Photo by West Midlands Police (Flickr CC)
I learnt many things in my phone-survey student summer job back in 1997. For instance, a good way to upset strangers is to phone them when they are having their dinner. Or put their names on several callers' lists so they get phoned eight times in two hours. Or ask to speak to their recently dead husband.
If none of these methods immediately pisses people off, you can always rely on the survey questions to really ruin their nights. These questions are ingeniously worded to put simple ideas in a format that makes them impossible to answer. Like: "Over the past month, to what extent have you consciously registered Zoe, Spardabank's cartoon chicken in their new mortgage adverts, either on billboards, radio, internet or TV? Is it – not at all, not much, fairly, not sure, a little bit, quite a lot, a lot, or Zoe is literally the only image I have been actually conscious of in the past month?"
After that, you can annoy the recently bereaved person whose dinner is getting cold for the eighth time even more by not listening to anything they say until they pick one of the answers on your sheet.
Basically, it's a humiliating experience for all concerned. So how much more humiliating and annoying must it be for German Muslims when the interior ministry – the actual government, no less - phones you up and asks you how German you feel. Thanks to my first-hand experience of phone surveys, I know that the questions were along these lines:
"Over the past month, were you fully-integrated (watch Tagesschau on ARD, then Rosamund Pilcher shows on ZDF, send kids to Gymnasium), a bit integrated (watch RTL, send kids to Hauptschule), fairly integrated (watch RTL 2, send kids to Realschule), slightly Muslim (no TV, keep kids at home to instil evil in their minds), or a terrorist?"
The results of this survey, released yesterday, concluded that "there exists a subgroup that could be described as "strictly religious," with strong antipathy to the West, a tendential acceptance of violence and no willingness to integrate. And they never watch ARD or ZDF. Coincidence? I think not.
That's right, thanks to countless phone calls by desperate students like my younger self jobbing at the interior ministry, we now have this valuable insight into Germany's Muslim community. Phew.
As you can imagine, it caused quite a furore. Hans-Peter Uhl, Merkel's parliamentary spokesman on domestic policy, nearly had fucking kittens. He called the study "horrifying," and added, "This unwillingness to integrate doesn't necessarily, but can represent a catalyst for religious fanaticism and terror."
That's right, Muslims. You better start watching Rosamund Pilcher or else you'll forget what country you're even living in and start bombing the shit out of it. You won't be able to help yourselves. It was the catalyst that did it. The Uhlster has warned you.