Well, all right, maybe that title is a little bit over the top, but it so happens that a German family of evangelical Christians has actually been granted asylum in the U.S. after fleeing the country because of some unpleasantness with the police over their desire to home school their children. The story has been pianissimo in the US, but its been front and center at the Spiegel website all day. The Amerika haters who call the tune in the German mainstream media are surely gnashing their teeth, but still haven’t come up with a way to spin the story that will allow them to strike their customary pious poses from the moral high ground. The story in Spiegel, for example, limits itself to quoting a diplomat to the effect that “Germany disposes of a wide range of of educational opportunities. Parents can choose between public, private, and religious schools, including alternative facilities such as Waldorf or Montessori schools.” The editors throw in a sneer about the Washington Post’s suggested pronunciation of Romeike, the family’s name. Sure enough, it’s given (incorrectly) as (roh-MY-kee). What’s with that, Wapo? Have all those layers of fact checkers and editors let you down again, or are you just giving us the pronunciation in Pomeranian dialect?
Germany’s evangelicals are having none of it. Related stories on the Spiegel site have such titles as, “Fundamentalist Christians Celebrate Victory over ‘Embarrassing Germany,'” “Three Months in Prison for Home Schooling,” “Baptist Parents Lose the Right to make Decisions for their Children,” “Fine for School Boycotters,” and so on. I can’t say as I blame them. When I attended a German University back in the mid-70’s, the political activism of the students was much in evidence, in the form of posters, signs, and placards posted all over campus. They were broadly and about evenly divided among pro-Soviet Communists and Maoists, normally in a state of bitter hostility to each other. I happened to be taking Chinese, and our textbook was from Red China, back in the day before her leaders had discovered that what Marx really meant by “Dictatorship of the Proletariat” was laissez faire capitalism. There were inspiring homilies about “Lenin’s Old Overcoat,” and the joys of life on a collective farm. If our experience in the US is any guide, many of these young “idealists” are now firmly ensconced in positions of influence in the educational establishment. It is unlikely that they are excessively delicate in their respect for the religious freedom of fundamentalist Christians.