to) be meddling in the lives of foreigners — be they Muslim or not. Actions like that smack of “racist paternal state”. Germany needs to focus on laws that protect ALL women (because I am sure there are statistically a LOT MORE ethnic German women being abused than Islamic foreign women) and then leave it to the individual to come seek help or not. Your OPINION of whether the woman is being abused should not come into it. The woman, man, or child should be empowered and protected by the state, but not under some spotlight of suspicion — “guilty until proven innocent”.

    I hear a lot of westerners crying about women wearing hijab being abused but I have known a lot of tough, strong, and independent women who wore hijab (for some time I even considered to wear it myself, though I am not Muslim). So this cannot be put automatically on the list of “abuse” unless the woman says so. I know many westerners say, “Well the woman is so brainwashed, she cannot speak for herself.” But I think we need to look at ourselves and our own western illusions rather than turning our sights on the Eastern Other because we are afraid to deal with ourselves and the BIGGER overarching problems in society like poverty and poor living conditions and other such things.

    I really think that ethnic German people looking at these people through that scope of stereotype and suspicion is part of what keeps this apartheid system in place. The most any state should do for people (and yes, please again include the men here too, because men can suffer too!) is to make sure EVERYONE is familiar with the law of the land and know their rights and who they can turn to, if (and this is a big “IF”) they need help.

  14. I don’t think the majority ethnic group of people need to (or even have the RIGHT to) be meddling in the lives of foreigners Exactly my opinion. Just like I said somewhere above. There are foreigners who can and manage to live their own lives… But I did some English-language reading, too, and now I know treating Muslim women like poor, beaten human beings automatically is not the German way. It is also the British way, American way etc. The Slovenian blogger living in Egypt, Bata, once linked to a story of a Muslima who had big problems at a swimming pool in England because she was wearing a 3-piece bathing suit allowing for covering up and swimming at the same time.
    And while we agree that a part of it is a kind of “Orientalism”, we cannot ignore the fact that Muslimas in danger do need a special kind of protection: like I said above, special safe houses, false identities and much, much more. It simply is necessary for their survival to treat them differently, even though they are just women, like their German counterparts.

    to make sure EVERYONE is familiar with the law of the land and know their rights and who they can turn to

    As I said above, there are whole family clans that lead their own kind of life. On the other side of the law. They educate each other this way. Still, if a person decides to seek help within the existing law, he or she may have a thorny way to go. This is one of the reasons Germans complain some foreigners won’t acknowledge the power of Constitution and Law…

  15. Yesterday, as I read this post, I thought about commenting, but didn’t. Today, I see that I made the right decision, as most, if not all, of my thoughts have been eloquently and intelligently expressed by the three of you. Who said being lazy doesn’t pay off? :mrgreen:

  16. Dr. ARF: so this is why I am sleepy today and you aren’t, is it? … 🙂 I try to avoid such verbose avalanches (because I earn every cent of my money by typing and I don’t want to do it in my free time :-)), but I had a break yesterday evening and Mr. Pengovsky’s blog paid for it. 🙂

    Also, I am somehow sure Germany is one of those countries most people cannot really love (at least not wholeheartedly). So while defending some of its aspects, because I felt it was my duty to do so (since I do follow these topics and know people) I was also aware of the fact I am spending my free time convincing people it is still an OK-country and thinking at the same time, yes, OK it may be, but it is not a much-loved country generally so there’s no need for such fervent defending 🙂

  17. @alcessa – I DO have a place in my heart for Germany (no such place exists for France these days). That is why I am so disappointed by Merkel’s careless words. I can only hope there will be a dialogue shift towards the intelligent and rational after the ugliness of election time!

  18. Maybe there won’t be too much rational talk for some time to come, on this general level where everyone is discussing German, all around the world.
    Merkel really needs to fight (though she is doing it in a suboptimal way) because she might have to step down soon. The same goes for that bad ass Seehofer. And some other people, too. Plus, Sarrazin really forced them to “speak their minds” (i.e. to be more aggressive and not let him dominate the debate)
    But as it seems, the German president has found some clever and nice things to say and there are the stronger-by-the-day Greens and they are very much pro-Multikulti. So we may get both worlds.

    What I meant by noone ♥ Germany, was really just this general feeling I tend to have, regardless of my partners in a discussion. It goes back to my student times in Ljubljana, when I was teaching German and so many people hated it 🙂 So, if you do like Germany, this is good for you 🙂 (I wouldn’t try to tell you what I think you feel :-))

  19. Integration of immigrants is a Europe-wide problem and not just in Germany. It’s just that the Nazi past makes for some more scrutiny when it comes to Germany. In fact, Netherlands and Sweden have exactly the same kind of problems.

    The thing is, Europe is just no ready for immigrants. There is too much history behind and too many language problems. Unfortunately, the only countries where immigrants are truly welcome are those where the native population had been brutally slaughtered (USA, Australia, New Zealand).

  20. Or to put it more correctly crni, the only countries where immigrants are truly welcome are those where almost EVERYONE is an immigrant…and please allow me to add Canada to your list. 😉

  21. Hehe you can say that is more correct, but for everyone to be an immigrant, the Lebensraum has to be emptied of the natives first. There is always the dark side to everything…

    And sorry for forgetting Canada. 🙂

  22. Yeah… expressing doubts and opposition towards free movement of peoples has become quite wide-spread even in democratic countries recently and is also considered quite normal in some countries (that’s what I read about Denmark).

    Germans talk about their Ausländerproblem all of the time, incessantly, always and will only get a bit louder when forced to (elections or T. Sarracin or both). But there are always both sides discussing: those who say it is stupid to be against foreigners and those who say one should be careful about inviting everyone in and foreigners are bad (let’s forget extreme left and right positions, since they are just that, extremes – while extremely right parties are not forbidden here, they also have to deal with a lot of opposition from normal people, i.e. non-party members, some of it devilishly creative :-)) If they manage to mention relevant points in these discussions, both sides (or all of them, since things are discussed in different veins) will be right as to certain important aspects: it is not possible to even start imagining modern Germany without its aliens, on the other hand, certain social welfare/labour market regulations/PC-axioms make it possible for people to get in, stay and receive money without ever planning to do anything. (Oh, and: one can send one’s children to certain schools where German children get called very bad names most of the time for being German.)
    But Germany without foreigners really is inconceivable and everyone knows that.

    I’d be a bit more worried about countries like Sweden (I love Sweden): since they can always fall back on their neutrality, they needn’t deal with Swedish nazism officially or privately, well, not too much. They are a Good People and it’s official. So it is all the more worrying that a sniper in Malmö has been shooting down dark-skin-persons and obvious foreigners for a year. I think, 15 of them so far. One dead. And who knows what other stories.

  23. I tune in simply to have a look at some nice tits and what do I find? Probably the best piece of political journalism I’ve read this year. Who says porn is bad for you?

    My only (wider) disappointment is that you don’t get it published in The Guardian,Die Welt or Argemeen Dagblad, or probably any Slovenian mainstream press either.

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