This past week.....the FDP (Germany's pro-business political party) had a significant player who stood up and made the comment that the party's top leader.....Phillip Rösler....has a racial problem, and is one of the big reasons why the party is losing support.
Course, this triggered a fair amount of discussion, and criticism over the comment.
For the record....Phillip Rösler was born in Vietnam, and adopted by his German parents. He's led a pretty good life so far. He's a graduate of the Hanover Medical School (heart and chest surgeon). He is a recognized doctor. He's been the Minister of Economics. And at the age of thirty-nine....he's one step down from Chancellor Merkel at present....which shows that she has confidence in him.
From an American's viewpoint....he is smart....gives a good speech....is about average when you consider dynamics....and is scandal free (the worst you might put on him is that he does like to discuss medical talk more than political chat).
I suspect that the Bundestag has been waiting around for some dramatic moment when someone comes back in from a hot spicy lunch, and has a heat attack....with Phillip running up and doing some heroic efforts to bring the guy back to life, and then counsel him later on proper nutrition and weight loss.
Racism in Germany? Well....it's an interesting topic to view as an American.
After years in Germany.....I'd feel comfortable in saying that seventy-five percent of all Germans are racist in some fashion.
There's the general dislike of White-Russians who have immigrated back into Germany after a couple hundred years. Their families were German originally, and some would like to adapt back to the old country of Germany. Germans....probably more than sixty percent of society....don't have positive feelings over the Russians coming home. Generally, Russians are seen as mafia-types, heavy drinkers, and not of the same standings. The humble truth? Most are honest and hard-working guys, with families, and would readily help their German neighbors when asked.
There's the general dislike of most Africans who have found ways to establish residency and citizenship in Germany. The odd thing, from my prospective, is that almost all Africans make a huge effort to learn the language and have a pro-business attitude. I'd make a guess that roughly sixty percent of German society aren't exactly happy about having Africans around their neighborhood or their office. The German TV guys always try to put up positive feelings and good reasons for the Africans being in Germany.
Then, there's the general dislike of the Poles. I'd make a guess that roughly seventy percent of German society see Poles as folks who sneak in, work off on the "black", doing two weeks of work, and then sneaking back in Poland. Smuggling will also be laid back on Poles.
The British? I'd make a guess that ninety percent of the over-forty German society....are anti-British. They hate the royalty They dislike the British drinking habits. They still have memories of WW II or the aftermath of those years. The odd thing is probably a million Germans a year (mostly of the 18 to 30 year olds)....take Ryan Air or the Ferry, over to England.
The French? Yeah.....there's still some dislike of the French. I'd take a humble guess that twenty percent of the German society have problems with the French.
After that....comes the eastern European crowd, the anti-Italy folks, and to some lesser degree....the anti-Dutch folks. The Netherlands crowd have problem as being readily identified as 'bad-drivers', which for an American, is an odd factor to consider on racism.
Around Berlin, there's a fair number of Vietnam folks left over from the DDR years. Yeah, there's some negativity over their society and culture. I'd say it's minor in numbers though.
Americans? Germans can think of two hundred negative things to generally say. I don't know if you'd put these in a racist category, or just a category of just getting us noticed. Just an American driving a Ford SUV would get a negative comment....but if we drove a Audi SUV....we'd be OK. Don't ask the logic on that one.
A friend of mine was leaving out of San Francisco one night, on a flight to Frankfurt....coming to notice a moment of German racism. There was a large number of gay guys (dressed in black leather, which made them kinda stand out in the crowd), and some older Germans were returning back to Germany. Course, there were numerous negative comments made by the Germans over the gay crowd. My associate made the comment that the same group of American gays in leather could have walked into a Frankfurt night-club and just been seen as the regular crowd.
So I will end this note with my own observation. Most Germans won't readily say much that you'd take for a racist comment. There might be a look or a shaking of the head, or some minor verbal comment that they will let slip. Some Germans....if they really get to know you....will probably speak volumes over their racial views of society, and maybe surprising on occasion.
Germans want to present a happy positive view of all visitors. They always make this strong attempt to show they are better people than those who condemn various social groups. They really don't want to have any label placed on them....that makes them look racist.
The problem is....for each one that is working to have a pleasant happy view of oddball visitors and foreign societies.....there's another German working in the opposite direction.
The Phillip Rösler issue? I suspect that Phillip will be around for a while. The election in the fall will bring Chancellor Merkel back for one more four-year period (my humble opinion), and she will likely call it quits in 2016. If the FDP can survive with five to seven percent of the vote....they might be included in the next leadership arrangement (the Greens might have the upper hand, if you ask me).
I suspect Phillip will step down by 2016, walk back into the medical establishment for six to eight years, and then return to a better environment by 2024. He's young enough to wait out his big opportunity in life, and might be more acceptable by that point.