She told me that for the most part she does believe that they are, for instance she has friends that work at the Opel which is German for general motor plant and the women does not feel uncomfortable and is not discriminated against she enjoys working there even though it is mostly men.
BERLIN — Can you begin a debate and miss out on it at the same time? While conceding that a national culture cannot be more than a “guideline,” he went on to ask how the country should deal with people who object to adopting those guiding principles. de Maizière suggests that, alongside the characteristics of German Leitkultur, there are certain “nonnegotiable” values: the priority of law over religion, respectful manners in everyday life, being part of the West, being “proud Europeans” and being patriotic. de Maizière is far from the first German to discuss Leitkultur.
Consider the topic of the moment among Germany’s political class — whether the country has a “Leitkultur,” or guiding national culture, or whether it is a truly multicultural nation. The term surfaced in 2000, when the Christian Democratic politician Friedrich Merz wrote an article in Die Welt asking whether it is enough for immigrants to obey German law or whether there are other manners, habits, traditions and conventions that everybody should respect as well. Merz’s article set off a long, polemical debate in which one side made accusations of racism and the other side answered with accusations of cultural relativism; by the end, the question hadn’t been answered, but the fight was so vicious that the word was rendered unutterable in polite conversation.
For about 24 hours, one of the most depressing aspects of German national culture was on display: a sickening mix of hubris and self-hatred. In all of this, most German policy makers kept as quiet as possible. de Maizière had made it easy to dismiss his statement as electoral campaign clatter, citing several of the new far-right’s favorite memes (the burqa, the tendency of some Muslim men to refuse to shake a woman’s hand). In 2015, one million people came to this country, many of whom have no experience with liberal democracy.
Martin Schulz, the Social Democratic candidate for chancellor, called it a “phantom debate,” fabricated to divert public attention from a right-wing terrorist who had just been discovered in the German Army. At the same time, 8 percent to 10 percent of voters say they support the Alternative for Germany party, which has just adopted a bluntly anti-feminist, anti-gay-rights, anti-Muslim, aggressively nationalist program.