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Like America, Germany Needs More Sanity, Less Hysteria

I would like to call for a "war on hysteria," if that would not be so hysterical in itself. Where are the German Jon Stewarts, who could restore some sanity over here? The whole debate in Germany about multiculturalism and Muslims, immigration and integration is full of hysteria. It's gotten so hysterical, that this debate now includes Halloween and nuclear energy.

Continue reading "Like America, Germany Needs More Sanity, Less Hysteria"

"Obama Effect": increased diversity in global politics?

“Prejudice in Europe is more than skin deep”, writes Columbia University historian Mark Mazower in the Financial Times:
Europeans find it hard adjusting to a colour-blind world. Indeed their hesitancy is growing. In Austria, the extreme right carved out big gains in September’s general elections. Pope Benedict weighed in over the summer to warn against a possible resurgence of fascist values in Italy. Europe as a whole, according to recent polls, has become significantly more xenophobic over the past few years. Fears of Islamic terrorism and anxiety about globalisation have fed this trend. So has fervent anti-European Union sentiment, strongly correlated to populist anti-immigrant rhetoric. By contrast, Mr Obama’s story is that of the immigrant dream, a tale of upwardly-mobile success that cut decisively across race lines. Immigrant voters played a decisive electoral role in Mr Obama’s win, yet immigration – for all the prior public debate – figured little as a campaign issue.
It will be interesting to see if a black president in America will reverse the trend of rising xenophobia in Europe cited by Mazower.  Al Jazeera also poses an interesting question, "Will the 'Obama effect' encourage more diversity in global politics?"

See also from Atlantic Review:
* Five Reasons Obama Would not be Elected in Europe

Huckabee: United States Does Integration Better than Europe

Mike Huckabee is a political rockstar in the United States.  Even atheist Democrats who disagree with many of his policies cannot help but be charmed by the former governor.  My friend and a fellow blogger Kevin (one such atheist Democrat) gives his take on this phenomenon at the blog Wyatt Gwyon:
Of the Republican candidates, Huckabee is the most straightforward in presentation and generally the most rigorous in his analyses… I certainly do not concur with the majority of the political positions that stereotypically come with his fundamentalist Christian system of belief, but I am clear on what he believes and can respect his convictions to those beliefs for their principled consistency. Huckabee is a profoundly known factor.
IMHO, style is what has buoyed Huckabee’s presidential bid.  It is not a coincidence that his campaign picked up momentum only a week after he became “Chuck Norris Approved” in a humorous commercial run  prior to him sweeping the Iowa primaries last week.

Huckabee has nonetheless been criticized for lacking a solid foreign policy platform.  This week, he dabbled on the issue of US-European relations by speculating who is better at cultural integration.  As reported by the National Review Online:
It is also difficult for us, with our culture of assimilation, to understand that life for European Muslims is different from life for American Muslims.  Muslims in Britain or the Netherlands or Germany are second-class citizens because those countries have more homogenous populations that don’t readily integrate outsiders.  Instead of melting pots, Europe has separate pots boiling over with alienation and despair. In some countries, like France, it is more a lack of economic integration, while in others, like Britain, it is more a lack of cultural integration, but whatever the reason, Europe is a much more fertile breeding ground for terror than the United States. Unintentionally, some of our closest allies are producing some of our clearest threats. 
I agree with Huckabee that Europe does a poorer job of integration than the US, and that this can breed violence.  However, I find it difficult to pin exactly why the US is a more successful 'melting pot'.  Perhaps one factor is upward mobility: I suspect an individual can transcend their parentage easier in the US than in most European countries, which in turn mitigates social and cultural stratification.

Pat Buchanan on Rising Nationalism in the United States

Not only President Bush, but the entire Washington establishment has sustained a major humiliation, when the immigration bill was defeated, writes Pat Buchanan in RealClearPolitics. Our loyal reader Don recommends this article: "Admittedly Buchanan is a bit of a fruitcake - but even fruitcakes can be right once in a while." Here's a quote:
Eighteen months before Bush departs, it is clear that his open-borders, free-trade globalism is no longer unchallenged dogma in the GOP. Three of every four Senate Republicans rejected amnesty. And fast track, by which Congress surrenders its right to amend Bush trade bills, expired Saturday. The Doha Round of global trade negotiations is as dead as the immigration bill.
If there is a rising sentiment in America today, it is nationalism. Americans are growing weary of seeing their sons die in wars to bring democracy to people who do not seem all that appreciative. They are tired of reading of factories going to China and jobs going to India, while illegal aliens march in their cities under foreign flags to demand their "civil rights." They are tired of reading about new billionaires as their wages fail to rise to compensate for soaring gas prices and the falling value of their homes. The establishment is losing the trust of the people, who are coming to believe that establishment is looking out for its own interests, not theirs -- and the two are no longer the same.
This was Pat Buchanan. Now over to you. Has the "national mood" changed on the above issues fundamentally in the last two years? Do you see any tectonic shifts in US politics? Mainly positive or negative changes?
To quote Carl Schurz, who was a German revolutionary, American statesman, and Union Army general in the American Civil War: "My country is the great American Republic. My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right."
In this sense: Happy Independence Day!


The Economist's Lexington writes about Anti-Europeanism in the United States, which is an interesting topic. Unfortunately he does not add much to the debate, but covers the same "Eurabia" examples that have been criticized many times before: America's anti-Europeans believe that "Europe is committing demographic and economic suicide" because of the birthrate and economic regulations.  Besides, Europe is seen as "a post-Christian society" and "Muslims are filling Europe's demographic and spiritual void." Yawn.
Lexington concludes: "Curing global anti-Americanism primarily means repairing America's relations with the rest of the world; but it also means uprooting the anti-European weeds that have flourished in America in the past few years."

Black History Month in Germany

Every February, millions of Americans and Canadians celebrate Black History Month, sometimes referred to as African-American History Month or African Heritage Month. While the month-long series of events discusses oppression and prejudices against people of color, the main aim is to recognize the rich history and culture and significant contributions to society made by people with African heritage.
The United Kingdom has a Black History Month in October of every year. The Sueddeutsche Zeitung wrote in February 2006 that the Initiative Schwarze Menschen in Deutschland ("Black People in Germany Initiative") has been organizing a Black History Month in Germany since 1990 but I have not found much information on their homepage.  In order to shed more light on the history and contributions of black people in Germany, the Atlantic Review has teamed up with Jewels in the Jungle blogger Bill, an African-American who has been living in Germany for years, as well as two Afro-German friends of his: Patrick and Patricia.

"Black Germans? Are you serious?"
Answer: Definitely! guide Hyde Flippo, a retired teacher of German language, history, and literature in the U.S.A. provides some statistics and some history:
Black Germans? Non-Germans may be understandably surprised to learn that there are Afro-Germans (Afrodeutsche), but many Germans themselves are unaware of the concept of a German who is also black (ein Schwarzer). While compared to other minorities, such as the 2 million Turks living in Germany, blacks are definitely a tiny minority among Germany's 82 million people. While EU countries do not keep track of ethnicity, there are an estimated 300,000 to 500,000 Blacks living in Germany today.
The history of black people in Germany goes back much further than most people think. One of the first Africans known to have lived in Germany was Anton Wilhelm Amo (1703-1759). Born in what is today's Ghana, Amo came under the protection of the Duke (Herzog) of Wolfenbüttel in Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen) and grew up in the duke's castle. He was both the first African known to attend a German university (Halle) and the first to obtain a doctorate degree (in 1729). As a professor, under his preferred name of Antonius Guilelmus Amo Afer, he taught at two German universities and published several scholarly works, including a Latin treatise entitled De Arte Sobrie et Accurate Philosophandi (1736, "On the Art of Philosophizing Soberly and Accurately"). Knowing the level of his achievements, it is all the more surprising to learn that Amo returned to Africa in 1747. Most accounts claim the reason for his return to his native Africa was the racial discrimination he encountered in Germany.
Mr. Flippo provides a lot more information about African Americans in Germany and lists some famous Afro-Germans which includes well-known entertainers like Roberto Blanco (very popular with older Germans) and singer Xavier Naidoo (a big star with younger Germans), as well as two members of the German National Soccer Team (Gerald Asamoah, David Odonkor), and ZDF-TV network morning news anchor Cherno Jobatey.

While Germany does not have a series of big events labeled "Black History Month," there are nevertheless quite a few projects that highlight Afro-Germans. 

Below the jump, this Atlantic Review post presents some quotes from articles about various Afro-German artists and their views on life in Germany, followed by a few thoughts on the concept of Black History Month:
Continue reading "Black History Month in Germany"

Transatlantic Foreign Policy Attitudes and Threat Perceptions

The graphic below is from Transatlantic Trends Survey of the German Marshall Fund of the United States. The perception of various threats does not seem to be very different in the United States and Europe.  Certainly the differences are not so big to suggest that Europeans and Americans do not share many common interests anymore, as more and more bloggers claim these days.


Transatlantic Trends: Key Findings (pdf) and Narrated Slide Presentation.

The German weekly Die Zeit summarizes the findings as well.

Prof. Drezner of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University discusses the assumption of American exceptionalism in his book review "Mind the Gap" for the The National Interest. The first book is Andrew Kohut and Bruce Stokes' America Against the World (,, which "compares and contrasts the attitudes of Americans and other nationalities, relying primarily on the Pew Global Attitudes project. The second is Benjamin Page and Marshall Bouton's The Foreign Policy Disconnect (,, which compares and contrasts the attitudes of Americans and foreign policymaking elites." The book review in The National Interest is available for free, but Dr. Drezner also has an excerpt on his blog "Taking exception to American exceptionalism?": 
In detailing the patterns and gaps between the American public and others, these books nicely complement and occasionally contradict each other. Both The Foreign Policy Disconnect and America Against the World will add grist to the mill for those who profess faith in the wisdom of crowds and doubts about the judgment of foreign policy experts. After cogitating on both books, it would be difficult for the informed reader to believe that Americans hold irrational or flighty views about foreign policy. Most Americans, on most issues, articulate what George W. Bush characterized as a "humble" foreign policy during the 2000 campaign. They want a prudent foreign policy based on security against attacks and threats to domestic well-being—though American attitudes about multilateralism remain an open question. The gaps between American attitudes and the rest of the world are overstated; the gaps between Americans and their policymakers might be understated. The biggest question—which neither of these books answers satisfactorily—is to what extent these views, and gaps between views, matter.
Emphasis in bold added, because I think this is important for the frequent debates about transatlantic disagreements.

Related: Prof. Drezner December 2006 article in the Washington Post: "The Grandest Strategy Of Them All."


Brain Drain: German YouTube Founder Enjoys the American Dream

Observing Hermann writes about the third YouTube founder, Jawed Karim, who was born in East Germany in 1979:
Ironically, Karim's family (his father was originally from Bangladesh) left Germany in 1992 after the infamous post-Wall racist incidents in Hoyerswerda, Rostock and Mölln; not the first time that Ausländerfeindlichkeit (hatred of foreigners) has led to the brain drain from one country and to the benefit of another. That's entrepreneurial power that Germany could be using right now, too (should we Americans say thanks to Germany now or later?)."
In spring 2006, Jawed Karim left YouTube for graduate studies at Stanford. He remained an informal advisor and major shareholder. The NYT writes:
Mr. Karim said he might keep a hand in entrepreneurship, and he dreams of having an impact on the way people use the Internet -- something he has already done. Philanthropy may have some appeal, down the road. But mostly he just wants to be a professor. He said he simply hopes to follow in the footsteps of other Stanford academics who struck it rich in Silicon Valley and went back to teaching.
UPI writes about the brain drain (HT: Observing Hermann):
Some 145,000 people in 2005 emigrated from Germany to other countries, the highest emigration total since 1954, according to latest numbers. Mainly young and well-educated people leave Germany, often for better working conditions, such as scientists researching in the United States; a higher pay check, like teachers working in Switzerland; or better chances to quickly find a job, for example in many of the Scandinavian countries.
Related posts in the Atlantic Review: Germany loses the brightest minds to the US and Racism in East Germany.