German establishment figure says non-European immigration was a terrible mistake, Muslims can’t assimilate

The pols want to fire central bank board member Thilo Sarrazin, but the public are strongly behind him. (By the way, Sarrazin sounds like a Jewish name.)

German banker hits nerve with anti-immigration book

BERLIN (AFP)—Politicians have rushed to condemn a board member of the German central bank for a new book tackling immigration, but his views have found considerable support among the population at large.

Thilo Sarrazin’s book “is not convincing, but it has convinced many people,” said the influential Spiegel magazine, which this week has the Bundesbank executive on its cover, calling him a “people’s hero.”

His publisher is rushing to print more copies of “Germany Does Itself In” to meet demand. Online retailer has a massive 207 reader reviews on its website, with the average score 4.4 stars out of a possible five.

The Social Democrats (SPD), the centre-left political party Sarrazin belongs to, has been inundated with thousands of letters, emails and phone calls attacking the central bank board’s desire to expel him.

“Listen to the voice of the people for once,” Spiegel quoted one of the almost 4,000 emails as saying.

In the book, Sarrazin says Europe’s top economy is being undermined, overwhelmed and made “more stupid” by poorly educated, fast-breeding, badly integrated and unproductive Muslim immigrants and their offspring.

“If I want to hear the muezzin’s call to prayer, then I’ll go to the Orient,” he says, saying that allowing in millions of “guest workers” in the 1960s and 1970s was a “gigantic error.”

He also says that Turkish and Kurdish “clans” have a “long tradition of inbreeding,” leading to higher rates of birth defects, and ponders whether this might be one reason for immigrants’ poor school performance, Spiegel said.

This and his comment to a newspaper that “all Jews share a certain gene”, critics say, is akin to the kind of pseudo-science used by the Nazis. [LA replies: You mean, to say that a genetically related group shares a genetic characteristic is pseudo science?]

Chancellor Angela Merkel called the remarks “completely unacceptable.” The Bundesbank’s board has asked President Christian Wulff to fire him, as it cannot do so itself.

Sarrazin has no intention of going quietly, however, and has threatened to appeal in the courts if Wulff dismisses him in a “show trial.”

But at the same time, Sarrazin’s book has thrown the spotlight on the fact that Germany’s record is poor on integrating its 15.6 million people with what the government calls “a migration background.”

According to official figures, nearly one in five young people without German nationality, which many second and third generation immigrants do not have, leave school with no qualifications.

Other figures show that people in Germany of Turkish origin, who number around three million and make up the largest minority, are significantly more likely to be living below the poverty line.

The debate has taken on such proportions that Merkel, 56, gave an interview to the Turkish daily Hurriyet, and on Sunday she admitted in the Bild am Sonntag weekly that Germany has made mistakes and has a lot of work to do.

In the past, Germany “dreamed a so-called multi-cultural dream and didn’t do enough to remind immigrants of their responsibilities,” she told the paper.

“Unfortunately, it is true that children from immigrant families still today on average get worse grades at school … Our policies have made many things better but we still can’t be satisfied.”

But a Pandora’s Box has been opened. Backing for Sarrazin, 65, is so strong that a survey published on Sunday indicated that if he set up his own new political party, almost one in five (18 percent) would vote for him.

Sarrazin has no intention of doing any such thing, but the survey raised fears that a charismatic right-wing populist in Germany, like anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders in the Netherlands, could win considerable political support.

According to a study from Bielefeld University, one in two Germans thinks there are too many foreigners in the country.

- end of initial entry -

Anita K. writes from Toronto:

On the contrary, Sarrazin/Sarrasin is the French for Saracen—i.e., Arabs and Muslims. Thus the irony of this man’s name.

LA replies:

Ahh. when I saw the name Sarrazin, I thought of the 1970s American movie actor Michael Sarrazin, who I assumed was Jewish, from his appearance as well as from his name which sounded Jewish to me.

But now I look him up and find that he was not American, but Quebecois! His original name was Jacques Michel Andre Sarrazin. So, full circle, we’re back with a French name which perhaps comes from “Saracen.”

Paul K. writes:

From the article: “This and his comment to a newspaper that “all Jews share a certain gene,” critics say, is akin to the kind of pseudo-science used by the Nazis.”

I expect to see an increasing chorus of accusations that Thilo Sarrazin is anti-Semitic. After all, anyone who opposes a Muslim takeover of their country must hate Jews as well. On the principle that “all bigotry is indivisible,” as discussed here, this is a given.

A few years ago I was walking along a New York City street with a group of coworkers. At the time, there was an ADL advertising campaign with the tagline “Anti-Semitic is anti me,” printed below pictures a a black child, an Asian, a Catholic priest.

After we passed one of the posters at a bus kiosk, a Jewish coworker remarked, “That’s a fantastic campaign,” and asked me what I thought of it. He became visibly upset when I told him it made no sense to me. I explained that some people dislike Hispanics or blacks, but not Jews. Furthermore, there are black people who presumably have no animus against other blacks, but are virulently anti-Semitic. Nevertheless, to my Jewish coworker, to be anti-anyone meant you were anti-Semitic, and to challenge that assumption no doubt put me in the same category.

Dale F. writes:

When I was nineteen I worked for a few months on the dairy farm of a family named Sarrazin, near Lennoxville, Quebec. They told me that their name meant “buckwheat,” and Farmer Buckwheat certainly sounds more plausible than Farmer Saracen. But I just looked it up in my French dictionary, and indeed the word has both meanings. Apparently buckwheat was originally thought to have been of Arab origin; according to one source I found, Italians refer to buckwheat as grano saraceno:

The origins of buckwheat (Fagopyrum sagittatum syn. F.esculentum) were long thought to be in central Asia, somewhere between Lake Baikal and Manchuria. Recent research now leans toward southwest China and the Himalayan region as the center of origin[i]. It is considered a cereal although it does not belong to the same Gramineae family as it is a grass.

Buckwheat is known as grano saraceno in Italian and sarrasin in French, leading the late food writer Waverly Root to assume its Arab or Muslim origins. But the term “Saracen” was used by Europeans of the Middle Ages to describe many things that simply came from the East, whether they were known to be Arab or not. According to the contemporary Italian botanist Valerio Giacomini, who has made a thorough study of buckwheat there are three possible ways buckwheat arrived in Europe: the first route goes through southern Russia, Poland, Germany reaching Belgium and France where buckwheat appears; the second runs through Turkey, to Greece, Hungary, and southern Russia; and the third through the maritime contacts of Venice, which might explain in part the ascription of “Saracen.”

In any case the origin of buckwheat is unknown even if its name in Latin languages suggests an Arab provenance. There is a legend that Joost van Gistele brought it back with him from his journey to the Holy Land in 1485. The Arab, and even central Asian origin has been contradicted by recent archeological research. It has come to light through pollen analysis that buckwheat grew in the Netherlands and north-west Germany long before the beginning of our era. The first documentary evidence is of four malder boicweyts supplied in 1394 in Middelaar, near Mook (Netherlands) to the Duke of Gelre (Silcher). This date is the earliest documentary evidence we have for buckwheat in Europe.[ii]

LA replies:

The vagueness of medieval Europeans’ knowledge of Saracens/Arabs/Moslems and things from that source, as indicated in this article, reminds me of The Song of Roland, in which the most fantastical conceptions of the Saracens/Moslems are entertained. The one solid conception that the Europeans had of the Moslems was that they were the mortal enemy who threatened to destroy everything Christendom was; and for practical purposes, that was enough. But the specifics in the Christians’ picture of the Moslems were a gross caricature. This is even more remarkable when we remember that The Song of Roland, though its story takes place in the Dark Ages (the 8th century), was written in the High Middle Ages (the 12th century), when one would have thought that more knowledge was available.

Today, we see the converse: Westerners have vast amounts of detailed knowledge about various aspects of the Moslem world, but zero conception of the most important thing, that Islam is the mortal enemy who threatens to destroy everything we are. For all the apparent backwardness of our medieval forebears, they were superior to us where it counted.

LA continues:

Even the epitome of High Medieval learning, Dante, writing in the early 14th century, had the crudest notions of Islam. Except, once again, for the most important thing: he knew it meant the destruction of Christian truth, of the Christian world.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at September 07, 2010 09:14 AM | Send

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