Not too much Islam, too little Christianity

Lutheran pastor’s kid Angela Merkel, now the chancellor of Germany, had some striking things to say about the immigration debate in that country:

Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Germans debating Muslim integration to stand up more for Christian values, saying Monday the country suffered not from “too much Islam” but “too little Christianity.”

Addressing her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, she said she took the current public debate in Germany on Islam and immigration very seriously. As part of this debate, she said last month that multiculturalism there had utterly failed.

Some of her conservative allies have gone further, calling for an end to immigration from “foreign cultures” — a reference to Muslim countries like Turkey — and more pressure on immigrants to integrate into German society.

Merkel told the CDU annual conference in Karlsruhe that the debate about immigration “especially by those of the Muslim faith” was an opportunity for the ruling party to stand up confidently for its convictions.

“We don’t have too much Islam, we have too little Christianity. We have too few discussions about the Christian view of mankind,” she said to applause from the hall.

via Merkel: Germany doesn’t have “too much Islam” but “too little Christianity” | Analysis & Opinion |.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Amen!

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Amen!

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    It was a brilliant speech if you ask me, and a strong confession of faith. Had to take guts.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    It was a brilliant speech if you ask me, and a strong confession of faith. Had to take guts.

  • DonS

    That was well said by Chancellor Merkel.

  • DonS

    That was well said by Chancellor Merkel.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I get the impression that everyone’s reading Merkel’s “[not] too much Islam but too little Christianity” as a statement of faith, but I’m not convinced it is. I Can’t find a translation of her speech (and there’s almost nothing on it on Der Spiegel International … what?!), so the most I had to go off of was this slightly longer Reuters article, which notes (with my emphasis):

    Merkel has sharpened her rhetoric on immigration in recent weeks while avoiding the toughest tones coming from the CDU’s Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU). But her party looks set to pass a resolution Tuesday stressing that German culture has Judeo-Christian roots, an idea that critics say aims to marginalize Islam. The resolution says Germany’s cultural identity is based on the “Christian-Jewish tradition,” ancient and Enlightenment philosophy and the nation’s historical experience. “We expect that those who come here respect them and recognize them, while keeping their personal identity,” it says.

    So does she see “too little Christianity” in terms of faith, or does she merely see it in terms of culture?

    It seems to me (and I realize how very American it is of me to say so) that Germany’s problem — shared by pretty much all of Europe — is that its culture is not defined merely by an overarching set of ideals, but by adherence to particulars. And in her speech, while Merkel is arguing for religious freedom, she seems, all the same, to be telling Turkish Muslim immigrants that they are notably not part of the German “cultural idendity”, or Leitkultur. Because they are Muslims. But this only continues to marginalize them as a culture-within-a-culture. This is no way to acheive her goal of “cohesion in our society”.

    Of course, such thoughts are popular in some corners of America, as well, these days. Indeed, the line from the article that a former Bundesbank board member “published a bestselling book arguing that Muslim immigrants were simple-minded welfare spongers who threatened the country’s economy and its long-term future” looks like it was ripped from a US newspaper that simply misspelled the word “Mexican”. But in America, you can be a Muslim and a full-blooded American. You can wear your African tribal garb and still be part of our cultural identity. You can celebrate an unfamiliar holiday and still have full participation in our society. Because, in apparent contrast to Merkel’s stance, we don’t ask people to give those things up to be American.

    At least, that used to be the story. God willing, it will continue to be.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I get the impression that everyone’s reading Merkel’s “[not] too much Islam but too little Christianity” as a statement of faith, but I’m not convinced it is. I Can’t find a translation of her speech (and there’s almost nothing on it on Der Spiegel International … what?!), so the most I had to go off of was this slightly longer Reuters article, which notes (with my emphasis):

    Merkel has sharpened her rhetoric on immigration in recent weeks while avoiding the toughest tones coming from the CDU’s Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU). But her party looks set to pass a resolution Tuesday stressing that German culture has Judeo-Christian roots, an idea that critics say aims to marginalize Islam. The resolution says Germany’s cultural identity is based on the “Christian-Jewish tradition,” ancient and Enlightenment philosophy and the nation’s historical experience. “We expect that those who come here respect them and recognize them, while keeping their personal identity,” it says.

    So does she see “too little Christianity” in terms of faith, or does she merely see it in terms of culture?

    It seems to me (and I realize how very American it is of me to say so) that Germany’s problem — shared by pretty much all of Europe — is that its culture is not defined merely by an overarching set of ideals, but by adherence to particulars. And in her speech, while Merkel is arguing for religious freedom, she seems, all the same, to be telling Turkish Muslim immigrants that they are notably not part of the German “cultural idendity”, or Leitkultur. Because they are Muslims. But this only continues to marginalize them as a culture-within-a-culture. This is no way to acheive her goal of “cohesion in our society”.

    Of course, such thoughts are popular in some corners of America, as well, these days. Indeed, the line from the article that a former Bundesbank board member “published a bestselling book arguing that Muslim immigrants were simple-minded welfare spongers who threatened the country’s economy and its long-term future” looks like it was ripped from a US newspaper that simply misspelled the word “Mexican”. But in America, you can be a Muslim and a full-blooded American. You can wear your African tribal garb and still be part of our cultural identity. You can celebrate an unfamiliar holiday and still have full participation in our society. Because, in apparent contrast to Merkel’s stance, we don’t ask people to give those things up to be American.

    At least, that used to be the story. God willing, it will continue to be.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    And everyone rallying around this “confession of faith”, do pay attention to the CDU’s resolution, particularly where it highlights “Enlightenment philosophy” as part of the Leitkultur. Whee.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    And everyone rallying around this “confession of faith”, do pay attention to the CDU’s resolution, particularly where it highlights “Enlightenment philosophy” as part of the Leitkultur. Whee.

  • DonS

    tODD, I agree with you. I don’t think she was necessarily making a religious statement, or a confession of faith. I say “necessarily” only because I don’t know her well enough to know if it could be taken ALSO as a confession of personal faith, in addition to a cultural/policy statement.

    What she was doing, and which I applaud, is making it clear that we are not entitled to suppress the religious and free speech rights of other people, just because we don’t like them. In other words, we in the free west are in a society valuing the marketplace of ideas, and the freedom of all to act on them. If you don’t want your culture to become dominated by an idea or religion you don’t like, such as Islam, then counter it with a stronger expression of the faith that forms the cultural basis of the west, namely Christianity. Don’t create a vacuum by sucking out all religious expression, rather, fill it with the competing tenets and values of your own faith.

    We should be taking that to heart here in the U.S. as well. And in Canada (take note, “Human Rights Commission”).

  • DonS

    tODD, I agree with you. I don’t think she was necessarily making a religious statement, or a confession of faith. I say “necessarily” only because I don’t know her well enough to know if it could be taken ALSO as a confession of personal faith, in addition to a cultural/policy statement.

    What she was doing, and which I applaud, is making it clear that we are not entitled to suppress the religious and free speech rights of other people, just because we don’t like them. In other words, we in the free west are in a society valuing the marketplace of ideas, and the freedom of all to act on them. If you don’t want your culture to become dominated by an idea or religion you don’t like, such as Islam, then counter it with a stronger expression of the faith that forms the cultural basis of the west, namely Christianity. Don’t create a vacuum by sucking out all religious expression, rather, fill it with the competing tenets and values of your own faith.

    We should be taking that to heart here in the U.S. as well. And in Canada (take note, “Human Rights Commission”).

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    tODD, I read the speech in the original German (it’s linked if you know Deutsch), and it its religiousity it reminds me of Reagan, really. She ties the whole thing together with the “C” from CDU (her party), which is “Christlich” or “Christlike.”

    How serious is she? Is it cultural or real Christianity? I’m not sure; knowing a bit of German culture, but not living it like a German, I can’t quite tell. I anticipate Germans will debate this, too. However, I’ve heard church sermons where Christ wasn’t discussed as much as Merkel does in her speech to her party here. As far as politics goes, it was brilliant.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    tODD, I read the speech in the original German (it’s linked if you know Deutsch), and it its religiousity it reminds me of Reagan, really. She ties the whole thing together with the “C” from CDU (her party), which is “Christlich” or “Christlike.”

    How serious is she? Is it cultural or real Christianity? I’m not sure; knowing a bit of German culture, but not living it like a German, I can’t quite tell. I anticipate Germans will debate this, too. However, I’ve heard church sermons where Christ wasn’t discussed as much as Merkel does in her speech to her party here. As far as politics goes, it was brilliant.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Understand, I’m not trying to make a judgment either way about Merkel’s faith — like DonS (@6), I don’t know her.

    I’m just saying that she was speaking to members of her political party, at a political conference, on the topic of immigration and culture. Faith wasn’t really the issue (Bike, feel free to translate something to prove me wrong). And, un-American as it may seem, “Christianity” is capable of being a purely cultural thing in Germany, as I understand things. Indeed, the “American civil religion”, often mistaken for Christianity, is pretty much a culture-only thing as well.

    And, again, why would we as Americans consider it “brilliant” for a country to assert that, while it will accept immigrants from other religions, they are not actually part of its culture? It all reminds me more than a little bit of Europe’s past issues in dealing with Jews, and how their “you’re not one of us” attitude worked out. Amusingly, Merkel’s CDU now resolves that German “cultural identity is based on the ‘Christian-Jewish tradition’ … and the nation’s historical experience”, even though the nation’s historical experience frequently excluded the Jewish tradition from German cultural identity.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Understand, I’m not trying to make a judgment either way about Merkel’s faith — like DonS (@6), I don’t know her.

    I’m just saying that she was speaking to members of her political party, at a political conference, on the topic of immigration and culture. Faith wasn’t really the issue (Bike, feel free to translate something to prove me wrong). And, un-American as it may seem, “Christianity” is capable of being a purely cultural thing in Germany, as I understand things. Indeed, the “American civil religion”, often mistaken for Christianity, is pretty much a culture-only thing as well.

    And, again, why would we as Americans consider it “brilliant” for a country to assert that, while it will accept immigrants from other religions, they are not actually part of its culture? It all reminds me more than a little bit of Europe’s past issues in dealing with Jews, and how their “you’re not one of us” attitude worked out. Amusingly, Merkel’s CDU now resolves that German “cultural identity is based on the ‘Christian-Jewish tradition’ … and the nation’s historical experience”, even though the nation’s historical experience frequently excluded the Jewish tradition from German cultural identity.

  • DonS

    tODD, I guess I part company with you a bit as to what the implication of her speech was. I didn’t take it as a slam on Muslims, denying them a place in the culture of Germany, as much as a caution to Christians that even thinking of excluding Muslim immigration was wrongheaded, and that their focus should be, instead, on promoting Christianity. I think she was attempting to rein in the more xenophobic members of her own political party by exhorting them to use a positive, rather than negative, approach to dealing with the perceived problem of Muslim incursion into the culture.

  • DonS

    tODD, I guess I part company with you a bit as to what the implication of her speech was. I didn’t take it as a slam on Muslims, denying them a place in the culture of Germany, as much as a caution to Christians that even thinking of excluding Muslim immigration was wrongheaded, and that their focus should be, instead, on promoting Christianity. I think she was attempting to rein in the more xenophobic members of her own political party by exhorting them to use a positive, rather than negative, approach to dealing with the perceived problem of Muslim incursion into the culture.

  • Porcell

    Saying that Germans have not too much Islam but too little of Christianity, while a fine sentiment, avoids the serious issue that Germany and other European nations face, namely a militant Islam that has infiltrated Europe and has a demographic advantage.

    Germans, or for that matter, Americans, have every right to expect immigrants to accept and adapt to the core principles of their adopted nations. This idea of a multi-cultural, salad bowl nation is flawed. If a sensible person emigrates to another nation, he learns the language and accepts the fundamental principles of that nation, something that radical Muslims reject. Germans and other European nations arm slowly coming to understand this., though most analysts predict that Europe is finished and that America is the last bastion of Judeo-Christian freedom.

    Angela Merkel in rather typical Protestant moralistic fashion avoids the main issue and offers the piety that the problem has to do with a lack of Christian charity. Of course, Europeans, like all of us, would do well to be more charitable, though, meanwhile, Europe, due to its lack of Christian cultural confidence and strength, is slowly becoming Eurabia.

  • Porcell

    Saying that Germans have not too much Islam but too little of Christianity, while a fine sentiment, avoids the serious issue that Germany and other European nations face, namely a militant Islam that has infiltrated Europe and has a demographic advantage.

    Germans, or for that matter, Americans, have every right to expect immigrants to accept and adapt to the core principles of their adopted nations. This idea of a multi-cultural, salad bowl nation is flawed. If a sensible person emigrates to another nation, he learns the language and accepts the fundamental principles of that nation, something that radical Muslims reject. Germans and other European nations arm slowly coming to understand this., though most analysts predict that Europe is finished and that America is the last bastion of Judeo-Christian freedom.

    Angela Merkel in rather typical Protestant moralistic fashion avoids the main issue and offers the piety that the problem has to do with a lack of Christian charity. Of course, Europeans, like all of us, would do well to be more charitable, though, meanwhile, Europe, due to its lack of Christian cultural confidence and strength, is slowly becoming Eurabia.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@9), unless you can read German (or have found a better article — gimme!), we’re both working off the article Veith linked to (or the extended one I found at his link). I tried looking for a better article, but everything I could find on this topic stemmed from the Reuters story.

    I agree, to a degree, that her speech was “a caution to Christians that even thinking of excluding Muslim immigration was wrongheaded, and that their focus should be, instead, on promoting Christianity” — with the note that it’s not clear if she meant “Christianity” in a cultural or religious sense, or a mixture.

    And ultimately, she’s striking a centrist stance here, opposing both the multiculturalism of the left that she says has failed, and the xenophobia of the right that would simply bar any further immigration.

    But in contrast to your statement that you “didn’t take it as a slam on Muslims, denying them a place in the culture of Germany”, I will simply point out these quotes from my article again:

    Germany needs more public discussion “about the values that guide us (and) about our Judeo-Christian tradition,” she said. “We have to stress this again with confidence, then we will also be able to bring about cohesion in our society.” …

    [The CDU] looks set to pass a resolution Tuesday stressing that German culture has Judeo-Christian roots, an idea that critics say aims to marginalize Islam.

    The resolution says Germany’s cultural identity is based on the “Christian-Jewish tradition,” ancient and Enlightenment philosophy and the nation’s historical experience.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@9), unless you can read German (or have found a better article — gimme!), we’re both working off the article Veith linked to (or the extended one I found at his link). I tried looking for a better article, but everything I could find on this topic stemmed from the Reuters story.

    I agree, to a degree, that her speech was “a caution to Christians that even thinking of excluding Muslim immigration was wrongheaded, and that their focus should be, instead, on promoting Christianity” — with the note that it’s not clear if she meant “Christianity” in a cultural or religious sense, or a mixture.

    And ultimately, she’s striking a centrist stance here, opposing both the multiculturalism of the left that she says has failed, and the xenophobia of the right that would simply bar any further immigration.

    But in contrast to your statement that you “didn’t take it as a slam on Muslims, denying them a place in the culture of Germany”, I will simply point out these quotes from my article again:

    Germany needs more public discussion “about the values that guide us (and) about our Judeo-Christian tradition,” she said. “We have to stress this again with confidence, then we will also be able to bring about cohesion in our society.” …

    [The CDU] looks set to pass a resolution Tuesday stressing that German culture has Judeo-Christian roots, an idea that critics say aims to marginalize Islam.

    The resolution says Germany’s cultural identity is based on the “Christian-Jewish tradition,” ancient and Enlightenment philosophy and the nation’s historical experience.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Imagine, if you will (and I know how hard you’ll have to imagine) that some in America were arguing that Mexican immigrants are simple-minded welfare spongers who threaten our country’s economy and its long-term future. That they threaten our American culture.

    Some on the left say Mexicans aren’t actually a threat, and we should just let them come here unhindered, without any expectation that they or their children learn our language, or our history, or our legal or cultural tenets. Some on the right say we need to close the borders, now, period, before they inundate us and We become Them.

    Again, it’s just a thought experiment, so do try your hardest to envision all this.

    Now imagine that, in the middle of all this, an American politician stands up and says, “We don’t have too much Mexican culture, we have too little English culture! We have too few discussions about the English view of mankind. We need more public discussion about the Anglo-Saxon traditions that guide us. This is what will bring about cohesion in our society. Mexican immigrants are free to practice their own culture, if they wish, but they need to respect and recognize America’s Anglo-Saxon cultural identity.”

    Actually, I’m curious how people would respond to such a statement.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Imagine, if you will (and I know how hard you’ll have to imagine) that some in America were arguing that Mexican immigrants are simple-minded welfare spongers who threaten our country’s economy and its long-term future. That they threaten our American culture.

    Some on the left say Mexicans aren’t actually a threat, and we should just let them come here unhindered, without any expectation that they or their children learn our language, or our history, or our legal or cultural tenets. Some on the right say we need to close the borders, now, period, before they inundate us and We become Them.

    Again, it’s just a thought experiment, so do try your hardest to envision all this.

    Now imagine that, in the middle of all this, an American politician stands up and says, “We don’t have too much Mexican culture, we have too little English culture! We have too few discussions about the English view of mankind. We need more public discussion about the Anglo-Saxon traditions that guide us. This is what will bring about cohesion in our society. Mexican immigrants are free to practice their own culture, if they wish, but they need to respect and recognize America’s Anglo-Saxon cultural identity.”

    Actually, I’m curious how people would respond to such a statement.

  • helen

    First of all, a lot of us are not Anglo-Saxon. A century ago, Germans were so thick on the ground in the upper Midwest that there was a serious discussion about dual languages there, like Quebec, with German predominant. [WW I put the brakes on that one, I think.] But German was taught in many small town high schools (I found the books in our store room after WW II). One room country schools were being taught in German by teachers who were more fluent in that than in English. If the schools weren’t teaching German, der Herr Pastor was, right up to WW II, with catechesis in German to follow. There was no German for me till college but I have the family dual language catechism used by my mother and siblings.

  • helen

    First of all, a lot of us are not Anglo-Saxon. A century ago, Germans were so thick on the ground in the upper Midwest that there was a serious discussion about dual languages there, like Quebec, with German predominant. [WW I put the brakes on that one, I think.] But German was taught in many small town high schools (I found the books in our store room after WW II). One room country schools were being taught in German by teachers who were more fluent in that than in English. If the schools weren’t teaching German, der Herr Pastor was, right up to WW II, with catechesis in German to follow. There was no German for me till college but I have the family dual language catechism used by my mother and siblings.

  • helen

    In Texas, people brag about their 5th or 6th generation German heritage … and eat tacos.

  • helen

    In Texas, people brag about their 5th or 6th generation German heritage … and eat tacos.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 12: Straining, straining, yes, I can just barely imagine it ….:-)

    I can also imagine Americans arguing that we should educate new immigrants to the American way of life and value system. And I really think, at the cultural level, that this is what Angela Merkel was doing in Germany.

    I don’t think it is unfair to promote and maintain the cultural and religious heritage of a nation. Those who move into that country from another country having different cultural and/or relgious values need to take that into account when they move in. What I believe a Muslim is entitled to when he moves into Germany or the U.S. is the right to freely practice his faith and to be left alone to do so, in peace. He does not, however, have the right to have his religion, culture, or lifestyle placed on an equal footing with the established values of that country. Similarly, were you or I to move to Turkey, we would only hope to be able to freely live our lives as Christians, not to have Turkey regard our faith and lifestyle on the same plain as Islam. Goodness knows, there would be no hope for us to have even that kind of freedom in many other predominantly Muslim countries, so by contrast, Muslims moving to the west are indeed fortunate.

    Americans moving to Mexico face a lot more discrimination, generally speaking, than Mexicans moving to the U.S. They cannot even own property free and clear, in their own names. Food for thought, though I am certainly not saying we should reduce ourselves to the level of other less free countries. But again, I believe we are entitled to our nation’s culture, and for it to be dominant.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 12: Straining, straining, yes, I can just barely imagine it ….:-)

    I can also imagine Americans arguing that we should educate new immigrants to the American way of life and value system. And I really think, at the cultural level, that this is what Angela Merkel was doing in Germany.

    I don’t think it is unfair to promote and maintain the cultural and religious heritage of a nation. Those who move into that country from another country having different cultural and/or relgious values need to take that into account when they move in. What I believe a Muslim is entitled to when he moves into Germany or the U.S. is the right to freely practice his faith and to be left alone to do so, in peace. He does not, however, have the right to have his religion, culture, or lifestyle placed on an equal footing with the established values of that country. Similarly, were you or I to move to Turkey, we would only hope to be able to freely live our lives as Christians, not to have Turkey regard our faith and lifestyle on the same plain as Islam. Goodness knows, there would be no hope for us to have even that kind of freedom in many other predominantly Muslim countries, so by contrast, Muslims moving to the west are indeed fortunate.

    Americans moving to Mexico face a lot more discrimination, generally speaking, than Mexicans moving to the U.S. They cannot even own property free and clear, in their own names. Food for thought, though I am certainly not saying we should reduce ourselves to the level of other less free countries. But again, I believe we are entitled to our nation’s culture, and for it to be dominant.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Aren’t Lutherans in the U.S. a good case in point of a religious/ethnic group struggling for cultural recognition/identity in a foreign land (and for the most part not getting it)?

    And what we have gotten is certainly a hodge-podge of different Lutherans and different ways of dealing with and responding to that challenge.

    I mean, the only place where you might talk about Lutheranism having a defining role in the culture might be Minnesota or somewhere around those parts (I’ve heard, perhaps parts of Texas as well). But those are a bit of a different breed of Lutheran than you will find here where Lutherans comprise less than 1% of the population.

    Interesting discussion – thanks guys.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Aren’t Lutherans in the U.S. a good case in point of a religious/ethnic group struggling for cultural recognition/identity in a foreign land (and for the most part not getting it)?

    And what we have gotten is certainly a hodge-podge of different Lutherans and different ways of dealing with and responding to that challenge.

    I mean, the only place where you might talk about Lutheranism having a defining role in the culture might be Minnesota or somewhere around those parts (I’ve heard, perhaps parts of Texas as well). But those are a bit of a different breed of Lutheran than you will find here where Lutherans comprise less than 1% of the population.

    Interesting discussion – thanks guys.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@15), “what I believe a Muslim is entitled to when he moves into Germany or the U.S. is the right to freely practice his faith and to be left alone to do so.” Yes, yes, yes, … but! I’m not questioning the issue of religious “rights”. We both agree on that, let’s leave it aside, if we may.

    What I am questioning, rather, is the wisdom of Germany’s (if, indeed, the CDU speaks for Germany, which it certainly could claim to with Merkel as chancellor) asserting that German cultural identity means a particular religion.

    Helen’s the only one who really responded (@13) to my thought-experiment, but she reacted similar to how I was thinking: “First of all, a lot of us are not Anglo-Saxon.” Indeed! Though America did, in fact, start with that culture, it would be incorrect to claim it as our culture now, or to expect people arriving to recognize that their culture is subordinate to the Anglo-Saxon one. America does, indeed, have a culture, we do have values, but they are fairly overarching, and have — to date, at least — managed to assimilate a whole host of other religions and cultures in the more general sense, such that I grew up eating tacos and kielbasa (not together), while saying “Gesundheit” when people sneezed, and not ever knowing these were not always part of the culture in America.

    Anyhow, point being, just as Helen noted that “First of all, a lot of us are not Anglo-Saxon,” I must note that, first of all, a lot of Germans are not Christian. Especially not Christian as most of us here understand the term. But a lot of them aren’t even nominally Christian (and yet aren’t Muslims, either). This is not perceived as a problem in Germany.

    So my problem with Merkel’s comments (as I understand them) is two-fold: (1) She is failing to appeal to Germany’s culture in the wider sense, instead defining it by the particulars (i.e. religion), which will result in less social cohesion, not more, and (2) Her statement fails to take into account the many Germans who are not perceived as problematic who do not consider themselves Christian, and who would therefore appear to be just as much outside of the cultural identity as the Muslim immigrants. But they’re not. Because Germany does have a culture that transcends religion. They just don’t want to admit it in the face of Muslim immigration.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@15), “what I believe a Muslim is entitled to when he moves into Germany or the U.S. is the right to freely practice his faith and to be left alone to do so.” Yes, yes, yes, … but! I’m not questioning the issue of religious “rights”. We both agree on that, let’s leave it aside, if we may.

    What I am questioning, rather, is the wisdom of Germany’s (if, indeed, the CDU speaks for Germany, which it certainly could claim to with Merkel as chancellor) asserting that German cultural identity means a particular religion.

    Helen’s the only one who really responded (@13) to my thought-experiment, but she reacted similar to how I was thinking: “First of all, a lot of us are not Anglo-Saxon.” Indeed! Though America did, in fact, start with that culture, it would be incorrect to claim it as our culture now, or to expect people arriving to recognize that their culture is subordinate to the Anglo-Saxon one. America does, indeed, have a culture, we do have values, but they are fairly overarching, and have — to date, at least — managed to assimilate a whole host of other religions and cultures in the more general sense, such that I grew up eating tacos and kielbasa (not together), while saying “Gesundheit” when people sneezed, and not ever knowing these were not always part of the culture in America.

    Anyhow, point being, just as Helen noted that “First of all, a lot of us are not Anglo-Saxon,” I must note that, first of all, a lot of Germans are not Christian. Especially not Christian as most of us here understand the term. But a lot of them aren’t even nominally Christian (and yet aren’t Muslims, either). This is not perceived as a problem in Germany.

    So my problem with Merkel’s comments (as I understand them) is two-fold: (1) She is failing to appeal to Germany’s culture in the wider sense, instead defining it by the particulars (i.e. religion), which will result in less social cohesion, not more, and (2) Her statement fails to take into account the many Germans who are not perceived as problematic who do not consider themselves Christian, and who would therefore appear to be just as much outside of the cultural identity as the Muslim immigrants. But they’re not. Because Germany does have a culture that transcends religion. They just don’t want to admit it in the face of Muslim immigration.

  • Porcell

    Todd:… but she reacted similar to how I was thinking: “First of all, a lot of us are not Anglo-Saxon.” Indeed! Though America did, in fact, start with that culture, it would be incorrect to claim it as our culture now, or to expect people arriving to recognize that their culture is subordinate to the Anglo-Saxon one.

    As Tocqueville remarked in Democracy in America, the Anglo-Saxon culture in early America, especially that of Massachusetts and Virginia, formed a lasting foundation of American culture, especially its emphasis on the Judeo-Christian religion and equality of political identity among citizens, compared especially to Europe.

    From the beginning of our history ethnic groups other than Anglo-Saxons, despite some initial prejudice, were able to fit in well. One can easily cite examples of narrow Anglo-Saxon prejudice, though by and large over time immigrants to this country were accepted. As to social equality, of course, we still have the sort of distinctions that all cultures have.

    While America at present has become quite pluralistic, the basic Anglo-Saxon foundation of the culture has held, though just now it is threatened by the multi-culturalist view of the Left. In truth, America’s greatness is fundamentally related to its Anglo-Saxon foundation.

    The best book on this subject is Who We Are by Samuel Huntington. He stresses the point that while America is at base an Anglo-Saxon culture, many ethnic groups have been welcomed into this culture and made great contributions to it.

    Angela Merkel is right that Germany and Europe are at base Judeo-Christian/Hellenic cultures, which broadly speaking, also, applies to America.

  • Porcell

    Todd:… but she reacted similar to how I was thinking: “First of all, a lot of us are not Anglo-Saxon.” Indeed! Though America did, in fact, start with that culture, it would be incorrect to claim it as our culture now, or to expect people arriving to recognize that their culture is subordinate to the Anglo-Saxon one.

    As Tocqueville remarked in Democracy in America, the Anglo-Saxon culture in early America, especially that of Massachusetts and Virginia, formed a lasting foundation of American culture, especially its emphasis on the Judeo-Christian religion and equality of political identity among citizens, compared especially to Europe.

    From the beginning of our history ethnic groups other than Anglo-Saxons, despite some initial prejudice, were able to fit in well. One can easily cite examples of narrow Anglo-Saxon prejudice, though by and large over time immigrants to this country were accepted. As to social equality, of course, we still have the sort of distinctions that all cultures have.

    While America at present has become quite pluralistic, the basic Anglo-Saxon foundation of the culture has held, though just now it is threatened by the multi-culturalist view of the Left. In truth, America’s greatness is fundamentally related to its Anglo-Saxon foundation.

    The best book on this subject is Who We Are by Samuel Huntington. He stresses the point that while America is at base an Anglo-Saxon culture, many ethnic groups have been welcomed into this culture and made great contributions to it.

    Angela Merkel is right that Germany and Europe are at base Judeo-Christian/Hellenic cultures, which broadly speaking, also, applies to America.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 17: I understand your point, and it has merit.

    Though WE agree on the religious rights issue, it’s not that clear-cut in Europe. Look at France, where we are continually hearing about efforts to ban burqas and other such nonsense. And in Germany the push is to restrict immigration by Muslims. So religious freedom is very much in play. And was a focus of Merkel’s speech, which, again, was fundamentally an encouragement to those on the right to can the talk about banning Muslims.

    Yes, it is kind of dumb, at this point, to promote a return to our Anglo-Saxon culture in this country, given that Anglo-Saxons are a fairly small minority of our current population. I think that ship has sailed. But, the issue of Germany’s Judeo-Christian heritage, as against Islam, is far different. These two world religions are incompatible, and at virtual war around the world. Though Germany is largely a post-Christian nation, with relatively few actively practicing Christians, a very large majority of Germans still have Christian roots, and want a culture reflecting Christian, rather than Muslim values and temperament. I don’t see anything wrong with Germans trying to actively maintain that culture in their society. You don’t have to be a Christian to appreciate the advantages of a Christian culture vs. a Muslim one.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 17: I understand your point, and it has merit.

    Though WE agree on the religious rights issue, it’s not that clear-cut in Europe. Look at France, where we are continually hearing about efforts to ban burqas and other such nonsense. And in Germany the push is to restrict immigration by Muslims. So religious freedom is very much in play. And was a focus of Merkel’s speech, which, again, was fundamentally an encouragement to those on the right to can the talk about banning Muslims.

    Yes, it is kind of dumb, at this point, to promote a return to our Anglo-Saxon culture in this country, given that Anglo-Saxons are a fairly small minority of our current population. I think that ship has sailed. But, the issue of Germany’s Judeo-Christian heritage, as against Islam, is far different. These two world religions are incompatible, and at virtual war around the world. Though Germany is largely a post-Christian nation, with relatively few actively practicing Christians, a very large majority of Germans still have Christian roots, and want a culture reflecting Christian, rather than Muslim values and temperament. I don’t see anything wrong with Germans trying to actively maintain that culture in their society. You don’t have to be a Christian to appreciate the advantages of a Christian culture vs. a Muslim one.

  • Porcell

    Don S, the Anglo Saxon founder’s principles still underly American culture, including those of the Judeo-Christian religion and essential political equality. Your figure of a ship that has sailed makes little sense. Could you name any other cultural influences that have superseded those of the Anglo Saxons? The founding peoples of most nations set the tone of the future.

    Which is not to say that other peoples have not made significant contributions tot he underlying Anglo Saxon base.

  • Porcell

    Don S, the Anglo Saxon founder’s principles still underly American culture, including those of the Judeo-Christian religion and essential political equality. Your figure of a ship that has sailed makes little sense. Could you name any other cultural influences that have superseded those of the Anglo Saxons? The founding peoples of most nations set the tone of the future.

    Which is not to say that other peoples have not made significant contributions tot he underlying Anglo Saxon base.

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    Ah, poor Normans. They seem to be forgotten….

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    Ah, poor Normans. They seem to be forgotten….

  • DonS

    Porcell @ 20: Please don’t misunderstand me. I am Anglo-Saxon myself, so believe me, I have a fondness for that culture and believe it brought many great advances to the world (as well, of course, as considerable hardship). What I was saying is that specifically promoting the return of “Anglo-Saxon” culture to the U.S. as its dominant culture is a fool’s errand. It’s not going to work — it would be perceived as divisive and we are far too culturally diverse for that approach. What we in the U.S. should be doing is making sure our legal immigrants understand what it means to be an American by understanding our history and the values upon which this exceptional nation was founded. No matter the extraction of a current American citizen, we all share this heritage and all have an equal standing in supporting and furthering the concept of individual worth, liberty, freedom, and dignity which is embodied in the founding culture of our nation. We don’t need to label it, or patronize anyone — the concepts are universal and apply regardless of extraction, race, or creed. Of course, in studying our history, all Americans will be exposed, to the Anglo-Saxon culture of many of our founding fathers. We should toss in a Norman or two, for Louis’ benefit ;-)

  • DonS

    Porcell @ 20: Please don’t misunderstand me. I am Anglo-Saxon myself, so believe me, I have a fondness for that culture and believe it brought many great advances to the world (as well, of course, as considerable hardship). What I was saying is that specifically promoting the return of “Anglo-Saxon” culture to the U.S. as its dominant culture is a fool’s errand. It’s not going to work — it would be perceived as divisive and we are far too culturally diverse for that approach. What we in the U.S. should be doing is making sure our legal immigrants understand what it means to be an American by understanding our history and the values upon which this exceptional nation was founded. No matter the extraction of a current American citizen, we all share this heritage and all have an equal standing in supporting and furthering the concept of individual worth, liberty, freedom, and dignity which is embodied in the founding culture of our nation. We don’t need to label it, or patronize anyone — the concepts are universal and apply regardless of extraction, race, or creed. Of course, in studying our history, all Americans will be exposed, to the Anglo-Saxon culture of many of our founding fathers. We should toss in a Norman or two, for Louis’ benefit ;-)

  • Grace

    Unless you live in an area with a vast amount of Muslims AND Universities, you may not realize what is taking place. I offer this article and then another to follow on another post.

    Feb. 12, 2010 6:23 a.m.
    Richard Cravatts: ‘Speech for me, not for thee’
    By Richard L. Cravatts, Ph.D
    Director of Boston University’s Program in Publishing
    Of the many intellectual perversions currently taking root on college campuses, perhaps none is more contradictory to what should be one of higher education’s core values than the suppression of free speech. With alarming regularity, speakers are shouted down, booed, jeered, and barrage with vitriol, all at the hands of groups who give lip service to the notion of academic free speech, and who demand it when their speech is at issue, but have no interest in listening to, or letting others listen to, ideas that contradict their own world view.

    Coincidentally, last week two Israeli officials, Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon and ambassador to the United States Michael Oren had the unpleasant experience of confronting virulent anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian Muslim students whose ideology on academic debate seems to be “free speech for me, but not for thee.”

    http://www.ocregister.com/opinion/university-233883-publishingcontact-boston.html

  • Grace

    Unless you live in an area with a vast amount of Muslims AND Universities, you may not realize what is taking place. I offer this article and then another to follow on another post.

    Feb. 12, 2010 6:23 a.m.
    Richard Cravatts: ‘Speech for me, not for thee’
    By Richard L. Cravatts, Ph.D
    Director of Boston University’s Program in Publishing
    Of the many intellectual perversions currently taking root on college campuses, perhaps none is more contradictory to what should be one of higher education’s core values than the suppression of free speech. With alarming regularity, speakers are shouted down, booed, jeered, and barrage with vitriol, all at the hands of groups who give lip service to the notion of academic free speech, and who demand it when their speech is at issue, but have no interest in listening to, or letting others listen to, ideas that contradict their own world view.

    Coincidentally, last week two Israeli officials, Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon and ambassador to the United States Michael Oren had the unpleasant experience of confronting virulent anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian Muslim students whose ideology on academic debate seems to be “free speech for me, but not for thee.”

    http://www.ocregister.com/opinion/university-233883-publishingcontact-boston.html

  • Grace

    Below is an excellent article from World Magazine, November 20, 2010 – this event took place last February at the University of California Irvine -

    ‘We will fight you’
    Cal-Irvine | After shouting down speakers and allegedly supporting terrorists, a Muslim student group prepares to re-emerge on a California campus | Jill Nelson

    When a Muslim organization on a campus known for free speech tries to shut up those with a different viewpoint, what’s the right penalty? At the University of California, Irvine (UCI), home to approximately 23,000 students and one of the most virulent Muslim student groups in the nation, administrators are choosing a slap on the wrist.

    At the end of the article, the following:

    “MSU leaders have historically avoided the media spotlight and have attempted to keep both media and non-Muslim students from attending their meetings or filming their events, but one post-protest gathering after a 2007 speech at UCI by Daniel Pipes is on tape: “It’s just a matter of time before the state of Israel will be wiped off the face of the earth. . . . Our weapon, our jihad, our way of struggling in this country is with our tongues. We speak out and we deflate their morale, and it’s the best we can do right now. And our brothers and sisters on the other side of the world are handling business in their own way. May Allah give them strength.”

    http://www.worldmag.com/articles/17308?CFID=24971&CFTOKEN=89377341

  • Grace

    Below is an excellent article from World Magazine, November 20, 2010 – this event took place last February at the University of California Irvine -

    ‘We will fight you’
    Cal-Irvine | After shouting down speakers and allegedly supporting terrorists, a Muslim student group prepares to re-emerge on a California campus | Jill Nelson

    When a Muslim organization on a campus known for free speech tries to shut up those with a different viewpoint, what’s the right penalty? At the University of California, Irvine (UCI), home to approximately 23,000 students and one of the most virulent Muslim student groups in the nation, administrators are choosing a slap on the wrist.

    At the end of the article, the following:

    “MSU leaders have historically avoided the media spotlight and have attempted to keep both media and non-Muslim students from attending their meetings or filming their events, but one post-protest gathering after a 2007 speech at UCI by Daniel Pipes is on tape: “It’s just a matter of time before the state of Israel will be wiped off the face of the earth. . . . Our weapon, our jihad, our way of struggling in this country is with our tongues. We speak out and we deflate their morale, and it’s the best we can do right now. And our brothers and sisters on the other side of the world are handling business in their own way. May Allah give them strength.”

    http://www.worldmag.com/articles/17308?CFID=24971&CFTOKEN=89377341


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