Britain's 'Euro Crisis' Disco Ditty Has A Familiar Message: 'We Told You So'

With its “Euro Crisis Song,” the British newspaper The Guardian is having a bit of a laugh at the Continent and its currency woes. But is this not a case of the pot calling the kettle black?

You Tube video pokes fun at countries directly hit by the Euro crisis
You Tube video pokes fun at countries directly hit by the Euro crisis
Daniel Eckert

The British never did have much good to say about the euro, particularly London City bankers who perceive themselves as the center of the financial world. In the 1990s, Helmut Kohl predicted that the UK would reconsider joining the European currency union, but his visionary gifts let him down there: even the former German chancellor would no longer be counting on Britain to do that any time soon.

Relief that the euro crisis is somebody else's crisis isn't the only feeling floating over the British Isles these days: there's some measure of derision, too. And the land of hip pop and rabid media has found just the vehicle: the "Euro Crisis Song." Released on YouTube by the Guardian newspaper, it made the rounds in Britain and has now found its way over to the Continent. The official word from the producers is that the video is intended to "explain the crisis."

"Greece's sovereign debt crisis brought the government to the brink of collapse," begins the song, while the lyrics float as bright-colored words against a black ground. The music is 70s disco style -- had it competed in the Eurovision Song Contest it probably would have counted as one of the more successful British contributions.

"Deregulation, speculation, and the mortgage scam" are to blame for the situation, the song continues. And there's no arguing with "Greece only got in to the eurozone ‘cause of a numbers flub." Then (not without Schadenfreude) comes: "When you use the euro there's just one catch, when things get rough you can't devalue cash." And here's where it gets mean: "PIGS – Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain. Who's gonna bail them out?"

Over and over, "they call you PIGS" is hammered home – PIGS being the term used by London investment bankers for the four crisis countries, written "PIIGS" when Italy is included. Only as the song nears the end is there a spark of empathy: "They call you PIGS but they don't understand, you're not the only ones to spend more than you can."

The song rightly opens up the playing field, because in terms of finance, the UK is anything but a paragon of virtue. This year, its debt will rise to 84% of GDP – higher than Germany and, yes, even Spain. The British deficit is at 9% and won't fall any lower than 7% in 2012. A rating agency has already issued a warning about the country's credit rating.

If the UK still has a prestigious AAA (Triple A) rating, it's in no small measure due to Prime Minister David Cameron's government. In 2010, the conservative launched an ambitious austerity program meant to put an end to the era of permanent deficits. What is unfortunate is that, because of Cameron's close contact with some players at the center of the Rupert Murdoch scandal, he may not survive politically. English bookmakers are already taking bets on his resignation. The austerity plan could well meet a sudden end.

If that happens, it'll be time for a "Europe Crisis Song." And if the Americans get in on the act, then maybe something more along the lines of a "Requiem for Paper Money."

Read the original article in German

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What It Means When The Jews Of Germany No Longer Feel Safe

A neo-Nazi has been buried in the former grave of a Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender – not an oversight, but a deliberate provocation. This is just one more example of antisemitism on the rise in Germany, and society's inability to respond.

At a protest against antisemitism in Berlin

Eva Marie Kogel


BERLIN — If you want to check the state of your society, there's a simple test: as the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany, John Jay McCloy, said in 1949, the touchstone for a democracy is the well-being of Jews. This litmus test is still relevant today. And it seems Germany would not pass.

Incidents are piling up. Most recently, groups of neo-Nazis from across the country traveled to a church near Berlin for the funeral of a well-known far-right figure. He was buried in the former grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender, a gravesite chosen deliberately by the right-wing extremists.

The incident at the cemetery

They intentionally chose a Jewish grave as an act of provocation, trying to gain maximum publicity for this act of desecration. And the cemetery authorities at the graveyard in Stahnsdorf fell for it. The church issued an immediate apology, calling it a "terrible mistake" and saying they "must immediately see whether and what we can undo."

There are so many incidents that get little to no media attention.

It's unfathomable that this burial was allowed to take place at all, but now the cemetery authorities need to make a decision quickly about how to put things right. Otherwise, the grave may well become a pilgrimage site for Holocaust deniers and antisemites.

The incident has garnered attention in the international press and it will live long in the memory. Like the case of singer-songwriter Gil Ofarim, who recently claimed he was subjected to antisemitic abuse at a hotel in Leipzig. Details of the crime are still being investigated. But there are so many other incidents that get little to no media attention.

Photo of the grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

The grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

Jens Kalaene/dpa/ZUMA

Crimes against Jews are rising

Across all parts of society, antisemitism is on the rise. Until a few years ago, Jewish life was seen as an accepted part of German society. Since the attack on the synagogue in Halle in 2019, the picture has changed: it was a bitter reminder that right-wing terror against Jewish people has a long, unbroken history in Germany.

Stories have abounded about the coronavirus crisis being a Jewish conspiracy; meanwhile, Muslim antisemitism is becoming louder and more forceful. The anti-Israel boycott movement BDS rears its head in every debate on antisemitism, just as left-wing or post-colonial thinking are part of every discussion.

Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

Since 2015, the number of antisemitic crimes recorded has risen by about a third, to 2,350. But victims only report around 20% of cases. Some choose not to because they've had bad experiences with the police, others because they're afraid of the perpetrators, and still others because they just want to put it behind them. Victims clearly hold out little hope of useful reaction from the state – so crimes go unreported.

And the reality of Jewish life in Germany is a dark one. Sociologists say that Jewish children are living out their "identity under siege." What impact does it have on them when they can only go to nursery under police protection? Or when they hear Holocaust jokes at school?

Germany needs to take its antisemitism seriously

This shows that the country of commemorative services and "stumbling blocks" placed in sidewalks as a memorial to victims of the Nazis has lost its moral compass. To make it point true north again, antisemitism needs to be documented from the perspective of those affected, making it visible to the non-Jewish population. And Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

That is the first thing. The second is that we need to talk about specifically German forms of antisemitism. For example, the fact that in no other EU country are Jewish people so often confronted about the Israeli government's policies (according to a survey, 41% of German Jews have experienced this, while the EU average is 28%). Projecting the old antisemitism onto the state of Israel offers people a more comfortable target for their arguments.

Our society needs to have more conversations about antisemitism. The test of German democracy, as McCloy called it, starts with taking these concerns seriously and talking about them. We need to have these conversations because it affects all of us. It's about saving our democracy. Before it's too late.

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