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When I travelled in China as a student, in 1993, I was frequently asked questions about xenophobic attacks on foreigners living in Germany. An arson attack on a Turkish family´s home in Solingen (West Germany) was probably at the focus of the media back then, but it was by no means the only case.

The questions didn´t surprise me. They were in the news in every neck of the globe, and China was no exception.
In one case, I shared a room on a boat from Shanghai to Dalian with a Chinese family. We didn´t know each other, but as usual, once they found that the Laowai spoke some Chinese, we started talking.
"You Germans are very xenophobic," she told me.
I took it as a question. "How to say… if I were xenophobic, I wouldn´t be in China."
She mentioned her impressions from TV. I didn´t deny the problem, but told her that not every German was really xenophobic, most likely not even a majority, and that only very few would resort to crimes.

"Not every German is xenophobic," her husband repeated to her after we had finished that part of our conversation.
I don´t remember the wording of her answer to her husband, but it was something like
"What else should he say?"

I´m pretty sure that the media didn´t get every detail right in the news, but the central message was true: we had (and still have) a big problem in Germany with racism and xenophobia, and as today, there was no way to excuse it fifteen years ago.

As for my travel party on the boat, they were nice people, except that at least their wife and mom didn´t believe me a word about my country. If we had met in the street, I would have walked away after a while, and never have known that someone can suspect you to be a high-potential racist, and still bear with you.
That said, the situation was a challenge for me, just as well. But I saw no reason to complain. For sure, I did not feel threatened.

Anyway – the internet had hardly taken off then, let alone blogging.

That´s different these days. Another difference is that apparently, there are Chinese people who encounter experiences today that I met in 1993. Our Voice is a complaint about how the German media cover Tibet these days, and how the German public reacts. They feel embarrassed, and threatened as they consider "lots of German people misled".

But I should thank them for their concern for Germany, too. " It is already proven in history that a biased media will not only threaten others, but also harm the Germans themselves ultimately.

Poor old chaps.
When looking at the list of the team running the website, I can imagine. Munich´s in-crowd (Schickeria) loves the Dalai Lama, and people in the streets get HIS advice columns for a happier life from the only nation-wide tabloid from time to time. It is probably true that Germans love the Dalai Lama more than their very own Pope in Rome. And yes – there were distortions in Germany´s press.

But that´s no reason to refer Germans to their history, when they killed millions of their own country people in concentration camps alone, not to mention the victims of the war.

I have a bit of unsollicited advice for you silent protestors: Instead of equating yourself with the victims of our former Nazi government (or are you referring to the media during the Thirty Year´s War?), maybe you could hire some PR advisers. Or, if you prefer a less costly option: show some good manners.


– Fareastern


Written by taide

April 5, 2008 at 10:27 am

Posted in China, education, Germany

Tagged with , ,

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