Integration debate after New Year’s Eve: We have to deal with it

After New Year’s Eve, there are racism weeks in Germany. The debates are pure provocation, but you can’t stay out of it.

A red rocket fountain

Hardly anyone questioned what really happened on New Year’s Eve Photo: Marius Schwarz/imago

In Germany there are racism weeks again. With a Berlin special because there’s an election campaign there: baiting foreigners in the election campaign is a proven concept. You capture voices by stoking fears and blaming all those “who aren’t German enough” (whatever that’s supposed to be). You also pick up people in their racism, which they would like to live out again anyway. Many of those at whose expense all this is happening can’t vote anyway.

So this is how we’ve been stuck since New Year’s Eve, in which there were attacks on firefighters and rescue workers, in an uncomfortable integration debate: many politicians or media representatives of color felt compelled to take a stand, to explain, to justify. In these quick statements, created under reaction pressure, it is easy to see how the framing works and how the debate is postponed.

Many condemned the violence on New Year’s Eve and asked for a differentiated view. Some listed how many useful societal contributions are made by migrants and PoC. I hardly heard voices questioning the description of New Year’s Eve itself and reminding that the police is not a neutral source, but also pursues its own interests.

It’s about distraction

Toni Morrison once described racism as a diversionary tactic: “The function, the very serious function of racism is as a diversion. It keeps you from doing your work. He keeps you explaining.” In the last few weeks, even experienced journalists, politicians and many people whose job title is anything to do with diversity have left their real work to defend themselves and all of us.

In this case, by “us” I don’t just mean: migrants with and without a German passport, black people and other Poc, but everyone who is anti-fascist or simply doesn’t feel like a racist society. Sure: We can’t let racist allegations go unchallenged – but we don’t have to jump over every stick either. Integration debates are rubbish. Nothing good ever comes of it. It’s pure provocation, coming from people who have no ideas or interest in tackling big issues. So solving social problems and protecting the environment.

Nevertheless, we cannot ignore racist statements. We often can’t decide not to let ourselves be distracted and go about our business in a relaxed manner. We have to deal with it because these statements are dangerous. Because they prepare the political climate that leads to racist violence, assaults and terrorist attacks.

If anyone is wondering whether PoC is not doing enough for the climate: If I hadn’t had the feeling that this text had to be today, I would have written about Lützerath.

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