Konrad Werner: Shame on the ARD

Germany was doing its best not to be racist yesterday during the memorial to the victims of the NSU. And it nearly made it.

Image for Konrad Werner: Shame on the ARD
Photo by G. D. Vicente Torres (elgarydaly; Flickr CC)

You sometimes think Germany is doing its best with the immigrants. To avoid getting all riled up, it helps to think of Germany as your granny trying hard to remember to be politically correct when you bring your brown girlfriend over. She does love you, and she makes nice biscuits, but she is basically a daft racist.

Yesterday, Germany really was trying with the memorial service for the victims of the NSU Nazi terrorists. They got the TV and the press to the big ornate concert hall on Gendarmenmarkt. Merkel made a nice speech, in which she said, “The murders of the Thuringian terror cell were an attack on our country. They have brought shame upon our country.”

Then there was some sombre Bach – Germans don’t like to miss a good Bach chance – and a pair of polished actors read some boring German and Turkish poetry. Then, as if self-conscious that things were maybe a bit high-brow, people from various ethnic backgrounds played a Sting song and “Imagine” by John Lennon.

All this was great. When it comes to memorial services, you should aim for a mix of sombreness, boredom, and tackiness. When in doubt, overdo the tackiness slightly. Gestures like this are never empty.

But then guess what the ARD decided to do, immediately after the service was over? Get Heinz Buschkowsky, the mayor of Neukölln and prominent Thilo Sarrazin ally, to give his reaction to the service. He then proceeded to open his mouth and let loose his usual thoughts on how immigrants need to be integrated better.

I have no idea why the ARD decided to let Buschkowsky have his say – perhaps, since they had a Turkish girl on to give her comments too, they felt like they needed to “balance the debate”. But you’d think that someone at Germany’s main state broadcaster would have felt that yesterday, the day when Germany offered a moment’s silence to remember eight Turks and one Greek who had been shot in the head by neo-Nazis, might have been one day when it might be better not to bang on about integration for just, you know, TEN FUCKING SECONDS.

Immediately after a speech in which Semiya Simsek described how the investigation into her father’s murder led her to question whether she was at home in her own country, it might have been better to let Buschkowsky keep his thoughts to himself.

Here’s the thing about neo-Nazi murderers: they don’t really give much of a shit how integrated their victims are. The fact that the ARD thought it would be okay to link a memorial service to these victims with Buschkowsky’s worldview just shows that Germany needs to listen to a few more Sting songs yet.