It’s often quite hard to decide if something – like a film, or a court verdict, or a German play about the socially disadvantaged, or a spoken word performance about a brief sexual encounter – is racist or sexist or homophobic or not. I’m almost never absolutely sure. The socially agreed-upon terms, by which such things are decided, are much too protean for me to keep tabs on, so I usually go by how angry my girlfriend is.
But despite my ism-blindness, there’s one plume of smoke that even I can use when I’m looking for that kind of fire – if the German police has decided something is a bit racist, then it probably is. Or put it this way: if a group as clueless as the police force – who spent 10 years paying informants who supplied neo-Nazi terrorists with weapons while giving the police bad information – says a new government advertising campaign is a bit too racist to show on the streets, then that’s what I call a good indicator. That means that one’s definitely racist. I can tick that one off.
So I must say I’m grateful that the Federal Criminal Police Office has advised that it wouldn’t be a good idea to put the Interior Ministry’s fake “Missing” posters up around Neukölln, because of a “threat assessment” in the light of Muslim anger over other kinds of bigotry.
Perhaps the police could help out in other ambiguous -ism cases – they could provide threat assessment warnings against the German tax-for-married-couples system (sexist, I think) or Monty Python’s “I Like Chinese” song (racist, probably), or Sex And The City 2 (sexist and racist, I’m told). That would be very useful. Those sensitivity-alert cops might also have been helpful when the “Missing” posters were put up in Cologne’s Keupstrasse, where neo-Nazis set off a nailbomb outside some Turkish shops in 2004, injuring 22 people. Although even I could have told the government about that one.