January 2011

It is not the first time that I meet people who know I campaign against racism who tell me “I don’t really mind them (referring to Sub-Saharan Africans), it’s the Arabs I don’t like.

This is completely understandable. While in our minds eyes black Africans are seen as “victims” and needing help (something which I completely disagree with, but that’s another issue), Arabs are many times seen as lazy, egoistic and apathetic.

I must admit that sometimes I felt tempted to think the same way on these people. What kept me from falling into this racist thinking is my strong belief that who (groups of) people are is never the result of their race or religion but their political situation. What is happenning in Egypt and Tunisia right now proves exactly that. For decades, Arab people felt helpless under their dictators. Many fell into apathy about their own fate as well as racism towards “the other”, the latter being many times black Africans and Jews.

Right now, these ‘apathetic’ people are defying not only tear gas and rubber bullets, but decades old stigma.

I’ve been glued to the monitor for the last couple of days watching history being made in the Arab world. Nothing touched me as much as the video in this link:

What I see here is people that after decades of repression by various dictators have woken up, empowered and above all, united.

I really hope the Arab people will not be betrayed again. I hope they get the democracy they want because above all – they deserve it!


Has multiculturalism failed?

I believe that any answer that involves a “yes” or a “no” is wrong. It is such a broad subject, with so many different dimensions as well as thousands of both successful and unsuccessful stories that the answer to this question required would require an objective in-depth quantitative as well as qualitative research.

However, what irritated me most when right-wing German Chancellor Angela Merkel says that “multikulti (a jibe at the word multiculturalism) has failed” is not the simplistic generalized statement, but the fact that she – one of the Elite – is saying it.

What a cheek!

Merkel, who chaired the G8 in 2007 is one of those operating in the present system that caused – amongst other things – globalization. I won’t enter the merits of whether globalization is something positive or not (once again there are no hard and fast answers). The fact is that the main reason for this taking place are economic, mainly in the interest of the same G8 leaders and a handful of corporations.

Globalization made multiculturalism inevitable. Improvement in communications, cheaper travel as well as more movement of jobs and ideas apart from people, has made it impossible to keep people physically divided.

Many people in the global right are investing in hi tech walls, (in what journalist Naomi Klein terms “the moving Green Zone”), border controls, psychological barriers and even “firewalls” to separate people. While usually the impression they want to give is that people are divided on basis of “culture” or “ethnicity”, the aim is actually to separate the rich from the poor.

Obviously people like Merkel will never acknowledge this. The blame is always on “the other”, in Germany’s case the Muslims, especially Turks. To be fair, Merkel did concede that Turkish people were invited in the 60’s for work purposes – to improve the German economy. Things went wrong, Merkel admits – the Turks didn’t leave when Germany didn’t need them anymore.

All this shows the mentality of the right (not just the extremists). Merkel’s view of the world, is like a chessboard where the elite can easily move people the way they want. It seems that for the first time, people like her are waking up and panicking. They are realizing that not everything can work that way.

Merkel’s only proposal to fix the failed “multikulti” problem is that they (the other, mainly the Turks) learn German or leave. An inefficient stupidity one would expect from a teenager with a bald head and iron cross tattooed on his forehead. Not the leader of a country, one of the present elite who ultimately has the responsibility to make multikulti work – because after all it was thanks to people like her that globalization has reached a point of no return!