The debacle in Germany and by extension in Europe – starring a cast of refugees and economic migrants from near and far — continues to trundle on towards what promises to be an inevitably depressing conclusion, presided over by Ireland’s own CEO and Commander-in-Chief, Angela Merkel.
It would be amusing, were it not so serious, to watch as mainstream media outlets struggle to report as little as they possibly can on the entire fiasco. Fortunately for us, although less so for our masters, the internet and social media has made a cover-up of the kind that they would wish for, damned near impossible. I may not be either much of a user or admirer of the old social myself, but it certainly has its good points.
Meanwhile, as Dame Edna takes out the ministerial kneepads, tugs his forelock and prepares for the next occasion in which he will be condescended to (on Ireland’s grateful behalf) by Angela once more, I’ve been rereading the late, great American essayist and social commentator Gore Vidal’s collection, Virgin Islands.
Here’s what he was writing ‘way back in 1993:
“Recently I toured seven German cities, and spoke at various meetings. The German press was full of anxious reports on the neo-Nazi racists in its midst. It was even more upset by the non neo-Nazi racists. The unemployed in particular were attacking Turks and East Europeans and other foreigners. What did it all mean?…
“Racism. The fear of otherness is an unattractive but constant human trait, and one that we social meliorists like to say education and a peaceful co-mingling will do away with in, as always, time. There is some truth in this. There is also some truth in the saying that all men are brothers, as Abel must have reminded Cain, who replied as he lifted his club, ‘Yes, and all brothers are men.’
“In Germany I used a line that I often use in the United States when I think that the audience is unaware of the world outside its own national and ethnic bubble. I noted that at the start of the next millennium the white race will make up about 13 per cent of the world’s population. This statistic makes white Americans look even whiter, while the dusky faces in the audience begin to beam. The German reaction was hysteria. Race, declared a tense young man, is a myth. I said, no, race is a fact, but the prejudices that people have about races are often mythical…
“Always accommodating, I said that if I could not use the word ‘race’ – an everyday sort of word in my country with no built-in resonance – would ‘tribalism’ do? No, that was unacceptable. People who spoke of races and tribes in Germany were almost always neo-Nazis. What word could I use?
“‘Multiculturalism’ was the consensus in Stuttgart. But, I said, an American white and an American black will often be prejudiced against one another, and each shares exactly the same culture, or its absence. We left the subject in the air. But I remember thinking that if one does not have the words to discuss a matter objectively, emotions will ensure that it then becomes dangerously subjective…”.
Indeed. And that was from twenty-odd years ago…