FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
Freedom From Fear
Germany, where there's always a whiff of totalitarianism in the air
Why is this family smiling?
They just received political asylum.
No, it isn’t 1933.
Meet Uwe and Hannelore Romeike and their five children. They are evangelical Christians and they did not like the cultural lessons being taught in public schools in Germany (::shudder).
The parents identify themselves as evangelical Christians and say religion was the primary reason why they chose to homeschool their children. Hannelore Romeike said public education can never be neutral.
“During the last 10-20 years the curriculum in public schools has been more and more against Christian values,” she told the Associated Press. “We communicate our values, the teachers communicate theirs, and if the kids are at school, we cannot have an influence on what they learn.”
They applied to homeschool their children and were threatened with fines and jail and losing custody of their children. In response, in June 2008 they moved to Tennessee and applied for political asylum on the grounds of a well founded fear of persecution. Last Tuesday Immigration Judge Lawrence Burman agreed and granted the Romeike’s political asylum.
“We can’t expect every country to follow our constitution,” said Judge Burman. “The world might be a better place if it did. However, the rights being violated here are basic human rights that no country has a right to violate.”
Burman added, “Homeschoolers are a particular social group that the German government is trying to suppress. This family has a well-founded fear of persecution…therefore, they are eligible for asylum…and the court will grant asylum.”
In his ruling, Burman said that the scariest thing about this case was the motivation of the government. He noted it appeared that rather than being concerned about the welfare of the children, the government was trying to stamp out parallel societies—something the judge called “odd” and just plain “silly.” In his order the judge expressed concern that while Germany is a democratic country and is an ally, he noted that this particular policy of persecuting homeschoolers is “repellent to everything we believe as Americans.”
Lest one think this is a judge run amok, let’s turn to the coverage given the case by Deutsche Welle.
The German laws mandating public-school attendance date back to Germany’s first experiment with democracy in 1919, according to Hans Bruegelmann, an education professor at the University of Siegen.
Bruegelmann said previously private education was only available to the elite, and that the public-school mandate was a clear political choice.
“The school is an embryonic democracy and will help to integrate children and young people coming from different backgrounds into the democratic culture,” he said.
Integration into democracy and learning to get along with those who hold opposing opinions are important skills that children cannot learn when homeschooled, Bruegelmann said, and that is especially true with highly religious parents.
“They should not have the right to indoctrinate their children,” he said. “It’s important for children, besides the experience they make at home, which is respected, to have access to other sources of understanding the world.”
I would hasten to point out to Dr. Bruegelmann that drawing upon legislation derived in Weimar Germany to defend anything is not exactly a killer argument and as German experience with democracy really begins in 1955 they are hardly in the position of having the knowledge necessary to know what contributes to a successful democracy much less develop laws to that end. But the argument made by Bruegelmann that rationalizes the state seizing children because the parents object to what their children are being taught is eerily similar made by large numbers of so-called educators in America today. The purpose of public education is no longer to provide education but rather to indoctrinate children with cultural values because there are, to reiterate Bruegelmann’s argument
skills that children cannot learn when homeschooled, Bruegelmann said, and that is especially true with highly religious parents [my ephasis]
Lest we feel too smug, one only has to read the files of the Home School Legal Defense Fund to realize how perilously close we all are to being just like the Romeikes.
This lesson is not lost on many Europeans. Gerald Warner writing in the Telegraph observes:
[Judge Burman's remarks] offers a useful insight into how Americans, living in a free country, view the creeping totalitarianism that has engulfed Europe. For this is not just a German issue: we are all helots under state control. Why did the German homeschoolers not seek political asylum in Britain? Because our rulers subscribe to the same tyrannical statist philosophy, is the answer. Every possible obstacle is put in the way of homeschooling parents in Britain.
The mentality is that the state – not parents – is the natural controller and shaper of children’s lives and beliefs. When a schoolgirl can be given an abortion without her parents’ knowledge, we know that, while public utilities may have been privatised, children have been nationalised. The Romeikes who fled from Germany objected to their children being forced to follow a curriculum that they believed was anti-Christian. The same would apply in British state schools, where pornographic sex education is increasingly being made compulsory.
Is that a new idea? Not at all. It was first implemented as government policy in 1919, during the short-lived communist dictatorship of Bela Kun in Hungary, when Georg Lukacs, as deputy commissar for “culture”, enforced his system of Cultural Terrorism, force-feeding children pornographic sex education, teaching them to laugh at their parents and at monogamy and to reject the family and religion. Lukacs was a founder of the Frankfurt School of Marxism, later popularised by Herbert Marcuse, whose demented notions are today called Political Correctness and, as such, have colonised Western governments.
It takes the forthright remarks of an American judge, in a country where the culture war has not yet been lost, to bring home to us in Europe that we already inhabit the Gulag. The Berlin Wall did not “fall” – it was just moved further west.