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Konrad Werner: Any excuse to be a dick to Turkish people

Some political commentators don't feel like they've done a proper week's work until they've found a news story which lets them bash the Turks. Some weeks it's harder than others.

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Die Zeit editor-in-chief Giovanni di Lorenzo. Photo by Moritz Kosinsky (Wikimedia Commons)

Turkey, you might have noticed at last weekend’s European election, is not in the European Union. To be honest I don’t even think the Turkish government is that bothered about joining anymore. It’s just something they say to freak out the CSU every now and then. There was absolutely no Turkish element to the European election. Meanwhile, in other non-Turkish news last week, Die Zeit‘s editor-in-chief Giovanni di Lorenzo, who is half German and half not-Turkish, revealed on a TV talk show that he voted twice in the European election. This, he might not have realized seeing as he’s only the editor of a major news weekly, is illegal. Still, Turkish-Germans probably thought, this is definitely a news story where people can’t have a go at us about not being integrated enough.

Ha! How wrong they were. Because there’s always Jan Fleischhauer of Der Spiegel, who managed in one short, tortured column to twist the minor shitstorm over di Lorenzo into an argument for not letting Turkish people get a German passport.

Germany’s ridiculous double standard on dual citizenship needs to be changed. Cleverer people than me who have to deal with the daily annoyances of being treated like a semi-citizen have already made the point succinctly – forcing non-EU people to give up their first citizenship in order to be part of Germany is a) morally bollocks, b) demoralizing and depressing, c) bad when you’re trying to attract more “highly skilled” immigrants. When it comes to the so-called Optionspflicht (forcing the children of immigrants to choose a passport by the time they’re 23) it means forcing people to turn their backs on a part of their identity.

Really this issue has been settled now, because the SPD has more or less forced the CDU to end the Optionspflicht. But that doesn’t stop Germany’s “conservative” commentators from finding any excuse to whinge. Every time I read this dickish column my befuddled brain does a back-flip and I can’t figure out how he’s got to the end. One minute he’s mocking an Italian-German for being over-enthusiastic about the European election, and the next minute he’s saying that Turkish children aren’t allowed to feel German because the Turkish prime minister came to Germany and made a speech in Cologne. It’s like an M. C. Escher picture – when do the white fish turn into black ducks? My eyes keep going funny. Well after reading it three times, I found this bit: “The idea that every vote in a democracy is elemental is soon lost if you consider citizenship as something that can be multiplied.” So in other words Fleischhauer reckons dual citizenship is incompatible with democracy. Jesus, if it’s that big a deal that someone voted twice we can just make everyone coming out of the Italian embassy on Election Day dip their fingers in ink.

Why can’t we get used to the idea that people move around in this world? You’d think after 50,000 years of human evolution we’d have realized that people sometimes grow up and move to a different set of caves. But no. It’s still completely incomprehensible. And it’s all the Turks’ fault.