The writer, an Italian journalist with Il Foglio, writes a twice-weekly column for Arutz Sheva. He is the author of the book “A New Shoah”, that researched the personal stories of Israel’s terror victims, published by Encounter and of “J’Accuse: the Vatican Against Israel” published by Mantua Books.. His writing has appeared in publications, such as the Wall Street Journal, Frontpage and Commentary.
The first to intervene, a month ago, was the German Finance Minister, Wolfgang Schäuble. Muslims in Germany “must accept our way of life”, Schäuble said. And if they do not like European culture they made the “wrong” decision to come. “There are better places than Europe to live under Islamic law”.
Now another politician, the Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere,has shaken German public opinion.
He did it with an article published by Bild called “Wir sind nicht Burqa” – We are not burqa. And he promoted the revival of “Leitkultur”, the dominant culture made of hard work, respect for others, confidence in Europe, arts and education, including Bach and Goethe, and Christianity.
“We are an open society, we are part of Nato, Europe and the West; we show our face, we are not the burqa”, wrote De Maiziere. According to De Maiziere, the dominant culture must be paramount when measured against parallel Islamic societies, the “Parallelgesellschaften”.
In a Yougov survey, half of Germans agree with De Maiziere. The Berlin daily Tagesspiegel, on the other hand, accused him of flirting with the right wing Afd. Green Leader Juergen Trittin has accused him of “right wing demagoguery”. Sawsan Chebli, Berlin’s state secretary, charged him of stigmatizing migrants, while former President Christian Wulff said the constitution has everything Germany needs. No Leitkultur is necessary. The Spd, a government ally of the Cdu, also attacked De Maiziere.
The term Leitkultur was not coined by a xenophobic militant, but by Bassam Tibi, a sociologist of Syrian origin, who in a 1998 book argued that Beethoven and Thomas Mann should play a more important role in Germany than foreign voices. This week, in Cicero, Bassam Tibi wrote “we in Islam call the people who speak without reading, djahil, ignorant. The integration of Muslims can not be met without a dominant culture”. The leftist philosopher Jürgen Habermas also intervened, accusing De Maiziere of being “unrealistic.” Critically, but from conservative positions, is Henryk Broder, who in the Die Welt declared: “It is about a dominant culture, but not about Islam”.
Strongly opposed is also the Federal Commissioner for Integration, Aydan Ozoguz, who in Tagesspiegel wrote that Germany must be inspired by “diversity”. “German Leitkultur is freedom, justice and a positive relationship in the community”, said Social Democrat candidate Martin Schulz.
The term entered the political debate for the first time in 2000 when Cdu politician Friedrich Merz told Welt that immigrants had to assimilate in the “liberal German culture”. The left has not moved from the positions expressed thirteen years ago by then Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who said that “Leitkultur has no meaning”. While for the liberal weekly Die Zeit “talking of a dominant culture is disturbing”, the Frankfurter Allgemeine was positive: “The unshakable conviction that after Auschwitz there is nothing specifically ‘German’ has affected entire generations”.
A year ago, Leitkultur’s theme was revived by a great writer and playwright, Botho Strauss, who wrote in Der Spiegel: “Sometimes I have the impression that I am German only among my ancestors”. The “ancestors” he referred to are the great spirits of German culture, destined to dissolve in a multicultural society.
In 2000, the Cdu abandoned the “deutsche Leitkultur” (German dominant culture) in favor of “Leitkultur in Deutschland” (guiding culture in Germany). A sophism to mitigate the controversy.
One million migrants and several terror attacks later, the words are somewhat blurred.
But will Germany be really able to preserve German culture from the Islamic suprematists?
German cultlure did not prevent the torture and murder of six million Jews. But Germans can prevent throwing German culture into the dustbin of history in favor of another genocidal ideology, that of Radical Islam.