Germany has got some homework to do. It has 90 days to write an essay on the difference between "contributing to an important public debate" and "being racist". It's a tall order, because the country has been struggling with this one for a while. This week the UN's Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) offered some tips and sent the German government its verdict on an appeal made by the German Turkish Association (TBB).
Here's what happened: Back in 2009, the TBB tried to prosecute Thilo Sarrazin on the grounds that he'd incited racial discrimination in his now infamous Lettre International interview, which ended up losing him his job. He said things like, "The Turks are conquering Germany like the Kosovars conquered Kosovo. I wouldn't mind if they were East European Jews with about a 15 percent higher IQ." The German state prosecutors denied the appeal, on the ground that this wasn't racist, but just "a contribution to the intellectual debate in a question that was very significant to the public."
The TBB then appealed that decision to CERD, who after a year of painstaking research pointed out that this was patent bullshit, and yes, Sarrazin was actually racist. You might have noticed, it could have added, from the toxic, anti-immigrant atmosphere that hung over Germany back in 2010 when Sarrazin published his book. You also might think this is blindingly obvious, but no, in fact it turns out that even when the UN takes time out from its busy schedule of condemning North Korea and agonizing over Syria to call you on your bullshit, some German media commentators like, for example, the Tagesspiegel's Malte Lehming, are still confused:
"It's because the co-habitation of biological Germans [whatever the fuck that means] and immigrants does not function without friction, we need to accurately research where things aren't working, and why, and how we can remedy that."
Well why didn't you say that before! So that's why we need a deranged bureaucrat to say that Turks and Arabs are all stupid criminals. He's been doing research using facts. Don't you see it now, UN?
Anyway, the UN decided that "Mr. Sarrazin's statements amounted to dissemination of ideas based upon racial superiority or hatred," and that the German government "failed its duty to carry out an effective investigation" into whether that was the case, and violated article 4 of the CERD Convention, which says the state has a "responsibility to protect the population against incitement to racial hatred." So now the government has 90 days to respond.
Come on Germany, no more telly till you've done your homework.