Why are Germans so nuts about Obama?
The short answer could be: because if they root for a non-white candidate, they cannot be themselves racists, right? Even if there has never been an analogous-to-Obama European candidate
I speculated to myself as to why that is so.
There is something weird about a nation which lies so far away from the US, and that gets all worked up about what they consider to be progress in the American republic. This German nation cheers crazily for the Black presidential hopeful. Why? I don't think it is because they regard Obama as a product of the finest American traditions and practices (which he is). There is something Freudian going on, a sort of displacement. While Germans cannot bring themselves to elect even a Turkish-German mayor, they support Obama with a passion that defies rationality.
In the Sign and Sight fueilletons,
"Mely Kiyak finds the frenzied enthusiasm for Barack Obama deeply hypocritical in a country where he wouldn't stand a chance of becoming Bundeskanzler. "If participation means that immigrants should be politically integrated, then this country should be ashamed of the state of its political hierarchies. Because politicians of Turkish origin are making a huge effort and are spending a considerable part of their energy in fighting their way up electoral lists within their own parties. Not even half a percent of German-Turks have their own mandate. And with citizenship conditions growing more difficult by the year, they have to hear that they must speak primarily to German voters. Has anyone ever heard of a Turkish mayor? Why don't we have a single minister-president with an immigration background. Why not in federal states like North Rhine-Westphalia, Baden-Würtemberg or Bavaria which have the largest immigrant populations?"
Is it a case of hypocrisy? I'm not perfectly sure this charge applies. Hypocritical people are usually sly and esoteric about their double positions. They do not declare it from the rooftops, like the Germans do. It will be a case of hypocrisy if, in case Obama does not get elected, they will collectively pronounce the reason for that to be racism...
I think the reason has more to do with a defence mechanism.
In trying to understand how dreams work the way they do, Freud found displacement to have a dominant role in the work of dream. What displacement does is to shift the accent, symbolically, in a dream, from the main thing which causes great anxiety to a secondary body, less threatening to one's self-love or sense of well being. For example, there is the displaced aggression. If one is injured during the day and anger build up, the dream will reciprocate the aggression not on the direct source of danger, but on to the safer, less threatening object.
Germans are fearful of their own racism. They may even acknowledge that their attitude towards their minorities is basically bigoted and xenophobic. But their fear of their minorities is too powerful to overcome by simply ridding themselves of this disease. So they need to reassure themselves that they are not racists in order to maintain a semblance of morality and decency. How can they reconcile their fear of their own racism and their fear of their Turkish and other minorities? By supporting a black candidate for the presidency. And this is where the displacement mechanism kicks in. For they support such a candidate not in their own country. They support him in another country, which they do not like, which they look down on, and which is mostly white, Christian and Western, like them, and like them, has itself a history of atrocious racism.
So the US, in the Germans' nightmarish dreams, serves as that secondary object in Freud's dream.
It comes down to this: A black candidate, a member of a historically oppressed minority, for the highest office in a country, is very desirable, the very epitome of universal justice and enlightenment. We support such a candidate with every liberal fibre and instinct in our progressive culture, so long as it is not in our country or even our continent ...
"Civilization is not self-supporting. It is artificial. If you are not prepared to concern yourself with the upholding of civilization -- you are done." (Ortega y Gasset)
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Why are Germans so nuts about Obama?