• Germany edition
 
Family minister cuts racism from fairytales
Photo: DPA

Family minister cuts racism from fairytales

Published: 18 Dec 2012 15:45 GMT+01:00
Updated: 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Depending on how it is used, the German word Neger can mean anything from the outdated and inappropriate term "negro" to the seriously offensive "nigger" in English.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
Opinion
Do German unions have too much power?
Your plans are now cancelled. Photo: DPA

Do German unions have too much power?

Germany's pilots and train drivers are taking it in turns to bring the country to a standstill with strikes that have cost the economy tens of millions of euros in the last two weeks. Are unions abusing their power or standing up for their rights? READ  

Older workers can have extra days off
Photo: Workers in a German shoe factory. Photo: DPA

Older workers can have extra days off

Older workers in Germany are allowed more time off than younger ones, a court ruled on Tuesday, saying the difference was not discriminatory. READ  

Expat's family battles for answers four years on
Matthew Fitzpatrick died in 2010 in Mannheim. Photo: Fitzpatrick family

Expat's family battles for answers four years on

In 2010 an Irish computer engineer was found dead in his apartment in Baden-Württemberg. Four years on, his family are still pressing the German justice system for answers. They feel badly let down by police who they say have refused to examine evidence of foul play. READ  

Court: Germany can keep arms deals secret
The judges of the Supreme Court announce their decision about weapons exports on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

Court: Germany can keep arms deals secret

The government can keep arms deals secret and only tell the public about them after contracts have been signed, the Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday. READ  

Cash returned after bakery mix-up

Cash returned after bakery mix-up

Just how honest would you have to be to return €7,500 that you found in a box supposed to contain your favourite cheesecake? READ  

Tanker fills up gas station with wrong fuel
Photo: DPA

Tanker fills up gas station with wrong fuel

Around 160 car owners are stuck after a gas station's storage tanks were filled with the wrong fuel, causing an estimated €100,000 in damage. READ  

Lufthansa strike hits 1,500 flights
Photo: DPA

Lufthansa strike hits 1,500 flights

UPDATE: In the second day of their strike, Lufthansa pilots have, as promised, extended their industrial action to include long-haul international flights until the end of Tuesday. READ  

Merkel tells allies to pay Ukraine's gas debts
Chancellor Angela Merkel in Bratislava, Slovakia, on Monday. Photo: DPA

Merkel tells allies to pay Ukraine's gas debts

Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday called on Ukraine's allies to help the war-scarred nation pay off its gas debts to Russia, amid concern over gas supplies this winter. READ  

Steinmeier wants epidemic task force
Frank-Walter Steinmeier speaks at the World Health Summit in Berlin. Photo: DPA

Steinmeier wants epidemic task force

At the World Health Summit in Berlin, the Ebola crisis took centre stage at talks meant to create plans for how to handle future outbreaks. READ  

Nazi-stolen painting put on display, sort of
The Wiesbaden Museum in Hesse. Photo: DPA

Nazi-stolen painting put on display, sort of

The Wiesbaden Museum was once a collection house for art stolen from Jewish owners by the Nazi. With one painting, they hope to right at least one wrong while bringing awareness to its ongoing restitution work. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: Mariana Schroeder
Munich
Hope and chaos at Munich's refugee shelters
Photo: DPA
Berlin
Robbers blow up Berlin bank
Photo: DPA
Culture
Can you top our history quiz leaderboard?
Photo: Facebook
Society
German motorcycle gang joins Isis fight
Photo: DPA
Politics
UKIP ‘seeks EU pact’ with German satirical party
Photo: DPA
Travel
This is the man who has stopped Germany's trains
Photo: Shutterstock
Business & Money
Expats: Should I stay or should I go?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
PHOTOS: World's biggest erotic fair opens in Berlin
Photo: DPA/Shutterstock
Gallery
11 things Germans are afraid of...
Photo: Shutterstock
Business & Money
Which expat foods do you miss the most?
Sponsored Article
International School on the Rhine: a legacy
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The ten richest people in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Sponsored Article
Bilingual education from nursery to graduation at Phorms
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

3,471
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd