The following Austrian newspaper article is taken from last Sunday’s Die Presse, and was translated by JLH. Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, who suggested the piece for translation, sends this introductory note:
Both the content of the article and the fact that it was printed at all amazed me. So much that I have decided to order the entire book by Reinhard Mohr, from which the article, kindly translated by JLH, was excerpted.
What surprises me is not only that an article like the rant by Mr. Mohr was printed at all, but that the Islamic Faith Community is silent. No letter to the editor, no complaints — nothing. Radio silence. Strange.
A technical note from the translator:
As you see, the last three paragraphs deal with Kiezdeutsch (American equivalent might be “project English”) which grew up in sections chiefly of Hannover, Hamburg (Reeperbahn) and Berlin. A “kietz” in northern Germany was originally where imported Slavic servants and others attached to a local castle lived.
There is some resemblance to Ebonics in that it has developed organically in partially closed-off areas of the city, then was discovered by academics who eagerly analyzed its grammar, spelling, etc., and told the rest of us that they had discovered the equivalent of an ancient Inca dialect.
The translated article from Die Presse:
“Only Otherness is Good. What is Our Own is Corrupted by Being Western”
by Reinhard Mohr
May 4, 2013
In false tolerance, we give more and more play to religious imperatives in the everyday life of our secular society . Is it racism to call attention to that? Or is it only calling by name facts we must deal with?
The charge of racism is the cheapest coin in the battle against the telling of inconvenient truths that are threatening someone’s world view. Barring schizophrenia, this seldom goes away. While the strident and colorful otherness of immigrants is celebrated in leftist multiculti discourse — not least as a nostrum against dull Germanness — its negative aspects are suppressed or denounced as fantasies of racist perception. While the culture, mentality, even the religion of the immigrants is downright admired, the problematic aspects of this otherness may be blamed only on ominous “structures” with their origin in the tendentiously repressive/fascistic German society.
So the notorious obligation of integration is entirely for the “bio-Germans.” And that is how immigrants are degraded to victims. Worse yet, to the empirical object of German morality preachers who will not let anything impinge upon their leftist faith.
Monika Lüke, 43, the new official for integration in Berlin who previously worked in Greenpeace, presented us with a special variation on the linguistic defining away of inconvenient conflicts. “The immigrants are not the others — we are,” she claimed, and thus “disappeared” any problem between immigrants and the majority population, purely through semantic magic. A super magic trick.
Also typical for this attitude of inflexible denial of reality is the reaction of the Greens
in Neukölln who declaim à la Radio Moscow: “With shock, we ascertained the discriminatory content of Heinz Buschkowsky’s new book, ‘Neukölln is Everywhere,” and are speaking out decisively against the many slanderous statements directed against Neuköllners… Through ill-considered and baseless fear-mongering scenarios, he is spreading a bad reputation for our district, which stems chiefly from his subjective perception of Neukölln reality… We declare our solidarity with all those Neuköllners stigmatized by his book… “ End of public statement in Politburo German.
That wasn’t enough. Even a question in district council about how to finance two- and three-wife Muslim men from welfare was reflexively condemned as discrimination and “stigmatization of Islam” which fosters populist resentments.
Cultural relativism. The Greens I remember were first and foremost interested in the role of the woman who is shunted off by a Muslim pasha with the children he has fathered into some residence somewhere and subsequently sent to social services or the job center. Forty years after the beginning of the women’s movement, pseudo-leftist cultural relativism has seen to it that even patriarchal polygamy is under the protection of the world improvement movement and must be defended from the unreasonable demands of the democratic, secular society. Before long — who knows — the burka may be seen as a symbol of feminine freedom. Sandra Maischberger gave a preview of it in her talk show. For the first time on German television, a completely covered woman sat in the studio and spoke about the joys of polygamy.
These are the times when I seriously ask myself: Am I reactionary now? Or are the others? Are they just gaga, crazy, not playing with a full deck? We old leftists are the ones — above all the committed feminist women — who “wouldn’t touch religion with a ten-foot pole,” as the saying went, to say nothing of less elegant obscenities. At most, we allowed ourselves to be dragged along to Christmas mass. Most of us fled to friends, as far as possible from incense and the sound of bells. That may have changed over time, but from where, all of a sudden, comes this heartfelt understanding for Islam — the only monotheism — which, unlike Judaism and Christianity — never really came in contact with the Enlightenment? And really, why the constant caution against “Islamophobia,” as if it were some serious, incurable disease?
Is it not true that Islam is the one religion in the world that presently produces the most and the most brutal fanatics? Do we hear loud protests from the Greens when hundreds of Christians are slaughtered by Muslim militias in the Near East and Africa? And how does this brave resistance to “Islamophobia” perform in the case of anti-Semitic anger, which appears in the battle against “Zionism” and “US imperialism” — above all in what remains of the “peace movement” which chooses to stand by Assad and Ahmadinejad, rather than the victims of tyranny?
After years of experience in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, Samuel Schirmbeck, ARD correspondent in North Africa from 1991 to 2002, draws his own conclusion. It fits in one sentence: “Islam is the sealing off of thought.” The old “68er” follows the discussion on the role of Islam in the Western world in amazement. “It’s insane — the left has always embodied thoughts of freedom — and fought against religious hypocrisy and repression. When you have seen for ten years how awful it is in societies without the Enlightenment, attacks on any criticism of Islam infuriates you. Is it still the burden of Nazi guilt that leads to feeling that the religion of foreigners is morally superior to one’s own culture?”
Might makes right. The question may be asked, but is unanswerable. In other parts of the world, too, false tolerance is spreading, giving ever more play to religious imperatives in the everyday life of our secular society — whether in the headscarf debate, or prayer rugs in schools, or meatless cafeteria meals or test-less days for Muslim students who are not allowed to eat in the daytime during Ramadan. For a long time now, so-called “peace judges” have been undermining legal criminal trials in a process whereby the winner is inevitably the chief of the clan — i.e., the strongest party there — who is awarded a settlement that is called an “amicable agreement.”
The Berlin labor court is also in the forefront of alleged progress. In March, 2012, it awarded a compensation of €1470 to a young Muslim woman who had applied for a job as a dentist’s assistant. Cause: the dentist insisted that she must not wear her headscarf during working hours. This requirement, the judge found, violated the right to freedom of religious practice.
And what about the Muslim operating room nurse? The judges have that figured out, and they raise a stern forefinger to educate the “folk.” “The woman with a headscarf is unemancipated and backward,” is the word in explaining the grounds for the decision. You can literally see the robed justices shaking their heads. In this case, they are religious philosophers, Islam scholars, historians and sociologists. “She is not wrong; she is just ‘other’.” There is the magic word — “other.” Other, not ours. Perhaps here is the comprehensive explanation for the riddle of the rampant madness of political correctness. Other is good; ours is bad and corrupted by the West. Thus the European-Western ego effaces itself to the point of self-denial, shrinks itself and nonetheless feels guilty for everything that happens. So the thinking and striving of the good German is to no longer be evil, brutal and unjust. As poet Matthias Claudius agonized as early as 1774: “It’s war, it’s war!/ Oh may God’s angel forfend/ and Thou please intervene!/ It’s unfortunately war — and I wish/not to be guilty of it!”
This desire to be guiltless persists today as the distorted reflection of the feelings of guilt and inferiority. Lack of self-assurance combines with fantasies of saving the world, enervation with hubris. In a Munich luxury clinic, we hear, crosses are taken down whenever fully veiled Saudi customers arrive to have stomach, legs and buns streamlined. That’s knowing your business.
I’m goin’ Aldi.* It is worth noting that also in the Berlin labor court good intentions seem far more developed than mastery of syntax and grammar. But even in this forward sector of progressive everyday life, help is on the way. A theoretical dental assistant in a headscarf, let’s say, tells a patient with a painful molar: “Yo bro, I whomp up a filling for you!” Whoever, in this situation, shouts in horror: “Hey, enough! Reactionary and discriminatory, whoa!” Let him be told: “Kiezdeutsch is not false or bad German, but a linguistic variant which is internally consistent.” — so says, at any rate, Potsdam Linguist, Prof. Dr. Heike Wiese.
And she knows still more: “New imperative combinations!” like “y’gotta” or “Let’s do’t!” are like dropping the preposition (“goin’ Aldi”) — the avant-garde part of a “new, dynamic turbo-dialect” which is “systematically and productively enriching” High German. Here, too, rightist populist anger must be cleared out: “My purpose is to work against prejudice — this is a reduced grammar.” “Go school, bro.” is the slogan of the future. German mainstreaming works like gender mainstreaming, to dismantle hierarchical structures and the arrogance of speech snobs.
Regulated public television has also set itself this noble goal and is enriching the wonderful variety of the German language by asking over and over, “Can Steinbrück chancellor?” The answer would be “Gotta wait election, homeys.” And the ad industry plays along too and drones messages into our ears, like, “That’s how tech rolls.” “Know the drill, baby,” grunts Horst Schlämmer in the background. And someone asks in between: “Want trouble, pal? You got it.” As you can see, everyday progressivism lives.
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* Discount chain store
The Author — Reinhard Mohr (1955) is a German sociologist. He has written for TAZ, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Spiegel and Stern. This text is an offprint from his new book, “Am I Reactionary Now? Confessions of an old leftist,” which appeared in Gütersloh Publishing.
For a complete listing of previous enrichment news, see The Cultural Enrichment Archives.