About Mrs Tilton

Mrs T is on hiatus from AFOE. A running-dog lackey of the bourgeoisie, Mrs Tilton is (ahem) 39+. Irish, but has lived in Germany for many years. Co-director of the Max-Planck-Institut für hiberno-schwäbische Genmischung. Liberal in the proper sense (not libertarian or leftist.) Writes The 6th International.

Diary of a Desperate Man

At long last Amazon has brought me something I’ve sought for a long time: Friedrich Reck’s Tagebuch eines Verzweifelten. Reck (or Reck-Malleczewen, as he sometimes styled himself) is a footnote to the history of the Third Reich; but an interesting and important footnote.

Born in Prussia into the minor landed gentry, Reck never quite fulfilled what his family must have expected from a young man of his station. Indeed, he ended up a journalist. He’d be forgotten today altogether, I’m sure, but for the facts that he opposed the nazis and died in one of their camps. Continue reading

Et in Formentera ego; or, où sont les flaons d’antan?

We’ve just returned from two weeks on Formentera, the smallest and southernmost of the inhabited illes Balears. We try to spend some time on the island at least once every two or three years; for it is an unspoilt place, a place time has left behind, a place untouched by the imperatives of vulgar economics.

No, that’s bollocks, of course. It is no such thing, nor could it be. Continue reading

Gay creationists in government

Hessia’s education minister Karin Wolff has recently drawn attention for proposing that school biology lessons include the biblical creation story. Now she has drawn attention by outing herself as gay. All too many politicians pander to creationists; and some out themselves. But it’s pretty rare, I’d think, that the same politician does both.

Wolff will have needed a bit of courage to come out; but probably not too much. There are some homophobes in Germany, and I suppose Wolff’s conservative Christian Democratic Union is where they’d feel most at home. But even CDU people, for the most part, won’t be much bothered. (It’s public knowledge, for example, that the CDU mayor of Hamburg, Ole von Beust, is gay; the Union wouldn’t dream of sidelining him. His title is misleading, by the way. Because Hamburg is both a city and a federal state, von Beust is no mere mayor but head of a state government.)

By coming out, perhaps Wolff hoped to draw attention away from the creationism flap. The Frankfurter Rundschau, by contrast, suggests she outed herself as a tactic against intra-party opponents — by announcing she is a lesbian, she makes it harder for enemies within the CDU to criticise her without appearing bigots. Well, ‘maybe’ on both counts. But perhaps Wolff simply thought, ‘This is who I am, I’m not ashamed of it and I’m not going to hide any more.’ If that’s the case, good for her.

She still needs her ears boxed over the creationism thing, mind you.

Funny, it doesn’t look like Kansas…

Though creationism does rear its ugly head from time to time in Europe, it is largely a fringe phenomenon. Unlike in America, even most religious Europeans accept evolution as an obvious fact, viewing the biblical creation stories (yes, there’s more than one) as, at most, poetic metaphor. So it’s easy for us over here to indulge in a superior smile when we observe the antics of those primitive American bible-thumpers.

At least in Germany, we shouldn’t be so quick to smile. Continue reading

Birds of a feather

Germany has tossed a Holocaust denier into prison, and the American Christianist right is all outraged about it. Or so PZ Myers tells me; it’s telling that I had to learn about this from him, as this hasn’t been a big story here at all.

As you probably know, it is illegal in Germany to deny the Holocaust. Lutheran pastor Johannes Lerle denied it publicly; he was tried, found guilty and sentenced to a year behind bars. So far, so yawn. Germany has its share of reactionaries, but any of them stupid enough to deny the Holocaust publicly are punished; end of story as far as the Germans are concerned.

Not in the USA, though. For some on that side of the Atlantic, Pastor Lerle is a Christian martyr. Continue reading

Who is my neighbour?

Who was the first Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany? Diagramme his family tree (paternal and maternal) back to the 14th century.

Germans have been shocked lately to discover that a lot of their schools suck.

The schools in question are typically Hauptschulen, the lowest in the tripartite German division of secondary schools (the others are the Realschulen and the Gymnasien.) Traditionally, the Hauptschule was designed to ensure a basic education while providing vocational training and facilitating its pupils’ entry into an apprenticeship. Not all that long ago, people in other countries looked upon Germany’s programme of vocational education with considerable envy.

Things fall apart, alas, and the centre cannot hold. These days many German firms can select their apprentices from out of the ‘higher-class’ Realschulen, and many inner-city Hauptschulen have become mere dumping-grounds. Worse, they are all (or are all perceived at this moment by the populace to be) festering hotbeds of nigh-American levels of intra-schoolchild violence, though there might be rather fewer firearms in the schoolrooms.

But what has really grabbed the Germans by the collar about this issue is that it is not really about schools. Rather, it is about the very serious question of what it means to be a German. Or, as all too many Germans see it, it is about the strangers among us.

Continue reading