God. I am so sick of this smoke screen discussion.
So allow me to add some local context to that quotes. The majority of this post is not intended to go into a detail about integration and “Multikulti” but rather to highlight the social atmosphere reigning over here right now. So sorry in advance for some longwinded rambling. But here we go.
Let´s start with Thilo Sarrazin, who kicked of this “debate”. Sarrazin used to be senator for finances in the federal state of Berlin around the year 2000. In this position he already stirred debate and emotions with agitating interviews where he made weird calculations on how social security benefactors (ALG 2 or better known as Hartz 4) could eat for substantively less money than they are legally entitled to and that they should wear more pullovers instead of using the heating since this was deemed too expensive. While this is all debatable in the details, I mention this to shed a bit of light on his mindset. After he resigned in 2009 he joined the executive board of the Deutsche Bank while continuing to argue his point, but now adding Islam into the mix, claiming that Islamic citizens are most criminal, most welfare benefitting and generally less educated than your average citizen.
In this capacity he wrote a book which is called “Germany abolishes itself”, ultimately the “casus belli” of this debate. Important to note in this respect is the fact, that excerpts from this book was pre-published by “Spiegel” and “Bild”, two of Germanys most powerful and influential print media outlets, where the core thesis was published in rather poignant fashion. At this point in time, the book not being published yet, this was reduced to catchy buzz words basically. In short he claimed that Persons that are believers of Islam are more welfare “addicted” that your average German. That these persons are genetically predisposed to have lower average intelligence which will be inherited by the next Generation, which will turn out even less intelligence (He even claimed that there is a “Jew Gene” as there is a “Basque Gene” to highlight this point). That these persons are having way more children than German persons and therefore Germany will be overwhelmed by less intelligent, more welfare dependent and criminal Islamic persons in the forseeable future and Germans will be a minority in their own country. He basically came to this conclusions by using statistics, claiming that this was an objective approach which should be above the criticism of racism or such. Again, these where the buzz words that dominated public discourse for a week before the book and the details of his arguments where even published.
However, soon after the publication, most of the book was torn apart by sociologists, scientists and even statistical experts, showing clearly that the book was methodical unsound, not on par with modern science and very manipulative by selective use of statistics and methods.
But the demon was out of the bottle already. The overwhelming positive response by the public was fired up by the media as well. Suddenly this issue was heightened to the point where Sarrazin was sold as an upright citizen telling “forbidden truths” that where surpressed by the “opinion cartel of the “Gutmenschen” (which very roughly translates into a slanderous do-goody-goody-naivetists”). And that’s where the focus completely changed. This debate was not about some uncomfortable truths this country has to face, but patriots being heroes for standing up for the truth and defending “freedom of speech” against the dictatorship of PC. The media campaign even had headlines that said stuff like “What one has to be allowed to say!: deport criminal foreigners! I am proud to be a German! Islam is Terror!”. Which obviously is low level as it gets and completely misses the point of freedom of speech. But I disgress. In short this debate led to the point where it led to the acceptance of one dimensional, easy answers that are tending to be rather very right for this political culture into the mainstream of politics. And since then this is one of the main issues in public discourse that overshadowed many more pressing and controversial debates that needed to be held.
And I am personally convinced that this was an concentrated and orchestrated effort to push the CDU (Angela Merkels party) more to the right again and lead the public discourse away from the complex economical and social problems we are facing (More on that later), into scapegoat territory, which ultimately is the perfect smokescreen tactic.
Which leads me to the second part of the original post, Merkels reaction. First, she also said in the very same speech that Islam is indeed a part of Germany and everyone disputing this claim is lying to himself. The whole speech is an interesting animal since it does have the nice soundbites (“Multikulti is dead”), some very layered and complex remarks about the reality of the country, and outright rejection of centerpieces of Sarrazins thesis. As the head of the party she seems to be trying to balance to appeal to the supporters of Sarrazin while not letting the party drift to the right at the same time. The art of politics.
This is where it is getting (even more) depressing as a German citizen. As most other countries we had to bail out many banks and socialize the losses of the private banking sector leading to huge deficits. Obviously, the same debate as everywhere erupted about where to save money to get rid of the deficit. And at this point Merkels coalition with the FDP (the smaller neo-liberal party) came into power. And what a corrupt and clientle driven government it has been in the last year. We have seen such a blatant distribution of wealth from the bottom to the top that has never been done in such a blatant and insulting way. The “Sparpaket” (the legislation that should help to balance the budget) slashed welfare, pensions, public health care – you name it – while giving tax breaks to hotels (important clients of FDP), sabotaging renewable energies by extending the running time of atomic power plants for decades (thereby giving the 4 oligarch companies running the energy sector literally billions on the expense of the budget itself and renewable energies in general), destroying the work laws and implementing even more low paid jobs for hire and fire jobs without social safety net, pushing through gigantic building projects against the will of the population and so on and so forth. Even though our constitutional court judged that we have to reform social welfare to better look out for minors, this government – in blatant violation and despise of this ruling – used statistics and unsound methods to effectively implements cuts here as well.
So we have had a disastrous government with laughable low polling numbers, demonstrations on the rise that used the biggest economical crisis to further the privatization of public institutions and belongings, serving the big players with horrible legislative acts (most of which will definitely not pass the constitutional court), firing up the dependence on exports in macroeconomic terms – thereby counteracting any European economic approach while ignoring the buying capacity of the citizens for the internal market – and destroying the very foundation of the German model of the social state.
This society is (willfully in my eyes) getting torn apart to further what would be at best described neoliberal policies that affect most citizens in a very negative way.
And here the smokescreen comes into play again. Given the poisoned climate that has been created by Sarrazin and the media, you have a perfect scapegoat to punch in “the migrants”. It is scary to see how easy and effective it has been to pitch scared people from the middle of society that are facing hard times and broken careers, people depending already on welfare against a perceived threat of “Islamic criminals coming to conquer us by birthing many stupid kids while misusing our social system”. Suddendly you have a wolfish atmosphere where the lower parts of society are pitched against each other, played on the fear trumpet all the while many of these people are the ones that have to lose the most under this government. And it is interesting to see that while we are living in the EU – which is the definition of a successful multicultural project – suddenly this word has been propagandized and screwed into some form of naïve meaning – but ultimately only a thinly veiled code word for “The Islamic hordes”.
And the real danger in long term that I see is the scary reduction of human beings into categories of “economical useful” and “economical waste”. From here on it is only a short way to “unwertes Leben”. This reduction of a society and its citizens to economic entities does scare the shit out of me.
We ought to be better than this.
So much to the state of the union.