Thursday, 16 July 2015

Hatred of Germany

This is a topic I find thoroughly distasteful. If you've been following my posts, you'll know that I loathe any form of xenophobia. When it's targeted at Germany where I live, and which (although I didn't grow up here) I consider my home, it's doubly irritating and painful. I also feel that I can't deal with it in an entirely fair manner anymore. Too much has happened; It has made me prickly and sickened, and I don't trust myself to deal fairly with a topic I find entirely disgusting.

Also, I haven't been living in the UK for a few years now. My last abode was Edinburgh, where I didn't encounter any anti-German feelings in particular, but was aware of a diffuse xenophobic atmosphere.

When talking to British expats here in Germany, I notice the same stereotypical cliches coming up: No queuing (nobody outside the UK queues), efficiency (not true anymore in Germany, alas) and over-emphasis on things like being on time, law and order, strictness in a family context. (All about 50 years out of date). They take the amenities Germany provides for granted but don't try to expand their knowledge of it. Empiricism doesn't stand a chance over stereotype in that quarter.

Thus we come to Social Media where the hatred of Germany and Germans is rampant. Only the other day somebody (an English female, allegedly a member of the Labour party) wrote on Twitter

"All Germans are racists. They can't help it. It's in their/your DNA." As far as racist comments go, this one would score highly. The same person maintained that "All Germans are Nazis".
All this was in relation/explanation of Germany's role in the Greek debt crisis.

Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, today said on twitter: "Germany's [role in the Greek debt crisis] is a disaster. We have to stop this immulation." As it is clear that "We" can neither do anything, or that Boris Johnson has any intention of bailing out Greece in a different way from Germany, these comments have to be taken as an indication of an almost incandescent hatred of Germany.

I deliberately counterpointed  a quote from a (clearly very poorly educated and ignorant) woman on Twitter and the Oxford man Boris Johnson who - however objectionable -prides himself on his worldliness and multi-cultural heritage. Sadly, both of them seem to agree on one thing: The horror that is Germany.

Speaking to a friend about it, he maintained that things had got an awful lot better over the decades. "Think of those dreadful British war films for example." I must admit I've never seen one. A loathing of all things military, war and xenophobic wouldn't make me the ideal audience. But I can assure you, even that sort of spirit is still alive and kicking: Recently, a British family man - otherwise a nice, decent person - enthusiastically raved about a new game app: "Dambusters" - hey, you can play at drowning Germans, how great is that! (War crimes as games, just think!) Incidentally, tens of thousands of  Polish POW's would have died if that infernal plan had worked out.

It is all very sad. I suppose one has to see it as a corollary of Britain drawing into itself, becoming ever more anti-European, ever more parochial and cut off. Germany and Germans are just the lazy way of hitting out. Who could be bothered to open another can of worms by, say, hating Italians or Austrians? Still, it is a sad indictment on a nation, its people. its politicians, its intellectuals (are there any in Britain still?)

It's also a shame that the UK managed to (rightly) make racism and homophobia a hate crime. Xenophobia, however, remains acceptable, is indulged in by high and low (actually, the thoroughly awful Daniel Hannan (MEP!) is another example of somebody who recently compared Germany to an occupying force in Europe - but somehow he is too disgusting to even get into.

Xenophobia really is the last resort of the scroundrel.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Twitter Abuse

Everybody has stories like this to tell. It really isn't special, and as far as abuse on Social Media goes, it probably was of the more harmless variety. Well, definitely - because murder and rape threats didn't come into it by any stretch.

But just because you didn't get threatened with rape...does that already make it harmless? Did you therefore get away lightly? Why should it not be possible to contradict somebody about a reading of an article in The Guardian of all places? Why should it not be permissable to defend the author of an article against blatantly absurd readings? Why should one not be allowed to point out what the author "really" meant, especially when it's done in a polite and non-offensive way? Is that already showing  too much female uppityness when dealing with a twitter-male? A twitter-male who has a lot of like-minded mates whom he is ready and willing to summon as back-up via copious RT's: "Look at 'er - getting above 'erself, having an opinion when I expressly stated what's what!"

I'm no shrinking violet on twitter, I don't withdraw into my mousehole just because some fat, bald uneducated male tells me to do so. On twitter, you learn to deal with people who think just because they're invisble, they can dish it out. And in my experience, the best thing is to look those people squarely in the eye and hit back. As soon as they feel your fear all hell breaks lose. Because, make no mistake  those people are without exception pathetic, deficient men (yes, men) with an inferiority complex. On Social Media they feel empowered, they feel nobody can beat them (unlike their daily experiences in real life where they probably have to kowtow, buckle and scrape).

So, it isn't as if I was dumbfounded by this particular reaction, not as if I didn't have my defences in place. I hit back, of course I did. With the sort of thin sneer which drives men like that into paroxysms of fury. They would kill you then if they were physically there. But they're not.

So far, so bad. But it made me think: Is it all really worth it? Is it worth my time defending freelance Guardian writers at the cost of getting abuse form a totally irrelevant person whom I don't know and will (fortunately) never meet? Why bother? Why tweet? I don't tend to get abuse in my daily life, I don't have encounters with pond life telling me off, telling me what's what. So...why go online to meet abusers, clueless, hapless human beings with a huge rage, a sense of entitlement and an axe to grind?

I don't know, but I don't think it's fundamentally a good idea. I will have to think about it. But it definitely can't carry on like that.