Sunday, September 12, 2010

It is seriously foolish to take the foolish seriously

It depresses me that I, along with much of the rest of the world, have had to bother with the mad rantings of a deranged pastor of a tiny congregation.

The situation is not a good one.

As things stand, a substantial collection of what are supposed to be the most powerful people in the world, from President Smartest Guy in the Room, through the country’s most senior soldier, the secretary of Defence and the head of the State Department have felt the need to cajole and plead with an individual with all the credibility of the protein man who used to parade up and down Oxford Street denouncing peanuts.

Pastor Jones is far from the only one of his ilk, and he's offered the rest of them an ideal model to follow.

I suspect we'll be hearing a lot more of this kind of thing.


Meg Tanglao said...

Not sure if you've seen this article, but I thought you'd find it interesting-- the NY Time's take on Germany's take on Germany.

(P.S. I stumbled across your blog this summer during the world cup while, yes I will admit it, googling Philipp Lahm)

Geoff Coupe said...

Yes, I'm afraid that we will be hearing much more of this sort of thing. I dread to think what Wilders said yesterday (I haven't yet been able to summon up the will to read the reports), but I can't help thinking it's more of the same.

As Adam Curtis says:

The problem with mass politics today is that we increasingly have no idea what is myth and theatre, and what is really true.

Amen, and kiss your ass goodbye.

John Carter Wood said...

Thanks, Meg! Interesting article, I had overlooked that (we've been travelling over the last week). It may result in a post from one of us at some point.

There's nothing at all wrong with googling Herr Lahm. We like Philipp just fine...we just find the apparent international fascination with him a bit mystifying.

I'm glad you've kept coming back!

And thanks Geoff. Yes, I'm not feeling especially optimistic. And I too haven't gathered the will to watch Wilders's latest rants. Maybe later this week. Maybe never....

mikeovswinton said...

I know this is a serious topic, and all that, but is it just me, or is "Pastor" Jones the last man on the planet with a "Zapata" moustache?

D. Ghirlandaio said...

"I think that Germans have the impression that Muslims don’t like them,” said Martin von Hermanni, a computer programmer and wine lover who attended the promotional buffet and was sharply critical of Mr. Sarrazin’s book. “With Mr. Wu, we see he loves Germany, maybe more than the Germans.”

"I think that Germans have the impression that Muslims don’t like them,”[!!]
Germans continue to amaze me. They're the original Israelis; ever the victim.
"Did I do something wrong??"

Geoff Coupe said...

Riesling and Chinese food, I can believe in.

Decent red wine that comes from Germany?

Not in a million years.

John Carter Wood said...

Very unfair....

We regularly buy a very nice Spätburgunder from the winery across the street.

Very drinkable, it is.

Geoff Coupe said...

Oh, alright, I'll try a few more. But I'm warning you, on past experience, my hopes are not high... :-)

D. Ghirlandaio said...

"Keine Posts stimmen mit Suchanfrage Sarrazin überein. Alle Posts anzeigen"

Anonymous said...

Agree with Geoff. French bordeaux and pinot noir wines are my first choice, German reds my last. That said, some drinkable red wines can be found in the Ahr Valley region, among others.

Apropos Sarrazin: Terry Jones will soon be forgotten, Sarrazin, alas, not. Why haven't you posted on Sarrazin, John? Seems so much more important than a wacky fundamentalist preacher.

John Carter Wood said...

My palate is clearly not as educated as yours are, gents, but I'm afraid I'm going to have to keep batting for the home team on this one.

Mysterious Unknown: Tja...our Thilo. Well, I'm flattered that you think I may have something to say about his various theories that thousands of others haven't, ad nauseam.

Why have I not written about him yet? Well, I suppose the short answer is that Sarrazin's argument isn't really one argument: it's several, and I haven't really had the energy and will to wade fully into all of them in order to take my public stand.

As an American saying goes: you throw enough shit at the wall and some of it is bound to stick. But it seems to me that where he's right he's not new (i.e. there are indeed many problems and shortcomings with integration); and where he's new, he's wrong (i.e., blaming it, at least in part, on genetics).

I have my problems both with Sarrazin supporters and with his critics; but all-in-all I can't say that his recent intervention has really helped anyone.

Except for perhaps himself. Sarrazin has enjoyed his self-appointed role of provocateur for years, and it seems that, despite losing his job he's done rather well out of the whole episode; which is, you know, all well and good, though it makes the efforts by some of his supporters to see him as a martyr seem a bit fruitless.

'Important'? I don't know. Sarazzin is part of a line of recent German bestseller authors -- Henryk M. Broder, say, or Thomas Wieczorek -- who have long been making good money by telling the nation that it's going to hell in a handbasket.

This is a nervous country, after all.

He's no doubt already hard at work on a sequel; and, who knows, maybe he and some of the other Seriously Disgruntleds hierzulande will form a party somewhere in the wilds to the right of the CDU/CSU.

But, you know, I'm no political oracle.

But, I have to say: someone writing a book and getting Germans to gripe about how crap things are is not, shall we say, difficult.

In any case, the point of my post was that a preacher who, as you say, should be pretty unimportant, was suddenly the most famous dude on the planet, attracting commentary from people who normally have Better Things to Do.

I presume, maybe wrongly, that most of our non-German readers might have scratched their heads or done a quick run to Google to figure out who Thilo Sarrazin even is, let alone why he might be important.

'That guy who wanted to burn the Koran' is known from here to Timbuktu, as we used to say.

And, I don't recall any commentary from Barack Obama on Thilo Sarrazin.

Alles Gute

Anonymous said...

Thanks, John.

The continuous drone of German news reports about Sarrazin in recent weeks, the thousands of supporting readers' comments in established online German periodicals, including--surprisingly--the "TAZ"--, have given me pause.... This seems more than a passing phenomenon.

Not that Sarrazin is always wrong. But the stigmatization of entire ethnic groups and the chatter about genetic inferiority worry me.

On the whole--there's something about this man that smells foul.