It’s hard to decide what’s more disturbing — yesterday’s race-baiting comments about Jews from a board member of Germany’s central bank, or the tepid responses from almost all quarters of the German establishment.
According to today’s New York Times, Bundesbank board member Thilo Sarrazin told an interviewer that “all Jews share a particular gene [that] makes them different from other peoples.” To make sure German Muslims didn’t feel left out, he added that they’re “unwilling or incapable of assimilating into Western societies.”
Sarrazin’s interviews were given a day before publication of his scary-sounding book, “Deutschland Schafft Sich Ab” (“Germany Does Away With Itself”), which maintains that Germany “lacks a long-term integration policy for ethnic groups, particularly Turks,” the Times reported.
The responses from Chancellor Angela Merkel on down came fast, but not exactly furious. Merkel herself said the Bundesbank should consider “dismissing” Sarrazin, the Times said. The Bundesbank refused to comment, helpfully adding that “This topic is not central to his responsibilities at the Bundesbank.” Foreign minister Guido Westerwelle protested that Sarrazin’s comments “have no place in political discourse,” according to the Times. And Germany’s defense minister, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, cryptically said that “every provocation has its limits.”
Even Stephan Kramer, secretary general of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, reacted with what felt like less than full force, the Times reported. “Whoever tries to define Jews by their genetic makeup, even when it is superficially positive in tone, is in the grip of a race mania that Jews do not share,” he reportedly said.
For his part, Sarrazin told the weekly newspaper Die Zeit, “I am not a racist”. But considering his very public position that Turks and Arabs live off Germany’s welfare, it’s a little hard to take that seriously.