Saturday, 4 September 2010
The publication of Thilo Sarrazin's book "Deutschland Schafft Sich Ab" may turn out to be one of the most important events in the history of the modern Muslim invasion of Europe. Geert Wilders, of course, is a heroic figure who has set a template that the rest of Europe should and must follow. But, ultimately, the Netherlands is a small country that is most likely incapable of decisively affecting the rest of the continent. Germany is Europe's largest country and what happens there will have repercussions throughout the European Union. It is also, of course, the author of the Nazi episode in history, which for decades has been used to beat recalcitrant Europeans into silent submission to the ongoing destruction of their culture and way of life. The weight of history is heavier there than anywhere else; so, if the Germans can get over it, the rest of us can too.

Sarrazin has provoked an almost unbelievable media storm. Visit the German news websites and you'll see special sections devoted entirely to the controversy. Sarrazin's book is now on sale but very hard to get. It sold 70,000 copies on the first day and Amazon Germany is currently quoting 1-2 week availability for anyone who orders it now. Opinion polls and comments on websites show virtually the entire German people behind Sarrazin; and virtually the entire political and media establishment against him. This is the kind of moment that generates a political revolution.

In German and French political discourse about Muslim immigrants, you sometimes hear the phrase "parallel society" used to express fears that the Muslims are failing to integrate. What the Sarrazin episode makes clear, however, and also the ongoing saga of the Roma in France which pits most of the political and media establishment, even senior figures within his own party, as well as the church and the EU, against Sarkozy's policy of expulsion, is that it is not just Muslims who are living in a parallel society, but politicians. There is an extraordinary gulf between ordinary people, who overwhelmingly back Sarrazin and the French policy of expulsion, and the utopian elite who dominate politics and political debate with their outmoded and naive sixties idealism.

Of course thoughtful observers will have known this for some time. But the Sarrazin episode makes it clear to everyone. It dramatises the chasm between the people and the elite.

The Bundesbank has now set in motion the process that will almost certainly lead to Sarrazin losing his job there. This is actually a good thing, however, for several reasons. First, it will be a long drawn-out process. Because there are stringent measures in place to safeguard the independence of the Bundesbank, the German President has to sanction his removal. He has sought the opinion of the German Chancellor (Merkel) to give himself political cover. In fact, both will certainly give their consent and have already (shamefully) explicitly or implicitly called for the Bundesbank to get rid of Sarrazin. Sarrazin may have many avenues of appeal, however, which can draw the whole process out even further, maximising the drama and the public sympathy that will gather around him as a martyr figure.

Second, after working as a top banker, and with what are expected to be almost unprecedented sales of his book, it is doubtful that he is going to be hurting for cash any time soon.

Third, his departure from the Bundesbank leaves him unemployed. He will have time on his hands, time to think about what he wants to do with his life. There is talk of a new right-wing political party being formed in Germany, possibly with Sarrazin at the helm. This hopeful possibility might have been forestalled had the Bundesbank kept Sarrazin on. He might have been tempted to keep his mouth shut and his head down for a bit. But now he's outside the tent with nothing to lose.

Even though they are joining in the hysteria against Sarrazin, most German news publications are also actually taking the time to examine the truth of his claims. When they do that, they invariably find that the claims are valid, because, as Sarrazin himself says, all he has done is carefully analyse publicly available sources of information. Therefore the process of public scrutiny can only increase support for Sarrazin further.

All in all, what has happened has been truly wonderful. It is like a dam of public discontent and decades of suppressed misgivings have suddenly burst forth, inundating the old political world. It remains to be seen what will emerge once the waters subside, but at this stage we can only hope that the other countries of Europe will soon benefit from Sarrazins of their own.

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