Monday, October 25, 2010

A Note To Chancellor Angela Merkel And The Supposed Failure Of Multiculturalism In Germany

Lia Petridis Maiello

Lia Petridis Maiello

Posted: October 21, 2010 06:26 PM

Liebe Frau Merkel,

Normally I wouldn't abuse my platform at The Huffington Post to burden the public with my subjective views on the world. Your remarks last week made it time for an exception.

Since Saturday of last week, Frau Merkel, the remaining trust in my home country's rational regarding the "immigration issue" has vanished. I had to digest your statement that "multiculturalism in Germany has utterly failed," and then become alarmed at Horst Seehofer, chairman of your sister party, CSU, the Christian Social Union, calling for a "halt to immigration for Turks and Arabs."

Multiculturalism is a concept that as a daughter of a Greek immigrant to Germany, I have been particularly proud of. A concept, that I, being now an immigrant to the United States was always happy to quote when trying to convince an international group of friends in New York City that "Germans are worldly now. Immune to nationalism and unintelligent pride that leads us nowhere, as history has proven."

I am not so sure anymore. Now I have a lot of questions. I might not be German enough to ever return.

Doubts occur, in particular, after a study on "Right Extremism in Germany" was released on October, 13th by the Friedrich-Ebert foundation, according to which every tenth German is longing for the guidance of a "Fuehrer", and every third of my countrymen would like to send foreigners back to wherever they came from. (I wish for John Cleese to take the stage and do an adequate spoof, and, yes, go ahead, do mention the war!)

For the first time, the authors of the study the Friedrich-Ebert foundation conducts every two years inquired about the sentiments Germans are nourishing towards Muslims. 58.4% percent of interviewees agree the practice of Islam in Germany should be considerably constrained. Did I miss something when I was taught the basics of democracy and how it shall be practiced in the land of Immanuel Kant, Johann Gottfried Herder and Friedrich Schiller? Does the school of humanism require a German pedigree now? Could I even apply?

And what would the requisitions be, I wonder?

How, liebe Frau Merkel, am I going to explain over here that 17.2% of respondents believe that "Jews still have too much influence"?

Do you understand, liebe Frau Merkel, what signal this is transmitting to the world? In particular, since you jumped the band wagon only four days later and declared my existence, the result of a multicultural relationship in Germany, as an utter failure? Do you realize that I would like to show the world that the country I originated from, by pure accident by the way, is ready for the international diplomatic challenges of a globalized world in the 21st century? Since you just won a seat on the UN Security Council?

And now who are you going to blame for the problems in German society? The immigrants that came to work for cheap and prolonged the German Wirtschaftswunder (economic miracle) in the late 60's or their children? Or those Germans that treated my father and his friends like they didn't belong and they never will, no matter how German they might become? Ruben Navarette pointed out at CNN this week, "Show me a group of people who are cloistered in ethnic enclaves and refusing to assimilate, and I'll show you a group of people who have often been marginalized and don't feel welcomed into the mainstream. They retreat to their own neighborhoods as a defense mechanism."

Due to a labor shortage during the Wirtschaftswunder in the 1950s and 1960s, West Germany signed bilateral recruitment agreements with Italy in 1955, Greece in 1960, Turkey in 1961, Morocco in 1963, Portugal in 1964, Tunisia in 1965, and Yugoslavia in 1968. These agreements allowed the recruitment of Gastarbeiter (guest workers) to work in the industrial sector for jobs that required few qualifications. Obligatory language courses would have made sense back in the day. But secretly the nation was hoping that the guests weren't overstaying their visit and leave after the dirty work was done.

I understand Germany is in demand of qualified laborers. 400,000 engineers are needed, according to Hans Heinrich Driftmann, President of the German Chamber of Industry and Commerce. With a declining birth rate in Germany in 2008, the Teutons brought up the rear in Europe with only eight babies per 1000 German citizens, half as many as in Ireland.

Where are you going to recruit these skilled employees from, if an unwelcoming atmosphere is created for everything that is not German? And to this day I am honestly pestered with the question what on earth that exactly means, being German?

Soon the productive country with attitude in the heart of Europe will be unattractive for highly skilled immigrants and internationally non-competitive.

According to ARD evening news from October 11th, more people are emigrating from Germany since 2008 than actually making the effort to get into Germany, since obtaining citizenship is a long lasting, complicated endeavor, outside of having to deal with an unwelcoming vibe.

It is extremely worrisome that a mob answers a questionnaire that documents their racist attitude. It is unacceptable for a Head of State to cave in to such sentiment.

Lia Petridis Maiello

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