Hmmm, yes, lots of aggravation...

Alright, no pictures today because I just wanted to let out a bit of frustration. Don't worry, nothing bad happened...unless you call RACISM bad. ARRRGH.

So today in class a bit of an argument broke about concerning the Turks living in Berlin. Alright, a brief history background. Berlin has the largest population of Turks outside of Istanbul. This is for a number of reasons. Not too long ago (I think right before the Cold War ended?) Germany opened up it's boarders for lots of "short term" work to foreigners. This was meant to be just a year or so of foreign workers to get a lot rebuilt in Germany, especially Berlin, for cheap. A lot of Turks jumped at this opportunity because the US had banned...uh, something dealing with opium in Turkey. Opium was Turkey's, like, number one source of income and when the US did whatever ban or whatever it was, Turkey lost it's largest money supply. So many Turks decided to go make a bunch of money working in Germany and then come back with all this money and start their own stuffs in Turkey. So for the most part, they didn't bother learning German during their stay. If they were planning on going back to Turkey and never returning in a few years, why bother learning German? Well, the problem begins right there, because most of them never returned to Turkey.

SO, Germany (and in particular, Berlin) had a HUGE population of Turks who couldn't speak German and who lived in the poor areas of the cities. Naturally, this is breeding ground for crime and racism. The next generation of Turks were then, naturally, German citizens, but they knew little German and just as little Turkish, or were not very good at speaking either (only Turkish in the home and only German in the schools...if they went to school). So this generation was stuck in the middle - am I a Turk or am I a German? What makes it even more difficult for them, is that German doesn't recognize more than one citizenship; so when they turn 18, they have to decide whether or not they want to have Turkish or German citizenship. Yea, that's a severely difficult decision to make.

The NEXT generation (the current one...about my age...maybe a bit older) is just as divided. Many of them think it's terrible that their parents/grandparents are living in Germany but don't know the language. Others blame Germany entirely for the situation and are the cause of many crimes and say very crude things to "obvious-looking" Germans (a.k.a. "arien") and also to women. Many Germans are also split: Some completely blame the Turks for all the crime; others are aggravated only when they see or experience something from these criminal Turkish youths; other realize that blame is found on both sides and think it's all really sad.

Ok, that's current day. Now for the aggravation for the day. In class we read this story written by a Turk, where the main character is a Turkish boy who is super happy and is walking on clouds because he's fallen in love and no one can bring him down. He has found love in young German lady. And the best part is that her parents absolutely love him and his parents love her, and the two families get along really well together. They often eat dinner with each other and the evenings are filled with love and fun. Then he wakes up. He's actually on the phone, waiting for his girlfriend to answer. Instead, her dad answers and tells him to leave the family alone and to never see the daughter again, because he's Turkish and he doesn't want his daughter with a Turk. The End. Yes, quite sad. *sigh* Well, a discussion broke out at my table...started by the slightly young American man. His family is quite German...in fact he has a severely arien look about him: white, very blond hair, blue eyes. Whatever, but it makes him look very GERMAN...which he is. He has a lot of family in Germany and has visited Germany many times.

Well, it started out with the whole, yes, this is a very difficult topic in Germany for the various reasons I've listed above. Then this boy proceeds to discuss who much he hates the young Turkish riffraff he sees in the streets all the time and who shout obscene things at him just because he looks very arien. A few times this happened with his friends and girlfriend. Ok, yes, that sucks. But then he went on to make all kinds of generalizations and how the Turks have to be blamed for all the horrible things that happen in Berlin and they deserve every bit of misfortune they receive because they refuse to "respect" Germans.

AAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGH!!!! This was the noise I made in my head when I heard this. The young Canadian woman sitting next to me proceeded to disagree with him. "You can't make generalizations like that. I know plenty of Turks and they don't feel that way at all. They think it's a shame that so many Turks cause so many problems. But you also have to realize that it's not just the Turks who are causing the problems, it's also from the Germans (ex. NEO NAZIS!)." He interrupts her with this whole shpeel about how she thinks she knows everything but really she has no idea, NO IDEA, what it's like; he has family and friends here, he has CONNECTIONS, and he's been in Berlin and experience many things before, and he KNOWS for a FACT that it's the Turks, it's the Turks, it's the Turks. Well, this was a terrible idea, because then she says, "Uh, no, I've been mistaken for a Turkish WOMAN quite often, and I don't wear a head scarf or dressed 'modestly', so I am VERY aware of the terrible experiences that can occur from some of the Turkish youth. AND I'm also a reporter and one of the things I'm researching here is, in fact, this very relationship." And he completely ignored her and kept going off about how "he has connections!" and our teacher was like, "Travis, honey, she's just giving you another perspective! There are tons of perspectives!" But he wouldn't even listen to her!

And of course, the older Egyptian man is also sitting at this table and he was very very very good about just sitting there and remaining calm. Once or twice he tried to calm the Travis down, but he wouldn't have it. Sara (the Canadian) was very good about keeping her cool and not shouting. I would have lunged across the table and strangled the boy. The poor French girl at our table just sat there and watched the whole thing and didn't know what to do. I tried to butt in a few times to calm Travis down or try to explain to him what Sara was trying to say. Oh my God, I was so upset because I had never experienced such a terrible fight and I was so angry about his refusal to listen to what anyone else had to say (not to mention his actual opinion) that I was just shaking. I was shaking so bad. And when our teacher finally got him to stop talking so she could dismiss the call, I was still shaking and walked as fast as I could out of the room and onto the street to wait for the afternoon tour. One of the other guys in the class saw me outside and was like, "uh...what happened? Are you ok, you're shaking..." Omg, it was horrible. *sigh*

But as soon as our afternoon tour started I felt much better because our tour guide was the awesome Mattias Rau again, and I love listening to him speak. It was also in Friendrichshain, which is the city district I live in, so I only had to walk 5 minutes back to my apartment. It was also a beautiful afternoon with a little bit of a warm rain in the beginning of the tour, and ended with a very nice warm breeze from the west that reminded me of being at the beach...which is where I wish I could be right now. At the beach with my family on vacation.

But I am not looking forward to class tomorrow because we have to go back to our topic and do a talk show on the topic. I think I'm going to suggest that Travis be the Turk. Maybe that'll teach him a bit of perspective. *SMACK*


Denise said...

You know whats crazy I just got into a similar though less heated discussion about the whole Chinese faking the little girl singer at the Olympics....I think I will explain more later as I have to go meet my dad now however lets just say that I have no idea how you kept calm because...I can't

Anonymous said...

Man I hate is when people are pig headed. Is is really that hard to just calm yourself down and listen to what other people have to say. People always come out looking like an asshole and aggressive when they dont listen and just yell.

I'm glad that you stopped shaking and were able to calm down Al. I'm telling you when people are yelling just say in a calm voice "Why are you yelling?" it always makes the other person look dumb.