German Fears of Multiculturalism

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German Fears of Multiculturalism

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When Germany talks about the problems non-Germans, immigrants within its borders people should take notice.

Recent comments by German Chancellor Angela Merkel about the problems of unassimilated foreigners into German culture have served notice this is a front burner issue. Merkel said her Christian Democratic Union was “committed to a dominant German culture and opposed to a multicultural one.” Fears that the German economy is being held back by unskilled labor were also expressed by Chancellor Merkel on October 16 before a meeting of young members of her party.

Reports of this meeting highlight the emphasis on the need to preserve a dominant German culture. Such talk has not been so prominently voiced in Germany since the end of World War II. Germans have been, and in many respects, still are very sensitive to the how they are viewed in relation to past treatment of ethnic minorities.

Germany’s and Europe’s, response to its immigrants is something many are carefully watching. A recent Wall Street Journal article, “Europe the Intolerant”, highlighted the “darker impulses” lurking beneath the surface of an imagined tolerant European façade. “Europeans are leery not just of Muslim immigrants but of Jews, nearly exterminated on the continent 60 years ago. A recent Pew Global Attitudes poll found that nearly 50% of Spaniards have either a “very” or “somewhat unfavorable” opinion of Jews. The figures are 25% for Germans, 20% for French and 10% for British. This anti- Semitism was underscored by the recent assertion of European Union Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht that “it is not easy to have, even with moderate Jews, a rational discussion about what is actually happening in the Middle East.” (Wall Street Journal, October 12, 2010)

Merkel’s public comments could set in motion forces that would impact Germany and Europe and the global balance of power. Her words, and the sentiments they represent, should not be ignored or taken lightly.