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The dream migrant vs reality on German public TV

Szőcs László
2021.04.06. 07:12
The dream migrant vs reality on German public TV

We often deal with the parallel realities constructed in the German public television in our columns – the distortion that is forced on millions of viewers regarding political issues. The latest memorable example was Deutsche Welle’s manipulative video report in the Buda Castle District; but the biggest dose of distortion that German viewers receive is of their own country. This week’s flogging on the ZDF (Second German Television) channel was so bad that it was refuted by the public media crime magazine itself.

But let’s go in order! Public television is the largest customer of the German crime industry, which is still running at the highest levels and is by no means limited to the crime scene. Certain series are often written as social lessons. For example, German citizens should sympathize with the poor rejected asylum seekers who the cold-hearted authorities want to deport; but at the same time, they shouldn’t be too sympathetic so as not to fall for the parasites who live off the weak points of society such as the elderly fraudsters and adulterers. The well-known German crime writer Lars Becker managed to make the latest part of the Hamburg-based Nachtschicht (Night Shift) especially demagogically, which was seen by 6.29 million people in Germany, winning Monday night’s prime time for ZDF.

Every crime show needs good and bad guys. Two of the good guys – Tülay Yildrim and Lulu Koulibaly – women by the way, supplemented by Ömer Kaplan are (perhaps surprisingly) German-born detectives working for a Hamburg police station. The bad guys are the local leaders of a far-right party – with a striking resemblance to AfD (Alternative for Germany) – a neo-Nazi group hiding behind the party title; they are holding illegal shooting drills and are adorned with 88, or according to the neo-Nazi code Heil Hitler!, tattoos. The bad guys complain that Ömer, Tülay and Lulu are handling their case – and this is an extremely politically incorrect proposition. The victim is a heavily obese, aggressive neo-Nazi named Dexter (In latin: right-wing) who apparently out of self-defense takes down an otherwise hard-working fast food manager named Mübariz Pettekaya. The plot is interesting though, because Becker can if he tries, it's just his characters that are schematic. And he doesn’t do it by accident. The message, present in every tale, is that anti- immigration is racist and meanwhile immigrants live, behave, and feel the same as a native German, just that their skin color and names are different. And the racists are in agreement with the neonazis. The parallel societies, fishing for benefits, no-go zones, Islamist assassinations, inciting imams, burkas, and anti-Semitic attacks committed in the middle of the day don’t appear in this worldview.

Also, in ZDF’s crime portfolio of “Unresolved Files” a different image of migrants emerges. This once-a-month show is not a fairy tale; the police ask German civilians for help in detecting specific crimes. Here migrants usually do not act as cops, but more often side with the criminals. Plenty of armed robberies and fraud occurs, typically to the detriment of the German middle class – and most often targeting the elderly who can least defend themselves. In asking for help from the population, the police are forced to profile: characterizations of suspects repeatedly include the phrase “speaking German with an accent” or “has middle eastern features”.

The crime statistics are depressing. While the proportion of foreigners in Germany is around 12%, that same proportion among criminals is around a third, and about 40% of them violent. Almost half of those imprisoned in Bavarian jails are non-German, and this does not include immigrants who have acquired citizenship. Integration issues also emerge in the world of work, the basis of Germany’s economy and society. The unemployment rate of people with migrant backgrounds is about 2.5 times the national average.

Many Germans however are curious about more than just political correctness. Millions bought up Berlin-based Minister of Finance, Thilo Sarrazin’s criticism of immigration, Germany Abolishes Itself (Deutschland schafft sich ab). This included, among other things, respect for German laws and way of life as a requirement for immigrants. By the end of his cavalry, Sarrazin was expelled from the Social Democratic Party last year. The German elite, including the ZDF, are embarrassing themselves in their efforts to make sure that anti-immigration is on the other side of the “health cordon” in public discourse – the resort of the far-right. But the AfD last year got more than 5 million German votes in the Bundestag elections. Yet there still are not as many Heil Hitler! tattooed neonazis and there are far more Ömers sitting on the more uncomfortable side of the fence.

As of now, the global pandemic pushes the migrant debate out of the picture, but the pandemic will not last forever.

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