BERLIN – The most talked about man in Germany is a 65-year-old economist whose hot new book and sudden groundswell of popular support have the media dubbing him a folk hero. But that is not the only thing they are calling Thilo Sarrazin these days.
Some are also calling him dangerous. Sarrazin, a board member of the German Central Bank until he resigned under pressure Thursday, has divided the nation by postulating the theory that Germany is being “dumbed down” by Muslim immigrants and their children. Wielding statistics and scientific arguments both in his book and in public comments, he delves into territory largely taboo here since the Holocaust, suggesting that “hereditary factors” are at least partly to blame. Turks and Kurdish immigrants, he asserts, are genetically predisposed to lower intelligence than Germans and other ethnic groups, including Jews.
His statements have shocked many in Germany not only because of a national sensitivity to anything remotely smacking of genetic superiority claims in the post-World War II era. What has also shocked many is that so many Germans have rallied to his side as the central bank and his political party have sought to oust him for his pronouncements.
The article says most of his backers are distancing themselves from the heredity statement, but they love the other part, as though there is a fine demarcation between the racist aspect of this and the non-racist part, if there is one.
The sickening part is that this guy is being embraced as a “folk hero” for saying things people want to say but are afraid to.
The story gets weirder:
German-Jewish groups, for instance, are among Sarrazin’s staunchest critics, calling him a dangerous racist. Though Sarrazin has spoken positively of Jews, saying they have “high IQs,” he courted controversy after declaring in an Aug. 29 interview that “all Jews share a certain gene.” In fact, observers here say that the official outcry against Sarrazin – including the move to expel him from the board of the central bank – would have been far more muted had he simply stuck to his generalizations about Muslims.
But by generalizing about Jewish genetics, albeit positively, Sarrazin also “crossed a red line,” said Stephan Kramer, secretary general of the Central Council of Jews in Germany.
“It’s absolutely unacceptable with the history here that such a large amount of people follow what he says,” Kramer said. “The lesson of the Holocaust is not just about Jews, but that human dignity is indivisible. Yet now, they react if there is a genetic comment about Jews, but not if it’s about the Roma or the Turks. We obviously still have some homework to do.”
Part of the propaganda against the Jews in the early Nazi years was the fact that their “hairsplitting” distinction making in academic matters was problematic. While much of the propaganda was dehumanizing, the success of Jews as prominent thinkers was also held against them. So saying the Jews have a high IQ does not erase the problem of this sort of ethnic categorization. This whole thing is downright creepy.