mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
willkommenskultur
Merkel’s Mea Culpa

Fresh from a drubbing in regional elections in Berlin, where the nativist Alternativ für Deutschland (AfD) won 14 percent of the vote, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is floating new language. The Financial Times:

“If I could, I would rewind time by many, many years so that I could better prepare myself and the whole government and all those in positions of responsibility for the situation that caught us unprepared in the late summer of 2015,” Ms Merkel said.

The chancellor also distanced herself from her phrase — “Wir schaffen das — we can do it” — which captured Germans’ belief last summer in their capacity to integrate the newly arrived refugees. She said it had become “a simple slogan, almost an empty formula” that underestimated the scale of the integration challenge.

This isn’t a complete backtrack by Merkel. The FT notes that she is trying to shade her decision last year to offer a warm welcome to refugees—one she continued to defend as “absolutely right”—by admitting that overall the response has not worked well.

4,000 miles away, it’s hard to tell whether this kind of hedge will be enough. The German press appears to have accepted this change of tone as a sufficient mea culpa, but will German voters agree? To put it more bluntly, are Germans getting antsy simply because of a bureaucratic failure by Berlin to make the process run more smoothly, or are the sentiments the AfD is tapping into more primal and basic than that—a rejection of multiculturalism and integration from first principles?

Features Icon
Features
show comments
  • Pete

    The truly sad part of this is that Merkel actually believes having hundreds of thousands of these muslims in Germany is in the German interest. Talk about screwballs, Merkel takes the cake.

  • Beauceron

    It’s too late now. These are changes that cannot be undone. She knows that– indeed she delights in it.

    She drove her country– and all of Europe– off the cliff.

    Europe is destroyed as a cultural entity. It will take a few decades to be a ruin, but that is its destiny now, just at it is here in America.

    I truly hate our elites.

    • Jim__L

      Don’t give up hope, Beauceron. Making this world perfect was always an impossible dream. We can still play the hand we’ve been dealt, and play it well — which is all anyone can ever do.

      Do you really think the generations before us, who had to face Nazis or the threat of thermonuclear annihilation (at the hands of people who led the vicious and brutal Battle of Stalingrad, no less), had it easier than we do? Talk about the real problems, sure — but talk about solutions as well. Even — especially — the solutions the Leftists are desperately trying to put out of our reach, because they know that those solutions work, and that those solutions will topple them from power.

      Keep fighting the good fight, even when things seem darkest. =)

      Do I need to talk about the “futility” of the Marines on Midway island, striking again with half-a-dozen rickety planes, against the IJN’s battle fleet, the mightiest in the world? The “futility” of the flight of the doomed Devastators against that same fleet? The “futility” of the Nautilus trying to pick off the Japanese destroyer in the prelude to the battle? The fact that by the US Navy’s own projections, it was an unwinnable battle, one that they should never have fought?

      Life is chaos, B, and the slightest change in initial conditions can lead to radically different results. So again — keep up the good fight. =)

      Merkel is helping set the stage for a resurgence of sanity in Europe. This is definitely motion in the right direction. It will take a lot more work from a lot more people, but when did it ever not?

      • M Snow

        Thanks for the pep talk. It’s much needed these days.

      • Beauceron

        That’s a very good pep talk.
        I think I would feel a bit better if I thought there was some urgency about addressing these problems.
        I must say the new UK PM said some very interesting things yesterday. I hope she does take a stand for her country.
        I am very worried about Western culture slipping beneath the tide of history. I think it worth preserving. Even fighting for.

      • Rodney

        “This will be a fight against overwhelming odds from which survival cannot be expected. We will do what damage we can.”
        LCDR Robert Copeland, in command of USS Samuel B. Roberts, October 25, 1944, as Taffy 3 (6 escort carriers, 4 destroyers and 3 destroyer escorts) started a running battle against a Japanese force of 4 battleships, 6 heavy cruisers, 3 cruisers and 10 or 11 destroyers in route to Leyte Gulf. Perhaps that is the attitude we need to have.

        • Jim__L

          I admire their courage greatly… and I have good news for you. =)

          We can expect not only survival here, but if we show their courage, we can see a Renaissance of the legacy of our forefathers.

          And others’ forefathers, too. Heck, I have absolutely no ancestors from England or Rome. None. Not a single one. Yet I consider the lessons of their democracies, their heritage, to be mine — and in the same way, that heritage free to be adopted by anyone else, so that it can be their own as well. Spreading the good word — including the Word, obviously — truly is doing God’s work.

          This is not something to be self-abnegating about. The simple fact is that Western Civilization, for all its flaws, is a vast treasure trove of cultural assets that are incredibly helpful for human thriving. This goes all the way back to Herodotus, whose Histories were to a great extent — consciously! — a collection of stories about what people were up to around the Mediterranean basin that was worth imitating.

          It is the height of folly to abandon something just as others are adopting it to their great benefit. It compounds that folly to try to replace it with useless and toxic cultural practices. That is a destructive impulse from those with the hubris to think that they are smarter than anyone who’s ever lived, who are arrogant enough to try to mold immutable human nature in their own image, and power-hungry enough to demand domination over peoples’ minds — not least, by denying them the rich legacy of thought and wisdom that Western Civilization represents.

          Those arrogant elites must be opposed with fortitude and faith. In a few individual cases — those resembling Taffy 3 at Leyte — it may feel like that little corner of the war is unwinnable. At certain times and places, people who are on the side of the right will get hounded out of jobs and businesses, or even fined and jailed. At other times and places — those resembling the lead-up to Midway — the point of any given action may be unclear, or indeed even seem futile.

          Take those actions anyway! Do what’s right, play the hand you’re dealt with all the skill you can — because taken together, they prepare the ground for the eventual victory.

  • lukelea

    How was she able to make a unilateral decision like that anyway, and not just for Germany but the whole EU?

  • Andrew Allison

    Your right-wing knee jerk is showing. AfD is tapping into a widespread concern, namely that their elected representatives are not representing them among the German people. The immigration issue is the lightening conductor.

  • Kevin

    “The German press appears to have accepted this change of tone as a sufficient mea culpa”

    The German press has agreed with her every step of the way so this means nothing.

  • FriendlyGoat

    George W. Bush thought Angela Merkel needed back rubs as I recall, rather than blanket condemnation.

    • Anthony

      Here’s an analysis and observation well worth reading – it’s quite lengthy though (but it’s related to above and much, much more): http://www.vox.com/2016/9/19/12933072/far-right-white-riot-trump-brexit

      • FriendlyGoat

        Quite a read. Thanks. There would be several things to talk about from that but here are a couple:

        1) Remember Joe the Plumber? And this from the article:

        They found something startling: Earlier research suggesting the European far right draws support from globalization’s losers was simply wrong.

        “The strongest populist support,” they write, “remains among the petty bourgeoisie — typically small proprietors like self-employed plumbers, or family owned small businesses, and mom-and-pop shopkeepers — not among the category of low-waged, unskilled manual workers.”
        2) They cite the election of Obama as a negative catalyst for racism, but don’t explain how a Ben Carson rose to even the level he did.

        • Anthony

          Yes, quite a lot to digest. Permit me to add my takeaways from read: 1) Trump is not “sui generis” (which many are aware…); 2) Trumpism is much bigger than Trump (there are a lot of white people in the West who blame distant elites for allowing – or accelerating – their loss of economic and political power); 3) we need to understand that the battle between racist nationalism and liberal cosmopolitanism will be one of the defining ideological struggles of the 21st century (until I read that contrast, I had not thought about global tensions within that ascribed framework).

          • FriendlyGoat

            You’re right. And I am beginning to notice that you too are a list maker. Sometimes it’s hard not to be because most topics have several angles.
            As for the 21st century, (like most people) I won’t live to the end of it. In the 20th, I grew up believing “things” get better, people get wiser and more mature, evils and errors are overcome and replaced with better thinking, etc. Maybe not after all.

          • Anthony

            Thanks, lists help to correlate; we both will not live out the 21st century but while here we owe to posterity to asks “what is true”. FG, as a Christian (and I mean that with sincerity), you know something is missing – politics, economics, government, etc. will not fill the void.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service