Last Wednesday perfectly described the absurd world we’ve made for ourselves. Some local Pegida fools down south found some black children pictured on the Kinder Schokolade packet, and then hammered round on the right side of a keyboard until they managed to write on Facebook: “They stop at nothing. (Grinning emoji. Shocked emoji). Can you really buy these like this? Or is this a joke?”
It wasn’t a joke. It was a football-related marketing campaign (the BW Pegidas, being fuck-nuts, didn’t recognize their own national football players as children or remember that Kinder Schokolade have done this for every World Cup and European Championships for ages). Subsequently, half the internet lost its collective mind at the combination of unashamed racism and total stupidity and leapt around like delighted monkeys thinking of tweets to point out just how stupid they were. It was reported around the world and we all got excited, because we scored Major Points against racism. We won the Kinder!
The same social media saga moved into Act II this weekend, when the AfD’s deputy leader Alexander Gauland said no one wanted Jerome Boateng as a neighbour, and then said he can’t remember saying it, and then Frauke Petry apologised to the Munich defender, and then there was hashtag #boatengsnachbar to show solidarity with him.
But, as always, while the news shrilly reported this week’s Böhmermann-style bollocks, we all failed to notice that the Pegidas and AfDs are still winning. They’re too stupid to realize it, because they’re too busy getting annoyed about bullshit, but they’re fucking winning.
Also last Wednesday, Angela Merkel’s cabinet finally agreed on the new “integration law”, which, though it contains nice promises about improving education and helping refugees find work, in fact seems to have been designed to make it as hard as possible for refugees to integrate. Here’s what the law contains:
- Refugees will have their benefits cut if they don’t attend integration classes.
- Refugees will no longer be granted residency if they’ve been living in Germany for three years, but now only if they’ve been here for five years, and then only if they have shown a “special willingness to integrate”.
- State governments will be given the power to decide where refugees live – even though migration research has shown that integration works better when immigrants get to decide for themselves where they live.
- It’s true that refugees will be allowed to apply for work training and money at an earlier stage (whether or not their asylum applications have been processed), and they will be allowed to accept job offers earlier too. But: they can’t accept job offers if they live in an area of above average unemployment and there are German or EU citizens who could do the job.
In other words, as the Heute Show put it, the new law is telling refugees: You have to learn a language for which there aren’t enough courses, live in areas we tell you, and find jobs that don’t exist.
This whole law was written to pander to the Pegidas, if only they realized it. As always in Germany, it puts the pressure to integrate on the immigrant (“If you make an effort something will become of you,” said Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel) and hides the fact that Germany needs to massively invest in its schools and job training systems to get people (immigrant and not) into work. And more than anything, it mixes up two different issues – asylum and immigration. This law is about rooting out the immigrants from the asylum seekers, and then barring them entry, rather than assessing their applications for asylum.
This is the real power of the AfD/Pegida voters, and it doesn’t matter how stupid they are, and how angry they get about the footballers and the Kinder Schokolade.
All this German stuff and more on Konrad’s weekly podcast with Drew Portnoy, News des Nachrichtens: