Tuesday, 12 October 2010

"Germany risks a lurch to the right"

John Vinocur, NYT
If all you knew of the issues of immigration and assimilation were from the mainstream media, the likes of the New York Times, the Guardian, the Sydney Morning Herald, then your take on John Vinocur's piece in today's New York Times ("Germany risks a lurch to the right") would be to sympathise with his views: "intolerance, unmistakably, is part of the stock in trade of the new far-right outside Germany", and worry, with him, about the possibility that a new racist nationalism might stalk the land.
But his article is but the latest in a new Islamist formulation, albeit a bit more subtly structured by Mr Vinocur. It's part of the effort to paint concern about Islam in the west as a new form of anti-semitism, that Muslims are "the new jews".  Spectres of Auschwitz are raised. (Postscript: more on the issue here.)

But look more closely at the issue and you see that the comparisons are a fraud.
The jews in 1930 Germany were blamelesss.  They got on with life, integrated and productive.  The "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" -- the supposed jewish conspirace to rule the world -- were a fraud.  And yet Hitler targetted them, rounded them up and murdererd them.
By contrast Islam has a unique ideology -- a religion with a "whole of life" approach -- with Sharia law as an integral part of its system.  In its religious doctrines it explicitly, repeatedly and unmistakeably seeks domination over all other religions and political systems in the world.  In the guise of the Muslim Brotherhood, it seeks that hegemony by political and military means.  The Muslim Brotherhood has said that its primary purpose in the west is to "destroy its miserable house from within".  Islam is explicitly and repeatedly: supremacist, sectarian, anti-semitic and antipathetic to freedom of speech, freedom of consciencce, and the rights of women, minorities and non-Muslims.
The likes of Geert Wilders in Holland point out these policies of Islam the ideology.  He stands for freedom of speech. He is not racist.  He points out the dangers of an intolerant ideology to the hard won freedoms of the west.  And for that -- for pointing out the obvious evil of intolerance -- he is the one who is smeared and excoriated.  He is the one who is called a racist (recalling, as ever, that islam is not a race).  There is no clearer case of shooting the messanger (and in this case not "The Messanger", aka Muhammad....).
Don't be fooled by the slickly suave sophistry of Vinocur.  The danger is not the likes of Wilders, but of an intolerant Islamic ideology.

Postscript: read here about the experiences of a German convert to Islam.
Germany Risks a Lurch to the Right

HAMBURG — The Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark: passionately democratic countries with strong creeds of tolerance, where parties of the right have now entered the political mainstream pushing anti-immigrant and anti-Islamic agendas.
Germany: an extraordinary neighboring democracy, strengthened by the brakes of a fearful history, and so far pretty much free of the hard right’s new handholds in societies to the west and north of here.
While a Dutch government, whose existence is based on the parliamentary tolerance of an anti-immigrant party, will be sworn in on Thursday, this question, a kind of ill wind off the North Sea, comes with it:
What are the chances that Germany escapes the emergence of its own version of the Sweden Democrats (who have just entered the Swedish Parliament), or Danish People’s Party (whose support props up a minority government in Denmark), or a figure like Geert Wilders, whose Party for Freedom now sits in third place as a Dutch vote-getter?
The instinctive and plausible answer is that its chances are good. But a close look suggests the odds are changing.
The facts say that postwar Germany has demonstrated remarkable immunity to extremism, with strong antibodies that kick in to fight ideologies or propositions of excess.
Those facts also show that confidence in and loyalty to the traditional parties of the German middle ground have markedly diminished.
These days, when it comes to the issue that has propelled anti-immigrant, anti-Islamic parties into greater power in Northern Europe — a sense among some citizens that Muslim newcomers are encroaching on their society without regard for its laws and standards — mainstream parties in Germany are starting to acknowledge they have not dealt with the concern anywhere near adequately.
“Obviously, we haven’t sufficiently led the discussion,” Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, of the Christian Social Union, said.
Obvious is the word. Since the publication at the end of the summer of a book by Thilo Sarrazin, “Germany Does Away With Itself,” which argues with a biologically and genetically based thesis that the nation is imploding as a result of millions of immigrants from Islamic countries, a fairly startling series of indicators has become public.
• A poll by the Allensbach Institute showed 55 percent of the Germans considered that Muslim immigrants cost Germany “more socially and financially” than what they contribute to the economy.
• When the president, Christian Wulff, described Islam in a speech as belonging to Germany in a manner similar to what he called its Judeo-Christian foundations, the newspaper Bild published a poll reporting that 66 percent rejected that view.
• Another public opinion survey by Allensbach found 60 percent describing Mr. Sarrazin, whose book has sold over a million copies, as saying “many things that are correct,” while only 13 percent disagreed. Last month, an Emnid poll gave a notional “Sarrazin party” 18 percent of a national vote — theoretically, a better score than any of the election results of the Dutch, Danish or Swedish right-wing populists.
I asked a member of the Christian Democratic Union’s national directorate for his private take on the voter potential of a “Sarrazin party.” The C.D.U. man’s answer: 10 percent. Much of it, 29 percent, according to Emnid polling, would come from the reservoir of the Left Party, at the far left of Germany’s electoral spectrum.
Intolerance, unmistakably, is part of the stock in trade of the new far-right outside Germany, but in most cases it does not replicate all of the classic rant of a party like France’s National Front: anti-capitalism, anti-American, and bigotry.
At the same time, there’s an important element separating what Mr. Sarrazin is telling Germans from the rough noise — basically no to Islamic immigrants — that resonates from the rightist parties in countries nearby.
Here’s the difference: the Sarrazin analysis of Germany’s discomfort with Islamic immigrants applies questionable biological and eugenic judgments to their capacities to integrate, essentially taking the issue out of the realm of a social or cultural problem. Before losing his job on the executive board of the Bundesbank, Mr. Sarrazin, a Social Democrat, even wandered into an affirmation on television that Jews, as well as Basques, have a “particular gene.”
For Frank Schirrmacher, cultural editor of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, who has debated in print with Mr. Sarrazin, the author has tread into very dangerous territory. He told Mr. Sarrazin, “It’s possible your book is a break-point and an historical sign of the times showing that we no longer analyze theses [like yours] in terms of the direction to which they have historically led.”
Alongside this concern, there are seemingly parallel trends in German economic policy that Ulrich Beck, a sociologist at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, has described as revived nationalism. Such a Germany, he said, “no long personifies the most European of Europeans.”
Is this, taken together, the stuff of a potential right-wing political movement in Germany with the capacity to stoke fear and instability?
Last week, I asked two Germans, who often express critical views of their country’s difficulties with solidarity, about the specific possibility of an emerging populist party to the right of the Christian Democrats.
Helmut Schmidt, the 91-year-old former Social Democratic chancellor, who is often described as a national sage and has said his countrymen are more subject to emotionality than other peoples, and Joschka Fischer, a former foreign minister and leader of the Greens, a party which now regards Islam as a fundamental part of German life, responded to the question.
Mr. Fischer argued that both the German federal system with its careful apportionment of powers and Germans’ notions of their country’s place in the world were serious barriers to such a right-wing party.
Sitting in his office, Mr. Schmidt said the Germans had not shown themselves capable yet of integrating four million Muslims. He also acknowledged the reality of a problem involving “how a modern society deals with the influx of people from a different civilization.”
“But so far,” he said, “we don’t have that [rightist] party.
“The reason is Nazism and Auschwitz. This is the reason for the time being, and hopefully for the future.”
In the current circumstances, that must pass for optimism.