January 14, 2008

The Eternal Ugly Face of The German Petty Bourgeois

The German nationwide weekly newspaper ZEIT is is highly respected for its quality journalism. With a circulation of roughly 490,000 copies and an estimated readership of slightly above 2 million, it is the most widely read German weekly. It is considered to be intellectually upmarket. Its political stance is described as centrist to liberal (in the European meaning of "social liberal"), but has shifted several times between slightly left-leaning and slightly right-leaning. It is known for its broadsheet size and its long and in-depth articles. Their most remarkable feature (but maybe that is just me) is their "personal" column, which is full of advertisements of those who consider themselves bright, beautiful and blameless seeking the likeminded, and of great entertainment value.

Now the German blog Politically Incorrect makes us aware of a video with the comment of Jens Jessen, editor-in-chief of the "feuilleton" (the part of a European newspaper devoted to fiction, reviews, general interest articles or showbiz and society matters) of the ZEIT, obviously taken at his workplace. (I can only recommend to watch the video even if you don't understand German because of the facial expression, body language and the ambience of the office.)

It is about the frighteningly increasing violence of youths with a "migration background" (read: almost always Muslims) against Germans and specifically against those Germans who are specifically helpless, the elderly. Jessen is refering here to an incident in the Munich subway, where a 76-year-old retired headmaster was beaten to a pulp by a Turkish and a Greek youth because he had asked them to stop smoking in a non-smoking car.

By the way, when it happened, the German media took some time until they released the ethnic background of the two youths and refered to them as "young smokers" at first.

Yeah! We have a smoker-problem in Germany!

Thanks to the transcript with the essential bits PI offers, and which I here translate, my English-speaking readers can share this amazing experience:
…One DOES ask oneself whether this pensioner, who refused to tolerate the smoking in the Munich subway and thus triggered off that without doubt unexcusable deed, must be seen within a chain of patronising, reproachs and silly chattings-up, which the foreigner, and namely the young one, has to suffer incessantly. And not just the foreigner. At the end of the day, the old German petty bourgeois*, to use such a negative word, shows his ugly face everywhere. (…)

That is the atmosphere of intolerance against which one has to judge such spontaneous violent acts. (…)

I would like to ask, on the other hand, whether there aren't too many know-it-all German pensioners who make life hell for the foreigners here. And for other Germans as well. To put it like that: I don't think that German society has a problem with criminal foreigners but with home-made intolerance.
I would like to ask, on the other hand, whether there aren't too many late middle-aged German petty bourgeois* schmocks, to use such a negative word, who show their ugly faces everywhere and who have just swapped the portrait of Hitler at their fathers' office walls for one of Lenin.


*The German word "Spießer" Jessen used is virtually non-translatable. "Fuddy-duddy", "square", "stuffy" or "boringly (lower) middle class" all cover a part, but not all, of its meaning.