Sunday, November 28, 2010

Deplorable Reasoning

”Firing back” at an idea with an unrelated trope has become the gold standard in (anti) intellectualism by intimidation.

Two books have shaped German debate this autumn. Thilo Sarrazin's book "Deutschland schafft sich ab" (Germany is abolishing itself) and "Das Amt und die Vergangenheit" (The Foreign Ministry and the past). On first appearances they would seem to have little in common, other than they are both published by Random House. Actually, though, these books are intricately bound up with one another, two souls in the breast of the politically-minded Bildungsburger or member of the German educated classes.
After all, both arguments somehow become equal because they came out of the mouths of “a class”, a sorting mechanism from people outside of those being assigned to one class or another.

Somehow, Sarrazin’s mention of the disinvolved and least educated not participating in the larger society’s social and economic life, and a collection of essays about the largely now deceased staff of Germany’s postwar foreign ministry whitewashing its’ past are to become about something else entirely. Were those Ausenministarium folk really elitists? Maybe. But was it their class and education that drove their moral failure? This is a question that one may not ask in a post-you name it society.

Which “class” is it right to appear to be after today, all you Besserwisser types out there?

Where then, should we arbitrarily deposit out judgment on the likes of that elite “class” called opinion journalists such as the article’s author, Welt journalist Alan Pösner? We may not judge right nor wrong in an individual for fear of sanction or being held to account for our words, which is how constructing invective for a constructed class develops so much appeal.