The banker speaks his mind
TURKISH and other "guest workers" were welcome to contribute to West German's "miracle", till some decided to stay. The German economy continued to absorb workers from many countries even after re-unification. But now as Europe struggles to recover from the bankers' crisis, top bank chief complains that "Muslims do not contribute to the economy".
GERMAN central bank executive Thilo Sarrazin has delivered some of his thoughts on the desirability or otherwise of various minorities. In line with a certain tradition he has offered a supposedly scientific explanation for his prejudices.
"All Jews share a particular gene," Sarrazin said in an interview published on Sunday. "That makes them different from other peoples." Sarrazin was promoting his book Deutschland schafft sich ab ("Germany does away with itself"), apparently not inhibited by any thoughts about where such theories led Germany in the past, nor worried that controversy over his views might cut short his future on the board of the Bundesbank.
"The cultural peculiarities of the peoples is no myth, but determines the reality of Europe," Sarrazin told the newspapers Welt am Sonntag and Berliner Morgenpost.
It was not Sarrazin's first foray into racial cultural 'science'. He has said in the past that Muslims living in Germany do not contribute to the country's economic prosperity, only running fruit and vegetable stands.
Leaving aside what the banker has against people who sell fruit and veg, it seems he has forgotten the thousands of Turkish workers and others (including Bosnian Muslims) who contributed so much to Germany's industrial "miracle".
Many stayed, and settled in, their children speak German, but still face discrimination when jobs are short, and particularly in the east, racial attacks. There are Turks on German TV, and in the German football team along players of Tunisian, Nigerian and Bosnian background. But that's not enough (or too much) for the neo-Nazi skinheads, while for bank boss Sarrazin it's the fault of Muslim immigrants all over Europe that they are not integrating properly into the societies of their host countries.
And Thilo Sarrazin is, at the time we write, still a member of the Social Democratic Party (SPD)!
A former Berlin Finance Minister, he has complained that the capital was not elitist, that it has too many poor, too many immigrants, and too much of a "leftist" mentality.
As though to reassure critics that he is not just a throwback to past racist demagogues, Sarrazin has said he would prefer immigration "if it was by eastern European Jews with a 15-percent-higher IQ than the German population."Perhaps he has forgotten that the Jewish population of eastern Europe was considerably depleted by the efforts of a past German regime, which began by deporting Polish Jewish immigrants?
But Jewish people have not, and nor are they unaware that antisemitism, particularly from persons of social standing, often begins with supposed tributes to Jewish "cleverness".
"Whoever tries to define Jews by their genetic makeup, even when it is superficially positive in tone, is in the grip of a race mania that Jews do not share," said Stephan Kramer, secretary of the Central Council of Jews in Germany.
Kenat Kolat, the chairman of Germany's Turkish Federation, has called for Sarrazin to be removed from his post after his latest comments criticizing Muslims. "I am calling upon the government to begin a procedure to remove Thilo Sarrazin from the board of the central bank," Kolat told the daily newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau on Saturday, August 28.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel weighed in on Sarrizin's comments in an interview on ARD television, saying his remarks were "completely unacceptable" and "run down entire groups of society."
Merkel added that she was sure Sarrizin's remarks would be discussed within the Bundesbank.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle also responded to Sarrazin's latest comments. He said statements "that promote racism or anti-Semitism have no place in political discourse." There are fears among some German politicians and bank leaders too that the publicity given Sarrazin's views could adversely affect German's trade and foreign relations. Chancellor Angela Merkel has now urged the Bundesbank to remove Sarrazin.
While Sarrazin referred to the alleged unique genetics of social groups, he also claimed he was not racist. It was not ethnicity, he said, but rather the culture of Islam that kept Muslims immigrants from integrating into European societies. The SPD former minister claimed his views were not extreme or against the party line. Other parties, he said, would prefer to see immigrants kicked out of Germany, whereas he claimed to advocate integration.Christian Gaebler of the SPD told news magazine Spiegel that if Sarrazin did not willingly leave the party, he and other members would "begin procedures to expel him from the party."
One wonders what kept them.