Fiend number one in world history is the white Central European, postcolonial studies are the subject of the hour. But how does that square with the historical facts? The largest slave traders were, after all, the Arabs.

I have a new hero, his name is Gianni Infantino. Now that may come as a surprise to some. It surprised even me. I thought Infantino, like probably many readers here, to be an official who, above all, knows how to offer himself to the right people and fill his pockets at the same time. The ugly face of world football, the Gollum of sport.

How wrong a columnist can be! The man is a genius of empathy, a beacon of progress that no longer matters what you were born to be, but rather what you feel you are.

Now I’m hanging on his every word. Press conference at the start of the games, Infantino enters. “Today I feel very strong feelings. Today I feel Qatari, today I feel Arab, today I feel African, today I feel homosexual, today I feel handicapped, today I feel like a migrant worker.” Not even Paula-Irene Villa Braslavsky feels that way nice out, the local doyenne of modern gender theory.

Of course, the man from Switzerland also knows the codes of anti-racism. The Katari are backward because they veil their wives and persecute gays? “For what we Europeans have done in the past 3000 years, we should apologize for the next 3000 years before we start teaching people moral lessons.”

Bang! The nuclear weapon of arguments. Anyone who has shouldered as much guilt as the white Central European must be very quiet now. Or as they say in the postcolonialism seminar: “Check your privileges!”

Nobody should come to me and tell me that the statements of a corrupt football official shouldn’t be taken seriously, that’s just cheap talk. When it comes to self-attribution, we are required to take everything at face value, which is precisely the highlight of the new theory. Someone says they now see themselves as female or trans or something else entirely? Then you have to accept it without reservation. Any contradiction would be an insult.

Of course, you shouldn’t ask exactly what happened 3,000 years ago, just as you shouldn’t ask followers of postcolonialism how they came to their assumptions.

Who lived in Europe 3000 years ago? The Celts? The Etruscans? If anyone has reason to complain about the colonialism of yesteryear, it’s probably the poor barbarians who for a long time had nothing really to oppose the invaders from the south and west. On the other hand: What are a few thousand years more or less when it comes to the history of crime in Europe!

There is a consensus in progressive circles that the enslavement and exploitation of indigenous peoples is the crime from which everything else derives. Even the Holocaust has to take a back seat. WDR’s Quarks science department recently went so far as to claim that racism against whites cannot exist because whites have never systematically enslaved whites and robbed them of their resources. Well, that had to be revised with a view to the Third Reich. Basically, however, it remains the same: The number one fiend in world history is the European colonialist.

Energy has never been as expensive as it is now. But instead of panicking, you should calmly check potential savings at home. As our guide shows, there are many of them.

Colonialism can also be used to justify everything, not just why Western human rights are considered to be frills. The Brazilian, for example, thinks he has every right to torch his rainforest when he looks at the so-called first world. Compared to what has already been blown into the air in the industrialized nations, its carbon footprint is comparatively modest. “Who are you to dictate to us how we use our resources,” is what people say at climate conferences.

I think the World Cup is such an impertinence for many because it confronts us with our own contradictions. On the one hand, we shake with horror when the Katari freely admits that he sticks to the veiling of women, because when it comes to sweets, people prefer packaged confectionery to unpackaged ones. On the other hand, we pride ourselves on tolerance and openness towards foreign cultures.

If only foreign cultures were like ours, then everything would be easier. Unfortunately, being a stranger is not usually limited to clothing and hairstyle. The uncomfortable truth is: 70 percent of the world’s population have radically different ideas about gender relations, sexual morality and the right way to deal with minorities than we do.

Worse still, people don’t give up these beliefs when they come to Germany. I am afraid that if one were to ask more precisely how one or the other Afghan or Moroccan who has found his way to us thinks, a world view would also emerge that would make any good Green pale.

The archaeologist Egon Flaig recently pointed out in an article for the “Frankfurter Allgemeine” that without the European fight against slavery, this evil of humanity would probably still exist in Africa. That sounds shocking. But there is some evidence that Flaig is right. To this day, the everyday economy in many Arab countries is based on an armada of servants, nannies and unskilled laborers who are kept in a kind of serfdom by their masters. They don’t call it that in the desert states, but that’s what working conditions boil down to.

Pointing out other wrongs does not minimize one’s own crimes. Whoever immerses himself in the history of the Congo or reads about the misery on the plantations has to cry. But when you start thinking in terms of historical guilt, that brings other questions of guilt to the table as well.

The largest slave traders were not the Europeans but the Arabs. They captured more than 15 million people, including a million Europeans, an enormous number that even the transatlantic slave trade to America lags behind. We forgot. In works of art such as Mozart’s opera “The Abduction from the Seraglio” a trace of memory has been preserved that many no longer mean anything. I have also never heard of anyone demanding reparations from Tunisia, Morocco or Algeria.

A few months ago, the Humboldt Forum in Berlin proudly announced that, after lengthy negotiations with the government in Nigeria, they had now agreed to return the famous Benin bronzes. As soon as the decision was made, protests arose, from descendants of the slaves who had been led into bondage by black traders in Nigeria.

The human rights activists of the New York-based “Restitution Study Group” asked in amazement how the idea of ​​rewarding the heirs of one of the most merciless ruling peoples on the African continent could come up and demanded the immediate cancellation of all restitution contracts. “The Kingdom of Benin would be unjustly enriched by the repatriation of these relics. Nigeria and the Kingdom of Benin have never apologized for the enslavement of our ancestors.”

You see, it’s complicated. My suggestion: Let’s do it like Gianni Infantino. Let’s just say: Today we feel Europeans, tomorrow Africans, the day after tomorrow slaves. I would only advise against wearing foreign clothes and other forms of cultural appropriation. They are still on the index.

• Read all of Jan Fleischhauer’s columns here.

The readers love him or hate him, Jan Fleischhauer is indifferent to the least. You only have to look at the comments on his columns to get an idea of ​​how much people are moved by what he writes. He was at SPIEGEL for 30 years, and at the beginning of August 2019 he switched to FOCUS as a columnist.

Fleischhauer himself sees his task as giving voice to a world view that he believes is underrepresented in the German media. So when in doubt, against the herd instinct, commonplaces and stereotypes. His texts are always amusing – perhaps it is this fact that provokes his opponents the most.

You can write to our author: By email to or on Twitter @janfleischhauer.