From the Feuilletons


From the Feuilletons

The debate ignited by Thilo Sarrazin's book "Germany is abolishing itself" rumbles on

Der Tagesspiegel

In an interview, Heinz Buschkowsky (SPD) the mayor of Neukölln, one of the more deprived districts of Berlin that are a focus of Thilo Sarrazin's book (more here and here), calls for the state to make daycare compulsory for children from the age of one. He cites a recent Bertelsman study which shows that children from uneducated families have an 80 percent better chance of making it into academic high schools if they attend day care centres at an early age. Encouraging words from the state are not enough: "Words have not been in short supply. But families from uneducated classes don't feel they are being addressed. And in migrant families, there is also cultural resistance. But the high birth rate in both these groups means that too many children are growing up with little chance of a decent education or integration. Our society is hurtling towards a massive problem and we can no longer afford to rely on powers of persuasion. We continue to turn a blind to more successful models in other countries where daycare, kindergarten and full school days [German school days end around 1 or 2pm] are the norm. We are sleepwalking into a crisis."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Will scientific debate follow on the heels of political controversy? Developmental psychologists Detlef Rost and Heiner Rindermann, whose research Thilo Sarrazin regularly refers to in his book, put the former finance minister's five main theories on intelligence and education to the test. Their conclusion: "As far as the psychological aspects of his book are concerned, they are largely compatible with the state of knowledge in modern psychological research." The same goes for his ideas on the effects of nature and nurture on intelligence: "On the basis of a series of studies carried out in numerous countries on twins, adopted children and patchwork families, we know that the differences in people's intelligence are attributable to genetic factors by between 50 and 80 percent. Among older children living in more favourable conditions, the influence of genetic factors on the interindividual variability of cognitive capacities is stronger than in younger children in less favourable conditions. The statistics listed by Sarrazin relating to the importance of genetics for differences of intelligence are correct." (btw: Detlev Rost told all this to die Zeit, back in 2007 and no one batted an eyelid.)

Frankfurter Rundschau 07.09.2010

Historian Götz Aly doesn't think that Thilo Sarrazin's comments on the Jewish gene make him an anti-Semite. After all, the banker expressly stated that he would like more Eastern European Jews to immigrate to Germany because their "IQ is 15 percent higher than that of the German population." Aly has not actually had time to read the book, but he was struck by two things. "I don't like the cultural pessimism of the title which is reminiscent of Oswald Spengler's 'Decline of the West'. Nor, however, do I like the inquisitional air of the left-wing liberal critics who pounced on Sarrazin. I live in such circles myself and I know how careful they are that their children and grandchildren attend the 'right' kindergartens and schools, in other words, solidly bourgeois, low on immigrants."

Perlentaucher 09.09.2010

Sarrazin is closer to his left-wing liberal opponents that either side suspects, writes Thierry Chervel in Perlentaucher: "Sarrazin dreads one culture out of concern for another. In a hundred years time, according to his calculations, no-one will know [Goethe's] 'Wanderers Nachtlied' any more, he despairs. The editorial team of the chat show 'Hart aber Fair' had a field day showing that no one knows it today either. But Sarrazin's opponents believe in 'culture' as strongly as Sarrazin does. In the debate about his book there is no mention of the idea that modern societies no longer live in 'their culture'. That idea was secularisation."

Der Tagesspiegel 09.09.2010

Thilo Sarrazin has made a bogeyman of Islam with all his scaremongering about birthrates and expansionism, writes political scientist Hamed Abdel-Samad: "To my mind, however, in its current state, Islam is anything but powerful. Quite the opposite is the case: it is extremely ill and both culturally and socially, it is on the retreat. It has no constructive answers to the questions of the 21st century which is why is barricading itself behind fury and offence."

Spiegel Online 10.09.2010

Thilo Sarrazin
has handed in his resignation from the board of the Central Bank, Spiegel reports. At a reading in Potsdam yesterday, he said that "he had come under 'enormous pressure' in the past two weeks. 'It has not been easy for me.' Sarrazin said that he asked himself whether he could afford 'to lock swords with the entire political class in Germany'. 'No one could stand a situation like that for long.' Now, however, he would be able to take part in all sorts of events without people saying that the executive board of the Bundesbank was speaking."

Kurt Westergaard wins M100 award for defending freedom of opionion

Die Welt 09.09.2010

Angela Merkel spoke at the ceremony in Potsdam where Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard was awarded the M100 media prize for defending the democratic value of freedom of opinion despite threats of violence and death. She didn't, the Chancellor said, want to criticise newspapers for not printing the Mohammed cartoons at the time because such things are always a question of priorities. But, she added: "The secret of freedom is courage." And: "I am no stranger to questions of priorities. Should the Chancellor give the principle speech at this event? Should she receive the Dalai Lama? Should she, for example, take seriously the letters she receives from 'Reporters Without Borders' and, when the new president of Ukraine visits Berlin for the first time, speak to him about the restrictions on freedom of the press in his country, or rather wait for a second meeting? Which is best way to deal with the values and interests, political and economic, which are important for our country – I ask this of you and of myself? All I can say is that I answered each of these three questions with a yes."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

In an interview with Nils Minkmar, the Mohammed cartoonist Kurt Westergaard talks about how he was treated after publishing the cartoons. "All in all I was pleased at how much solidarity people showed. The majority of my fellow Danes protected or praised me for showing courage. With the sole exception, sadly, of my own class. You could call this the intellectual or creative class. These people remained sceptical and regarded my drawing as a capricious provocation of Islam." - let's talk european