20 November 2015

The Madness of Mrs Merkel

By Gerrit Liskow

I’ve talked to my mum on the telephone the other day, the day after the attacks in Paris had taken place, and she described to me the chilling moment when she and my dad heard the first explosion outside the Stade de France on telly.

They were watching the friendly between France and Germany and she said that at the time they weren’t thinking much of the bang, although there had been reports about a bomb threat to the hotel the German team were staying at in Paris.

Apparently, the commentator chattered on during the first half and the interval as if nothing much had happened (with hindsight, I’d very much doubt the veracity of any such claim) and it was in the second half when things got interesting.

Then, a second and a third explosion were heard live on television, and when the French president was ushered from his seat, my mother couldn’t quite escape the notion that something abnormal was going on.

Now the rest is of course, as they say, history and sorrow. Nobody saw it coming and even if it could have been averted, what good finger pointing? Along these lines the mantra of the official story evolves: we’re not meant to learn from our mistakes.

In Germany, this is doubly true. Here, the “Welcoming Culture” has become the official state doctrine and it cannot be questioned; only at the peril of an honourable livelihood. Stating the obvious will get you into hot water, may be not yet with the authorities, but certainly with your dinner party.

To simply state that according to the laws of this land, a person entering Germany through a safe country cannot legally be granted asylum is met with self-righteous cries of “racism!”. This view, or rather this opinion chique, would make the German constitution what – a document of racism?

Things do get worse once you quote the Lebanese president. This fellow had the temerity of stating the obvious: based on experience, about 2% of the Syrian refugees in his country are ISIL terrorists.

I take it the Lebanese President has plenty of first-hand experience of what is going on in his country and knows what he’s talking about. At least much better than somebody sitting in the comfort of his home a few thousand miles away. Lebanon, after all, has borne the brunt of this humanitarian disaster for a considerable time by now.

Both these statements – that Mrs Merkel’s lonely decision of welcoming all and sundry could in all likelihood have been extrajudicial and that not every refugee came here just to claim his free teddy bear with the grateful compliments of our “Welcoming Culture” – go against the grain of the official truth: uncontrolled immigration and Islamist terrorism have nothing to do with each other, period. That is the fairy tale we keep being told and are by now expected to tell to ourselves.

Of course, many politicians and media are just too happy to quench our thirst for modern fairy tales. They have to make ends meet just like everybody else after all. But the fellow who was stopped in Bavaria en route from the Balkans to Paris with eight AK-47s and some TNT under his car’s bonnet just a week prior to the Paris Massacre doesn’t sit too well with the fantastic idea that open borders are always the best policy.

To mention facts and to turn to reality for evidence is by now an unforgivable heresy which must be shunned and stamped out from “polite” discourse. And so the same day when I spoke to my mum about what happened in Paris, Mrs Merkel could be heard on the wireless telling her people that there was nothing to see, nothing at all. Move along, please.

How are we supposed to tackle a problem if we’re not meant to call it by its name? The answer to this is of course glaringly obvious: we’re not supposed to tackle it, simples.

Now, the funny thing about Angela Merkel is the way in which she works. I wouldn’t say she goes about the business of running her country badly. Quite the contrary: I’d argue she works just too well.

In moments of impending doom, she usually says nothing, or nothing much at all. At the very least she says nothing substantial. Nothing even remotely along the lines of blood-sweat-and-tears and all that.

What has become obvious over the course of Mrs Merkel’s career is that her approach works extremely well on most of the German people. People want to believe her when she says these things, i.e. nothing at all. It’s very hard to disagree with someone who says nothing at all.

It must be an enthralling experience for her many fans and party members to have their collective minds emptied by the German chancellor as if she were Agent K or J from the Men in Black.

Polemically, it could be argued that the belief in Mrs Merkel is somewhat akin to the belief in the Endsieg: a wilful suspension of disbelief that runs contrary to any empirical reality on the ground. It being polemical doesn’t necessarily make a thought wrong, though.

This wilful suspension of disbelief goes some way to explaining the fervour with which most of the German people stick to the official narrative like glue.

Anything else could get you into trouble, certainly with friends and probably with authorities. And it’s always been the vagueness of a threat that makes it work so well: you’ll never quite know what you did wrong, but wrong you did just as well. See how that works?

This moral vacuum, this lack of substance, may be one of the many reasons why Mrs Merkel works so well on the German psyche. It doesn’t matter what she says – it only matters that we wait for her to say it. And gratefully acknowledge another of her prayer mill phrases that are meant to say all and nothing at all.

Hence, Mrs Merkel has not only lulled any opposition in her own party – apart from the occasional temper tantrum by a certain Mr Seehofer from Bavaria who can be easily contained by simply ignoring him.

But Mrs Merkel has also made her political opponents rather superfluous to requirements: she is executing their policies better and faster than they could wish to do it themselves. Like when she decreed that we shan’t have nuclear power any more but wind and sun, in another of her lonely decisions?

Lack of opposition means there is no German “Government in Waiting”. It is also quite likely to result in totalitarianism, a polite word for dictatorship. At least, that’s what history running back to the Greeks and Romans has shown.

Germany is now for the second time in ten years being run by a Grand Coalition. As a construct, this of course has precedence in 1969. And even then it was deemed problematic and only admissible because no other government with an outright majority in Parliament could be formed.

At present, the historical exception has become the political rule. With nefarious consequences to our political culture, as seen in the actual treatment of dissenting voices. This concerns not only the thorny issue of immigration. Second thoughts about any other hot-button topic, such as climate change or the European project for instance, are simply shouted down as well.

This needn’t be much cause for concern if Germany were a tiny country at the other end of the rainbow. But it isn’t. It’s a rather large and industrious chunk of central Europe, influencing the livelihoods of millions of people in neighbouring countries and possibly across the globe.

And you simply cannot have a large populace wanting to be treated like kids being told the same fairy tale over and over again by their government. This would bode extremely unwell for the democratic culture of such a country – and its neighbours! Sooner or later, people have to grow up and face reality, whether they like it or not.

To have, at the heart of Europe, and also the European Project, the EU, a country that deludes itself into thinking that realities don’t matter much because what its elected government wants reality to be was actually the case could prove to be disastrous – and sooner rather than later.

To delude oneself whilst being aware of doing so and to do so at one’s own peril is one thing. But expecting to be able to kid oneself at everybody else’s expenses is quite another thing altogether. Reality is not a product of will power. And that’s where the madness of Mrs Merkel begins – and where I’m afraid it doesn’t end.

A very clever woman once said: “You can avoid reality. But you can’t avoid the consequences of avoiding reality.” This reckoning may be getting closer than many people in Germany would care to admit.

PS My mum is now considering buying a pepper spray for when she answers the door and when she goes shopping. She is of course acutely aware that a septuagenarian woman can be quite a push-over at times. I find the idea rather sad, but of course I wouldn’t blame this on anybody in particular.

Gerrit Liskow is a political commentator