After several days of public silence, tennis living legend Boris Becker has finally spoken up on the controversy surrounding AfD politician Jens Maier’s racist comment about his son.
The member of the German parliament had attacked Noah Becker, calling him a “little half-negro” on Twitter over an interview in which the son of the former Wimbledon champion compared Berlin with London and Paris in their multiculturalism.
Noah’s mother has a German mum and an African-American father.
In an article published in a mass-circulating German Sunday paper, Boris Becker revealed that he was shocked when he learnt of the Tweet.
“To be honest, I was first speechless and had to sort out my thoughts and emotions,” writes Becker (50) as a guest author in the “Welt am Sonntag”.
Then he called his son Noah (23) in Berlin from Kitzbühel (Austria). “But I was amazed at the incredible views he has now, how tidily he responds to such a statement. He’s far ahead of me, I’m much more emotional about this issue,” Becker said, praising his son’s maturity.
“I have the feeling that racism is becoming quite socially acceptable, and I even notice that right in my circle of close friends,” he sadly notes.
“After a few beers, the first ones start making racist jokes. Unfortunately, that happens again and again. I usually get up and leave. Discussing with drunks brings nothing. And the next day, few want to remember all about it.”
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The tennis great, who lives in London, however said that racism is by no means a German phenomenon. “I recognize a scary right-wing shift, not only in Germany, but also throughout Europe and, of course, in America.”
The former tennis professional player attributes the unfortunate trend partly to ignorance, partly to stupidity. “Ignorance is dangerous. And of course, there are people who are stupid and do not know who they are following,” he writes.
“We have to face lack of intelligence with even more enlightenment. We have to talk about our own experiences. As I have been doing for many years because I face racism with my small family on a daily basis,” he advises.
“It’s time to stand up”
Finally, Becker gave a piece of his mind about the man who ignited the current debate: “Somebody like the AfD MP Jens Maier says such things neither out of stupidity nor out of fear. He knows exactly what he’s doing and why. His voters suck up his words and he serves them perfectly.”
“First of all, I demand consequences,” Becker said, emphasising that Jens Maier is a former judge. “I cannot imagine that someone like him was allowed to judge others for years.”
Boris Becker dismisses Maier’s claim that the racist Tweet was written by one of his employees. “That’s what they do in the AfD, that’s their trick. Put something out in the world and then distance yourself from it. I have never heard the name of the supposed employee. Also, I did not hear that Mr Maier had disengaged from any of his employees.”
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Maier, a former judge who sat on the bench for 20 years, is not new to controversy. At a conference in Dresden early last year, Maier criticized what he called Germany’s “culture of guilt” about its actions in the Second World War and warned against the “creation of mixed races.”
Becker closes his guest contribution with an appeal to society: “Racism can simply no longer be tolerated. Nobody gets punished, no one has to pay, and in the end, unfortunately, we are silent to death. This must finally be over!”
It was time to get up, lift our finger and take to the streets.