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

Part 4: The Genetic Argument

Photo Gallery: Sarrazin's Book Divides Germany Photos
AFP

What Sarrazin fails to mention is that these numbers only apply to the first generation of Turkish immigrants. According to the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), 8.9 percent of second-generation men with Turkish backgrounds marry German women, a percentage that increases in future generations.

To stir up anxiety over Muslim immigrants, Sarrazin also discusses congenital diseases in his book. On page 316, he writes: "Entire clans have a long tradition of inbreeding and a correspondingly high rate of disability. It is known that the percentage of congenital disabilities among Turkish and Kurdish immigrants is well above average. But the subject is usually hushed up. Perish the thought that genetic factors could be partially responsible for the failure of parts of the Turkish populations in the German school system."

This supposedly hushed-up phenomenon is common knowledge in the field of human genetics, and is discussed, for example, in a 2008 report by the Robert Koch Institute, "Migration and Health." According to the report, genetic diseases are "seen with greater frequency among children of Turkish descent, but also among children from the Middle and Near East, and from North Africa (Morocco)."

The probability of serious hereditary diseases among the children of marriages within extended families increases to 8 percent when they are the product of unions between cousins. The risk is 4 percent in marriages between unrelated partners. However, the absolute prevalence of ailments is low, as evidenced by the example of phenylketonuria, a disease in which a specific amino acid is not properly metabolized. In Turkey, one in 2,500 people is born with the disease, whereas the ratio among ethnic Germans is 1:10,000.

The Jewish Gene

Sarrazin's attempt to cite these cases as examples of "hereditary factors" that supposedly lead to poor performance among ethnic Turkish students is bizarre. "It's nonsense," says Bernhard Hortshemke of the Institute of Human Genetics at the University Hospital of Essen in western Germany. "One cannot use cases of extremely rare hereditary diseases to draw conclusions regarding the intelligence of an entire group."

Sarrazin's comments in an interview with the national Sunday newspaper Welt am Sonntag illustrate his propensity to assume that there are relevant genetic differences among ethnic groups: "All Jews share a certain gene, all Basques have certain genes that make them different from other people." This statement is scientifically untenable, because the genetic makeup of all human beings is based on an original population of about 10,000 individuals. "All human genes already existed in this population, and these genes are found in all of today's ethnic groups," says Diethard Tautz, president of the German Life Sciences Association (VBIO).

For this reason, all human beings share the genes -- presumably hundreds, if not thousands -- that are responsible for cognitive abilities. "This is why it can be assumed," says Tautz, "that every ethnic group has fundamentally the same genetic potential for intelligence."

Sarrazin's assessment of the genetic differences among ethnic groups is incorrect, as is his main thesis on intelligence. "Fifty to 80 percent of human intelligence is hereditary," he writes, suggesting that it is illusory to believe that intellectual stimulation can significantly alter cognitive abilities.

By No Means Born Stupid

But this statement makes no scientific sense, because conclusions on heredity do not relate to the intelligence of an individual but to differences in intelligence among individuals. When children in upper socioeconomic groups are tested, genes are responsible for about 50 percent of differences in intelligence. The situation changes considerably when children from lower socioeconomic groups are tested: Differences in IQ levels are almost completely attributable to socioeconomic factors, whereas there is virtually no measurable genetic effect. This finding, which Sarrazin neglects to mention, shows that genetic potential is suppressed by family conditions informed by poverty and stress. In other words, the weaker of these children are by no means born stupid. In fact, they are precisely the ones who would stand to benefit more from support programs.

Klaus Bade, a leading German expert in the field of migration studies, actually paints a rather upbeat picture of the overall situation. The process of integration has "by no means failed," he says. "A rational analysis shows us that the situation is significantly better than the way it is portrayed in the public debate," he argues. "In fact, in many empirically measurable areas, it is quite satisfactory or even highly successful."

In short, Sarrazin's book is unconvincing, and yet it has managed to convince many people. That fact has now become a problem for Germany's two main political parties, the center-right Christian Democrats (CDU) and the center-left Social Democrats (SPD).

Listening to the Voice of the People

When SPD party leaders met on Monday of last week, it didn't take them long to decide that Sarrazin should be expelled from the party. But even throwing him out could prove to be a headache for the Social Democrats.

By Friday afternoon, the party headquarters had received nearly 4,000 e-mails and hundreds of phone calls about the issue, according to officials at SPD headquarters in Berlin. Party members and non-members alike had expressed outrage at the way Sarrazin was being treated.

"It's about time that you listened to the voice of the people," urged one writer. "If far more than 80 percent of Germans agree with the arguments presented by Mr. Sarrazin, but the politicians reject them, then either you are acting against the will of the people or you feel that they are immature and deranged." In another e-mail, someone wrote: "If you just regularly watch the TV show "Aktenzeichen XY … ungelöst" (a German show similar to Britain's "Crimewatch" or "America's Most Wanted"), you can't deny that in the majority of the cases foreigners are somehow involved in the crimes depicted." The "Turks living among us" in many cases "do not adhere to German law" and do not shy away from "killing young women or 'disfiguring' them so that they are no longer 'women' (female circumcision)."

Gerd Andres, a former member of parliament for the SPD and the President of the German-Turkish Society, said that many SPD members in his home electoral district of Hanover "tell me that Sarrazin is right." Andres feels that the SPD "has no choice but to expel him, but I'm very unhappy about it. You can't replace factual debates with expulsion proceedings." Such a move would give many people the impression that Sarrazin has been "gagged," he says.

The party leadership felt compelled to react to the mood among the rank and file. In an e-mail to party members, SPD general secretary Andrea Nahles wrote that the expulsion proceedings are "not a rejection of an intensive debate on integration policies in our country." Rather it is also necessary "to address and tackle uncomfortable truths." One of these is that "there are at times significant educational and linguistic deficits" among young immigrants.

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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
Zitat von sysopThilo 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
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
Zitat von eric99This 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.
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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