Christian Thielemann: We should listen to Pegida issues

The German conductor has written an article, calling on the nation to pay attention to the issues raised by the anti-Moslem Pegida demonstrations in Dresden. Thielemann stands on the right of German politics. His article is seeded with a number of political messages, some of them inexplicit. In order to avoid any distortion, we publish the full article below in the original German, highlighting a few key lines in English.

The article appeared on a full page of Die Zeit on Thursday. It was not posted online and no reaction has yet been published. The Sächsische Zeitung posted it online today.

The German headline reads:

Wir müssen endlich auf die Fragen hören, mit denen uns das Phänomen Pegida konfrontiert.

We must finally listen to the questions confronted by the Pegida phenomenon

 

Reihe-Deutschland-deine-Kuenstler-portraetiert-Dirigent-Thielemann

 

Die Mitarbeiter der Semperoper verspüren seit Wochen ein Unbehagen, montags zur Arbeit zu gehen. Sorge, dass womöglich Steine oder Flaschen fliegen könnten, dass die Situation auf dem Theaterplatz eskaliert. Sich den Weg durch eine aufgebrachte Menge bahnen zu müssen, durch Lärm und Gebrüll, um wenig später in der „Fledermaus“ oder in Debussys „Pelléas et Mélisande“ auf der Bühne zu stehen, das macht aus dem Theater einen Elfenbeinturm, der es nicht ist und nicht sein darf – nicht einmal in einer Stadt wie Dresden, der gerne Kulinarik nachgesagt wird. Wir hier drinnen, ihr da draußen: So funktioniert Kunst nicht, so funktioniert Öffentlichkeit nicht. Insofern müsste ich es eigentlich begrüßen, dass die Pegida-Demonstration am vergangenen Montag verboten wurde. Schade, dass wir an diesem Tag keine Vorstellung hatten.

I weclomed the ban on last Monday’s Pegida demonstration.

Unsere Versammlungs- und Meinungsfreiheit aber ist ein hohes Gut. Ein Gut, das wir uns durch keinen Terror der Welt nehmen lassen dürfen. Insofern war ich gegen das besagte Verbot und kann nur hoffen, dass Sicherheitsbehörden und Politik stichhaltige Gründe dafür hatten. Wenn ich allerdings sehe, mit welchen Reflexen „die Medien“ auf die Pegida-Vertreterin Kathrin Oertel reagieren, die sich Sonntagabend in die ARD wagte, dann frage ich mich, wie wir selber mit unseren Gütern und Werten umgehen: Eine schwarz gekleidete, blonde Frau, die sich bei Günther Jauch nicht provozieren lässt, gilt als „eiskalt“ und „emotionslos“. Weil sie sich zur Sprecherin der Unzufriedenen in diesem Land macht und Meinungen vertritt, die offenbar niemand hören will. Weil sie nicht mitspielt und sich jeder Skandalisierung entzieht. In den Genuss unserer Meinungsfreiheit kommt sie auf diese Weise nicht.

Frau Oertel hätte klarer sagen können und müssen, wogegen Pegida sich richtet. Dass sie es nicht konkret oder konkret genug getan hat, begreift ein Theatermensch wie ich sofort als Inszenierung, als Strategie. Und vielleicht ist es nicht einmal die dümmste. Die Zehntausende, die Pegida Woche für Woche folgen, sind mit vielem unzufrieden, das scheint von der GEZ-Gebühr bis zur Asylantenquote zu reichen. Dies einzeln aufzulisten führt momentan zu nichts. Vielmehr geht es darum, der Unzufriedenheit als solcher Ausdruck zu verleihen, jenem Gefühl der Ohnmacht, das so viele bedrückt und mit dem, wenn es weiter um sich greift, kein Staat mehr zu machen sein wird. Und kein Volk und keine Kunst.

„Augen auf“, „Herzen auf“, „Türen auf“ hat die Semperoper auf Fahnen, die auf dem Theaterplatz wehen, geschrieben. Ich würde dem gerne ein „Ohren auf“ hinzufügen. Die Menschen trauen sich nicht, zu sagen, was sie denken, weil sie nirgends auf offene Ohren stoßen und weil das, was sie denken, so weit weg ist vom Konsens, dass die diplomatischen Gepflogenheiten unserer Verständigung dafür nicht ausreichen. Es wird viel geredet in Deutschland, aber es wird nicht offen geredet, so dass wir für bestimmte Dinge nur die Wahl zwischen Parolen und politischer Korrektheit haben und keine differenzierte Sprache mehr. Sprechendürfen und Zuhörenkönnen aber gehören zusammen. Es wird nicht mehr zugehört. Das besorgt mich. Pegida sei nicht die Krankheit, sondern das Symptom, hat die Schriftstellerin Monika Maron gesagt. Unsere Politiker doktern nahezu ausschließlich an den Symptomen herum. Als würden sie den Werten, auf denen unsere Gemeinschaft ruht, insgeheim nicht mehr trauen.

 

Pegida is not a disease but a symptom, as the writer Monika Maron has said. Our politicians are doctoring around the symptoms, unable to trust the values on which our community sleeps.

The horrific events of Paris scream out for an offensive definition of these values. I define them once and for all, as bourgeois values. We have something to defend here, and perhaps by doing so we will avoid such catastrophes again.

Die schrecklichen Ereignisse von Paris schreien nach einer offensiven Definition dieser Werte, ich nenne sie einmal: bürgerliche Werte. Wir haben etwas zu verteidigen, und vielleicht wird uns das durch solche Katastrophen wieder bewusst. Neben der Pressefreiheit wäre Bildung für mich ein erster bürgerlicher Wert, der Umgang mit Kunst und Kultur, der uns lehrt, die Meinung des anderen zu respektieren und Konflikte friedlich auszutragen. Die Familie, das Geborgensein in Liebe und Vertrauen, ganz gleich, in welcher Personen- oder Geschlechterkonstellation sich Familie zuträgt. Stichworte wie Verlässlichkeit, Anstand, Ehrlichkeit, Rücksicht, Respekt kommen mir in den Sinn, kurz: alles, was zu einer menschlichen Erziehung gehört.

Ich würde mir wünschen, dass am Berliner Humboldt-Forum oder an der Dresdner Frauenkirche 99 Thesen zu unseren bürgerlichen Werten prangen. Für alle zugänglich, jederzeit nachzulesen. Der Bundespräsident könnte sich hier profilieren, aber es würde mich auch interessieren, was Angela Merkel dazu beizutragen hätte. Der Islam gehört zu Deutschland? Warum nicht. Vielleicht gehört das Christentum ja irgendwann zur Türkei und das Judentum zur arabischen Welt.

Solange dies nicht der Fall ist, müssten wir allerdings sagen dürfen, dass es nicht der Fall ist, ohne als faschistoid, rechtspopulistisch oder intolerant zu gelten. Die 68er haben von ihrer Vätergeneration Bekenntnisse verlangt, Offenbarungen, Schuldeingeständnisse. Es ist an der Zeit, von ihnen das Nämliche zu fordern. Die Fragen, mit denen das Phänomen Pegida uns konfrontiert – insofern könnte darin bei allem Bauchgrimmen und mit einiger Abstraktion auch eine Chance liegen –, wären: Was bedeutet Freiheit in einer offenen, aufgeklärten Gesellschaft, was Toleranz? Wie weit können wir die Grenzen stecken, wie eng sollten wir sie stecken? Müssen wir uns von gewissen Freizügigkeiten vielleicht verabschieden, weil wir ihrer nicht mehr Herr werden?

Ich finde es nicht hinnehmbar, dass ein arabischstämmiger Jugendlicher seiner Lehrerin ins Gesicht schreit, von Frauen lasse er sich nichts sagen. Ebenso wenig hinnehmbar ist, dass Menschen wegen ihres nicht deutschen Namens, ihrer Hautfarbe oder ihrer Religion keine Wohnung finden. Beide Fälle zeigen, in welchem Zustand der Verunsicherung und Verrohung sich unsere Gesellschaft befindet.

 

I find it unacceptable that an Arab-born teenager yells into his teacher’s face that he won’t listen to a woman. Nor is it acceptable that people cannot find housing because of their non-German name, the colour of their skin or their religion. Both cases show in what uncertainty and brutalization our society finds itself.

Die Politik hat sich nicht genug bemüht, die Einwanderer zu integrieren. Wir haben nicht verstanden, wie wichtig es für sie ist, die Sprache unseres Landes zu beherrschen. Wir haben nicht sehen wollen, dass Kultur und Religion in der Fremde immer an Bedeutung gewinnen, nie an Bedeutung verlieren – und was das für den Integrationsprozess und sein Konfliktpotenzial heißt. Wir haben den Dialog nicht geführt, der zu führen gewesen wäre, von Anfang an nicht.

Wir haben in den Siebziger- und Achtzigerjahren nicht für eine Durchmischung der Gesellschaft gesorgt – und plötzlich gab es Ballungen in den Städten, Brennpunkte, die für keine Seite gut waren. Wer auf der Kultur beharrte, die er von zu Hause und in seinem Herzen mitgebracht hatte, weil er mit der anderen, neuen gar nicht in Berührung kam oder kommen konnte, galt als integrationsunwillig. Und wer als Deutscher von Bedrohung sprach, war Ausländerfeind.

Den Unzufriedenen zuzuhören scheint das Gebot der Stunde zu sein Die globalen Probleme drohen uns über den Kopf zu wachsen: der Ukrainekonflikt, der Nahe Osten, die radikalen Islamisten von Syrien bis Paris – das mag in der Summe diffus sein und diffuse Ängste schüren, aber vielleicht hat es trotzdem seine Berechtigung. Gerade wenn es sich an den Zuständen vor der eigenen Haustür festmachen lässt. Einer, der das lange vor Pegida gesehen hat, ist Heinz Buschkowsky, der Bezirksbürgermeister von Berlin-Neukölln. Er trifft in seinen Formulierungen genau die Balance zwischen Wohlwollen und Kritik (im Gegensatz zu Thilo Sarrazin), an der wir uns viel früher ein Beispiel hätten nehmen müssen. Buschkowsky ist dafür heftig gescholten worden. Auch das hat den Menschen nicht gerade Mut gemacht.

Ich habe sehr nette Briefe bekommen, in denen ich gebeten wurde, nach einer von mir dirigierten Vorstellung auf den Balkon der Semperoper zu treten und montags „zum Volk“ auf dem Theaterplatz zu sprechen. Ich bezweifle jedoch, dass das meine Aufgabe wäre. Wir Künstler sollten uns mehr einmischen in die Debatten, aber wir können die Politik nicht ersetzen. Wir können uns nur auf unsere Weise Gehör verschaffen. Die Musik bietet da das perfekte gesellschaftliche Gleichnis. Denn nicht der Dirigent zeigt den Musikern, wo es langgeht, sondern Bach, Beethoven und Wagner zeigen es uns. Darauf hat sich das Orchester nun einmal geeinigt. Das heißt, jeder Einzelne muss sein Handwerk, sein Instrument, seine Stimme so beherrschen, dass er oder sie der jeweiligen Partitur gerecht wird. Akzentfrei, in der richtigen Sprache, mit Sensibilität und wachen, offenen Ohren. Nur so funktioniert das Zusammenspiel.

Pegida hat sich für ihre Aktivitäten Dresden ausgesucht, die Stadt, die am 13. Februar 2015 des 70. Jahrestages ihrer Zerstörung durch alliierte Bomber gedenkt. Die Stadt, die zu spüren bekommen hat, dass Unrecht niemals mit Unrecht zu vergelten sein darf. Dieses Trauma und diese Erkenntnis haben sich tief in die Seele der Stadt und ihrer Menschen eingegraben. In der Semperoper werden wir an diesem Tag Rossinis „Stabat mater“ spielen, und wenn Dreiviertelzehn die Glocken läuten, mag jeder an vieles denken, nicht nur an das brennende Dresden: an Auschwitz oder an Hiroshima, an den 11. September und an „Charlie Hebdo“.

Den Mutlosen auf diese Weise wieder Mut machen und den Unzufriedenen zuhören, das scheint mir das Gebot der Stunde zu sein. Und ihnen jene Toleranz entgegenbringen, derer wir uns rühmen.

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  • Gonout Backson says:

    Am I right, or is the meaning of the German “bürgerlich” closer to “civic, citizenly”, than “bourgeois”? That would give an interesting twist to the meaning of Thielemann’s definition.

    • norman lebrecht says:

      The word has several more meanings. I think the sense he is conveying here is ‘middle-class’.

      • James Estes says:

        In this context “bürgerlich” means “civic” or “civil” or “related to the duties of citizenship.” “Das bürgerlich Recht” is “civil law.” An educated German wanting to say “bourgeois” in the sense of “middle class” would more than likely say “bourgeois,” although “bürgerlich” can also have that meaning. “Spießbürger” are narrow-minded petitbourgois, philistines. Etc.

      • Mathieu says:

        I would beg to differ if I were speaking German correctly enough. Maybe native German speaker can settle the matter ?

      • william osborne says:

        I’ve lived in Germany for 35 years. A translation of bürgerliche in this context would indeed be “middle class” and that’s how I would translate it, but I also think some of the implications would be lost. In a larger context the word has other shades of meaning which are very open to interpretation. The word can also be used with the slight implication that it refers to national values or something related to “citizens.” He even attaches the word “values” to the phrase and says “bürgerliche Werte.” He adds that these values come from cultural education (Bildung) and says we need to go on the “offensive” to protect them. Thielemann’s article comes across to me as a masterpiece of this kind of weasel language and vague innuendo. It’s difficult to discuss this, because the intention of the language seems to be that its implications are clear but deniable.

        • SDReader says:

          Berlin Philharmonic decides in May. I guess he has decided not to take the job!

          • william osborne says:

            Truly. The Berlin Phil has some serious image problems that it takes great pains to deal with, and perhaps even window dress. A close association with someone who defends Pegida seems like the last thing the orchestra would want. Surely Thielemann understands this. Either he knows he is not in the running for the job, or he is very much a man of his convictions.

          • Anon says:

            You make it sound as if Pegida was outside of the constitutional order of Germany, but they are simply disgruntled citizens with all their rights of free speech and assembly. Also obviously you have no first hand impression of these people, so I would be a bit more careful in my statements. Also these movements are hardly a unified movement, more like a “Sammelbecken” of frustration. And I applaud Thielemann for saying that some of their issues should be taking seriously and discussed in civility, rather than being ridiculed and/or vilified.

    • Simon S. says:

      Not really. In principle, the term “bürgerlich” encompasses “civic” as well as “bourgeois” – a distinction which the German language is unable to reproduce – and French Jacobins would certainly claim that this is because the German Bürger have always been more of a bourgeois than of a citoyen.

      Nevertheless, in Germany the term comes with rather positive connotations. The centre-right parties like to define themselves as “bürgerlich” (though this originally refers to their historical origins as bourgeois parties – as opposed to the working class parties). Community service is often referred to as “bürgerschaftliches Engagement” – and traditional down-to-earth cuisine is called “gutbürgerliche Küche” in a positive sense.

      So, in the end, “bürgerlich” most often will mean something like “juste milieu”.

  • Hilary says:

    I’m in the UK where there are women only swimming sessions at the local pool to appease the local Arabic born. This kind of thing doesn’t promote a cohesive society.

    • Alexander Hall says:

      Unfortunately, this is where “western values” and the desire to be tolerant even towards those who are hell-bent on undermining those values run up against the intransigence and bigotry on the other side. The result is often a lack of even-handedness towards all members of the same society. As a frequent traveller I once found myself standing immediately behind a woman dressed in a burqa waiting to pass through immigration at Heathrow. The indistinct black form had only two eye slits. Since she was a head shorter than me I was able to look over her shoulder and caught sight of the photograph in her British passport. You wouldn’t credit it, but this consisted of a black blob with two eye slits. What happened as she approached the counter? She was waved through without a formal check, whereas I and my passport were subjected to intense scrutiny. Double standards everywhere.

  • Paul Lanfear says:

    Is it specifically to “appease the local Arabic born”?…some women may just prefer a male-free environment to swim. Are ladies-only gyms also inhibiting social cohesion?

    • Mathieu says:

      Well I suppose that only Arabic (sic) women are admitted in these sessions. You know, they check IDs and all! Swimming pools are not what they once were, it appears.

      On a more serious note, Thielemann has never hidden is right-wing ideas, and that is his right. That being said, and however nuanced he tries to be, this op-ed of his is a big mistake. Actually, someone who confuses Arabs and Muslims in a country where the largest Muslim population is Turkish or from Turkish descent, can’t be taken too seriously.

  • Martin M says:

    Musically seen, Thielemann is – in my opinion – bizarrely overrated. To my taste, he is the most outmoded and one-sided kind of maestro imaginable.
    Of course, that may be a matter of taste … but this one here is not about music:
    this is a very cleverly formulated but in its essence narrow-minded and manipulative article by a politically dubious maestro – there have been lots of rumours and even some newspaper articles about alleged anti-Semitic and racist statements by Thielemann:
    http://www.berliner-zeitung.de/archiv/die-antisemitismus-geruechte-um-christian-thielemann-werden-politisch-instrumentalisiert-vergiftetes-stille-post-spiel,10810590,9844920.html
    http://blogs.nmz.de/badblog/2011/05/20/heimliche-aufforderung/

    His choice of repertoire is also sometimes rather, er, strange. A 2011 concert with the Berliner Philharmoniker included two (musically completely trite) works by Richard Strauss which are closely linked to the Nazi regime, of which one had not even been heard since then (besides two performances by Nazi party members Karl Böhm and Herbert von Karajan):
    http://m.welt.de/kultur/musik/article13361719/Thielemann-irritiert-mit-fragwuerdigen-Strauss-Werken.html
    http://www.kulturradio.de/programm/schema/beitraege/2011/05/christian_thielemann.html

    As for Thielemann’s Pegida article, the most worrying thing is that a mainstream liberal newspaper like ‘Die Zeit’ provides a forum for Thielemann’s problematic and polemic political opinions: one of many signs that narrow-mindedness, self-righteousness, paranoia and distrust of foreigners have become an socially accepted part of the mainstream in Germany.

    • Christian says:

      “Thielemann’s problematic […] political opinions”

      This is why Oriana Fallaci looked upon the left wing as a church: One one side the clergy with the correct doctrine; on the other side the sinner who must be saved from hell. Wonderful, wonderful.

      • Martin M says:

        Yeah, the same Oriana Fallaci whose idée fixe in her late years was paranoid and undifferentiated islamophobia.
        Christopher Hitchens, himself a sharp critic of political islam, noted that Fallaci’s texts about Muslims resembled earlier anti-Semitic texts. And Cathy Young wrote aptly about Fallaci’s diatribes that “Oriana Fallaci makes hardly any distinction between radical Islamic terrorists and Somali street vendors who supposedly urinate on the corners of Italy’s great cities.”

        And what makes you think, Christian, that I am (or Thielemann’s other critics on this forum are) automatically left-wing?

        • Christian says:

          “Yeah, the same Oriana Fallaci whose idée fixe in her late years was paranoid and undifferentiated islamophobia.”

          And see, here we go again. On of the brightest minds of the last century described as a “paranoid islamophobic”. Not one argument. This is why I assume you’re left wing, by the way.

          Probably just a coincidence, but your entire answer is a rewriting of the last section of the Wikipedia article on Fallaci, which, funnily enough! – mentions both Cathy Young, Christopher Hitchens and the obituary in the Guardian which described her as “islamophobic”.

          Funny, huh? (Copy cat!)

          • Martin M says:

            So? In her book “The Rage and the Pride” Ms Fallaci, whom you call “one of the brightest minds of the last century” wrote – in an image worthy of ‘Der Stürmer’ – such charming things about Muslims as “the sons of Allah breed like rats”. “Bright” indeed… Now, does it really make me into a left-wing person if I find such vocabulary inciting, utterly stupid and also irresponsible?

        • Christian says:

          Dear MM,

          not that we have made it clear that your knowledge on Fallaci is based on some last-minute googling, I would strongly recommend a deeper look into her authorship. Treasures are to be found. Enjoy!

          • Martin M says:

            It feels rather useless (if not downright impossible) to have a discussion with someone who uses rhetorical straw men and allegations all the time. You claim that my knowledge of Oriana Fallaci would be based on some last minute googling. When one makes such allegations one must be really short of arguments.
            Oriana Fallaci’s books such as ‘The Rage and the Pride’ or ‘The Force of the Reason’ are indigestible and disgusting concoctions (such as the quote I mentioned before). I have no idea why Ms Fallaci, a formerly well-known journalist, got so ideological, embittered and hate-filled in her late years when she was retired. Probably she was frustrated not being anymore in the limelight as she used to be when she was active as a journalist. Maybe some serious case of attention-craving, who knows. At least that might explain her diatribes, but it does not excuse them.
            This is not the forum for debunking Ms Fallaci and others have already done it thousand times brilliantly as I ever could – suffice to mention the late Christopher Hitchens, a many-sided but incorruptible figure who doesn’t exactly fit your rather paranoid black-and-white picture about left-wing people versus “brilliant minds” (!?!) such as Ms Fallaci.
            You recommended me to acquaint myself with Ms Fallaci (which I have already done long time before, thank you so much…)
            Here follows a counter-recommendation: Doug Saunders’ book ‘The Myth of the Muslim Tide’.

        • Christian says:

          But I can’t help it:

          embittered
          hate-filled
          frustrated not being anymore in the limelight
          some serious case of attention-craving
          indigestible and disgusting concoctions

          This kind of intimidating, roaring style kills any debate before the first hurdle has been passed. Kindergarden style, 3 to 5 years (after that most people mature.) “I’m the loudest one, so Ï’ll win”, yes, if that’s the goal, be my guest.

          But I do owe you an excuse. Your wikipedia cut-and-paste is very reasonable if you’re the author of the Fallaci article, of course. Which I guess you are? If not, I would from now on suggest that you list your sources – I mean, it’s no shame to seek help when the brain can’t do the work for you.

          • Martin M says:

            So? Oh, no problem, bro.
            Here are just a few of Oriana Fallaci’s invectives, taken from “The Rage and the Pride” (Universal Publishing, 2002) in her disgusting ‘Der Stürmer’-like style:
            “The sons of Allah breed like rats”
            “Instead of learned young people we have donkeys with University degrees. Instead of future leaders we have mollusks with expensive blue jeans and phony revolutionaries with ski masks. And do you know what? Maybe this is another reason why our Moslem invaders have such an easy game.”
            “thank God I never had any sentimental or sexual or friendly rapport with an Arab man. In my opinion there is something in his brothers of faith which repels the women of good taste.”
            “A tent furnished like a small apartment; tables, chairs, chaise-longues, matelas to sleep and to fuck, ovens to cook and to stink up the square. Therefore open to every show. A tent equipped with electricity plus enriched by a tape playing the voice of a muezzin who continuously exhorted the Faithful, reproached the unfaithful, injuriously suffocated the beautiful sound of the bells. And, along with all this, the yellow streaks of urine that profaned the millenary marbles of the Baptistery as well as its golden doors. (Good Heavens! They really take long shots, these sons of Allah! How could they succeed in hitting so well that target protected by a balcony and more than two yards distant from their urinary apparatus?” (Ms Fallaci speaking about Somali Muslims in Florence)

            and so on and so on ad nauseam …

            THIS is Kindergarden style (no, it’s much much worse). This is exactly the ‘kind of intimidating, roaring style kills any debate before the first hurdle has been passed. (…) “I’m the loudest one, so Ï’ll win”’ (to use your own words).

            And you really call Ms Fallaci “one of the most brilliant minds of the last century”?

        • Christian says:

          Oh yes, I do. I also think Hamsun is one of the finest authors of all time (google him if you don’t know who he is), even though a wrote an obituary for Hitler and stated that women who do an abortion should be executed. And a few other inedible statements. You know, stupid quotes doesn’t erase a good one, just like Beethovens “Wellingtons Sieg” doesn’t make the Hammerklavier a poorer work. You see? But I won’t harm you, keep your world easy. Falliaci’s status will not be affected by your copying from online sources, so go ahead 🙂

  • william osborne says:

    Pegida is a German acronym for “Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West” which in itself gives you an idea of the sort of organization it is. It’s xenophobic polemic has been a disgrace for Germany. All of Germany’s mainstream politicians have stressed that Germany is not being Islamized. And you will note that Pegida with all of its polemic offers no evidence that Germany is being Islamized. Thielemann merely rehashes the sort of xenophobic polemic common in Germany and uses his name to give it legitimacy. His article is especially notable for its weasel language.

    Pegida has recently been losing ground after a Facebook photo surfaced of the movement’s founder, Lutz Bachmnn, in which he made himself look like Adolf Hitler. There were also Facebook posts under his name referring to foreigners as “beasts” and “filth.” You can see, the photo here.

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4617752,00.html

    Bachmann said the photo was just a joke, but any political leader in Germany who puts a photo of himself on Facebook looking like Hitler has to be at the very least a complete idiot. A few days ago, he resigned as the head of Pegida due to the furor caused by the photo. Thielemann is putting himself in some odd company.

    Even if some Arab kid yelled in his teacher’s face that he won’t listen to women, this is still a hateful caricature of Germany’s Moslem community. That sort of aggression is vaguely portrayed as a norm when it is not – not even remotely. The problems with women’s rights in Islam won’t be solved by people like Thielemann’s agitating against foreigners with ugly rhetoric that inflames hatred.

    Later in the article Thielemann says that music can be compared to the perfect society. He adds that every individual in the orchestra must know his handiwork so well that he can speak it “accent free.” The implication, intended or not, is difficult to overlook.

    Thielemann adds, “Does Islam belong in Germany? Why not? Perhaps Christianity will someday belong in Turkey and Judaism in the Arab world. As long as this isn’t the case, however, we must be allowed to say it isn’t the case, and without being considered fascist, rightwing populists, and intolerant.”

    It’s a strange logic to say Islam doesn’t belong in Germany because it isn’t in Germany. And in any case, about 5% of the population is Islamic, so Islam is indeed in Germany. This sort of ridiculously pat and circular rhetoric built around weasel language is very common among the German far right, especially when they can’t openly express themselves directly.

    Thielemann also speaks about foreigners who do not want to integrate, and implies that’s why Germans feel threatened – another common trope of the far right in Germany. In reality, as with foreigners almost everywhere, the second generation is already well integrated and relatively westernized even if they remain Moslem.

    Slipped Disc is a poor forum for discussing issues like these. Forgive me if I do not participate if the usual behavior ensues.

    • Martin M says:

      This comment hits the mark precisely.

    • Christian says:

      You say Thielemann lack arguments? Well, here are yours:

      xenophobic
      hateful
      ugly rhetoric
      inflames hatred
      ridicously pat and circular thetoric

      not to mention the guilt-by-association-favorite for the righteous, by associating mr. Thielemann with the neo-Nazi movement (which we have no reason to believe he support):

      “German far right”

      For readers who do not know the guilt-by-association-mechanism I give you my favorite example:

      – Why have you become a vegetarian?
      – I can´t stand the way animals are treated
      – Hitler was a vegetarian as well, and was he a good person?

      Dice says one for your comment. Not one argument, except the usual buzzwords for defaming the opponent.

      By the way: An interesting article in der Spiegel about the demographics of the Pegida-participants:

      http://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/pegida-franz-walter-legt-studie-zu-demonstranten-in-dresden-vor-a-1013688.html

      Some excerpts, clearly showing the Pegida participants are not unemployed white trash:

      – More voters from “Die Linke” than the neo-Nazi NDP.
      – Only 7% consider themselves working class
      – More than one third has a university degree
      – 77% in a fulltime job

      Looks like mr. Osborne has to do better homework the next time he decides to give the SD readers a lecture on German politics.

      • Mathieu says:

        Talking about guilt by association, what do you make of the “Arab-born teenager”, for whose acts a whole part of the population is, as it seems, held responsible ?

        And what’s wrong saying that Pegida is xenophobic ? They gladly avow it !

        • Christian says:

          Mathieu,

          The problem, as I see it, is spilt in two:

          1) That you have “arabischstämmiger” who would actually shout to the female teacher that they do not want to be taught by her.

          2) That people like you think the problem is the people who address the issue, and not the issue itself.

          If mr. Thielemann´s use of the word “arabischstämmiger” implies that “a whole part of the population is, as it seems, held responsible”, well, then he must with the next section: “It is also unacceptable that people can´t find housing because of their non-German name, the color of their skin or their religion” mean to say that all white Germans are racists for not renting out their apartments to foreigners.

          No, my friend. It is called examples. If you misunderstand them and therefore never get to the point, I can´t help you.

      • william osborne says:

        I really don’t consider “Christian’s” comments worthy of a response, but I want to point out that I did not say Pegida is working class. One of the most interesting aspects of German xenophobia, just as Christian ironically notes, is its strong foundation in the middle class.

        When I first moved to Germany 35 years ago, this was one of the more disorienting aspects of my initial cultural shock. I was more accustomed to finding bigotry among less educated people. It took me a good while to fully understand how strongly chauvinistic considerable parts of the German middle class could be, and how this also affected Germany’s classical music world.

        • Alexander Hall says:

          You appear to criticise the German middle class – “das Bildungsbürgertum” – for somehow harming the cause of classical music in Germany. Without these burghers the whole of cultural life in the country would be considerably poorer. Before you jump to ill-founded conclusions about Christian Thielemann’s politics with the vicious smears you employ, why don’t you visit the Berlin Philharmonic’s http://www.digitalconcerthall.com website where you will find an interview – Pausengespräch – that the conductor gave less than two weeks ago.In it he talks about recently coming across the “Stadttheater” in a small mining town in eastern Germany noted for its Silbermann organs which was entirely financed some two hundred years ago by those upstanding middle-class burghers.that you apparently wish to decry.

        • Christian says:

          In comment after comment you point out that the post your answering is not worth a reply, but you can’t stop writing, can you?

        • Martin Locher says:

          William, is that really that different in the US?

          I know it isn’t here in the UK. Example: A family or 3, a white woman and her son plus a black adult moved into a neighborhood close to mine, the neighbors don’t even welcome the family, treat them like some sort of aliens. I’m sure you’ll find such places and such people pretty much anywhere on this planet.

          Even I was victim of blatant xenophobia, if you want to call it that. A guy came up to me, almost grabbing me and uttered something like this: “I don’t like you, you take our jobs.” I laughed him off and don’t think he or the neighborhood mentioned above represent the wider area.

      • Schnabelowski says:

        Christian, you say that “the Pegida participants are not unemployed white trash”.
        I find it absolutely shocking that someone talks about (unemployed) people in that manner … but I leave this issue aside and would instead like to point out that the working class was strongly underrepresented among NSDAP (Nazi party) voters and party members. In 1930, almost 70% of the NSDAP’s members were from the middle class (whose share of the whole population was only 40%). As for the working class, its share of the whole population was 40% and its share of the Nazi party members 28%. That changed slightly because of the worldwide economic crisis, but not much: in 1933, the working class comprised 33% of the Nazi party members – so, they were still underrepresented. The academic elite and the gentry was especially strongly represented both among the Nazi party supporters and the Nazi party members. The percentage of students in the Nazi party was nine times higher than in the whole population.

        Your other arguments are not even worthy of a reply.

        • Christian says:

          Dear Schnabelowski,

          you underline my point with the thickest pencil you could find: Immidiately drawing the line between Pegida and NSDAP. Reductio ad Hitlerum in the first phrace. Impressive.

          Then, I can not help you with your gross misunderstanding. When Pegdia is looked upon as “unemployed white trash” this is not my words or my view of the people walking in Dresden every Monday – rather the view of its opponents, including the righteous “cultural elite” on this blog (whose jobs mostly are paid for by the workers they despise so much.)

          But you of course know this, you just waste my time by forcing me to state the obvious.

          • schnabelowski says:

            Dear Christian,

            no one of the commentators here (whom you call “the righteous cultural elite on this blog”) has spoken about “unemployed white trash”. These were your words (and your projections) only.

        • Christian says:

          Then, I must admit, I did not know that when Germans (or any one else) think of a neo-nazi, they think of a 45 year old married man with two kids, two cars and a office job with a decent income. I always thought they imagined a 24 year old, uneducated man with a criminal record, no hair, alarming tattoos and no prospects for the future.

          So give me some time to absorb this new information.

        • Martin M says:

          The amount of the working class of the whole population was 45% (not 40%) which made them even more underrepresented in the Nazi party.
          You are right that the NSDAP had particularly high following among the educated elite and the nobility (which makes the phenomenon of their rise even more terrifying), but it is also true that the NSDAP was the first political party in Germany which was widely popular – class and religion differences aside.
          If you compare with other Weimar Republic parties, SPD and especially KPD represented the interests of the working class while Zentrum was directed towards the Catholic voters – so, these parties appealed only to a particular fraction of the society in the first place.
          One of the NSDAP’s recipes for success was the fact that they aimed their propaganda to all classes, creating organizations for workers, adolescents, women, lawyers … alike, opening their doors for the ‘Wutbürger’, the frustrated and the paranoiacs from every possible class of the society.

    • Mathieu says:

      Mr Osborne, I could not agree more with you, especially in light of the recent events in my country, France. In the case of Pegida in Germany, and the far right in France, anti-Islam rhetoric, posing as a mere criticism of a specific religion, is often a mask for sheer xenophobia. Mr Thielemann, whom I hugely respect, should not side with these hudlums.

      PS. Thanks a lot for the precisions re the translation issue (above).

      • Christian says:

        Dear Mathieu,

        forgive me if I´m wrong, but can I read from your post that you think the biggest problem in France nowadays is criticism of Islam?

        • takeiteasy says:

          relax Chris, relax.

        • Mathieu says:

          er… no. One of the biggest problems of France now is the stigmatisation of a whole part of the population in the guise of a criticism of their (putative) religion. There is a difference between a rational critique of Islam (and criticism of islamic theocracies) on the one hand and the slogan “Muslims out!” on the other hand. If you can’t see that, well, I can do nothing for you.

          Re your previous post about examples: if examples are isolated incidents, I do not see what they are examples of. What Thielemann talks about is not a repeated pattern ; if it were, well I guess we would have the relevant statistical data available.

          • Gonout Backson says:

            Just FYI : “the stigmatisation of a whole part of the population etc” in France is your classical straw man.

          • Gerhard says:

            I’m neither musically nor politically a great fan of Mr. Thielemann’s, but to me it seems obvious that he used these two examples to illustrate the two extremes of a large spectrum: hostility by immigrants and hostility against immigrants.

      • Mathieu says:

        Oh really ? When someone, like Pegida in Germany, or the far right in France, is denouncing a (somewhat fantastic) “islamization” of society, does it not imply that Mulsims are not welcome in that society ?

        BTW I was not saying that Thielemann was actually stigmatizing Muslims. I think, however, that he is wrong to side with those who do.

        (PS I know what the straw man fallacy is, thanks. No need for patronizing).

        • Gonout Backson says:

          When you say this is “one of the biggest problems of France”, it’s pure eristics, because France has a great many, much bigger problems. And you confirm it immediately yourself in your answer : “When someone, like Pegida in Germany, or the far right in France, is denouncing a (somewhat fantastic) “islamization” of society, does it not imply that Muslims are not welcome in that society ?”. That’s plain cheating, because “someone on the far right” doesn’t mean “that society”.

          Oh, I know you know what a straw man fallacy is, it’s obvious. This was just, as they say in French, an “aide-mémoire”. Sorry for trying to be helpful.

          • Mathieu says:

            Re the biggest problems : I was just replying to Christian, who used this expression. I was merely correcting him. Of course there are a lot of big problems in France, as everyone knows.

            Re the rest of your post. I never said that *society* was intolerant, but that *some people*, whose voice is obviously heard, were stigmatizing a whole part of the population. But I understand you mistake, I didn’t express myself well. I should have replaced the “it” (“doesn’t it mean”, but which I mean “doesn’t what they say mean”) by “they” (“do not they mean”). I actually think that France is a much more tolerant country than his political leaders think it is.

      • Mathieu says:

        And as far as France is concerned, let me remind you that not so long ago, Marine Le Pen (leader of the far right party Front National) was comparing Muslim presence to the Occupation of France by the Nazis. And they are many individuals in the far right that are actually even more radical. The result is that, without formal stigmatization (like “Muslims out”) the idea that “the presence of Muslims as such is somehow a problem” has spread over the entire political spectrum, even on the left.

  • Martin M says:

    As for Thielemann’s repertoire, he has revived some music which seems politically ‘contaminated’:

    – he performed ‘Das Hexenlied’ by Max von Schillings. Von Schillings, a member of the Nazi party, died already in 1933, but in his position as President of the Prussian Academy of Arts and Artistic Director of Deutsche Oper Berlin (then: Städtische Oper Berlin) he had some very vicious influence on German cultural life. A committed anti-Semite and enemy of the Weimar republic, von Schillings was responsible for the expulsion of free-minded artists (including Thomas Mann, Alfred Döblin, Heinrich Mann, Franz Werfel), besides, “he laid off Arnold Schoenberg from the teaching staff of the Academy, in contravention of Schoenberg’s contract and ordered Franz Schreker into early retirement.” (Wikipedia)
    – music by Hans Pfitzner, who supported the Anschluss und the election of Hitler publicly, and who justified Hitler’s anti-Semitism as late as June 1945 in an article, and who sent the Nazi politician (and General-Gouvernor of the occupied Poland) Hans Frank a letter of support in 1946.
    – at a 2011 concert with the Berlin Philharmonic, he performed two extremely banal and politically somewhat ‘contaminated’ works by Richard Strauss. It opened with ‘Festmusik für die Stadt Wien’, ‘a piece commissioned by Baldur Schirach (a Nazi politican responsible for sending Jews from Vienna to German death camps) for the fifth anniversary of the Anschluss. Another, er, strange (and musically trite) piece on the programme was ‘Festliches Präludium’, a piece which was performed in the context of Adolf Hitler’s birthday in 1943 and after that only twice – once in 1966 in a recording conducted by Karl Böhm, who was also former member of the anti-semitic Kampfbund für Deutsche Kultur (Militant League for German Culture) and the second time in 1979, conducted by Nazi party member Herbert von Karajan.

    Coincidence…?

    • fer says:

      Regardless of the musical or political values of the work, which I will not go to evaluate now, I think that this information may be supplemented with the following:

      – The “Festive Prelude” was composed for the opening, in 1913, of the Vienna Konzerthaus. Even though 30 years later it were performed again on Hitler’s birthday.

      – In addition to performances of known Nazis Böhm and Karajan, there is a recording from 1963, played by Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic, reissued on Compact Disc (Sony SMK47625).

      • Martin M says:

        Thank you, “Fer”, for the supplement. My information was based on an article by the German newspaper ‘Die Welt’, and they didn’t mention the Bernstein recording: http://www.welt.de/kultur/musik/article13361719/Thielemann-irritiert-mit-fragwuerdigen-Strauss-Werken.html

        I agree that the ‘Festliches Präludium’ might be the less problematic piece since it was written thirty years before it was performed in the context of Adolf Hitler’s Birthday.
        The more problematic is clearly ‘Festmusik’ which was premiered during the fifht-year-anniversary of the Anschluss and commissioned by Baldur von Schirach.

        The choice of these two (totally neglected) pieces of musically minor worth for Thielemann’s 2011 Berlin concert remains weird, and the Jewish members of the Berlin Philharmonic refused to play in that concert: http://www.nmz.de/artikel/dr-thielemann

        Of course, one can perform any piece of music. Still, one wonders why Thielemann revives some second- or even third-rate works by a politically opportunist (though admittedly first-rate) composer like Richard Strauss, by Hans Pfitzner (a erratic Nazi symphatizer and an irreformable anti-Semite) or by Max von Schillings, a politically powerful Nazi and anti-Semite composer who actively kicked out Thomas Mann, Arnold Schönberg, Franz Schreker, Alfred Döblin and so many other great artists from their posts.

        Thielemann is normally not the type of conductor who revives rarities. If he is keen about neglected works of the 1930s why doesn’t he revive great works by Jewish or non-Jewish liberal minded composers persecuted during the Nazi era – composers like Schreker, Zemlinsky or many other names whose careers and lives were destroyed by the Nazis?
        It has always struck me as problematic that Thielemann is being seen as a “keeper of the Grail of the German tradition”. Aren’t Schönberg, Schreker, Zemlinsky – to mention but a few – part of the Austrian-German tradition…? To perform instead Pfitzner or Schillings – two composers of politically vicious influence – is strange.

    • william osborne says:

      Thank you. I too have found these correlations very odd. Even if some of these works were worthy of revival, its very ironic for their champion to put them in the additional context of his support for groups like Pegida? I remember reading his comment that he wanted to take the Munich Philharmonic back to its roots, a very ironic statement since it was known as the “Orchestra of the Fascist Movement.” One wants to give him the benefit of the doubt, the consistency of such actions sometimes makes it difficult.

      • Gonout Backson says:

        Now that you mention in, let’s remember that Mr Gergiev ressuscitated, and brought to NY in 1996, the infamous “Zdravitsa” cantata by Prokofiev, written for Stalin’s 60th anniversary in 1939 (as he himself falsified it), year of the pact with Hitler, when most of his murdered millions were already behind him (those he killed hand in hand with Hitler still ahead).

        • Martin M says:

          I do agree, of course, that it is extremely problematic that Gergiev conducts Prokofiev’s ‘Sdravitza’.
          As for Prokofiev, we should – however – not forget that his hands were tied in a way that Strauss’, Schillings’ or Pfitzner’s hands never were – on the contrary! Strauss was a political opportunist, Schillings was an influential Nazi cultural politician and Pfitzner a committed Anti-Semite. Prokofiev was drawn into a situation (partly because of his own misjudgment and probably also out of a personal weakness) where he had no escape but he was caught in a golden cage, as lively described by Alex Ross in ‘The Rest of Noise’.
          I think such pieces as Prokofiev’s ‘Sdravitza’ or politically linked works by Strauss, Schillings or Pfitzner could be performed in a certain context, e.g. if preceded by a discussion and an explanation about the work’s background. One could, for instance juxtapose that piece by Prokofiev with a work by Roslavets (a composer purged by Stalinist authorities) or juxtapose the music of these Nazi-friendly (or opportunist) composers with the work of ‘Entartete Musik’ composers, highlighting the special circumstances during which these works were created. That was done two decades ago in an enlightening way in the ‘Entartete Musik’ exhibition in Germany. This is not the way, however, how Thielemann (or Gergiev) present such works.

          • Martin Locher says:

            None of this changes that I think Pfitzners Violin Concerto is one of the best I’ve ever heared and remains on my MP3 player.

            Yesterday, I was glad to hear the 2nd symphony by Hans Gal, a jew who fled to Edinburgh during the Nazi-era. One could hear some nice Nazi-Straussian “Blasmusik” in the symphony. Surely not because the guy was keen on the Nazis, but more because it was the music of his former home, a home he surely loved.

            If a conductor likes some works by a composer he will explore the rest of the repertoire and might find more works he likes. Of course during the Nazi-era some works were commissioned by political and culture leaders – just like today I guess. I see no problem with performing these works.

  • LF says:

    “Bürgerliche Werte” in Thielemanns article have nothing to do with middle class.

    “Bürgerliche Werte” means the civic values or virtues which ideally should be the foundation of civilised Western societies, namely responsible behaviour of each and every citizen, respect for decisions by an elected governement, respect of minorities, tolerance of different opinions and religions,freedom of speech, respect of property (also intellectual), fair jurisdiction, equality of chances, promotion on merit, rejection of nepotism and corruption and so on. These values have nothing to do with class, they can and should be valid for any class from poor artist to rich factory owner. These values are largely responsible for whatever success Western societies could attain. It is a legitimate aim to defend these values against forces that aim to destruct them.

    As for my qualifications I spent 73 years mostly in German speaking Switzerland and was over twenty years in local and national politics. I’m not a particular fan of Mr.Thielemann but it is a fact that these values are not maintained in most Arab and/or Muslim countries nor in Russia. Its also a fact that these values are not very valid for parts of the large immigrant communities in France and other European countries.

    L.F.

  • Edgar Brenninkmeyer says:

    I just have read Thielemann’s op-ed piece. I think it is not accurate to pinpoint him down as right-wing. He is certainly a conservative, politically and artistically. I like to point out another aspect, however: many people in east Germany feel that they are jot listened to, just as they were not listened to by the Communist dictatorship. I heard this on Drutschlandfunk online, in an interview from the Dresden correspondent with participants in this Sunday’s Pegida demonstration. Another aspect: Neonazism was strong and alive and well during the East German Communist regime, which played it down as “Rowdytum”. Recent research has revealed the huge extent of misperception of the communist officials claiming that the Berlin Wall was needed as ” anti-fascist protection wall”. Fascism never left East Germany, and several of its officials found easy ways in transiting from Nazi to Communist party official. Pegida, it appears to me, is indeed the symptom of something much deeper which only now, 25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Communist Dictatorship on German soil, begins to surface. In one important aspect I fully agree with Thielemann: we must listen. Open our ears. I remember getting into a conversation with a woman from former East Berlin at Yegel airport,Vin 1990. She was waiting for her daughter to return from her first trip to the US, while I waited form the departure of my flight to Amsterdam. We spoke about the many huge changes taking place all at once, about her feeling overwhelmed by them. “You know”, she said, ” we basically want one thing to happen: that we are listened to” – “Wissen Sie, I’m Grunde wollen wir nur das Eine: dass man und zuhoert”. Obviously, this has not been happening seriously enough. Not only in Germany.

    • william osborne says:

      There is a German word that evolved after unification, Besserwessi, which is pun indicating that West Germans are know-it-alls. It was used to describe Wessis (West Germans) who felt superior to Ossis (East Germans.) The fact is, of course, that for a few years after unification the East Germans were disoriented and very understandably needed a guiding hand. And it is a fact that Wessis trampled over many East German cultural values, but all together I think Germany handled unification astoundingly well.

      And I think the Wessis began to listen after a time. Angela Merkel, who is East German, has been the head of the CDU (Germany’s major center right party) for the last 15 years, and has been the Chancellor of Germany for the last 9.

      And indeed, Germans should keep a close eye on Pegida. If it ever gains true political momentum it will become a run away train that will not stop with just Muslims in their quest for that old German phantom of “cultural purity.”

  • Andrew says:

    It’s certainly clear that anything “right-wing” will not be tolerated by the oh-so-tolerant readers of this blog. There’s nothing wrong with loving one’s country, one’s culture, language an traditions and not wanting them to be undermined by outsiders. Thielmann is presenting a nuanced opinion piece and shouldn’t have words and meanings shoved in to his mouth by the PC contingent.

    • Schnabelowski says:

      “not wanting them to be underminded by outsiders”… Sweetie, in a globalized world there are no ‘outsiders’.
      This is the kind of irresponsible way how Jews or another minorities (the Irish people, e.g.) were once generally thought and talked about in Central Europe. We shouldn’t forget what it all led to.

      • Christian says:

        Ah – the holocaust card played this time. Just got to love this way of arguing!

      • Anon says:

        “what it all led to”… like a very high wall between Israel and Palestine, keeping the outsiders out? Or an electric fence between the US and Mexico, keeping the outsiders out? Or what do you mean?

        • Schnabelowski says:

          I was commenting on Andrew’s comment above. He wrote: “There’s nothing wrong with loving one’s country, one’s culture, language an traditions and not wanting them to be undermined by outsiders.” Now, there were millions of German Jews who also loved their country, their culture and language and who were persecuted and killed by the Nazis. German (and European) 20th history is a dark example of what can happen if xenophobia gets powerful. And this is something that can happen again and can’t be warned about too often. Look at Yugoslavia in the 1990s, to name but an example.
          Andrew writes that there’s nothing wrong with “not wanting them to be undermined by outsiders”. For me, a comment like that is already xenophobic, labeling some people automatically as ‘outsiders’, regardless on how well they have integrated into society (and most of the Muslim people in the West have very successfully integrated into the wider society. One should also not forget that the success of the integration has also something to do with the arrival society. Why are there more problems reported from Germany than from, say, Canada or from another country more multicultural than Germany?)
          We should also remember that very much the same reactions and arguments that religious-minority immigrants such as Jews and Catholics had to face before are nowadays being used against the Moslems. European Muslim populations consist – of course – of completely different people. Treating them as one and labeling them automatically as outsiders is what unfortunately often happens in a country with little tradition of immigration (such as Germany). It is certainly a stupid, insulting, narrow-minded and also dangerous thing to do.

          • Anon says:

            You are confused. You can not have a culture and civilization, without defining its borders. People who do not accept to live within these borders are outsiders. While I applaud your apparent desire to see all humanity as brothers, it is infantile to assume we will achieve it to make a big circle, hold hands and sing “Kumbaya”. Political Islam for instance is a real threat to our Western (relative) enlightened societies. Probably most Mulims living in Europe are not politically extreme, but it is hard to say which side of the fence they would position themselves, were things getting a bit more heated and polarized.
            Also be a bit more careful with throwing around superlatives. Serious estimations of German Jewish victims of the Holocaust are about 160.000 German Jews, not millions.

    • Mathieu says:

      Ahem, you do not understand what tolerance is. Disagreeing with Thielemann doest not mean in any case intolerance; actually, tolerance presupposes a disagreement in the first place. Saying that Thielemann is wrong is not being intolerant.

  • Simon S. says:

    “Pegida” is helplessly hyped by the German media (yes, those media the Pegidists like to call “Lügenpresse” – “liar press”). In fact, “Pegida” is neither a German nor an East German movement, but a local Dresden issue, notwithstanding the fact that there aren’t barely any Muslims in Dresden.

    In other German cities, be it East or West, there have never been more than a few hundred people following the xy-gida rallies. The only exception was Leipzig last week, where they were able to assemble 5,000 or 15,000 people (depending on whose figures you like to believe – nevertheless, they were clearly outnumbered by the counterdemonstration), but this is easily explainable by the fact that the Dresden rally was called off and Leipzig is not really far away, so a significant share will have come from Dresden.

    So, yes, the most remarkable fact is that Thielemann seems to have decided to stay in Dresden.

    • John Borstlap says:

      People not acquainted with the average, normal muslem presence, are much more afraid of ‘Islamization’ than people in the big cities in the west of Europe where they have become, on average, well-integrated and where they easily mix with, er, non-muslems. In Holland there have been striking research results on islamophobia from which emerged that in remote villages of the south, where the locals have never even seen a muslem, voted in panic for Geert Wilders. It seems that the media, or misunderstanding of media reports, have much to do with this kind of phenomenon.

  • harold braun says:

    Spot on Mr.Thielemann.And,as a jew,I must Dax I’m more afraid of Muslim terror attacks,than pegida. I hope we don’ t have to see an attack like the one on the Paris supermarket over here, or the first synagogue burning since 1938.

  • Gonout Backson says:

    Here we go.

    1. “One of the biggest problems in France”.
    2. “Someone on the far right” – “Muslims are not accepted in that society”.
    3. “The presence of Muslims as such is somehow a problem”.

    Encore un effort, and we’ll have a shooting range.

    • Mathieu says:

      Who is doing eristics now ?

      Re 1., let me repeat that I was just using Christian’s formulation.
      Re 2. Understanble misinterpretaiton of a previous post of mine. I meant that what those people on the far right mean is that Muslims are not welcome.
      Re 3. If you were familiar with French politics, you should know that this expression is recurrent. (such as “Is Islam compatible with the Republic?” and so forth…

      • Gonout Backson says:

        1. You used Christian’s formulation – which he himself had used asking you a question, a question you did not answer, but turned it upside down. I think the right term in French is “botter en touche”.

        2. No misinterpretation here, understandable or not. Because you did not say “those people on the far right”. You said “Muslims are not welcome in THAT SOCIETY”.

        3. I’m quite familiar with French politics, thank you, and I know this expression IS NOT recurrent (and certainly not “over the entire political spectrum, even on the left”). The other expression is a – perfectly legitimate – question, not a statement.

        Stop cheating.

        • Mathieu says:

          Well, I am gonna stop trolling now. A last shot.

          1. I did answer Christian’s query. I said that the problem was not criticism of Islam but stigmatisation of muslims, and I drew a sharp distinction between the two.

          2. Well, you misunderstood what I meant. I thought that my clarification in an earlier post was enough. Let me restate it here : “I didn’t express myself well. I should have replaced the “it” (“doesn’t it mean”, but which I mean “doesn’t what they say mean”) by “they” (“do not they mean”). I actually think that France is a much more tolerant country than his political leaders think it is.”

          3. Why single out Islam as being possibly incompatible with the Republic, if one does not think that the presence of Muslims is somehow a problem (however mild) ?

          A good day to you sir.

          • Gonout Backson says:

            1. And I answered that you were wrong : the stigmatization of Muslims certainly wasn’t “one of France’s biggest problems”. So you did misuse Christian’s formulation.

            2. You said, precisely : “When someone, like Pegida in Germany, or the far right in France, is denouncing a (somewhat fantastic) “islamization” of society, does it not imply that Mulsims are not welcome in that society ?”. IN THAT SOCIETY. Your words, sir. Now you oppose French political leaders (presumably less tolerant) and some mythical, abstract “France” (presumably more tolerant). It all doesn’t add up.

            3. The question “singles up” Islam as any serious interrogation would : a precise question to work out a precise answer. “Islam” doesn’t mean the same thing as “the presence of Muslims (in France)”. You also jump to conclusions : “Why single out Islam as being possibly incompatible with the Republic, if one does not think that the presence of Muslims is somehow a problem (however mild) ?”. Maybe the people who ask the question do it precisely to demonstrate it’s NOT a problem. You cannot get an answer before asking the question. If the problem is “mild” – what’s wrong in talking about it?

            And thus your “convictions” get you in trouble.

  • Martin Locher says:

    I don’t know where some readers see Thielemann defending Pegida. I no words he defends the silly Anti-Islamic Kindergarten.

    He only mentions that the concerns of the regular citizens should be taken seriously. A lot of these concerns – hatever they are combine in the Pegida movement. From Anti-Islamic, to Anti-American, to Anti-TV-licence. Many of the concerns can be discussed, reasons found and actions taken for the future.

    Thielemann mentions the segregation in some cities between people of different cultural backgrounds. Caused by people on one side who don’t welcome other cultures and on the other side by people who think they can move to another country and just continue to live how they are used to. Both something we can think about and discuss how this can be avoided by taking some concerns of the Pegida movement seriously.

    He mentiones another thing which I noticed as well. In a recent TV debate, which I watched part of, a female, black dressed Pegida member was constantly provocated, but kept her calm. A day later she was called cold-blooded and whatever negative words journalists could come up with. Ridiculing someone who clearly held herself well doesn’t help – no matter if we agree with her views or not.

    A little food for thought: In my hometown in Switzerland we once had a neighborhood, very close to mine, which housed many from Turkey and the Balkan. The local waste sorting point for glass and plastics had a board with instructions in Turkish and Balkan languages. The sign was put up because many newcomers didn’t speak German.

    And this is one Pegida concern…. some forgeiners refuse to learn the local language – even after years. In London someone who should have been sentenced with prison was set free because his wife doesn’t speak English well enough to support the family. Pegida wants to avoid such things by forcing foreigners to learn the language. Is this such a bad idea that we can not even discuss it with them? Surely not.

  • John Borstlap says:

    The issue seems to me to be a cultural one. Original muslem culture as it exists in Saudi-Arabia, Pakistan, Egypt, etc. is fundamentally incompatible with European / Western culture, so there is a concrete reason for concern among Europeans about muslem immigration. Islam is not merely a religion but a culture including politics and the structure of society. Only where Islam adapts to Western values, i.e. goes through a change, can it be part of European culture. In practice, this is already happening on a grand scale – the so-called ‘moderate, adapted’ muslems, who are seen as ‘betraying’ Islam by the fanatics. The German/Syrian academic Bassam Tibi has already explored the issue in his ‘Europa ohne Identität?’ where he strongly demands an Euro-Islam as a condition of full integration of Muslem immigrants, and where he criticises the lack of European cultural awareness – the lack of consciousness of Europeans about their own culture. The protests he got did not come from muslems, but from leftwing German academics and politicians who adhered to a multicultural society where, in fact, communities are segregated, and accused him of Islamophobia – while he merely defended European ‘bürgerliche Werte’ and Bildung. His coining of the concept of ‘Leitkultur’ – an overall context of general values within which people can find their individual interpretation of them, without doing harm to the context – invoked scorn and contempt, but seems more important than ever. No civilization can exist without a Leitkultur. The point is, which Leitkultur and how it is formulated. In Europe, there is already a firm Leitkultur, which is not difficult to see, and a very attractive one, that is the reason that so many muslems want to live here.

    Does Islam belong to Europe, in a cultural sense? Not in its original form. A transformed, Westernized Islam does. The USA, where integration of foreign cultures has been more successful, should be an example for Europe… but the old continent has difficulty to deal with the entirely new situation of having become an immigration country. Hence the atavistic emergence of old instincts.

  • johnno says:

    Translation:

    We must finally listen to the questions with which the phenomenon Pegida confronts us

    Over recent weeks, staff at the Semperoper have had an uneasy feeling about going to work on Mondays. A worry that stones or bottles could possibly fly; that the situation on the theatre square could escalate. To have to push their way through an angry crowd, through noise and yelling, and then, a little later, to stand on stage in Fledermaus or Debussy’s Pelleas et Melisande: that makes an ivory tower out of the theatre, something it is not and must not be – not even in a city like Dresden whose culinary art is rumoured to be such a delight. We here inside; you there outside: art does not work this way; public life does not work in this way. With regard to this, I actually had to welcome the banning of the Pegida (Patriotische Europäer gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes: patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West) demonstrations last Monday. It is a pity that we had no understanding of them on that day.

    Our freedoms of assembly and free speech are great benefits. They are benefits that we must not surrender in the face of any terror in the world. In this respect I was against the ban and can only hope that the security services and political structures had valid reasons for it. But certainly, when I see the reflex way the media react to the Pegida representative, Kathrin Oertel, who ventured onto ARD on Sunday evening, then I ask myself how we ourselves treat our benefits and values: a blond woman dressed in black, who will not let herself be provoked by Günther Jauch, is taken to be ice-cold” and “emotionless”. Because she made herself a speaker for the discontented in this land, and represented opinions that no one apparently wants to hear. Because she did not play along and avoided sensationalism. In this regard, she did not enjoy our freedom of speech.

    Frau Oertel could and should have stated more clearly what Pegida is fighting against. That she did not do so specifically, or specifically enough, is understood immediately by a theatre person like myself as staged, as strategy. And perhaps it is not the silliest strategy. The tens of thousands that follow Pegida week after week are unhappy about lots of things that seem to range from the GEZ tax (tax on public broadcasting) to the refugee quota. To list these particulars Is not the point. The issue has far more to do with the discomfort at expressing such views, of that feeling of impotence that aggrieves so many. An issue, about which, if it continues to gain ground, there will be nothing to write home about. And no nation and no Art.

    On flags that wave on the Theatre square, the Semperoper has written: “Eyes open”, “Hearts open”, “Doors open”. I would have liked to have added, “Ears open”. People are afraid to say what they think, because nowhere do they come across ears that are open to listen to them, and because what they think is so far from the consensus that the customary diplomatic ways of our understanding of it don’t encompass it. There is much said in Germany, that is, however, not said in public, so that on certain issues we only have a choice between slogans and political correctness, and no nuanced discourse anymore. But the permission to speak and the ability to listen belong together. Things are no longer listened to. That worries me. The author, Monika Maron, has said that Pegida may not be the illness but rather the symptom of the illness. Our politicians attend almost exclusively to the symptoms. As if they secretly no longer believe in the values upon which our community rests.

    The terrible events in Paris cry out for a more forthright definition of these values. I call them this: civic values. We have something to defend, and perhaps, through such catastrophes, it will again be made conscious. Besides press freedom, education is for me a top civic value, the interaction with art and culture that teaches us to respect the ideas of others and to deal with conflict peacefully. The family, the sense of security in love and trust, regardless of its make up (blended, same-sex). Phrases like reliability, decency, honesty, consideration, respect come to my mind: in short, everything that belongs to a human upbringing.

    I hope that in the Berlin-Humboldt forum or the forum at the Dresden Frauenkirche, 99 propositions about our civic values are put on display. Open to all, and there to be referred to at any time. The Federal President could take a lead role here, but it would also interest me to hear what Angela Merkel would have to contribute. Does Islam belong in Germany? Why not? Maybe Christianity will belong in Turkey sometime and Judaism be part of the Arab world.

    So long as this is not the case, we should at least be able to say so without being labelled fascists, right populists or intolerant. The 68ers demanded confessions from their fathers’ generation, admissions of guilt. It is now time to demand the same of them. The questions that the phenomenon of Pegida confronts us with – in so far as there is a chance to see it amongst all the bellyaching and a few abstractions – would be: What does freedom mean in an open, enlightened society; what is tolerance? How broadly can we define the limits, how narrowly? Will we perhaps have to say goodbye to certain freedoms because we can no longer cope with them?

    I do not find it acceptable that a youth of Arabic descent shouts in the face of his female teacher that he doesn’t listen to women. Equally unacceptable that people, because of their non-German names, their skin colour or their religion, cannot find a place to live. Both cases show in what an uncertain and brutalising state our society finds itself.
    Public policy has not taken enough care to integrate immigrants. We have not understood how important it is for them to master the language of our country. We have not wanted to see that, for the foreigner, culture and religion always grow in importance, never lessen in importance – and what that means for the integration process and its potential for conflict. We have not conducted the dialogue that would have there to be had, not from the beginning.

    In the seventies and eighties we did not attempt a mixing of the society – and suddenly there were ghettos in the cities, hot spots that were no good for any side. Whoever persisted in the culture that he had brought from home and was in his heart, because he did not or could not gain any new contact at all, was deemed anti-integration. Und those who, as Germans, spoke of threat were labelled xenophobes.

    To listen to the discontented seems to be the imperative at the moment. Global problems threaten to engulf us: the conflict in the Ukraine, the Middle-East; the radical Islamists from Syria to Paris – that in total may be diffuse, and stoke diffuse fears, but that may perhaps have their justification nevertheless. At the moment, right now, when it is tied to conditions at your own front door. One who saw it long before Pegida is Heinz Buschkowsky, the local mayor of Berlin-Neuköln. In his formulations, he strikes exactly the right balance between goodwill and criticism (in contrast to Thilo Sarrazin), something we should have taken note of a lot earlier. Buschkowsky was strongly admonished for this. And it also did not immediately embolden people to act.

    I have received very nice letters in which I am asked to appear on the balcony of the Semperoper after one of the performances I conduct and speak on Mondays to “the people” in the theatre square. However, I doubt that this is my job. We artists should become more involved in the debate, but we cannot replace political process. We can only get a hearing in our own way. Music offers the perfect community comparison: it is not the conductor who shows the musicians how a piece ought to go, but Bach, Beethoven and Wagner. The orchestra has simply come to an agreement about it. This means each individual must master his or her craft, instrument or voice so that they can do justice to the current score. Accent-free, in the right language, with sensitivity and with alert, open ears. Playing together only functions this way.

    Pegida chose Dresden for their activities, the city that commemorates the 70th anniversary of its destruction by allied bombs on 13 February 2015. The city that has acquired a sense that injustice must not be allowed to repay injustice. This trauma and this recognition have buried themselves deep in soul of the city and the souls of its inhabitants. In the Semperoper, we will be playing Rossinis’s “Stabat Mater” on this day, and when the bells ring at 2145, may each think of many things, not just the burning of Dresden: of Auschwitz or Hiroshima, of September 11, and of “Charlie Hebdo”. And those lacking courage will again find courage and listen to the disgruntled: this seems to me the imperative. And to offer them that tolerance of which we are so proud.

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  • Anon says:

    The only thing that strikes me as odd in Thielemann’s article is the use of the word “akzentfrei” (free of accent). It is also hilarious, considering he is talking about Dresden, an area of Germany where native German people speak one of the thickest accents (saxonian dialect) imaginable.

  • Vovka Ashkenazy says:

    Have those who mention and criticize Oriana Fallaci here taken the time and the effort to read her books? I have read them in both English and Italian, and I find her quite objective on her assessment of Islam.

  • Freedom of Conscience says:

    The fundamental tension is between a branch of Islam [which includes full political and judicial aspirations] and Liberal western values. Thielemann may be to the right of centre with his general views, but where do the “moderates” go who are concerned about ensuring Liberal western values for future generations Against the Islamization of the West?

  • BradlyCag says:

    Bonjour,

    J’ai une pêtite question; voilà j’ai trouvé la maison que je souhaite dans les prix que mon établissement de crédit m’a fixée pour être ” bien” au niveau l’ade l’endettement de la durée du crédit etc…

    Nous nous sommes mis d’accord sans signature avec l’agence immobilière d’évian sur le tafif après concertation avec les gens qui vendent

    Maintenant nous allons signons promesse de vente .

    Comment ça se passe?

    A la signature du documents de vente , je dois verser un pourcentage de combiens est ce que mon établissement de crédit peut me le prêter?

    Dois je prendre un notaire moi ou on peut prendre acheteur/vendeur le même?

    Quels sont les documents que je dois exiger lors de cette signature?

    Avez vous fait pleins de la banque après signature du compromis pour avoir les taux les plus interessants?ou avez vous garder votre banque?

    J’ai quelques travaux à faire dedans; remis en conformité de l’éléctricité et pose d’un poêle à bois; comment faire pour faire les devis afin de les globaliser dans mon prêt?

    Sa se fait avant la signature du promesse de vente ou on évalue les travaux ” à la louche” ?

    Bref comment avez vous fait pour bénificier de la loi pinel, ou de la défiscalisation immobilière de la loi duflot

    De plus, je me demande si, j’ai la possibilité d’avoir un appartement neuf. Si cela peux rentré dans mes cordes.

    C’est bien vrai, que je pense, qu’un logements neufs est plus mieux, car, il respecte toutes les nouvelles normes de sécurité de chauffage etc..

    J’ai lue sur internet qu’il y avais des lois de deficaliation, maison, je ne suis pas imposable.

    Comment cela ce passe ?

    De plus, je veux changé de régions, c’est l’un de mes objectif et les école pour mes enfants.

    plein de questons…

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