• Germany's news in English
 

Family minister cuts racism from fairytales

Published: 18 Dec 2012 15:45 GMT+01:00

When Pippi Longstocking's father is referred to as "Negro-King" or Jim Button is called "Negro-Baby" (in the 1960 children's novel by Michael Ende) Schröder intends to "replace them on the spot while I'm reading, in order to protect my child from taking on such expressions," she told Die Zeit weekly.

"Even without bad intentions, words can cause damage," she said. "When a child is older, I would explain what kind of history the word Neger has, and how hurtful it is to use that word."

Depending on how it is used, the German word Neger can mean anything from the outdated and inappropriate term "negro" to the seriously offensive "nigger" in English.

It was the first time the family minister had revealed her personal opinions on raising children, and talked publicly about raising her 18-month-old daughter Lotte.

She also described Grimm's fairytales as "often sexist." "There is very rarely a positive female character in them," she said, which is why she intends to read other stories as well as the Grimm classics, to give her daughter other role models.

Perhaps more controversially, the minister also said that she intends to stop pretending that Father Christmas exists "as soon as the first doubts appear." She said she would then tell her daughter, "Father Christmas is just a nice story."

But though she said honesty is very important to her when raising her child, she said there was one situation where she would always lie - when parents realize that they love one child more than another. "[One would] have to be very rational and absolutely never show that. Never. That really is an iron rule," she said. "That is one of the few situations where I would definitely lie."

The Local/bk

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

18:57 December 18, 2012 by MaKo
I am somewhat pleased to know that Schröder can, in fact, occasionally identify sexism. Now if only she'd inspect her own political ideaolgy under the same hard light with which she interprets fairy tales...
19:42 December 18, 2012 by trevzns
Fairytales?

Racism and sexism is paramount to german and european culture. After 800 years of superiority it maybe in the DNA?

Why only suppress fairytales like Grimm brothers and continue to perpetuate other lies and myths?
19:51 December 18, 2012 by TheCrownPrince
Silly. I think that there is often a reason for political correctness, but this goes too far. Grimm's fairy tales are age-old stories with an unique flair, ardously collected by the two brothers over years and years, coming right from the ordinary and simple folk in those days. Grimm's fairy tales are perhaps one of Germany's most precious legacies, a world of encapsulated dreams, ancient memories, poetic truth and of course terror, which belongs (sadly) to every life. To change them just because they may not fit in some agenda is not only silly, but quite philistine.
19:51 December 18, 2012 by Englishted
@trevzns

In which culture is it not so?
22:51 December 18, 2012 by jg.
...she would then tell her daughter, "Father Christmas is just a nice story."

followed by:

"...she said honesty is very important to her when raising her child..."

Perhaps her political views don't allow her to be honest about the religious nature of Christmas.

I wonder how far she would be prepared to go in revising and sanitising European culture and history, to fit in with her ideological views, Book burning was used for this purpose in Stalin's Soviet Union and Hitler's Germany - would she feel comfortable in such company?
23:00 December 18, 2012 by ChrisRea
Unfortunately sexist and racist attitudes can be found in some famous children's books. For example those written by Enid Blyton/Mary Pollock. I see no reason to perpetuate these outdated ideas. I prefer the Swedish model of "Egalia" - http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-202_162-20074594.html.
23:09 December 18, 2012 by trevzns
@Englishted #4

I do not have an answer for that question? However. What I do know, its not only europeans. The Japanese read and educate their young children racist fair-tails in school. Not sure I understand what the Japanese issue is with black people?

I will go out on a limb and include China and the other european conquered Indonesian countries? I know of mexico and other south american countries. Most of the Caribbean Islands, another mixed group of conquered and colonized people read to their young children racist stories.

Some in the above mentioned groups, use the Bible and Quran to justify racist and sexist fair-tail stories. Why any black person would subscribe to the teachings and worship in those religions is a mystery to me?
05:06 December 19, 2012 by gorongoza
I suppose she could do better as a mother and excellent as a Minister if she teaches her kids the history of her country and reveal all the sketons in the cupboards.

Pathetic Minister !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
08:51 December 19, 2012 by HansT
I suppose if she wanted to, she could point out something that most Germans find very uncomfortable... namely that most of Grimms' fairytales were transcribed from the French Huguenots who took refuge in Germany and other countries in the 18th century. (That way we can blame it on the French...)
11:10 December 19, 2012 by bugger
trevzns sounds like an anti-German, anti-European racist.
15:57 December 19, 2012 by LeoZotov
LOL. I think the most dangerous people in the world are initiative idiots.

Unfortunately she doesnt understand that these words had no such "tolerant" meanings in Lindgren's years & have no racist sense today in most of cultures. It has a racist meaning only in US & for politicians.

Tolerant synonyms: for Lindgren's "Negro-King" = "Afro-American in-the-future-King", yes classic Fairytale....
20:25 December 19, 2012 by charlenej
LeoZotov - even if that were true, her point is that in today's world, in which her children live, those phrases are offensive, so she doesn't want them in her child's vocabulary. She didn't censor the whole story, just the phrasing. She can't have her kid going to the store, pointing at Black people and saying, "Look mommy, A Negro!!!" That wouldn't go over, would it?
13:56 December 20, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
So they are cutting racism from fairytales? Are they going to cut it from history also? There would be none to teach then.
18:59 December 20, 2012 by iseedaftpeople
I say our "Christian Democratic" family minister should have the Bible banned. A book which contains genocide, adultery, murder, incest, rape, violence, racism, xenophobia and sexism, and yet, we see no problem making it available to young schoolchildren.
01:23 December 21, 2012 by lenny van
Some of my best friends have been niggers, negros, coloured, black and afro-American. I tolerated all of them.
06:35 December 21, 2012 by wenddiver
Truth is an essential foundation of Freedom. When a malcontent censors an artists work they ou have a right to disagree with a persons thoughts, even argue with all of your power, but censorship is a form of thought murder that should never be tolerated. Nobody has the right to erase a person's thoughts or words and replace them with their own, while passing to history their wisted thoughts as the original Authors.

Such a censor should never be allowed near children or students of any age. Just another book burner type. In the end Freedom must win, and people not smart enough to create must not be allowed to deface the works of the creative.
Today's headlines
Dad who leapt from bridge with kids named
The man jumped 95 metres from the Rombachtalbrücke. Photo: Störfix / Wikimedia Commons

Dad who leapt from bridge with kids named

The identity of a man who last weekend jumped off a railway bridge with his children's bodies after stabbing them to death emerged in media reports on Wednesday. READ  

Court jails couple over son's 'new age' treatment
Photo: DPA

Court jails couple over son's 'new age' treatment

A couple have been jailed for three years by Germany's highest court after they broke off medical treatment of the woman's 12-year-old child's cystic fibrosis in favour of 'new age' treatments. READ  

Chief prosecutor sacked in media treason row
Harald Range (l) and Heiko Maas. Photo: DPA

Chief prosecutor sacked in media treason row

Germany's justice minister on Tuesday fired the chief prosecutor in an escalating row sparked by a controversial treason case against a blog accused of revealing state secrets. READ  

Greece crisis
Berlin's tough line splits European public opinion
Angela Merkel and Alexis Tsipras. File Photo: DPA

Berlin's tough line splits European public opinion

A study released on Tuesday shows that Germany's firm stance on Greek reforms has split European public opinion. But of all the main parties to the negotiations Berlin still fared best in the polling. READ  

Woman tries to take pony abroad in a car boot
Photo: DPA

Woman tries to take pony abroad in a car boot

A woman from Lower Saxony was stopped by police on Tuesday – for trying to carry a Shetland Pony out of the country in the boot of her Fiat Panda. READ  

Hamburg bunker blast and fire injure 38
Photo: DPA

Hamburg bunker blast and fire injure 38

UPDATE: A fire and explosion in a World War II-era bunker injured at least 38 people in Hamburg on Tuesday morning. READ  

Local list
Germany's top refreshing summer drinks
Photo: DPA

Germany's top refreshing summer drinks

Just like countries all over Europe, there's no shortage of multinational cola and other global thirst quenchers to be had in German shops. But what do you sip when you want a little local flavour? Read on to find out... READ  

Forest tragedy as best man kills groom-to-be
File photo: DPA

Forest tragedy as best man kills groom-to-be

A family outing turned into tragedy on Monday, when a best man in Thuringia accidentally killed the groom-to-be just days before his wedding. READ  

Slash CO2 emissions to save oceans: scientists
A humpback whale breaching. Photo: Wwelles14/Wikimedia Commons

Slash CO2 emissions to save oceans: scientists

German scientists said on Monday that carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions must begin falling immediately if mankind is to have any hope of preserving Earth's oceans as we know them today. READ  

Weekend heatwave to follow Tuesday showers
Sun shining through an apple tree in Düsseldorf. Photo: DPA

Weekend heatwave to follow Tuesday showers

Germany can expect a cooler Tuesday with heavy showers in the west of the country before returning to high summer conditions over the weekend, the German Weather service said. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Business & Money
Start-up helps new Berliners short cut bureaucracy
National
The 1,000s of Germans massacred after the Second World War
Sport
Germany star scores own goal with PR gaffe
Features
'Women-only' parking: sensible or sexist?
Politics
Satire and reality blur in parody party's strife
National
13-year-old boy detained for trying to join Isis
Culture
Berlin restaurant serves up Greek Crisis Menu
Rhineland
Doctor on trial after woman wakes in morgue
Society
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Sponsored Article
Outsourcing drives Apreel's Europe growth
Society
Police bust kinky Bavarian couple over painful love-making
Politics
Merkel brings Palestinian girl to tears
Hamburg
Amateur archaeologist finds Nazi gold hoard
National
Could Merkel learn a lesson in love from this doppelganger?
Travel
Why you should stay in Germany for the summer holidays
Sport
German press tell Schweinsteiger 'good riddance'
National
Hamburg gets a bouncing 100kg baby girl
Society
In North Germany, money sometimes DOES grow on trees
National
Hero mechanics stop Bavaria shooting spree
International
Denmark says that border controls are coming
National
Did hackers take control of German missile battery?
Politics
Munich gives gay pride green light
Business & Money
Berlin rent controls hit prices hard
National
Fighting to breastfeed in public without shame
Society
Ice cream for dogs 'gobbled up in one gulp'
Education
Are hotpants a feminist issue?
Rhineland
Lion cub reunited with mother
National
How the heatwave is cracking Germany's Autobahns
International
Why the French are more sympathetic to Greece than the Germans
Sponsored Article
Crans-Montana: International expat hub
Gallery
Police seize pensioner's WW2 heavy weapons haul
National
How to survive the Europe-wide heatwave
Sport
Is Schweini already out of the door at Bayern?
Politics
How German media shaped the Greece crisis
National
Car assembly robot crushes worker at Volkswagen
Rhineland
Weathermen red-faced over heatwave snow warning
Society
An eye for an eye? Mum protects child in playground with pepperspray
National
As it happened: Queen Elizabeth's final day in Germany
National
As it happened: Queen Elizabeth's second day in Germany
National
Queen Elizabeth II's first day in Germany - as it happened
National
Bus passengers tell fake racists where to get off
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

7,097
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd