Sunday, 25 September 2011

The Austrian newspaper Kurier published a long interview with Thilo Sarrazin yesterday. I've translated some extracts from it below.

For background, Thilo Sarrazin was a member of the executive board of Germany's central bank, and a former regional senator of the SPD, the country's main left-wing political party. Last year he published a book that told some blunt truths about the effect mass immigration, particularly Muslim immigration, was having on Germany. The book became a public sensation even before it was published. The media and political establishment denounced him in the most withering terms. He lost his job at the bank but his book sold more copies than any other book in Germany in the post-war era.
KURIER: Mr Sarrazin, how many copies of your book "Deutschland schafft sich ab" [Germany is Unmaking Itself] have been sold?

Thilo Sarrazin: I’ve sold 1.3 million copies. 800,000 the previous September, another 400,000 by Christmas, since then another 100,000. The book is developing gradually from a best-seller into a long-seller.

KURIER: As a former Berlin finance senator, what do you think of the calls for an asset tax to get the debt crisis under control?

Thilo Sarrazin: The connection between asset tax and debt crisis is a bit silly. Like Austria, Germany has a relatively low level of new debt and a high tax rate. 40% of Germans pay no income tax at all, and the upper 10% yield more than 50% of revenue. That's already quite a lot of redistribution. In the ageing European states with their demographic time bombs and immigration problems, which tie up vast resources, soaking the rich inconsiderately will simply lead to them emigrating with their assets. And what then?

KURIER: What does immigration have to do with it?

Thilo Sarrazin: In Berlin currently there is major immigration of Roma and Bulgarian Turks. In 2014 they will have permanent residence rights and a claim on the German benefits system. It's not going to work: financing the growing burdens of demographic ageing plus more uncontrolled immigration on the German welfare state by soaking the so-called rich. Even an SPD government [Labour party equivalent] wouldn't do that if it was being responsible.

KURIER: You said recently that you had accomplished more with your book than you had as a politician or Bundesbank executive. What did you mean by that?

Thilo Sarrazin: I opened up a public debate about questions relating to the future of our state that previously was being conducted too indirectly or not at all – or by the wrong people.

KURIER: The debate has mainly revolved around you.

Thilo Sarrazin: People get hung up about one person. …Today the debate about integration in Germany is more open than it was one and a half years ago. Alongside that, my treatment by parts of the media and political establishment has also triggered a debate about freedom of opinion in Germany.

KURIER: About the book many people say: on the facts he is right, but you can’t say it like that ...

Thilo Sarrazin: Wording like that refutes itself. If you are wrong on the facts, you should keep your mouth shut. If you are right, then you must say it. Otherwise there is a problem with the debate culture.

KURIER: "I don't want the land of my grandchildren to be, in large parts, Islamic, ... the women wearing the veil and daily life being defined by the rhythms of the muezzin" - is it necessary to exaggerate so much to be heard?

Thilo Sarrazin: It's no exaggeration. That is the social reality in specific parts of Berlin. And it's materialising at high speed.

KURIER: Because of demographics?

Thilo Sarrazin: And continued immigration. You need to take a look at specific districts and see how things have changed there in the last 40 years. Güner Balci, an editor of Turkish origin, said recently in the FAZ am Sonntag [newspaper]: "20 years ago there was a colourful mixed society, then ever more people moved out. It became more aggressive. Violence increased on the streets. Ever more women and girls wore the veil. Another worldview established itself." This negative development is spreading further.

KURIER: And you want to stop it. How?

Thilo Sarrazin: First: First change the benefits system - immigrants get no benefits for at least 10 years. Second: change the rights of residence law - the only people who get rights of residence are those able and willing to make a qualified contribution to Germany over the long-term. Third: social and family benefits in Germany should be made dependent on adequate knowledge of the language and efforts at integration. Fourth: we need to say to the Muslim immigrants who are already here: you become German some time, even if you stick with Turkish cooking and keep going to the mosque. And if you don't want to do that, it's best you go back home. Opinion polls show that more than 60% of Turks in Germany cannot speak German at all or cannot speak it well; and a third would leave Germany immediately if there were no German benefits.

KURIER: You complain about the demographic superiority of Muslim immigrants and the low birthrate of Germans. At the same time you say that only women with the environment and the “personal characteristics to cope with raising children” should have children. Is that not a contradiction?

Thilo Sarrazin: You’re not quoting me correctly. Anyone who wants to can have children. But the costs of it shouldn’t be financed by the state. Regardless of immigration we have the problem that the well-educated classes in Germany are having fewer children than average. This comes about through the framework of the modern social welfare state: for people on low income and even more for immigrants with low levels of education, because of family burden-sharing every child brings in more household income than it costs. That means the child becomes an instrument for generating higher income, while for well-educated women with good prospects in the workplace, it means giving up affluence. For that reason social policy has to be set in such a way that there are no materialistic reasons to have children.

KURIER: In your book – very controversially – you connect this with the distribution of intelligence: “If the less intelligent have more children, the average intelligence of the population falls”. But that means: poor = stupid, and they may not have children?

Thilo Sarrazin: Again: Anyone can have children who wants to, but they should pay for their upkeep themselves. The state should make its contribution through the education system. On intelligence I apply a rule of three. First: the differences in intelligence between people are 50% to 80% genetic, according to science. Second: well-educated people have significantly fewer children, according to the Federal Statistics Office. Intelligence and education are, as of course you would expect, postively correlated. From that follows the third point: if the trend of the less intelligent having more children continues, the average genotypical intelligence falls, thus the genetic proportion of intelligence in the population.

KURIER: And Muslims are more stupid than other immigrants?

Thilo Sarrazin: It doesn’t say that anywhere in my book, and I have also never said that. In my book I trace the lower educational performance of Muslim immigrants on average to their cultural background, one that has been shaped by Islam. The attitude to education and knowledge, characteristics such as diligence and precision and sense of duty are passed on culturally. To a large extent, we take on the values and attitudes of the culture and the class we grow up in. That is the reason why there is no rational solution to the underclass problem in England, why the South Italians are different from the Milanese. And it’s just the same with the Muslim immigrants we get: they bring their culture with them and their performance in school is comparable to what exists in their countries of origin. Their poor performance does not prove to be especially disadvantageous among us. The latest PISA study shows that 15-year-old schoolchildren in Turkey or in Arab countries are two to three years behind the average school performance in Europe, that the share of the lowest performers is significantly higher and the share of top performers significantly lower. With immigrants from East Asia to the USA, Canada and Australia or Europe, on the other hand, it is the reverse. On average they have a significantly better educational performance than the locals.

KURIER: And you’re zeroing in on Muslim immigrants with that?

Thilo Sarrazin: I establish empirically undisputed facts using neutral language. Science and the acquisition of knowledge is not at the forefront of Muslim culture. It is also very interesting that of around 840 Nobel prize winners, to this date 25 per cent of them have been Jewish academics. There have been 8 prize winners from Islamic countries, four of those peace prize winners.

KURIER: Why do you always generalise it so much, actually?

Thilo Sarrazin: The numbers are specific. Look at the successor states of the former British colony India: the Hindu Indians are at the centre of the global software industry and are making their way in the modern world; while Muslim Pakistan, which had exactly the same cultural and civilisational status before the division of the colony, has fallen way behind. It’s exactly the same with Indian and Pakistani schoolchildren in England today: the children with a Hindu culture are better than British schoolchildren on average, while Pakistanis are worse. The Indians are successful in the employment market; the Pakistanis, by contrast, remain at the lowest layer of society.

KURIER: On integration again, the consensus is that integration is an obligation of the host society as well as those coming into it …

Thilo Sarrazin: In a European constitutional state, which offers equal chances to everyone, integration is first of all an obligation on those who come here. Differences in the successful integration of various immigrant groups can be traced to the immigrant groups themselves, not to the host society. That is the proposition that many people are not happy about because we have a mentality that everything that’s wrong in the world, we must be responsible for.

KURIER: Business is constantly expressing an interest in immigration because of the lack of specialist workers, for example.

Thilo Sarrazin: I’m dying laughing. There is a lack of specialist workers, but 40% of Turks in Germany have no professional training. Thanks to the influx in the 60s and 70s, we to a large extent created the problems we now have with the lack of specialist workers. We have dispensed with producing our own children and allowed in Muslim immigrants with lower educational aptitude. Germans who were not born naturally cannot become specialists or engineers.

KURIER: Has your book actually changed you?

Thilo Sarrazin: I’ve become tougher, but also more relaxed. When you have the feeling that a moralistic campaign of annihiIation is being waged against you, and you survive, you have a different perspective on many things.


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