What a leftist I am

Racism in Germany : You left are just as exclusive as the right!

Cigdem Toprak is a journalist and author. Her book “This is our country too! Why being German is more than being German ”(Chr. Links Verlag) has been published.

When a Turkish friend in Istanbul's bohemian Cihangir district asked me in September 2014 in our regular café where I had been for the past few weeks, I said: On vacation. "And where?" She asked. I said: In Erzincan. She laughed out loud and said to her friend: "Is there even a sea there?"

She, a western Turkish woman from Antalya, would-be actress who lived an international lifestyle in Istanbul, made fun of the fact that, as a German-Turk, I apparently did not understand the word "tatil" (German: vacation). This primarily means beach vacation.

But she also made fun of the fact that I was in Eastern Anatolia. According to their worldview, the summer weeks were spent at beach club parties in Cesme on the Aegean Sea, not in mud houses in the mountains of Eastern Anatolia.

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It was a degradation - which, as a German-Turk with Eastern Anatolian roots, I should feel twice. What she was doing was so obvious that when she didn't want to stop rubbing it, her boyfriend said, "Okay, that's enough, you know exactly what she meant." He shook his head at her behavior, like me and everyone else I've told this to.

Disparagements where you least expect it

Your comment hurt me, but I didn't pass out on it. Because I know: She does not go to demonstrations for the preservation of Hasankeyf, the ancient city fortress in the province of Batman, which is to be flooded by the Turkish government for a dam. She doesn't tweet about how arrogant and marginalizing the Kemalist elite can be. It doesn't pretend to be something it isn't. It is not left, it is not politically active.

On the other hand, to find degradation, arrogance, exclusion and racism where you least expect it - I've experienced that in my German homeland since I can remember: among the political left. It happens both in my personal relationships and in my professional environment. And it made life difficult for me for a long time, it made me powerless because they tried to convince me that everything was right with everyone, except me - politically, socially and personally.

This is not left bashing. If I had to choose between right and left, then I would be left. My family has always defined itself politically on the left. I have relatives in Turkey who belonged to the left student movement. And I know a lot of people who are leftists and who agonize over the double standards of many of their comrades.

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But I notice that her disappointment with her political camp makes her distance herself from it - because I feel that she too does not feel able to wake up the left. That they wake up from their dream, that they are all and always human, good and correct. And overlook how inhuman, how evil and how incorrect they can be.

Leftists also reduce people to their origins

The political left are no better than what they believe they are fighting against. They too reduce people to their origins, they too discriminate, they too represent a classism, precisely because they prefer identity politics to the class question, and there is also an incredible cultural racism among them.

When I think of the AfD, right-wing populism and right-wing extremism, I immediately think of all the voices that criticize it heavily. For a moment I am relieved that there is a strong movement in Germany that is fighting for people like me.

The relief only lasts for a second, because then I remember all the experiences in my life that tell me: No, you don't fight for people with a migration background if you criticize the AfD or police violence against people with non-German roots. You fight for yourself.

The charge of suppressing the Kurds as a Turkish woman

Why else do I have to experience exclusion, arrogance and cultural racism from people who understand each other on the left? My class teacher on the left called me no less a foreigner than everyone else, and he also accused me of the fact that “we” (I belong to the Alevi Zazas) were suppressing the Kurds in Turkey.

A German fellow student in London who had a badge on her rucksack that read “No man is illegal” ignored me throughout the academic year. A journalist on the left said about my studies at King’s College London that I had escaped my milieu.

I look like a street girl, unable to be intellectual

At a university, my bosses exercised their power and abused it when they realized that I had different political views than they did, even though one of them initially called the secretary out loud because she mispronounced my first name out of ignorance.

And in journalism, too, I notice that the left-liberal media prefer to avoid me because I think differently, speak differently and look different from them. And it's not about my dark hair and brown eyes, but about my heavily made-up eyes, my hoop earrings and my leather jacket. I look like a street girl, unable to be intellectual.

Oh, many leftists are racist

And yes, many leftists are also racist. I have had to experience that over and over again. It is a cultural racism that is noticeable in how they deal with the "other". Many of them also exclude other things, see them as inferior, want to rule over what is not like them.

Especially where there is a consensus in our society that racism is a no-go, the sentences of many right-wing extremists begin with the well-known phrase: "I am not a racist, but ...". And the left also hide their racism, but it works more skillfully for them, because they say: “I am anti-racist, so I cannot be a racist.” This makes it more and more difficult to expose racism.

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Jan Böhmermann, who is not a left-wing politician, but one of the prominent opponents of the political right and financed by all of us radio license fees, insults the Turkish President in a racist way and wants us to believe that he is thereby protecting the rights of the Kurds, journalists and the oppressed in Turkey defended, although he is actually only pursuing his own goals.

Because for him, as for many of the left, the problems of people with a migration background are only tools for their political ideologies, or they serve to raise their profile. The populism of the left today does not hope for high election results, but for likes and retweets - and thus the greatest good and the strongest instrument of power in our digital age, attention.

The people they claim to speak for are only a means to an end

The dangerous thing about many leftists is that the supposed victims for whom they are trying to speak up, the weak and people with a migration background, are dehumanized by them. They are treated like objects, not people. And in their eyes, their political opponents are not individuals, but enemy images. All these lines of conflict, all these problems that exist in our society and that we believe we see only on the right, do not avoid the political left.

But it's not just about saying that racism can be found everywhere, but also about the fact that the left are claiming and exploiting this topic for themselves and then think they are the heroes of people with a migration history in Germany - that is, of people as me. They are not my heroes, they never were.

You think you can speak for me

At the same time, however, they believe that they can speak for me, stand up for my rights - and they believe that my political views can be derived from my identity, one of many identities that I have.

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The views of people with a migration background are much more differentiated and complex than what the political left is trying to infiltrate into the public debate about exclusion and recognition as the one truth. I observe and experience this again and again both in my personal environment and in my journalistic work.

Not all people with a migration background are bothered by the question “Where are you from?”, Not everyone in the communities also wants to be seen as “German”, and not all of them see this country as thoroughly racist. Their opinions about their experiences and problems in this country are not ideologically motivated. You are critical of society. More critical than the left.

Finding evil where you didn't expect it makes you dumb

Why is this text aimed at the left and not the right?

Because humanity, tolerance, respect and recognition are not a maxim of a political camp. They are universal and show themselves, always reveal themselves when you meet a supposedly “other”. And many leftists are anything but tolerant and respectful of “others”. They can be authoritarian, marginalizing, arrogant and violent.

But to find evil where you least expect it, that makes you mute, especially when you should defend yourself the loudest. It is also important to write this down because I suspected discrimination and arrogance there least - on the left.

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