The article “Is multi-kulti dead?” which focuses on integration of immigrants in Europe—specifically Germany—sparked my reflections on meanings of nationalism and culture. In this piece from The Economist, Germany is initially portrayed as an unaccepting, nationalist state that is unwilling to integrate foreigners into the German state. With the influx of immigrants and new religions, many Germans desire “’sharply restricting’ Muslim religious practice…[and] a third think the country is overrun with foreigners and a tenth say they want a strong Fuhrer.” ((“Is Multi-kulti Dead?” The Economist. 2010)) Germany has long been a non-pluralistic, nationalist state. Lately, though, it has been moving away from such, but people such as Chancellor Angela Merkel have argued that recent attempts of integration and multiculturalism have “failed, absolutely failed.” ((Ibid)) Merkel and other government officials such as President Christian Wulff have sought to change this; the government is constructing a law “that would make it easier for the hundreds of thousands of immigrants in Germany with professional qualifications to have them recognised so that they can do something more rewarding than cleaning houses.” ((Ibid)) It seems that Germany, despite its rigid history, is moving in the right direction.
The article argues that despite this governmental reform towards integration, not everyone in Germany is on the same page. German citizens have not yet fully embraced new religions and cultures, shedding light on the stiff nationalism and purity that has often isolated Germany and its citizens from the rest of the world throughout history. The author asks many questions at the end of the piece, all of which focus on the potential future for German multiculturalism and what measures Germany needs to take to further address the issue. One of those questions is “Will Muslims be forced to choose between practising their religion and adopting a German identity?” ((Ibid))
The world is becoming more diverse as we know it. How dedicated are we to integrating countries that have historically been predominantly non-pluralistic? How will we go about successfully and peacefully integrating other cultures? Are countries such as the United States and Germany avoiding the seemingly daunting task of integration; are we afraid of it? Or are we not addressing the issue in the right way? I think all of these questions are very important to think about as we move forward in society.
For me, this essay brings up an enduring question throughout much of history: “What to do with immigrants or newcomers?” It also leads to the follow up question: “Who should be doing these actions?” The fact is that when a country starts becoming successful, like Germany in the late twentieth century and like the United States in the second half of the nineteenth century, people will flock to that nation. For them, it represents the possibility of opportunity or escape from a potentially bad homeland (refugee). The same thing will happen domestically: if a city starts to boom, and create more job opportunity, people will generally flock to that city. According to this article, Germany is having to face these questions now. As the nation furthers itself as an economic powerhouse, more will want to join in on the bandwagon. In some cases, a newly booming economy needs this flocking in order to keep the momentum going. Germany is not too far from Eastern Europe, and therefore, a large percentage of mixed ethnic populations. For a nation with such a troubled racial past, it can be challenging for them to determine what to do. In the not too distant future, leaders in Germany will have to decide whether they want to assimilate immigrants, allow immigrants to stay but retain their culture, or simply disallow immigration into Germany. The difficult thing is, all answers to the question have their merits; it’s a moral dilemma.
It was a problem for nineteenth-century U.S., and now it is a problem for Germany. Are there any other parts in history that may experience this problem? Perhaps Irish immigration into Britain? Or perhaps North African immigration into Spain?
This news article, written in 2010, focuses on the rising number of immigrants in Germany. However, a large number of these immigrants are unable to integrate into mainstream society, and there is a growing anti-immigration trend. Economist Sarrazin published a book criticizing the influx of immigrants and the number of non-German children being born in Germany. He claims that the influx of immigrants is causing Germany to become less advanced biologically, culturally, and professionally. Recent polls found that many Germans favor heavy restrictions on Muslim religious practices, and “a third [of the population] think the country is overrun with foreigners.” Many of the immigrants are not integrated into German society, and Germany could benefit from their professional skills.There are individuals who recognize that Germany is becoming an immigration state, and they are advocating for immigrant integration into German society. Rather than force assimilation or limit immigration, Germany needs to integrate immigrants into their society to reap maximum economic benefits. It is alarming that anti-immigrant feelings are becoming so strong in Germany, particularly because of German’s historical views on German supremacy. Sarrazin paints non-Germans as unintelligent and draining the resources of the German people, which is a dangerous precedent. Racial and ethnic hierarchies create civil unrest and discontent, which is far more destructive than immigrants.
1. Cameron states that Germans “accentuate the negative” and are stubborn to progress, as they find it difficult to “come to terms with the changes they are witnessing” Many Germans support restricting Muslims from practicing their religion and other social constraints on other minorities.
2.One main issue Germans have is on what terms immigrants are permitted to enter the country, such as the requirement to learn German culture.
3. Many of the immigrants within Germany drop out of school and live off of social welfare within the German system. Additionally, there is also “a worrying minority form “parallel societies”, and a few actively plot harm against their German neighbours.”
1. What changes would you make to the immigration system?
2.Does this article change your overall opinion on Germans?
1 Interesting note:
I found the situation quite similar to what we have in the United States, especially the split between the populace in how to best solve the issue.
Three poignant things:
1) People in Germany do not particularly want it to become an immigrant state, as it has effects on both on the families already existing there and the new immigrants. But because immigrant workers are staying and not moving back to their old countries as many German citizens expected, they are staying, aggravating many Germans.
2) Islam is becoming prevalent in German culture as well as other countries in western Europe. According to the economist, many German citizens are wary of practicing Islamists, and are calling for some type of restricted practice, which would be a step backwards in social/religious rights and tolerance.
3) People are afraid of the decline or the original German, as younger German generations are not reproducing at the same rates as young immigrant generations, which could eventually lead to a massive national misplacement.
1) How do the older generations interpret immigrant labor as opposed to the younger generations?
2) How could Germany’s history of intolerance perhaps force them into an unwanted position? Are they under the international microscope and must tread more lightly with immigrant reforms than other countries would have to?
1 Interesting Point
1) A lot of comments disagree with the article, is this most likely a politically biased minority? Or an general reflective demographic?