A parable for Germany: Spengler

(From Gatestone Institute International Policy Council)

    • Dying Germany has only one item on its bucket list, and that is redemption. The Germans cannot seek redemption from the crimes of their grandparents because they do not understand what motivated them to do such terrible things.
    • For Merkel and most of Germany’s elite, the appearance on Germany’s threshold of millions of Muslim refugees is a final chance at redemption, an opportunity for Germany to redeem itself from the crimes of its past through a transcendent act of selflessness.

Denke ich an Deutschland in der Nacht
Dann bin ich um den Schlaf gebracht

If I think of Germany in the night
It kills my sleep.

– Heinrich Heine.

Once there was an old man who in his youth committed a terrible crime, the murder of many innocents. He no longer could remember what drove him to do this; he tried not to think about it, and his memories came to mind unwillingly and infrequently. Rage and guilt had faded long ago into a vague residue of disgust. He worked hard and found some distraction in the monotony of daily tasks. He sought diversion in tasteless entertainment; he followed football, looked at pornography, watched the dubbed version of American comedies, and took vacations at the beach.

He had a child but no grandchildren; his child knew that he once did unforgivable things, but did not want to know what they were, and the old man did not want to tell him. The old crime hung like a black curtain between them.

The old man could feel that he did not have long to live. Ahead of him he saw only days clouded with boredom, illuminated only by the occasional flash of regret. He let the days come and go one at a time until their count might come to an end, for he did not know any other way to live. Because he had no ties to life, he had no way to prepare for death.

One day the old man met a street urchin and on an impulse invited him back to his apartment. He fed the strange boy and gave him a place to sleep. The next morning the old man bought the urchin new clothes, and gave him things — a smartphone, a video-game system, a football jersey. The street kid made himself at home and said little.

Before long, the old man noticed that things had gone missing. A watch that belonged to his father disappeared from a drawer. A silver souvenir goblet no longer stood in the cupboard. Even worse, he came home to find things broken with apparent intent. The remains of a glass pitcher lay in shards on the kitchen floor. The bathroom mirror was cracked. A sofa cushion was slashed.

At length, the old man confronted the boy: “I have only done you good. Why do you do this to me?” The boy laughed at the old man, then punched him. The old man lay on the floor, bleeding from his nose and lips. Perhaps he should call the police? He thought: “No, I will not call the police. What does it matter? I will die soon anyway. Perhaps some good will come of it.” The prospect of death robs us of rationality, especially if we perceive that our life has gone wrong.

* * *

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Time Magazine’s Person of the Year for 2015, was the model of rationality, finding resources to backstop Germany’s near-bankrupt southern neighbors during the great European debt crisis of 2012, defusing the Ukraine crisis after the Maidan coup and the Russian takeover of Crimea, balancing Atlantic commitments and European integration, while presiding over Europe’s only successful major economy. Merkel was rational, that is, until she wasn’t.

Admitting 1.2 million Muslim refugees in 2015 and perhaps another million in 2016, and sticking to her guns after the organized mass sexual abuse perpetrated by migrants in Cologne and other German cities on New Year’s Eve, was an act of existential despair, not a rational act. What explains this seemingly sudden transformation? Read more



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