• Berlin
  • Konrad Werner: The wrong end of the stick


Konrad Werner: The wrong end of the stick

Germans never have a problem being honest, so this harping on the idea of an "honest debate" is the most dishonest thing about the depressing Sarrazin hysteria: only mainstream politicians have protected Germany's conscience.

Germany’s people and its media have disgraced the country by treating the racist armchair polemicist Thilo Sarrazin as a “taboo-breaker” who “dares to speak uncomfortable truths”. Honesty has been hijacked as an excuse to vomit out racism.

Of course, every country hates its immigrants – more or less – even while it admits it needs them. But you are meant to be ashamed of your racism, not embrace it as soon as some idiot deliberately incites hatred.

A German academic who studies far-right extremism recently said to me, “It must be weird coming from Britain, which has been a democratic country for so long, to see how Germany has struggled with democracy.” Of course, racism is a problem in every country, democratic or not, but the way this chimera of “integration” is framed in Germany shows that it hasn’t yet integrated itself with democracy.

Democracy is a state of mind as much as a constitutional principle, and as such it means accepting individuals with different cultures, not railing at them for not “integrating” or “assimilating” themselves – whatever those bullshit terms are supposed to mean. People have no problem going to yoga lessons or having English adverts everywhere without worrying about the corruption of their culture, but somehow the fact that some people feel like putting a bit of cloth on their head is a rampant danger. At least the anti-American, anti-Semitic, anti-EU Nazis in Brandenburg don’t have such bullshit double standards. Sarrazin, with his armchair stats and contradictory ideas, has much less decency than they do.

Democracy means leaving people alone. The Turks who live here have accepted Germany; it is Germany, with its grossly unfair education system, its lack of opportunities for immigrants, and its dishonest “honesty” that needs to accept them. The Germans have got it ass-backwards – it is they who are insular and undemocratic. They are the ones determined to live in “parallel societies.” Just take a look at their shit TV shows.

The condemnation that came from Angela Merkel and Sigmar Gabriel and Ursula von der Leyen and the Greens and the Linke was refreshing but rare: they were only honourable voices in the country this week.