The Man Who Divided Germany: Why Sarrazin's Integration Demagoguery Has Many Followers

Part 2: Could Sarrazin Be Right?

Photo Gallery: Sarrazin's Book Divides Germany Photos
AFP

"It isn't exactly a secret." Karina, a German of Russian descent, says she lives in Allermöhe, a residential neighborhood with a large immigrant community in Hamburg. Many of her neighbors, she adds, only came to Germany because they believed that "money would be handed to them on a silver platter."

Support for Sarrazin is even more widespread on the Internet. Only a week after it was published, there were already more than 200 customer comments on his controversial book on Amazon's German site, most of them awarding the author the highest possible rating of five stars for his work.

In one comment, Michael Dienstbier from Bochum in western Germany writes: "We truly want to be tolerant, from the bottom of our hearts, and we want everyone to be able to express his culture. But you also get the sense that there could be a high price to pay for this tolerance, that foreign cultures are not always interested in living together peacefully, and that, sooner or later, you sometimes have to have the courage to be intolerant to preserve your own cultural identity. For many people, this it the brutal truth that court jester Sarrazin is screaming into their faces."

On Sunday evening, that court jester was having dinner with a friend at a Chinese restaurant in Berlin's Wilmersdorf neighborhood. About once every five minutes, one of the other guests approached Sarrazin to congratulate him.

Sarrazin was surprised, and sometimes even a little worried, by the scope of the approval and outrage over his theories. He had expected it to cause a stir, but he felt a little queasy when Chancellor Angela Merkel felt compelled to sharply criticize the book even before it was published. Although being an outsider had never troubled Sarrazin, he is too bourgeois to not care about being ostracized.

Sarrazin's Arrogance

He began his career as a civil servant, then served as Berlin's finance senator and, finally, as a member of the executive board of the Bundesbank. He has long been known for pushing boundaries. He has derided government officials for having poor physical hygiene and has characterized the unemployed as lazy. In response to repeated claims that a person couldn't live on the €347 ($440) German welfare recipients receive, he designed a diet intended to prove that the opposite was the case.

Last October, the cultural magazine Lettre International asked Sarrazin whether he was interested in a lengthy discussion about his native Berlin. When the interview was published, it included controversial statements like: "The Turks are conquering Germany the way the Kosovars conquered Kosovo: with a higher birth rate." He also said that "a large number of Arabs and Turks in (Berlin) ... have no productive function other than in the fruit and vegetable trade."

The interview set off a storm of outrage. His name was mentioned in the same breath as Göring, Goebbels and Hitler, and a number of Social Democrats called for his ejection from the party. But the letters and emails he received revealed to Sarrazin that he had addressed a subject that has many people worried. He decided to continue pursuing the issue.

Those in Germany who feel misunderstood, and who are now taking a stand against the elites, have selected as their hero a man who thinks and feels in more elitist ways that most people in the political world, and who is quick to reveal the superiority he feels over less intelligent people. Many fail to recognize his arrogance, which is softened by his quirky behavior as an outsider.

Treating Admirers with Contempt

What most people see as a cranky pose -- the outstretched chin and the arms crossed across his chest -- does in fact reveal the worldview of someone who peers down from high above at the turmoil and teeming crowds at the base of his mountain.

Sarrazin's way of thinking is based on resentment. It isn't directed against those who own less or come from less privileged families. Money and parentage are irrelevant to Sarrazin, and in that sense he is a democrat through and through. The most important standard of valuation for Sarrazin, an avid reader who studied Latin, Hebrew and Greek in high school, is the desire for education. But what his fans fail to realize is that Sarrazin himself would probably treat many of his admirers with contempt.

It is a large group, but it doesn't include all Germans by far. In an public opinion poll conducted for German public broadcaster ARD last week, the majority of respondents said that they were in favor of Sarrazin leaving the executive board of the Bundesbank. Still, the view that there are serious problems with immigrants is also widespread -- even though Mesut Özil was one of the German national team's stars in the last World Cup and Sibel Kekilli is a television star. Instead of such celebrities with Turkish backgrounds, many Germans are apparently more likely to think first of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who, in 2008, told Turks living in Germany: "No one can expect you to subject yourselves to assimilation, because assimilation is a crime against humanity."

Assimilation certainly hasn't taken hold in Neukölln, the Berlin district Sarrazin mentions most often in connection with his theories. He spoke with Heinz Buschkowsky, the district mayor and a fellow Social Democrat. The northern section of Neukölln is home to about 81,000 people with an immigration background. They come from about 160 countries and their children make up 90 percent of elementary school students. Depending on the block, two-thirds to three-quarters of residents live on welfare benefits.

Everyday Problems

Buschkowsky is angry. "He didn't include in his book many of the things that I had explained to him in detail," like the differences among Muslims, for example. "Among the Alawites, gender equality, the condemnation of violence and education are important principles of life," he says, noting that Sarrazin "proved to be resistant to advice."

On the other hand, says Buschkowsky, Sarrazin accurately describes some of the everyday problems. In some cities there are parallel societies, although many refuse to believe that they exist. "It's the usual refusal to acknowledge reality, the whitewashing, that I even find among integration officials. The biggest enemy of a reasonable integration policy is ignorance."

Kazim Erdogan, a psychologist, is among those who address the desolate conditions in Berlin's troubled Neukölln neighborhood every day: violent fathers, drug-addicted sons, children who can barely read at the age of 10. "We've all known for a long time that the problems are massive," he says. "And now, when I read that Sarrazin has triggered a long overdue debate, I feel mocked."

Erdogan has been trying to bring about change in Neukölln for years. "It's an arduous path, but there are a growing number of successes" -- a child who makes it into high school or an adolescent who finds a job. "You can't simply behave as if none of this existed."

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1. Sarrazin's genetic claims have truth
eric99 09/06/2010
This was an interesting article and it's about time that the debate on unassimilable immigrants is taking place. Although I haven't read Sarrazin's book, and am only commenting on the article, I generally agree with what he says and found the article seemingly objective. However, the comments by Diethard Tautz appeared absurd to me. He either has no knowledge of genetics or else is using his knowledge in the name of an ideology. Anyone with the slightest interest in genetics would know that each race and cultural group can be generally identified to a large extent by their genetic haplogroup. One can easily search the web and look up sites such as the National Geographics Genographic Project, DNATribes, FamilyTreeDNA, and others and order a kit and test one's own haplogroup. Groups such as Jews (who want to know if they are Levites, Israelite, Ashkenazi, Sephardim, Mizrahim, Cohens, etc) and Mongolians (who want to see if they are related to Genghiz Khan) are great users of these types of services. And yes, Basques have their own genetic identity. Apparently the author of this article had no knowledge of this or else would have either challenged Tautz's claims during the interview, or else provided explanations to the readers about the errors of his claims.
2.
josepht 09/10/2010
I concur with those who scrutinize his statistical claims. Germans have always been a hard working, studious bunch. It’s part of their culture. It will take more than a generation or two to assimilate foreigners. The family learning environment is key. If you can pluck a child out of a poor learning environment and give them something better…that works. I’ve seen it firsthand time and again. The problem is the parents of the child immigrants. They are likely more lazy and uneducated...because that's how they were raised in their home countries. That mind set is transferred to the kids. The only fix is to ramp up education for migrant adults. They should be taught to learn both German & English, and to learn a skilled trade or earn a professional degree. Do Germans care? Do the migrants care? In the end it’s up to them. Any notion of genetic inferiority is a cop out. People will learn…if they’re provided an environment to do so. People will work…if they see the fruits of their labor. A major problem with the German mind set is intolerance and lack of patience. This in and of itself is a behavior disorder that can be destructible to not only to the family structure, but also to immigrants who live in Germany. Germans need to realize they are not the only smart people in the world. For example, it is widely known they excel in mechanical engineering. On the other hand, Germany lags significantly in the field of electrical engineering. In today's world one without the other is not acceptable. The same could be said about social interaction with foreigners. For example, America is a melting pot. Every flavor of world citizen calls that country home. The benefits of such an environment cannot be denied. Granted there are intermittent problems, but they are openly discussed and worked out in the vast majority of cases. This brings me to my next point: Many Germans lack this sense of openness and simply do not assimilate well with others who are not like them. This is a cultural problem not an intellectual problem. As an employee in an American software company, we strongly rely on our development teams from around the world. Simply put, we seek out the brightest minds. We know first hand that intelligence and learning determined by how an individual is raised and educated, not simply by the shade of their skin. For Germany to progress it must overcome the backward notion of isolating those who are different. Rather, they should embrace the best that humanity has to offer and work on continuously improving their fellow citizens. Anything less is lazy policy at the national level.
3. Another disconnect
verbatim128 09/11/2010
---Quote (Originally by sysop)--- Thilo Sarrazin's controversial new book on Muslims in Germany has not only generated opprobrium from the political elite, it has also generated a mass following from the population at large. The tome may be full of inaccuracies, but it has struck a nerve. By SPIEGEL Staff http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,715876,00.html ---End Quote--- The Man Who Divided Germany? Thilo Sarrazin has, at worst, pointed at the existing division. He is blamed for a bit too much, something he dared reveal, a critical view from many in the population at large of what the political class decided to ignore: Multiculturalism taken too far and left unattended by the political class and pundits alike. Sarrazin's so called "integration demagoguery" may have just found the so called "followers", never noticed or dismissed outright before. He seems to be just as surprised as those who lament (envy?) that he, Sarrazin, is not alone in the great schism against political correctness. The Spiegel Staff who wrote this piece failed to explain the most important question of their own by-line, the WHY. Why, all of a sudden so many followers? Perhaps some "gene" shared by so many people who are tired of being taken for fools? Sorry, I could not resist that cheap shot. And that brings me to the sad lament of my own. The writers went into disputing, perhaps some not-so-scientific aspects of Sarrazin's claims, with bogus arguments--as eric99 pointed out aptly before me. But for good measure, and this disappoints me from Spiegel, they failed to provide the context of their quotes from Sarrazin's statements, namely the interview in which he mentioned the genes, indeed failing to provide the full quote which mentioned the Basques not only the Jews as said to have unique genes. And there are more examples of the same out of context use of Sarrazins words. I will not venture to speculate whether this was done on purpose or out of lack of intellectual fairness and curiosity. Just another disconnect. But without being dramatic about it, ignore the so-called followers at your peril: they will be harder and harder to dismiss than poor Thilo Sarrazin.
4.
BTraven 09/15/2010
---Quote (Originally by eric99)--- This was an interesting article and it's about time that the debate on unassimilable immigrants is taking place. Although I haven't read Sarrazin's book, and am only commenting on the article, I generally agree with what he says and found the article seemingly objective. However, the comments by Diethard Tautz appeared absurd to me. He either has no knowledge of genetics or else is using his knowledge in the name of an ideology. Anyone with the slightest interest in genetics would know that each race and cultural group can be generally identified to a large extent by their genetic haplogroup. One can easily search the web and look up sites such as the National Geographics Genographic Project, DNATribes, FamilyTreeDNA, and others and order a kit and test one's own haplogroup. Groups such as Jews (who want to know if they are Levites, Israelite, Ashkenazi, Sephardim, Mizrahim, Cohens, etc) and Mongolians (who want to see if they are related to Genghiz Khan) are great users of these types of services. And yes, Basques have their own genetic identity. Apparently the author of this article had no knowledge of this or else would have either challenged Tautz's claims during the interview, or else provided explanations to the readers about the errors of his claims. ---End Quote--- Perhaps you are right with your statement that ethnics can be distinguished by genetic material because every group has a special feature which makes it possible to indicate where someone belongs to. The problem is Sarrazin concludes from it that ethnics have different IQ. According to an organisation which represents all scientists who work in that field it is a wrong conclusion. http://idw-online.de/pages/en/news384817
5. Lets examine basic assumptions.
distantdrummer 10/06/2010
In Canada we have "multiculturalism", in Germany "integration". Why are these things simply taken for granted? Are they somehow inevitable? Is there some law of nature that states that every country must absorb the surplus population of other countries? Political refugees is one thing but allowing a flood of immigrants from war-torn countries into the society your forefathers spent their lives building up seems illogical. Why don't they fix the problems in their own country instead of just jumping ship? Is it safe to assume that as soon as the host country begins to resemble their native country too much, they will move on?
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Graphic: Muslims in Germany Zoom
DER SPIEGEL

Graphic: Muslims in Germany


A Brief History of Integration in Germany
1949 -- The Constitution
The German constitution comes into force. Cognizant of Germany's Nazi past, the "Basic Law" provides for far-reaching asylum rights that include constitutionally guaranteed individual rights to sue for asylum.
1960 -- Recruiting Abroad
Some 280,000 workers from abroad are already employed in Germany. But more are needed. Recruitment agreements are signed in 1960 with both Greece and Spain.
1961 -- The Berlin Wall
The construction of the Berlin Wall puts an immediate stop to the flood of people flowing into West Germany from East Germany, meaning that new sources of labor must be found. Germany signs a recruitment agreement with Turkey.
1964 -- One Million Guest Workers
Armando Rodrigues from Portugal becomes the 1 millionth guest worker in Germany. He is given a moped as a welcoming gift.
1966 -- East German Recruitment
East Germany too needs to recruit workers from abroad to help with reconstruction. Between 1966 and 1989, some 500,000 people are brought in, mostly from Vietnam, Poland, Mozambique and other countries.
1971 -- Residency Made Easy
The West German government eases rules for residency permit applications. The change makes it easier for immigrants to stay in the country and leads to many of them bringing their families to Germany.
1973 -- The Oil Crisis
Due to the oil crisis and the concurrent economic slowdown, Germany ceases recruiting new guest workers from abroad. The German labor market is saturated with 2.6 million guest workers.
1983 -- Going Home?
The government of Chancellor Helmut Kohl passes a law that provides financial assistance to those guest workers who want to return to their home countries. But the law does not result in the wave of returns the government had hoped for.
1990 -- Fall of the Iron Curtain
With the fall of the Berlin Wall and the disintegration of communism in Eastern Germany, tens of thousands of ethnic Germans from the former Soviet bloc stream into newly reunified Germany and dominate immigration for a time.
1993 -- Xenophobic Attacks
Five people with Turkish backgrounds die in Solingen, Germany following an arson attack on the house they were living in. It was one of several xenophobic attacks in the early 1990s, including ones in Hoyerswerda, Rostock-Lichtenhagen and Mölln.
1999 -- Petition against Dual Citizenship
During the runup to a state election in Hesse, conservative politician Roland Koch -- who would go on to win the vote and become state governor -- caused controversy with a petition campaign against allowing immigrants in Germany to hold dual citizenship. The campaign was criticized for being xenophobic.
2000 -- Launch of Green Card Program
Then-Chancellor Gerhard Schröder announced a "green card" program, which was aimed at recruiting 20,000 IT specialists from outside the European Union. The move sparked a new debate on immigration.
2001 -- 9/11 Attacks
After the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the issue of security came to dominate the immigration debate. Immigrants were increasingly presented as being a risk rather than an opportunity for Germany.
2005 -- New Immigration Law
The so-called Immigration Law came into effect. It laid down new rules for immigration and included measures to promote integration within German society, such as the right to attend an "integration course."
2006 -- First Islamic Conference
Then-Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble held the first Islamic Conference. It led to the founding of a new umbrella group representing Muslims, the Coordination Council of Muslims in Germany. Previously, Muslims living in Germany had not had a unified lobby group to represent their interests.
2006 -- Citizenship Tests
The states of Baden-Württemberg and Hesse introduced so-called "citizenship tests." Foreigners living in those states who wanted to become German citizens were obliged to correctly answer a series of questions about Germany.
2010 -- Diverse World Cup Team
Eleven of 23 players on Germany's national football team at the World Cup in South Africa came from immigrant families, including Mesut Özil, Marko Marin and Miroslav Klose. The diverse team was hailed as a symbol of multiculturalism in German society.
Thilo Sarrazin's Urge to Provoke

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