The Sinister Reasonableness Of Thilo Sarrazin's New Book
Print Friendly and PDF
Thilo Sarrazin, the former Social Democratic central banker with a doctorate in economics whose previous book on immigration policy has sold 1,100,000 copies in Germany, has a written a new book, Europe Doesn't Need the Euro. In the Atlantic, Miss Heather Horn finds herself disturbed by Sarrazin's sinister reasonableness:
The Controversial German Book Linking the Euro to Holocaust Guilt 

It's hard to think of a good American equivalent to Germany's Thilo Sarrazin, the politician turned best-selling author. The closest one could be Pat Buchanan: in some circles, he and his writings are considered entirely legitimate. In others, they're considered shocking and revolting to the point of scandal. ... 

Now, Sarrazin is addressing the euro crisis. Tuesday, his new book Europe Doesn't Need the Euro, hit the shelves. If you're just paging through idly, it doesn't seem to be as provocative, and, on balance, it really isn't: you'd expect as seasoned a provocateur as Sarrazin, especially with his leanings towards ideas of ethnic and educational superiority, at least to say some obnoxious and offensive things about Greek people or their ability with a balance sheet. He doesn't do that. The book, nevertheless, has immediately drawn fire — and with good reason.  

I can tell how old I am because I can remember a day long ago when journalists would describe a book as "provocative" and "controversial" to whet readers' interest in the book. Today, the words "provocative" and "controversial" have become code for Move Along, Nothing to See Here.

... Many of the paragraphs are entirely reasonable ... Nevertheless, this is a little bit, like an American treading awfully close to a racial stereotype while prefacing his statement with "now, I don't want to be called a racist." Why? Because what Sarrazin is really saying is that Germans are hostage to their sense of not wanting to be responsible for Europe's failure. Germans are hostage to their sense of historical guilt. To use Der Spiegel's translation for one of the pre-publication excerpts, pro-euro Germans "are driven by that very German reflex, that we can only finally atone for the Holocaust and World War II when we have put all our interests and money into European hands." ...

What we're left with is a book that has some superficial similarities to Günter Grass's controversial poem about Israel and Iran back in April, though Sarrazin's economic credentials are significantly better than the poet's foreign policy credentials. It's not that the arguments themselves don't have merit. It's that the author doesn't seem all that concerned with complexity. Toss in a casual suggestion that Germans are suppressing their natural reactions due to Holocaust guilt, and the whole thing starts to look offensive ... 

The really provocative and revealing part of Sarrazin's book isn't the oft-repeated quote about Holocaust guilt, it's sentences like, "It's certainly very complicated, but on the other hand not as complicated as many want to make it!" or "Everyone who has an opinion on the euro also has either consciously or unconsciously an opinion on Europe." ...

... Outside of Sarrazin's head, it is possible to have an opinion on the euro and have no idea whether Greeks are fundamentally culturally and ethnically similar to Frenchmen. ...

To "have an opinion" on policy while simultaneously to "have no idea" about the facts the policy confronts appears to be the perfect summation of the kind of intellectual discourse that is considered appropriate in the 21st Century. The role model for contemporary thinkers is Sgt. Schultz from Hogan's Heroes: "I know nuffink!"

And it's possible for uneducated immigrants to produce the next generation's engineers and poets — and, even if they don't, to be no more or less morally deserving than ethnic Germans with a university degree. Thilo Sarrazin's two books, when you get down to mechanics, aren't all that different.
I am shocked, SHOCKED to hear that one of the world's most experienced technocrats has written an extremely well-documented book arguing that the Euro is not a good idea. Well, I never ...  If Germans don't pile all copies of Sarrazin's new book up in their town squares and burn them tonight, somebody might get the idea to translate his 2010 bestseller on immigration into English and publish it in America. And we can't have that, now can we?
Print Friendly and PDF