Racism Shadows Germany's World Cup PartyGosh, what a load of hype! Giyasettin Sayan, the Turkish politician who was mugged, is known for asking Turkey to recognize the Armenian genocide, or so I was told, so I won't hold my breath while they are sniffing for another racist motive The media can't have a Turk-on-Turk thing, or can they, when a "hate crime" is SO much more sexy, specifically after the last one turned out to be a blunder:
Is it safe to go to the World Cup soccer tournament?
The question is obsessing the German online media as the country prepares to host an estimated 3 million visitors for the month-long competition that opens June 9.
Beneath the anticipation generated by the upcoming showcase for the planet's most popular sporting event lies a greater question generated by the recent influx of millions of non-European immigrants. "So Is Germany Racist or Not?" asks Spiegel Online.
The debate was initially ignited by Uwe-Karsten Heye, a former government spokesman, who told a radio station that there are towns around the capital Berlin "where I would not advise anybody with a different skin colour to visit" during next month's World Cup.
"They might not leave alive," he said.
Heye's comment was denounced by government officials and provoked "broadly negative reaction," according to Die Welt, a conservative daily and one of the country's leading newspapers. But other commentators defended Heye, according to a BBC survey.
Heye "told the truth," said Der Tagesspiegel, a leading liberal daily. The Berliner Zeitung said his warning was justified because there are indeed many places in Germany which "nobody can in all honesty recommend to a black African as a destination for an outing."
BZ said Heye should have also talked about the role of politicians, judicial authorities and the media in fuelling xenophobia.
The Guardian of London cited an attack this weekend on a Turkish-born politician, Giyasettin Sayan, known for his pro-immigration views, as lending credence to Heye's worries. Two youths hit Sayan over the head with a bottle and cursed him as a foreigner last Friday in the Lichtenberg district of east Berlin, "an area well known for its far-right hooligan scene."
Then on Monday, the government released a police intelligence report showing that the number of racially motivated acts of far-right violence rose by 23 percent to 958 last year while the number of far-right extremists deemed willing to engage in violence rose by 400 people to 10,400.
In Malaysia, the Bernama news agency noted the "ongoing heated debate amongst German politicians on how to curb immigration and make it more difficult for foreigners to be naturalised as Germans." These "endless discussions have contributed to a general anti-foreigner mood in the country and, more often than not, it is the innocent foreigners who suffer."
The story has been picked up around the world, including in China, Nigeria and Pakistan.
When Angola's team arrived in Germany on Sunday, they were greeted with the news that a neo-Nazi group is planning a march in Leipzig on June 21, the day Angola is scheduled to play Iran. Israel's Ynet News says German neo-Nazis admire Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmedinejad for questioning whether the Holocaust actually happened.
And nobody laughed
This might do as a first account of what happened on Easter Night in Potsdam, near Berlin, or rather what the media SAID happened:
A brutal attack on a black German has left the victim fighting for his life and has reactivated fears about right-wing extremism in Germany.Picture: DDP
Ermyas M, a 37-year-old engineer of Ethiopian descent, was attacked early on Easter morning while waiting at a tram stop in Potsdam in the eastern German state of Brandenburg. His assailants called him "Nigger", attacked him with a bottle and beat him to the ground.
The German citizen, who is married with two small children, was so badly injured he is in a coma in hospital.
So far so bad, and then two perpetrators were quickly found and to the glee of the media helicoptered blindfolded to the premises of the Federal Investigator who found the case important enough to grab the case from the regional investigator, some say contra legem, and the German public and media stopped –- just -– short of calling for wood and matches for the two arrested men.
BILD, a particularly nasty shitrag and, every cloud has a silver lining, our only major Yellow Press piece, screeched: "Potsdam Mugging Night: They Only Stopped When They Thought He'd Be Dead".
Well, it wasn't quite so.
Ermyas M. wasn't exactly on his way to Easter Vigil and Solemn High Mass when he was hit at four o'clock on Easter Morning. The husband and father of two had been, pissed as a newt with a blood alcohol level of more than 2 o/oo, thrown out of a disco where he had already had a drunken brawl with two men. He then got into a screeming match with a bus driver who insisted on giving him change in coins for a 20 Euro note. After he left the vehicle, he embarged on (yes!) a fight with two men and started kicking them. There are three witnesses who saw and confirmed that. (Oh by the way, did I mention that Ermyas M. is 1,97 m, roughly six foot seven inches, tall)?
However, one of the two alleged attackers -- who is a body builder -- then punched Ermyas M. in the face who fell over and hit his skull on the pavement, leaving him with serious head injuries. Doctors said that the life-threatening injuries correspond with falling and hitting a hard surface and not with being punched or kicked.
Parts of the incident have been pieced together from a recording of the voice mail box of the victim's wife whom Ermyas M. had called during the brawl. The epithet "Nigger" was clearly audible, preceded by "Schweinesau" (something like "swine sow") uttered by the victim, which, so Mrs. Ermyas stated, was one her husband' terms of endearment for her.
And nobody laughed.
Of course, calling somebody "Nigger" is not nice. But why can't it, as an excellent article in the Swiss Neue Zürcher Zeitung suggests, just be a "self-evident maximum insult" (nahegelegte Maximalbeleidigung)? Like calling a woman a cunt? Or a person a subhuman? I wonder what the fascination about "race" is and what made "racist" the (mostly all but self-evident) maximum insult within our political culture, far ahead of, say, "child molester", "rapist" or even "murderer", all of which find their apologists?
Oh by the way, Ermyas M. is better (although not well) by now, the Federal Investigator failed to link the two arrested men to the Right Wing scene and the media has become somewhat conspiciously silent over what seems to have been a violent drunken brawl, not more, not less.
So what else is new?
A new barking-up tree was needed
Understandably, a new barking-up tree was needed, so back to the above article and the topic of what matters in Germany.
I am German born and bred and during the past more than fifty years, which I have spent mostly in Germany, West Germany, to be precise, I have never seen any no-go-areas myself, but that doesn't mean that they don't exist. Being born and raised in upper middle class circumstances in West Germany, I am probably extraordinarily privileged and sometimes naive.
That said, the whole damned business of the second German dictatorship and their perfect integration into German society is sad, and I marvel at the thought why hardly anybody cares to connect the dots between that specific sort of violence and that specific dictatorship, which ended, after all, only 17 years ago.
But it's so much easier to define right wing racist violence (even right wing racist violence that isn't right wing or racist violence), a phenomenon, which happens out-of-the-blue and just by pure chance in the former Communist regions and the former Communist regions exclusively, as the evil in Germany, isn't it? After all, our very own Nobel Laureate Günter Grass called the former GDR a kommode Diktatur (comfortable dictatorship), which can't have, of course, bred those disgusting little cretins with their bald heads and combat boots, although they are magically, and almost unilaterally, disseminated over East Germany.
Does anybody think that we West Germans are GENETICALLY less inclined to dislike, and be violent towards, darker coloured people or what?* But, of course, it can't be the exposition to sixty years of that despised Western, or, dare I say it, AMERICAN brand of freedom that had something to do with that or can it?
Yes, all that is sad, and that said, what is even sadder is the fact that there are places, too, where ethnic Germans better don't go. Places, where an unattended ethic German girl better doesn't go. Places, where elderly ethnic Germans better don't go -- AND NO GERMAN MEDIUM EVER GIVES A DAMN.
If it comes to violent crimes and seen in chilling daylight, I don't think we are doing so badly internationally, so why all that brouhaha, which even the international media is parrotting?
The above mentioned excellent article in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung gives us a stunning bit of insight into the mind of the leftist media (and, of course, their readership) and all those who never even attempted to look beyond the fact of the victim's dark skin:
…the reasoning [of the leftist newspaper taz is] that, when dealing with the extremist Right, it isn't so much a matter of clarifying what happened – that's a matter of the legal system – but of the correct societal reaction, which is resolutely removed from the cause.Amen!
Should we get the paper from Berlin right this would ask for fighting Right wing extremism even in cases where it wasn't even there. Thus, journalism is catapulting itself away from a level of trying to clarify facts, right into a sphere where nothing but correct mind-set matters; in this case, it doesn't need to bother about reality anymore.
That's what we Germans call our "special relationship with Israel".
Of course, now the FIFA Wold Cup is imminent, it is of primary importance to fuss about those few pathetic Nazis who have (now isn't that funny!) jettisoned their "Aryan" superiority and racial sensitivities, and might *shudder* stage a pro-Iran rally. And a nit-picker who asks why we, striving to be "good hosts", welcome nutcase Adolfdinejad, who has credibly threatened to wipe Israel off the map. So what do we have here? Just ANOTHER case of abusing some poor, wretched Nazis as scapegoats, smokescreens and guinea pigs to prove how well we are dealing with our "Nazi past".
And of course, politicians like Angelika Beer, German Greens MEP who thinks that Iran is "a fascinating country with a young well-educated society". Yes, the same Angelika Beer who finds the delivery of two submarines to Israel "irresponsible" or the Greens' "elder statesman" Hans Christian Ströbele who recently blamed the United States of planning an attack on Iran with nuclear weapons, are MUCH less real a threat for our constitution than some pathetic morons in combat boots.
And yes, that is the very Ströbele, who thinks that Iran has the right of using nuclear technology. Ströbele who thinks that, if Iran is banned from having nukes, Israel ought to be too. Yes, that very Ströbele who described Iraq's missile attacks on Israel during the first Gulf War as "the logical, almost unavoidable outcome of Israel’s policies", thus following the old and cherished school of thoughts, which maintains that antisemitism is the Jews' fault anyway.
That's what we Germans call our "special relationship with Israel".
To learn more about the hypocritical German attitude of barking up the wrong tree go to: Barking up the Wrong Tree as an Art Form or Leave the Poor Nazis Alone.
As I haven't been at the crime scene myself, I am relying, largely but not exclusively, on the reports and articles from the DIE WELT archives.
* For those who can read German, I recommend this EXCELLENT (and deeply shocking) account by a 29-year-old woman journalist of Eritrean descent of her move from West- to East Germany.