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Last time I was in Germany, an otherwise quite pleasant and liberal fellow we were discussing a business contract with, after a few too many glasses of wine, said to me "Well, as a typical Jew, you are reluctant to spend the money, I understand." I'm not religious, so perhaps this was a reference to "ethnicity"?
by rootless2 on Sat Jun 27th, 2009 at 09:21:59 PM EST
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What do you expect your readers to make of that anecdote? The person that said that to you was not "pleasant and liberal". Are you suggesting that this was a "typical German"? That mindless antisemitic prejudice is still typical of Germans?

Anecdotes prove nothing, but they may be used to insinuate far more than they are worth.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Jun 28th, 2009 at 08:50:14 AM EST
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I'm pointing out that "race" is generally a function of "racism". As long as some people believe and act as if other people belong to a "race", the category has a meaning. Arguing that "Jews are not a race" is like arguing that anti-semitism can't apply to Jews because Arabs are semites. The argument is a mischaracterization of what words mean.
by rootless2 on Sun Jun 28th, 2009 at 11:08:07 AM EST
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I agree with you on the social construct. My question concerned the usefulness of the anecdote.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Jun 28th, 2009 at 12:00:55 PM EST
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that was the point.
by rootless2 on Sun Jun 28th, 2009 at 12:12:55 PM EST
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My second point is that it's pure denial to believe that a prejudice of centuries, deeply embedded in culture, can just disappear like that. Things change - and certainly multi-cultural Berlin today is not what it was in the 1940s, but it's not something de-nova either.
by rootless2 on Sun Jun 28th, 2009 at 11:27:55 AM EST
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I sincerely hope he didn't get the contract.

I'm sorry you had to go through that, but can you explain how saying "Germans are/did" is different from saying "Jews are/did"?

by Sassafras on Sun Jun 28th, 2009 at 09:34:04 AM EST
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But, of course, "Jews are/did ... " is a perfectly fine construction in the appropriate context. "Eastern European Jews spoke Yiddish" is totally clear - most of us know that not all of them did so and many spoke other languages too.
by rootless2 on Sun Jun 28th, 2009 at 11:13:51 AM EST
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dodo is PNing to try and keep distinctions clear, and any possible hint of racism nipped in the bud, very worthy, but still PN, i think.

rootless is not insinuating anything, and in fact defends him/herself dispassionately.

it's good to be vigilant, but i think this is a bit over the top, as while technically true, i don't feel any bad will to the germans in rootless' comments, just perhaps a conflation, a generalisation quite appropriate for a discussion like this, all the more understandable when the family history is laid out.

it is too easy to make the nazis something 'other', and yet all european countries have abused jews throughout history, the german nazis just took it to its nightmarish conclusion most recently, so no-one here feels unsullied somewhat by our collective past in this and other regards.

the past is very much alive and much still unexpiated, by rights palestinians should hate hitler more than anyone, and this thread reveals how the phenomenon of fascism wounded so many people in so many countries, and those wounds have very thin new skin over them.

her in italy i get a distinct impression that fascism has not been processed completely, and the germans outrageousness was easy to point to, saying 'at least we never did that, when colluding was an integral part of that 'chain of pain'.

the fact that the new uber-right is gathering momentum in europe is another sad sign we have not learned our lessons well enough, that sweeping things under the historical rug is always a bad idea.

denial...

the first time i visited germany with my s.o. every time i saw a smoking chimney i felt sick, and i lost no relatives through warcrimes.

it seems obvious to me that rootless' comments are in good faith, and PNing them has led us into a forest of misunderstanding, though i applaud anyone keeping a hyperscanner alert for any whiff of racism.

it's not racist per se to state a truth, even a general one, and the guilt of nazism tainted many without german borders, even supported by 'high-class' financiers from europe and the usa.

plenty of guilt to go around, i give a lot of credit to the germans for how hard they have tried to expiate what they did, yet the comment about how many graveyards the new germany was built over was a slam to the gut.

both are right in this discussion, just talking past one another a bit, i reckon.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Jun 28th, 2009 at 02:21:22 PM EST
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