Archive | October, 2010

Response to “Death of Multiculturalism in Germany”

18 Oct

Given Germany’s diverse population, I found Andrea Merkel’s movement to the more anti-immigrant right surprising. It seems that Germany is experiencing a debate similar to the one we have here about immigration. The difference is that the United States has more of a problem with illegal immigration, while Germany has an influx of workers. In high school, I wrote a paper detailing the negative effects of illegal immigration into the United States, which include strain on the health care system, a rise in crime, and displaced jobs. However, concerning Germany, I disagree with Merkel’s new stance. These people immigrating to Germany would comprise a strong labor force, which would help the current labor shortage Jürgen Trittin talks about. Immigrant workers often take up lower status jobs that natives do not want to do. Bringing in people from other countries brings forth new skills and cultural elements. The quotes from Thilo Sarrazin, former Bundesbank board member, especially, are unnecessarily harsh. I understand the political right’s views on integration, but steps could be taken to ensure that these foreigners better embrace German culture. Additionally, it must be remembered that assimilation usually does not happen immediately. It often takes a generation or two for groups and families to fully absorb their new country’s culture. Such harsh anti-immigrant views contribute to racism and discrimination, and this widespread intolerance is what fuels conflicts and, in more extreme cases, acts of terrorism.

I have never been to Germany, but I traveled to Switzerland a few years ago and was amazed by the combination of cultures present. The clash of German, Italian, French, and numerous others cultures is what forms a distinctly Swiss culture. I found it fascinating how there were so many different influences; it was like traveling to multiple countries all in one. Such a diverse culture is so much more enriching and interesting and it really creates a positive attitude of tolerance. This past summer, I saw the same sort of cultural diversity in London with its large Indian population and in Paris with its Muslim population. I think Germany could benefit from embracing the possibilities of immigration without fear of losing deeply ingrained elements of German culture.