Monday, July 25, 2016

Thoughts on Germany, Immigration, Radical Islam, and 70 Years of Impact

These are by no means fully formed thoughts. I'm just throwing some ideas out there based on this past weekend's events in Germany.  Please treat this as an effort at discussion, not doctrine. If you can't, don't bother reading.

The Munich massacre seems to not be ISIS/radical Islam related, so in some respects, you can discount the whole post to follow.

That being said, the suicide bomber and the machete attack w/in 3-4 days is a disturbing trend. Maybe it stops there. Let's hope it does.

Anyway, as some of you know, I lived in Germany for a year. Speak German. Studied the Holocaust with a specific focus on the contemporary views of the Holocaust (this was in the 90s).

My general conclusion (and why I am more pro-German than most American Jews) is that Germany has done a remarkable job of owning up to its unique historical responsibility.  [Note: I also lived in Japan for 2 years and the differences between accountability could not be more stark].

What Merkel did in the past year or so in terms of welcoming refugees was, in some respects, a massive gesture to continue to own up to this responsibility. There's a deep-seated recognition and awareness of the power of evil.

So, it made total sense (to me, at least) that Germany would be the country that would (probably along with Sweden-albeit for different reasons) open its doors the most.

I recently saw this video which epitomized how Germans wish to see themselves and, in some respects, actually are.

At the same time, it's tough on any culture to absorb a massive wave of people who don't necessarily have the same cultural background as the host country.  With 1 million out of 80 million being only 1.25%, it's still sizable. After all, 1 million new people is still 1 million new people.

Training people about what it means to "be German" in the positive sense (both the new German and the older German-cleanliness, efficiency) takes a LONG time.

And while Germany certainly tries harder than, say, France, it still takes a while.  The Turkish minority in Germany would be one example.

Still, you have to wonder if such a relatively large number creates a dynamic that the Germans, even if they are masters of efficiency, can't handle.

And all the while, some of those waiting to be fully acclimated are potentially at risk for radicalization.

Now, it need not be said, but I'll say it anyway...not all Muslims, Syrian immigrants, or foreigners are terrorists.

However, it also can't be denied that in the past few months, we have seen an increase of terror attacks in Europe and some of them, at least, are by Muslims who have been radicalized.

Why the radicalization happens can be debated, but one of the reasons may be a failure to acclimate into the host country (whether through lack of desire on the host or the immigrant).

Given the size of the immigration, I wonder if the scale will become prohibitively challenging for Germany to handle and thus the risk of "people falling through the cracks" and thus susceptible to radicalization may increase.

I hope not.

However, if these attacks continue (and again, the Munich shooting may be making them bigger in perception than otherwise would be the case), there's a really strange irony (not really the right word) in Germany suffering 70+ years after the end of WW2 because of the destruction that it wrought.

By going to one extreme, they have now gone to an opposite extreme and potentially made the very country vulnerable.

I'm sure there are some who would say, "Germany deserves this."

I am not one of those people.

Germany plays a critical (and, in my estimation, positive) role in geopolitics and economics.

I suppose the point of this observation (which, again, I admit is not fully formed) is to think about how events 70 years ago continue to impact things today.

Germany's uber-totalitarianism and subsequent defeat has led to uber-openness which, if they can't acclimate the refugees and prevent radicalization, could lead to an internal collapse of what it means to be German today, and maybe in its entirety.

Yes, I may be making a mountain out of a molehill here and getting overly dramatic.

And yes...we only have a few handful of data points, but for a long time, we suspected that Germany was immune to the terror ills of France/Belgium specifically because they have worked the hardest to be so tolerant and open.

Yet, now, we see that's not the case.

The question is whether these are isolated or the beginning of the trend.

Let's hope and pray for the former.

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