Sunday, October 24, 2010

Germany's Fraying Welcome Mat

Germany's attempts to create a multicultural society in which people from various cultural backgrounds live together peacefully had failed, Chancellor Angela Merkel said last week. She conceded that "Multikulti", the concept that "we are now living side by side and are happy about it", does not work.

Backing up her rueful admission are surveys showing 35% of Germans believe the country is overrun by foreigners. An equal number believe the foreigners come to feed off German welfare. Merkel had in mind the Turks who came mainly as "gastarbeiters"(guest workers) in the 1960's. Some 2.5 million now live in Germany, in their densely packed neighborhoods with no desire to return back home to Turkey.

This was very obvious to me as I travelled around Berlin and it's suburbs last year and saw it for myself. The Turkish flag on every street, the strictly Turkish shop signage and not a German seen or voice heard. (see my photo). Recently Arabs and East Europeans have come and the Muslim population is now up to 5 million! This has led Horst Seehofer. from Merkel's party to call for a halt in immigration of "alien cultures". He says, "the Turks and other Muslims are not learning the language, not assimilating, not becoming Germans. We are committed to a dominant German culture and opposed to a multicultural one."

The German relatives I visited said they already had a growing sense that their Muslim population was becoming a culture within a culture. A real and shocking awareness of deep differences with their Turkish neighbors became acute for Germans when, grieving in solidarity with America after 9/11, they learned that Turkish sectors of Berlin were celebrating Islam's victory with barrages of fireworks and small rockets. Germans are nervous and are sensing there may be truth to the phrase; "Welcome to Eurarabia!"

The Way I See It....the resurgence of ethnonationalism that is feeding the ranks of populist and anti-immigrant parties across Europe and gaining respectability doesn't solve Germany's problem. She is running out of Germans! Yet, if her welfare state is to survive and her industries are to remain competitive, Germany will need millions of new workers. Where are they to come from, if not the Third World. For not one European nation, save Iceland and Albania, has had a birth rate for decades that is not below zero population growth. You see...Baby-Boomer Europe decided in the 1970's and 1980's it wanted La Dolce Vita, not the hassle of children. It made for a sweet life. Now the bill comes due. And the bill is the end of their "tribes"and countries as we have known them. Old Europe is dying and the populist and nationalist parties, in the words of Dylan Thomas, are simply "raging against the dying of the light!"

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