Angela Merkel: German Multicultural Society Has 'Utterly Failed'
Old 10-18-2010, 09:55 AM   #1 (permalink)
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BERLIN Chancellor Angela Merkel's declaration that Germany's attempts to build a multicultural society had "utterly failed" is feeding a growing debate over how to deal with the millions of foreigners who call the country home.

Merkel told a meeting of young members of her conservative Christian Democratic Union that while immigrants are welcome in Germany, they must learn the language and accept the country's cultural norms sounding a note heard increasingly across Europe as it battles an economic slump and worries about homegrown terrorism.

"This multicultural approach, saying that we simply live side by side and live happily with each other has failed. Utterly failed," Merkel said.
Angela Merkel: German Multicultural Society Has 'Utterly Failed'
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Old 10-18-2010, 10:07 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I really don't understand what she means here. What was the criteria for failure or success? Why does it have to be put in such polarizing terms?
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Old 10-18-2010, 10:33 AM   #3 (permalink)
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What has failed the Germans most is their bailing out of every other country in the EU that doesn't feel like paying taxes.
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Old 10-18-2010, 08:26 PM   #4 (permalink)
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What has failed the Germans most is their bailing out of every other country in the EU that doesn't feel like paying taxes.
Yes. So what do you as the leader of a country mention when your country is facing declining population rates, huge budget deficits, and the fact that economic parity still hasn't been achieved between the east and the west in Germany?

You focus on a non-issue like immigration. :facepalm: Tell her to stop supporting the German Football team if she wants to stand behind her statement of immigrants not adhering to the German language or culture. Otherwise, she should acknowledge that something as major as German Soccer has many players born from immigrant families (Ozel, Podolski, Kedera, Klose, etc). Last time, I checked they all spoke German and were proud to be Germans.

Never mind. I read more and realized Ozel is her "poster child". Now I'm confused.

Last edited by Yuksek; 10-18-2010 at 08:30 PM. Reason: Read more
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Old 10-18-2010, 08:33 PM   #5 (permalink)
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well said yuksek. german's foundation was a bringing-together of a large number of germanic tribes, and the whole history of the country is as an amalgamation of cultures. yes, there was a common language, but with wide variations that still exist. bavaria is certainly not schleswig-holstein.

the issue is not with multiculturalism, it is with a legacy of racism. other than the nazi period, germany has been fine with many european cultures within its borders throughout its history. the issue now is only that they are brown.
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Old 10-18-2010, 08:46 PM   #6 (permalink)
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well said yuksek. german's foundation was a bringing-together of a large number of germanic tribes, and the whole history of the country is as an amalgamation of cultures. yes, there was a common language, but with wide variations that still exist. bavaria is certainly not schleswig-holstein.

the issue is not with multiculturalism, it is with a legacy of racism. other than the nazi period, germany has been fine with many european cultures within its borders throughout its history. the issue now is only that they are brown.
Yes that's really what it is. The root is racism. Merkel is educated so she has no excuse for idiotic comments like that. The racists make blanket statements like "all the immigrants in Germany don't learn German". I imagine that many first generation immigrants don't learn to speak German well, but what about their children who grow up to be German Soccer stars like Ozel? Or their children who end up being Doctors, Lawyers, Teachers, etc?

As well, they use stats like "4 percent of our population is Muslim and their have a high birth rate". A statement like that then makes the right-wingers jump up and down and proclaim that "their" country will be taken over by fundamentalist Islam....Hold on. Let's think about it. So EVERY single person who happens to have a Muslim heritage is a fundamentalist? terrorist? No, not even close. In fact, most second generation immigrants consider themselves to be Germans, British, Canadians, etc and are usually moderate or not religious.
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Old 10-19-2010, 02:20 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I think she raises a good point....If only they could determine one specific race that is better than all the races...

In the interests of keeping things short, we will refer to this race as the "master race".
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Old 10-19-2010, 02:26 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I think she raises a good point....If only they could determine one specific race that is better than all the races...

In the interests of keeping things short, we will refer to this race as the "master race".
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Old 10-19-2010, 04:36 PM   #9 (permalink)
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She used a genuine issue to score political points within her party. However, she is indeed addressing a real issue: failed immigration policy. I think saying it's racism is part of the issue but still a tad simplistic. There is a real problem of integration and it's been pointed out by people ACROSS THE WHOLE POLITICAL SPECTRUM. It's just that some of the other politicians address their comments towards the unfair immigration policy itself and not "multiculturalism." As other countries have demonstrated, multiculturalism can work, but you need to have a good policies in place to support it. Some of Germany's past immigration policies did not foster integration.

The Turks who immigrated to Germany were screwed over by the politicians for decades and that's why there is the appearace of failed multiculturalism. And this has implications for other countries: it serves as an example of what not to do. You don't bring over hundreds of thousands of temporary labourers and assume the people will immediate leave. Things can change. And they did. At one point there was work, so the Turks stayed, and quite a few employers were happy to have the cheap labour a few decades ago. However, when you string these peope along and they settle in your country, you better grant them citizenship. If you don't, of course there are going to be integration problems. Much of these issues can be traced back to the fact that the Muslim Turks were denied full citizenship after being in Germany for years. It had implications for their children as well. Under these conditions, families were denied access to the opportunities that would have led to a higher degree of integration, such as future generations getting post-secondary educations and serving as "assimilated" middle-class leaders within their communities. We all know that is what contributes to successful integration in other countries. Or we should know. Denying citizenship is a recipe for disaster, becase it leads to alienation, insular communities, poverty and lack of education. Sure, some members of these Turkish-German communities might be interactng with people in farmers markets and other similar venues, but they are not represented at all levels of society, and in large part due to the fact that they were not granted ample opportunity to do so. It's not just racism. It's also bad policy.

The fact that Merkel likes the Turkish soccer player makes perfect sense. A lot of people living in Turkey right now would assimilate into German society better than the actual ethnic Turks who live in Germany as a result of the 1960s wave of immigration. Right now pockets of Turkey are full of Turks who are more progressive/westernized than most of the Turkish communities in Germany. The immigration policies of the last 5 decades have created a group of Turkish-Germans who are not quite like Germans or Turks. To borrow a phrase I read in a paper earlier to day, "they are caught in a time warp." And the women have suffered disproportionately due to this patriarchal "time warp." Of course, to be clear, this doesn't apply to all of them but rather a significant portion. People have been saying this for years. The fact that an issue exists is apparent, it's just that Merkel's timing, and her choice of words...are...well...political manipulation. But it doesn't change the fact that there is a real problem with the way Germany has dealt with immigration in recent decades. Racism? Sure, that's part of it. Is that the only thing? No, because making things fair requires more than just changing the way people think. In order for things to be fair for the people in these immigrant communities, you have to have policies that incentivise integration. It IS in their best interest to learn the language and integrate. It IS in their best interest to branch out and send some of their kids to university or trade schools, if they'd like to go. If they do so, they will enjoy a quality of life closer to that enjoyed by Turks who immigrated to other countries, like Britain. A good chunk of the Turks in Germany were denied these opportunities for decades.
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Old 10-19-2010, 04:41 PM   #10 (permalink)
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that's pretty much the same point i was making. the immigration policy has worked perfectly well with poles and italians, etc - granting citizenship and creating opportunities for assimilation and becoming part of the national makeup. not so with turks and other muslims. why? racism. this is failed multiculturalism, but only for brown immigrants.
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Old 10-19-2010, 06:28 PM   #11 (permalink)
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it's not just brown immigrants though, but particular communities within that group, that do pose a real problem that needs to be tackled. There's the same issue in England, where whole neighborhoods have drastically changed, and it feels like a takeover with people not wanting to speak english or form a bond with groups that were there before. It does go both ways, and it is volatile, and it's hard to separate the racism that does get in the way.

I remember Canada's muliculti policies being criticised by all sides in past decades, and there was a sense of real ghettoizing of communities here in Toronto, which I always really disliked. I think this city has done a commendable job of breaking all that up much more and creating much more of a mosaic within neighborhoods themselves. And I think changes in the approach to multiculturalism have helped in that regard. Yes - there is plenty of accommodating languages and different needs, but there is also an expectation of contributing to the city's culture as a whole.
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Old 10-19-2010, 07:51 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I think we all know what Merkel's real comment was.

She wasn't trying to say "all Turkish immigrants are bad, let's get them out"

She even mentioned immigrants are welcomed to Germany. What she is trying to say is " We want our Turkish communities to form close bonds with the rest of Germany like Mesut Ozel has". I whole heartedly agree with that goal and statement

But...
she contradicts that statement by repeating that immigration has "utterly failed", twice. She's slapping the face of every German national of Turkish origin in the face and painting a picture that every German national of Turkish origin has succumb to the same fate. Now that is a stupid statement and racist.

The fact is immigration in Germany has not utterly failed, it's just not gone as successfully as it has in other countries (Canada, Britain, and America). ACGM's post described the reasons why it has failed as well.

My only suggestion to Merkel has she tackles this issue is to stop being a politician and be a leader. Don't appease your party followers by saying the racist things they want to hear. Instead be a leader and say " We need to change our plan and help our immigrant brothers and sisters become the future German football stars, doctors , engineers, plumbers etc like so many of them already have"
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Old 10-20-2010, 08:20 AM   #13 (permalink)
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yep - I would agree that she was probably looking to distract and garner support from the wrong places. It's such an easy and bad habit for politicians to fall into. I think that nationalism and patriotism tend to make it a little inevitable, and cause a lot of the problem on both ends. My ideal world places much more emphasis on building strong local communities of diverse people, and much less on mostly artificial ties across great distances on the basis of lines drawn on a map centuries ago. When we figure out that the only real power available lies within the former rather than the latter, then it will happen, maybe.
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