Immigration Policy Could Cost Germany Price May Be Permanent Seat on U.N. Security Council

Article excerpt

The Clinton administration has suggested that Germany deserves a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council. The resurgence of Nazism in Germany and current German intolerance toward refugees suggest that such an honor and recognition may be premature.

Germany's decision to change its progressive immigration law is an affront. The Germans shut their borders to the needy and the persecuted and reduced benefits to refugees already in Germany. Instead of attacking racism and xenophobia, the Kohl administration used the neo-Nazi attacks against the "new immigrants" from Eastern Europe and the "old immigrants" from Turkey as a pretext and imposed stiff eligibility requirements on foreigners seeking asylum in Germany. They claimed that Germany's posh benefits and loose eligibility requirements attracted economic refugees from the Third World.

But Germany's problems with immigrants are not caused solely by Germany's economic benefits and liberal immigration policies. The recent German difficulties have been caused by misguided and shortsighted economic and political policies.

Germany has always had foreign workers and immigrants. In the 1960s, during the German economic "miracle," millions of Italian, Turkish, Spanish, Yugoslav and Greek guest workers, including this writer, toiled in German sweatshops and mines. American support under the Marshall Plan and foreign workers helped rebuild Germany into an anti-communist bulwark. In a climate of plentiful jobs and high wages, racism and xenophobia were almost unknown. Why then do we see this resurgence of racism and hatred?

Some political analysts attributed Germany's convulsions and the new racism to the resentment of foreigners by East Germans and to the liberality of the German welfare system. They miss the point. German racism and xenophobia are the results of an aggressive, two-pronged, economic policy initiated by the German government in 1989.

The leading prong of that strategy was a crusade by the German government to wipe out the socialist legacy of East Germany. It started by renaming Karl Marx Stadt - Chemnitz. Somehow, the Germans were embarrassed to have one of their cities named after a German philosopher.

Second, the German government ignited a firestorm in the East when it dismissed all professors in East German universities, without regard for tenure or accomplishment, and replaced them with politically correct, right-wing West Germans.

Third, the Kohl government caused immense hardship and resentment when it re-established pre-World War II property rights in East Germany, evicted the East German tenants and returned land and properties to their West German "legal" owners. …