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Konrad Werner: Where has this Merkel been?

There's a ban on Merkel-bashing this week – she did good. Just a few small points, though... Really tiny. Konrad feels a bit dickish even bringing them up, to be honest.

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Photo by Fred Jaugstetter (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported)

See, geht doch. Angela Merkel has done a good thing – the only humane thing that could be done, seeing as the alternative was to let even more people die – and now she has finally felt the touch of moral leadership. Taking the initiative, making a stand, setting out a real moral point, doing the decent instead of the politically prudent thing… no one recognises her. At Monday’s summer press conference, Merkel was so proactive she even invented a new national characteristic. While “German thoroughness” was “super,” she told the people, what was needed now was “German flexibility”. Whatever that is. I think she meant “compassion,” but I guess you can only push people so far.

With leaders like David Cameron and Viktor Orban around, it’s no wonder that people have started loving Germany again (we’ll let the Greece thing slide for now). Liberal German people are doing their best to keep it going. On Twitter, Germans are suppressing all their most thorough instincts – whatever you do, don’t correct those Brits who keep quoting the statistic about how Germany has “let in” 800,000 refugees, while the UK is only allowing in 216. Don’t be a dick and say that 800,000 is only the estimated number of asylum applications that Germany is going to get this year, not actually the number they’re letting in. That’s what flexibility means.

Likewise, it feels dickish to quibble about a few other things. For example, even while the Bavarian people (I say people: actually, when I was at Munich station this week and in Heidenau last week, I noticed that a lot of the people bringing donations and volunteering to sort food were those lefty punk anti-fascist kids that everyone takes the piss out of – not for the first time, it looked to me like Germany’s unwashed and alienated Antifa fringe, with their facial piercing and ugly haircuts and awful music and naive politics, might be the guardians of the nation’s conscience) were seized by an amazing spirit of spontaneous generosity, the Bavarian government opened Germany’s first one-stop reception and deportation centre for all Balkan migrants. Horst Seehofer’s Christian Social Union, which runs Bavaria, also got the Italian police to temporarily reinstate border controls to pick up “illegal immigrants”. Also, at a press conference at the new deportation centre in Ingolstadt, the Bavarian Social Affairs Minister Emilia Müller said that if the rest of Europe doesn’t take in more immigrants, then Germany should consider “reforming” the Schengen zone. Oh, and there were almost fights outside the LaGeSo in Berlin the other day because the local authorities are still way understaffed. 

But you have to be a bit of a dick to bring any of that up at the moment.