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Sexism or Racism?

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Not every case of racism is as crude as the one described here. In West Germany, there are neo nazis, too, and occasionally, you get to hear their slogans. But the public usually counters public displays of nazism swiftly. It seems that the time of British occupation, their approach when building and coaching institutions like the NWDR (North-West German Broadcasting) or “Der Spiegel”, almost six decades of parlamentarian practice and integration into NATO have had a significant influence here.

But xenophobia exists West of the Elbe, too, only more subtle and low-key than in Eastern Germany.
While open attacks (open fights or verbal) are probably more likely in the East, social backgrounds are at work in Western Germany. A child with educated parents from an affluent residential area can probably avoid big problems. It may even get special furtherance at school.
On the other hand, if a child comes from a poor background, or lower middle class, and if his or her family people hardly speak German, there is trouble in the pipeline. Coming from an OECD country is no warranty for a happy school life either.
International and interracial marriages with a strong educational and economical background face no big problems. But think of a German engine-fitter who is married to a Cuban or Russian woman. He and his family are likely to get excluded in several ways.
Authorities and registry offices will hamper their daily business. Schools will ignore the fact that their students are in fact bilingual.
And a specifically West German kind of racism is likely to come into play, too – especially when it is a German man marrying a foreign woman. The man becomes vilified as a perpetrator who is taking advantage of his foreign wife’s lack of education and poverty. Here, “politically correct” white people are shouldering the “white man’s (or woman’s) burden” once again.

After all, many of them do not even consider the chance that the lady in question may be perfectly qualified to take care of her own life and career, and that choosing her husband may be her a well-founded decision taken by herself.

The Economist: (West) Germany’s Turkish Minority

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Written by taide

April 11, 2008 at 7:14 pm

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