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Depending on how it is used, the German word Neger can mean anything from the outdated and inappropriate term "negro" to the seriously offensive "nigger" in English.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

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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.
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