At the behest of the federal government, 40 commissioners are now working to make Germany a more inclusive and better country. It’s no wonder that new forms of disadvantage are being discovered all the time.

Helmut Thoma, the trivial genius of German television, the man who brought “Tutti Frutti” and “The Hot Chair” to the Germans, was on ServusTV. The show he appeared on is called Links. To the right. Mitte”, a talk show in which guests are also invited who would not even come into the auditorium with “Anne Will”.

I was there earlier this year. Back then it was about Corona. Now the topic was the advance of Ukraine. How did it go? Let’s put it this way: Compared to Thoma, Gerhard Schröder is a shy choirboy.

Dialogue, minute 39 and following:

Thoma: “What did Putin do please? Can you say that please?”

Presenter, slightly taken aback: “He marched in on February 24th. He invaded a country.”

Thomas: “So what? The Americans would have started a nuclear war in Cuba, they were already sitting there with their hands on the button.”

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I thought Johannes Varwick was crazy, the politics professor who is demanding that the Chancellor force Ukraine to give up. I would never have dreamed that the next war of aggression would come from the Martin Luther University in Halle-Wittenberg. But there are always higher degrees of madness.

I met Thoma once when he was the circus director at RTL. The mixture of cheerful cunning, Viennese humor and eagerness to provoke excited me immediately. Immortal wisdom comes from Thoma, such as the sentence that whoever offers sausages or approves that sausages may be offered cannot complain that they contain fat.

This has made him the most successful media person that Austria has ever produced. The Mozart of private television, so to speak. Or should I say: the Dr. Mabuse? However, something horrible must have happened to him since he turned his hand to accumulating board memberships years ago. Some people discover a love for entomology as they get older, others find dictator worship.

On the other hand, even the crazy and marginalized need a voice. Where would we be if only sane people were on TV? It would be dead boring. And unfair at that. For this reason I even put up with Sascha Lobo with his Iroquois, which now looks as if a marten has moved into the bed.

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When Lobo belittles the dead Queen because she wasn’t feminist enough for him and not enough anti-racist on top of that, I think: never mind, this position also had to be defended. As long as combatants on talk shows don’t aim cruise missiles at each other, the worst that can happen is criticism from a simpleton on “Zeit Online” or on “FR”.

Who knows, maybe there will soon even be a quota for people like Thoma and Lobo. The Independent Federal Commissioner for Anti-Discrimination, Ferda Ataman, has thought aloud about adding new facts to the Anti-Discrimination Act. Why stop at gender, sexual preference or religion? Why not include regional origin or marital status among the criteria for which the officer must act?

The law has big loopholes, Ataman said in an interview. East Germans, for example, are less likely to be in management positions and are at higher risk of poverty. Many parents also experience discrimination in Germany. “We did a study on it. In it, 40 percent of parents stated that they were discriminated against at work, for example because they had to go home earlier to look after their child. We want to close such gaps in protection.”

That’s a laudable approach. We are all discriminated against in one way or another. Anyone who is not too black or too migrant or too many children is simply too white or too male or fundamentally too privileged. Devaluation is not limited to minorities. Even as a representative of the majority society one can experience insult and stigmatization.

I belong to the age group of the so-called boomers. Don’t think that this would just be easy. In the “Spiegel” my generation had to be told by an author from Switzerland (of all places!) that we had the wrong music, the wrong clothes and the wrong attitude anyway. The text was illustrated with a photo of Kai Pflaume in a hoodie and sneakers.

Luckily I’m a man. Worse than devaluation is total disregard. The boomer woman isn’t even worth making fun of. It just doesn’t appear, not even as an enemy.

Even in texts by progressive authors, women over 50 are ignored. I don’t remember which colleague it was who interjected in the MeToo debate that the young prosecutors, who suspected an insult behind every comment, should one day get to the age where you long for someone to whistle at you in the street .

Legal recognition is of course not cheap. Nothing happens by itself, that’s why it needs people like Ataman. Or the representative for the acceptance of sexual and gender diversity. Or the Federal Government Commissioner for Anti-Racism. Or the representative against antiziganism and for the life of Sinti and Roma in Germany.

At the behest of the federal government, 40 commissioners are now working to make Germany a more inclusive and better country. I’m sure if you put the number to the 500,000 euro question in “Who wants to be a millionaire?”, the candidates would be in a bind. Nobody thinks of it right away.

However, everything has its price, including sacrificial inflation. If everyone is a victim of circumstances, the value of the individual story of suffering decreases. A distorted picture of reality also emerges.

The “Spiegel” editor René Pfister reported on a study commissioned by the Bundestag to find out how racist Germans are. The result was encouraging. Almost half of those surveyed stated that they had contradicted a racist statement in the past five years. One in three said they would take part in a demonstration against racism, and almost one in ten had already done so.

A cosmopolitan and tolerant country in which the overwhelming majority of citizens (90 percent) believe that everyone should have the same opportunities, regardless of gender, origin or skin color: This is how the Federal Republic presents itself in the light of racism research.

But the institute that carried out the study, the German Center for Integration and Migration Research, could not leave it that way. Instead, the authors complained that “reflexes of defense and an associated trivialization of racism” could be observed in half of the population.

How did they come to this conclusion? Among other things, they presented the respondents with the following statement: “It is absurd that racism is imputed if you only ask where someone comes from.” 63.4 percent agreed, including many of those who at any time against injustice to the would walk the street.

That’s how it is when you smell discrimination everywhere: Then it’s already racism if someone is interested in the life story of their fellow human beings. As you can see, there is still a lot to be done.

• 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.

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