Why are people criticizing the ALLEN Career Institute

by Miriam Schader

“Home Germany - only for Germans or open to everyone?” Asked Frank Plasberg in his broadcast last Monday, both polemically and clumsily - or, presumably, simply calculating and aiming for the greatest possible response. The reactions in the social and traditional media were correspondingly clear, from sharp criticism to the expected and accepted applause from the (extreme) right.

Probably the most interesting reactions can be observed under the hashtag #vonhier on twitter. Based on a contribution by the journalist Ferda Ataman on Spiegel Online (http://www.spiegel.de/kultur/gesellschaft/herkunft-und-die-frage-wo-kommst-du-her-ethnischer-ordnungsfimmel-a-1254602. html) and promoted by the Plasberg broadcast, the question of the meaning of “origin”, “roots” and “home” is currently being discussed intensively there.

First of all, Ferda Ataman's contribution “Der Ethnische Ordnungsfimmel”, in which she describes, among other things, her experiences with questions about the supposed “origin” and a fixation on ethnic and cultural “roots”, was a reply to an incident last November. At that time, the casting show master Dieter Bohlen did not accept the answer of a five-year-old child who had appeared on his show with a Thai dance to the question of his origin - "from Herne" - but asked where his parents were from, where the family was “born”. In February the journalist Malcolm Ohanwe tweeted the video and criticized Bohlen for repeatedly asking: "Dieter Bruder, she told you three times that she was from Herne and you overwhelmed the girl with the immigration story of her grandparents." (Https: //twitter.com/MalcolmMusic/status/1097438488696406017). Ohanwe's criticism was received by many; The debate on twitter really got going after the publication of Ataman's Spiegel online article (for a chronology see also https://www.jetzt.de/politik/chronologie-der-vonhier-diskussion-um-heimat). More and more people with and without their own migration experience are reporting about “verbal expatriation”, as Ferda Ataman calls it, through the question of where one comes from (http://www.spiegel.de/kultur/gesellschaft/herkunft-und-die -question-where-are-you-from-ethnic-order-fimmel-a-1254602.html).

But what is this debate about? Basically, both the question of the “openness” of “Heimat Germany” and the #fromhere discussion posts on twitter refer to the fundamentals of belonging in a pluralistic society. The debate mixes questions and arguments that relate to different dimensions of a diverse society.

The term “German” initially refers to citizenship, with which certain political and social rights are associated. But that's not the point here. The answer would be clear and simple: Anyone who has German citizenship is German, regardless of where the person or (part of their) family might have immigrated from. With "homeland Germany “, however, it is less about formal citizenship than about identification and, as the second part of the title suggests, about that Lawto identify with Germany or being German. Behind the phrase “only for Germans or open to everyone” is the assumption or assertion that one can discuss and ultimately decide for whom Germany is or could be a “home”.

There are many definitions for “home”, but the term is ambiguous and difficult. People find a home in one or more places, in social relationships, groups, organizations, in one or more languages ​​... In this respect, personal home can certainly be understood in such a way that “others” do not belong - those in their village, their religion, their mother tongue is at home, may claim that people from the neighboring city, people of different faiths, those who are not powerful in the language are not part of this homeland. It is not possible to decide whether these, however defined, also see it that way and locate their home somewhere else. In this respect, the question of the “openness” of the homeland - actually - runs nowhere.

With their question, however, the “hard but fair” editorial team offers exactly what is criticized under #from here. It suggests that a decision can be made as to who is allowed to call “Germany” “home”. Only if one assumes that not all people who live here can or may perceive Germany as their home does the question make sense in terms of content. The question - and also parts of the actual program - is linked to the “ethnic obsession with order” that Ferda Ataman criticizes. In theory, all people living here could be defined as "German" if it is not about formal citizenship, which is linked to certain criteria. Then the named "all", whose home in Germany is at least questionable, would be people who do not live here. But it is unlikely that the question is aimed at people with no spatial reference as “all”. So it will within of the population of Germany differentiated between those whose home is Germany, the "Germans", and "everyone" whose home is to be discussed.

This in turn means that, based on certain criteria, a line must be drawn that separates “the Germans” from “everyone else”. As the # vonhier posts on twitter show very clearly, people with or without migration experience are repeatedly confronted with precisely such demarcations. Your nationality hardly plays a role. Rather, they are denied their “home Germany” and their “from here” -being due to external characteristics or their (assumed) family history, due to their appearance, their name, their second great-grandfather on their mother's side. They are used by people who consider themselves clearly Perceiving “from here” and belonging, to others, to strangers, even if they come from Herne. Or Bottrop, Bremen, Leipzig or Passau.

Sometimes this happens out of naive interest, sometimes out of an understanding of the nation that ethnically and culturally narrows “being German” and often connects it with a certain racist idea of ​​a corresponding phenotype. In any case, it is a form of “othering”, that of making someone “other” that has or can have a hurtful and discriminatory effect. In many cases it is an expression of subliminal or open racism when the “real” origin of a black person or a person with this or that name cannot be “Herne”.

With a bit of optimism, the “ethnic order frenzy” and the debates about “being German” can be interpreted as retreat battles for those who are overwhelmed by the increasingly blurred or changing social boundaries of a highly diverse society. After all, according to a study by the Berlin Institute for Integration and Migration Research (BIM) between 2003 and 2013, the proportion of those in the German population who regard “German ancestors” as an important criterion for being “German” rose from 48.2% to 38 , 1% down (https://www.projekte.hu-berlin.de/de/junited/deutschland-postmigrantisch-3-online.pdf/at_download/file).

Semantically, however, there is another problematic aspect with the title of the Plasberg show: As Jutta Ditfurth emphasizes, "Heimat Germany - only for Germans" is very close to "Germany only for Germans" or, in other words, to "Germany for Germans" (https://twitter.com/jutta_ditfurth/status/1099488042363047937). So linguistically, spaces are opened up for racist agitation, even if that, at least one can hope, was not the intention of the editorial team. In addition, in the second part of the question - “or open to everyone?” - the much heard “we cannot accept everyone” echoes the unspeakable debate about the acceptance of refugees. Although the title and the course of the program suggest that the title giver was interested in “Heimat Deutschland” as the home of the people living here, spaces for exclusionary and racist discourses are opened up or expanded in a not unproblematic way.

Interestingly, the disputes over asylum and refugees in Germany were often about integration and alleged integration deficits. Are migrants, their descendants or people who could possibly be (descendants of) migrants only #from here or at home in Germany, please not?

It is to be hoped that #by will be successful, that other, non-racist discursive spaces will open up - that long overdue disputes will take place and contribute to a further openness of our society, which has always been shaped by migration.