Press and Secrets: Even when People are OUT Political Correctness Dominates in German Press
By William Walker, Kuwait
Since as early as 2000, the new German Foreign Minister, Guido Westerwelle, has been one of the three or four most-well known gay politicians in Central Europe. The Free Democratic (FDP or Liberal) Party leader, Westerwelle, took his party to an unprecedented electoral success in September of this very year.
This last weekend, Westerwelle's party signed an agreement to co-lead the German national government for the next four years with Angela Merkel's CDU-CSU coalition. For the first time in years, Westerwelle's appointment had brought criticism to his preferred gender relationships here in Germany. For example, it was highly questioned by some circles whether the foreign minister of Germany would be accepted in all international circles. For example, one newspaper noted that in the Middle East Westerwelle would be looked upon particularly askance, i.e. as representative of the nation state of Germany.
That was an interesting focus of critique when one considers that the more important matter or critique of the appointment of Westerwelle is that he has had little to no background in foreign policy making. [On the other hand, many of his predecessors the Foreign Affairs Office in Germany, including Hans Dietrich Genscher (FDP) and Joshka Fischer (Greens), had entered their office as Minister of Foreign Affairs with little to no experience in foreign affairs either.]
My perspective, after having lived in the Middle East for nearly a decade, is that whether one is gay or not has little effect on leadership there. Accordingly, the King of Oman, Sultan Qaboos, has been openly gay for decades and no big deal is made in the press reports about his ability to carry out national or foreign affairs. [Naturally, the press is to some degree censored everywhere.]
On the other hand, it is surprising that more open discussion does not occur much either in the press in the Middle East or Germany about such topics. Perhaps the subject is just as taboo in Germany as Germans perceive it is elsewhere. [Self-censorship about biases is another sort of censorship under a politically correct banner.] In short, German critics [of a choice of leader or foreign minister] need to understand world politics a bit better before they criticize other cultures and their perceived stereotypes of them.