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  • Seymour Gris: Expats, you’re no angels


Seymour Gris: Expats, you’re no angels

The German debate on immigration may have been ugly, but they doesn't absolve expats of their own racism. In fact, some of you people can be just as bad, says Seymour. Or else sickeningly self-righteous.

“You better watch out or we’re gonna sell you to the Turks!”

I was just leaving that intolerable den of hipsterism, Kimchi Princess in Kreuzberg. Out front, a North American father was scolding his young son, maybe 7-years-old, for misbehaving. And out came that unfortunate ethnic slur… and yes, it is a slur. Uttered so casually, and thoughtlessly, by some  financially independent 40-something cool-guy dad who looks like he “divides his time between TriBeCa and Kreuzberg”. Yuck.

Within a few days, I heard another American and an Australian, both of them musicians, funnily enough, dis on the Turks of Kreuzberg for just being “generally annoying”, “standing in the bike lane”, “loud”, “aggressive” etc. Of course, it doesn’t take much intelligence to be a mediocre, ne’er-do-well singer-songwriter.

On the other hand, not a day passes without some white-skinned American or another complaining to me that “Berlin is sooooo white” – as if certain ethnic quotas had to be met in order for a place to be cool. The complainer is inevitably from the Midwest and picked up big city cred and extensive knowledge of non-white people during his or her year-long stint in New York or the Bay Area.

Both types are just sickening to be around. And worse, many expats, especially North American ones, believe they are soooo open to and accepting of all cultures, skin colours and types of food (“ethnic food sucks in Berlin…”) and love to roll their eyes when Germans say or do something stupid and racist, scoffing with the self-righteousness of a young vegetarian convert who’s just been enlightened about the horrors of factory farming – see the recent immigration debate sparked by the horrendous Sarrazin book. Conversations ensue that usually betray a huge amount of ignorance and arrogance and a blind belief in the superiority of American multiculturalism. Then you can mention something like the huge number of black men in prison in the US and they counter with something about the Holocaust and the conversation just descends into utter stupidity.

All I’m saying, you know-it-all, morally superior expats, be careful before you cast the first stone. And you racist ones: shut the fuck up.