On Theo Sarrazin, Hugh Fitzgerald offers background and clarification here. But as noted in the editorial below, the problem of illiberal liberalism (a term coined in an article written a few months before 9/11) quashing free speech and the right to voice unpopular (or unpedigreed) concerns and opinions, and unpleasant facts about Islam is far broader than any one case. After all, it keeps happening, and stops untold numbers from speaking up in the first place.
"Political Correctness Is Silencing an Important Debate," by Matthias Matussek for Spiegel, September 10:
German central banker Thilo Sarrazin is being pilloried over his polemic chastising of Muslims, but there are a few things his critics clearly fail to understand. You can't cast away what the man embodies: The anger of a German people who are tired of being cursed at when they offer to help foreigners to integrate.
Nothing is as it used to be. In this season of public outrage, the case of Thilo Sarrazin has grown far bigger than Sarrazin. It's much bigger than the man or the Islam-critical book he wrote.
The Sarrazin case is also a Merkel case, a case for his party, the center-left Social Democrats, and for the German political and media establishment. Sarrazin has become code for the outrage over how the politically correct branch of Germany's consensus-based society have dispatched their stewards to escort this unsettling heckler to the door. On their way, they seem to be trying to teach him a lesson, as well: "We will beat tolerance into you."
Sarrazin isn't telegenic and he often gets tangled up in statistics. When it comes to styling, he's at a loss -- he is unkempt when he appears on the myriad talkshows that keep our entertainment society going. He slips on one banana peel of political correctness after another, opening himself to attack with his statements about genetics. But his findings on the failed integration of Turkish and Arab immigrants are beyond any doubt.
Sarrazin has been forced out of the Bundesbank. The SPD wants to kick him out of the party, too. Invitations previously extended to Sarrazin are being withdrawn. The culture page editors at the German weekly Die Zeit are crying foul and the editors at the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung are damning Sarrazin for passages he didn't even write.
Technicians of Exclusion
But what all these technicians of exclusion fail to see is that you cannot cast away the very thing that Sarrazin embodies: the anger of people who are sick and tired -- after putting a long and arduous process of Enlightenment behind them -- of being confronted with pre-Enlightenment elements that are returning to the center of our society. They are sick of being cursed or laughed at when they offer assistance with integration. And they are tired about reading about Islamist associations that have one degree of separation from terrorism, of honor killings, of death threats against cartoonists and filmmakers. They are horrified that "you Christian" has now become an insult on some school playgrounds. And they are angry that Western leaders are now being forced to fight for a woman in an Islamic country because she has been accused of adultery and is being threatened with stoning.
Strangely enough, a good number of our fellow Turkish citizens are more outraged by Sarrazin's book than they are about those things.
Should those Turkish immigrants fortunate enough to have exemplary careers not start exerting a bit of influence over their fellow immigrants and their neighborhoods, so that the Koran shows its gentler, more charitable face? Isn't it time for them to stand up and show their backing for plurality and freedom of expression?
That certainly wasn't the case recently when the Migration Board, an umbrella group for immigrant organizations in Berlin, spoke out successfully against a reading by Sarrazin during the International Literature Festival in the German capital. Bernd Scherer, who heads the House of World Cultures, the venue of the festival, buckled under the pressure and cancelled the event. Now the reading is to be held at another venue on Friday -- under police protection.
Protecting the Public from Poison and Temptation
But as a society, we seem content with the fact that our politicians, opportunistic as they have become, are struggling under the same weight. And as far as the politically correct media is concerned, it hardly functions any longer....