Young left-wing women don’t want to become old white men. They must have misunderstood one or the other. As the case of Wolfgang Schäuble shows.
“Just don’t become an old white man,” writes the “Spiegel” about his portrait of 28-year-old Lena Werner, who has been a member of the Bundestag for the SPD for a year. Emilia Fester once campaigned for voting rights for two-year-olds when she was the youngest member of parliament. Now the 24-year-old will be replaced by Saarlander Emily Vontz, only 21 years old. She says: “It’s about taking responsibility – for the Saarland and my generation.” But that’s not her job.
Change of scene: A few days ago, the German Bundestag honored its oldest white man, the members of parliament gave him a standing ovation for his life’s work: Wolfgang Schäuble, Member of Parliament for 50 years, in contrast to his young colleagues, was directly elected – and 14 times in a row in his constituency Offenburg.
When Schäuble came to the Bundestag in 1972, he was very young for the time, but already a qualified lawyer, and even more: a doctor of jurisprudence and a government councilor in the civil service. Vontz, for example, is a fourth-semester student. That’s not the only difference.
It would never have occurred to the 30-year-old CDU man to do politics for his special generation – or for his special constituency in Baden. Because a member of parliament stands for the political party to which he belongs, but represents the entire people. And not just one region or one age group. A top lawyer like Schäuble knows something like that.
What distinguishes him from the three young women from the SPD and the Greens, who see themselves as representatives of “Generation Z” – around the noughties – and derive their understanding of politics from this biographical circumstance. Like the Green Fester, which is in favor of replacing voting rights from the age of 18 with one from the age of 16. If you want to vote, you should be able to.
In a Focus interview, Schäuble confronted Fester with the question of whether this also applied to his two-year-old granddaughter. Fester replied: “That’s how I see it personally.” There was a shit storm on social media, it was by no means Fester’s first. She was already outraged by her emotional plea for compulsory vaccination, which she also justified with her age – she was no longer able to go dancing in clubs. The hashtag “brat” trended online after this type of pandemic discrimination.
The word of the old white man, to which the SPD MP Werner does not want to change, is a case of age discrimination. This word is also at odds with the most important vocabulary of the most important social democrat in parliament. Olaf Scholz, the Federal Chancellor, finally made “respect” his guiding principle.
Fester wants to move away from age discrimination as a term for discrimination against the elderly. The Federal Government’s Anti-Discrimination Commissioner, Ferda Atamann, thinks the same way. “Age discrimination affects not only older people, but also younger people,” she argues – and even advocates an amendment to the Basic Law.
“In order to send a political signal against age discrimination, the term ‘age’ should finally be included in Article Three of the Basic Law,” says Atamann. Then not only older people would be fundamentally protected from discrimination. The same applies to young people.
The Green Fester sees an “imbalance” due to the aging society. Because they have “not about 50 percent of the voting power in this country, but more than 70 percent”. Are the young Red-Greens planning an attack on the Federal Minister of Labor’s socio-political understanding from within their ranks?
In the debate initiated by the chancellor about working longer, the probably toughest opponent of an extension of working life is Hubertus Heil. The youngsters should bite their teeth on him – and on the power-political considerations of the SPD. When people in Germany get older, so do the voters.
Emilia Fester is now aggressively using the derogatory term “brat” – she uses it against the authors, who are old white men. “The die-hards are again afraid for the status quo.”
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Fester’s and Werner’s old white men are not strictly old white men. They do not attack age, gender and skin color, but: They are concerned with the privileged who take their privileges for granted and therefore do not even want to bring them up for debate. That’s the problem with the AWM term: it’s ambiguous, just like the rehearsed word combination “socially just” is or the weasel word “racism”, which has become as inflationary as currency devaluation and has also devalued itself. When almost everything is “racism,” soon nothing is racism.
Let’s take the privileges of the old white man Wolfgang Schäuble. He sits in the Bundestag and receives more than 10,000 euros per month as a simple member of parliament. That is well above average earnings. But Schäuble did something for it. He has a doctorate, and before he took up his mandate, he had a permanent position as a tax officer in the public sector. And for 50 years he has had the trust of his voters, whose mentality is no longer the same as it was in 1972.
Measured against this, it is not Schäuble who is privileged, but rather the three young Green and Social Democratic MPs, of whom only one went into permanent employment after completing a hotel apprenticeship and studying event management – Lena Werner. But she, too, is likely to have increased her income to a far above-average level at a young age with her mandate in the Bundestag.
Apart from being of legal age, a Bundestag mandate requires neither a certain age nor a certain life or professional experience. The younger members of parliament become, the more elective office becomes a professional job. It is now only a short way from vocation to profession.
The old white man is an invention from the United States. He probably comes from the black rapper milieu that didn’t want to let the white music establishment slow down its rise at the beginning of the 90s. And therefore resorted to discrimination against his discrimination.
Today, the old white man can be insulted with impunity – which certainly cannot be said of the “young black woman”. Both are a success of the “woken” identity politics – one of the biggest cultural export hits from America.
Alone – “woke” is another form of discrimination: an academic minority believes the majority is still asleep. And therefore must be converted to wakefulness.