LOSE YOUR ILLUSIONS: Germany's Angela Merkel Declares Multiculturalism A Failure

The belief that multiculturalism has failed is now palpable and measurable across Europe, and it crosses national and party boundaries.

When Chancellor Angela Merkel recently declared 'multikulti' – Germany's attempts to build a multicultural society – a failure, the German Chancellor finally, belatedly opened the door to the critical debate over how to deal with the millions of foreigners who call the country home. Roughly 10 million foreigners live in Germany (circa 13% of the total population), of these 5 million are Muslims and approximately 4 million are Turkish or people of Turkic descent.

Germany has long seen itself as a paragon of "Toleranz" and "Sozial Gerechtigkeit" (social justice), so the admittance of a general failure to assimilate its immigrants reveals a profound crisis in the nation's psyche and a crossroads in the nation's modern history.

In reality, despite the Left-Wing elite's best efforts at disavowal, and the mainstream media's enforcement of a deadening "Politische Korrektheit" where authentic, unadorned discourse about multiculturalism's failure is 'verboten' – and anyone who dares argue against the "multikulti" dogma is reflexively assailed as a racist and immediately expunged from polite society – it is painfully obvious that the German experiment with multiculturalism is in deep trouble.

The 'multikulti' doctrine long espoused everywhere in Europe – which encourages different ethnic groups to extol and stay true to their culture and place of origin while resisting being integrated and thus assimilated into their host culture – ensures that immigrants will mostly fail to subscribe to the value system of the host nation, thus becoming increasingly estranged from their host country's mainstream society and from one another. This inevitably leads to segregation and separation – the "parallel lives and parallel societies" quandary which the social-engineering elites are now being forced to awkwardly confront.

Many of Germany's millions of Turks live in such a parallel society. Their young are badly educated, their unemployment and crime rate is very high, and the social friction is palpable and worsening. Furthermore, Muslim immigrants are becoming increasingly intransigent about integration into German culture and disruptive of any attempt at assimilation into a modern Western society. German values are spurned, and German culture is disdained.

Despite the deteriorating situation, very few of Germany's ever-officious phalanx of government officials have dared to raise these inconvenient, difficult facts in public. And the German political class has largely gone out of its way to avoid any serious, confrontational debate on immigration. Germans have for generations been swamped by official propaganda celebrating the joys of ethnic diversity. Being 'pro-immigration' and 'pro-multikulti' in Germany (and most of Europe) today is a lifestyle choice – a way of proving that one is culturally refined and cosmopolitan, in contrast to the supposedly uncultured, xenophobic proletariat. Expressing doubts over immigration policy is effectively socially "verboten". The bogus consensus has always been that the 'Good German' is tolerant of and thankful for the increasingly self-assertive legions of foreign faces in their midst – even if many of those foreigners look at Germany strictly as a financial patron whose flaccid, decadent culture is to be dismissed and largely ignored.

Paradigm Shift
But the curtain has begun part on this fiction. In a speech delivered to members of her conservative Christian Democratic Union, Chancellor Angela Merkel openly declared that 'multikulti' has been an abject failure; This multicultural approach, saying that we simply live side by side and live happily with each other has failed. Utterly failed, Ms. Merkel said. The Paradigm Shift has arrived.

Ms. Merkel stated that while immigrants are welcome in Germany, they must learn the language and accept the country's cultural norms — amplifying sentiments increasingly heard across Europe as it battles demographic decline, economic malaise, and worries about homegrown terrorism. "Immigrants should learn to speak German," she said. This is what passes for political courage in Germany.  

From the onset of the current immigration wave into Germany — starting at the beginning of the 1960's — Turkish immigrants, in particular, were regarded as temporary settlers, hence the name 'Gastarbeiter' (guest worker). Consequently, Germany did not put into place policies and structures that would facilitate the integration of the Turkish immigrants into this new society — and the Turkish population did not put heavy emphasis toward becoming integrated into the new society — both sides assuming most immigrants would return to their ancestral homeland after their work stints.  

It did not turn out that way. For many years the vast majority of Turkish guest workers were male — many living in work hostels or dormitories — but the number of migrants who returned to Turkey remained relatively small and family reunification policies magnified this dynamic and soon the demographic equation changed and the Turkish population in Germany boomed.  

Germany today is obviously suffering the consequences of its past policies, as well as the economic and cultural strains of absorbing and assimilating the estimated five million Muslims who reside within its borders — many of whom are marginalized and live in defacto Muslim ghettos. Too many of these immigrants speak little or no German, work in low paying jobs, or live from government handouts at the same time the country faces a rapidly aging population and a shortage of highly skilled workers. This dynamic is guaranteed to cause conflict.

Chancellor Merkel shocked the political elite and addressed this topic directly, emphasizing that the 'multikulti' credo of allowing different cultures to coexist beside one another peacefully (while implicitly expecting the foreign culture to eventually pack up and return home) had not succeeded; "We kidded ourselves a while, we said: 'They won't stay, some time they will be gone,' but this isn't reality. And of course, the approach [to build] a multicultural [society] and to live side-by-side and to enjoy each other ... has failed, utterly failed."
This statement of fact has sent deep tremors through the usually rock-solid foundation of the consensus-obsessed German political elite and their talking-head media acolytes. To the average German citizen this declaration merely expressed what has been obvious for many years.

Ms. Merkel was mindful to say she doesn't oppose immigration altogether, or that people who don't speak German when they arrive are not welcome — and her comments were generally met with approval from the public and her Christian Democratic party allies. Nevertheless, plenty of the Über-Politically-Correct European media, the vapid boob-tube chattering classes, and scores of opportunistic German politicians (mostly — though not exclusively — from the opposition Social Democratic party and other smaller leftist parties like the Greens and the Linke) have chosen to interpret her remarks as a brutish and needlessly provocative tilt to the hard right in the face of recent economic woes and growing social friction. In fact, she merely said what most Germans already believe.

The enemy within?
The immigration debate is now raging in a previously placid political landscape. Thilo Sarrazin, a former member of the Executive Board of the Deutsche Bundesbank (until he was recently forced to bow out for his audacious lack of "Politische Korrektheit") and a German politician of the Social Democratic Party, set off a maelstrom with the publication of his book "Deutschland schafft sich ab" (Germany Does Away With Itself), whose central thesis is that German immigration policy as it stands — and taking into account projected German demographic decline in the next few generations — ensures cultural decline, financial bankruptcy, and demographic suicide.

Mr. Sarrazin postulated, "Integration requires effort from those that are to be integrated. I will not show respect for anyone that is not making that effort. I do not have to acknowledge anyone who lives by welfare, denies the legitimacy of the very state that provides that welfare, refuses to care for the education of his children and constantly produces new little headscarf-girls."
He added of Islam, No other religion in Europe makes so many demands. No immigrant group other than Muslims is so strongly connected with claims on the welfare state and crime. In no other religion is the transition to violence, dictatorship and terrorism so fluid.
Adding fuel to the blazing fire, home-grown German terrorism has been in the headlines for most of the last decade. In addition to providing a breeding ground for the 9/11 terrorist cell, home-grown German terrorism has once again claimed global headlines in recent months. Though Germany has played down the danger, security officials claim they have tracked several dozen German citizens — products of the German immigration policy — who have traveled to Pakistan and Afghanistan for paramilitary training with the implicit purpose of returning to their European homelands and perpetrating acts of terror.
Some of the views expressed in Mr. Sarrazin's tome — as galvanizing to some as they have been — are repugnant to many (he is facing expulsion from his left-leaning political party because his views are inconsistent with its basic social-democrat doctrine), and the stale scent of xenophobia wafts from many of the pages in his book. Nevertheless these perspectives are the manifestation of a tangible sentiment that is flourishing within the German psyche — that the German experiment with immigration is potentially a Trojan Horse that poses an existential danger.  
No matter where one stands in this debate one point is undeniable; Sarrazin's book gives voice to the previously unspeakable attitudes of millions of Germans — and it must be noted here that some of his comments on Jews also sparked outrage and equally divisive debate — which is proved by the fact that the first edition of his book sold out immediately.

 Xenophobia or rational fear?
The question then begs itself: is this the dawn of an era of German xenophobia, an over-reaction that will lead to the closing of doors to outsiders, or are the fears and accusations evident in these statements a rational reaction to a dangerous and degenerating situation?

Mr. Sarrazin's and Chancellor Merkel's comments come against the backdrop of a seething debate that the failure to integrate Muslims is feeding terrorism in Europe. Germany, Holland, Sweden, England, France and other European countries are wrestling with the conundrum of a home-grown insurrection by young Muslim men (and women) with the idea of creating havoc and fear in their host countries, thus facilitating the (eventual) establishment of a religious state, or at least the overtaking of particular regions and areas of cities as their haven for Sharia Law.  

The fact that these radical elements represent a very small percentage of the Muslim immigrant population is not lost on the general population — but the rational middle is beginning to look at the dismissal and brushing aside of these extremist elements as a luxury it can no longer afford.  

The belief that multiculturalism has failed is now palpable and measurable across Europe, and it crosses national and party boundaries. In Germany, a recent survey found that 55% of respondents think Muslims are a burden on the economy. Another study found that nearly a third of Germans agreed that "foreigners come to abuse the welfare state" and that "Germany is overrun by immigrants".

Chancellor Merkel made it clear in her speech that she considers Islam a "part of Germany", and she has the backing of most of her country on that score.  Nevertheless, stringent reforms of the immigration and welfare system in Germany are imminent. More importantly, the mind-set of Germans, in particular, and Europeans, in general, has irreversibly altered. The days of dismissively pushing away the theme of assimilation of foreigners — especially those from Muslim countries — into the dark corners of polite discussion and political debate are over.  A brave new world is taking shape and the end result of this new paradigm is indeterminable.


Alexander Ackley © 2012 for The International Chronicles
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published this page in The Attic 2012-03-27 00:46:41 -0400