Thursday, June 16, 2016

Of genocide, moral high ground and a gross German OpEd

Someone at venerable "center right" Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) had  a bad day.

Which turned into a short OpEd that you could summarize as enough with the German parliament genocide resolutions already.

If this seems too harsh, the blogster suggests reading the piece "Moral high ground" [our translation of Hochgefuehl, or moral self congratulation].

Only a few weeks ago, the German federal parliament passed a symbolic resolution calling the mass killing of Armenians by Turkey one hundred years ago a genocide. The world media, including the New York Times, covered the vote favorably.

It even went largely unnoticed that the top government leaders, Ms. Merkel of the conservatives, Mr. Gabriel of the Social Democrats, and others all had managed to have other pressing business that day and - sporting the requisite diplomatic plaster cast facial expressions - apologized for skipping the historic vote.

Turkish nationalists were outraged, threatened members of parliament of Turkish descent, which in turn prompted police protection for some.

It was a marvelous PR exercise for German conservatives who had refused a vote for decades. Yes, the debate had been going on for decades without, mostly, making international headlines.

In fact, the Armenian genocide resolution went so well that, apparently, the conservative leader of parliament muttered something about a resolution on the slaughter of the Herero people.

Who are the Herero people, you say?

Good question, also one shared by many Germans.

The Herero lived in southern Africa, the desert land that is now known as Namibia, which was a German colony just over a hundred years ago. The Hereros revolted in 1903. The German commander issued orders to kill every male Herero and drive the women and children into the desert. As soon as the news of this order reached Germany it was repealed, but by this time the rest of the native population was in full-scale revolt. When the order was lifted at the end of 1904, prisoners were herded into concentration camps and given as slave labor to German businesses, where many died of overwork and malnutrition.

Casualty numbers of around 100 000 are quoted. Which is around 80% of the population.

The OpEd gentleman at FAZ took umbrage with any suggestion to pass a genocide resolution, claiming that Germany played a special role in dealing with its past compared to other nations.
For international readers, that's code for "look, we keep apologizing for them f***ed up Nazis but nobody else fesses up to their genocides".

So, Mr. OpEd cannot  come out squarely against calling something, including the Herero massacres, a genocide. Instead, he directs his ire at "timing, form, and phrasing", which allows him to ask the question "who is a Herero denier anyway"?  

A few sentences down, he goes for the knot: "Is it about money? Or just about moral high ground?"

The blogster loves squirming OpEders.

Especially when they have taken the moral high ground for decades by calling the Srebrenica massacre of 1995 a genocide.

It is understandable that you can get overwhelmed by all the genocides, especially the ones nobody talks much about, such as the massacres of Christians by the Ottoman (Turkish) empire during World War I, with their ally Germany - oops - keeping mum.

Published just days after the dumb OpEd in the very same Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

The blogster understands that modern Germans may get upset about all those genocides committed without apology by the British, the French, the US, the Russians.

History is so totally not fair, isn't it?

It is somewhat sad, though, to see that there is a substantial movement in Germany that believes the country has been in the dog house for long enough and its military should be let out.

They call it take on more responsibility in the world.    

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