Thorsten Wagner – A Problematic Danish/German Speaker with a Problematic Message

By Jerome S. Kaufman

Thorsten Wagner, Professor and lecturer from Copenhagen, Denmark was hosted by Temple Beth El in West Palm Beach Florida, January 14, 2012.  His invitation was evidently based upon the fact that his grandfather was a Nazi sympathizer and Thorsten grew up in a disputed area of Denmark on the German border.  He now speaks as a historian supposedly empathetic to the tribulations of the Jews of Nazi Germany.

Curious with what this gentleman might have to say, I attended his lecture at the Temple and am still not sure the purpose or direction of his talk. The fact that he was a tall, handsome, apparently friendly man and totally effective in charming the receptive Jewish Temple audience was undeniable. What he was doing there, other than the obvious speaking engagement fee? I am not at all sure. Was he there to assuage the guilt of his grandfather, perhaps his inadvertent own or that of the other of Daniel Jonah Goldhagen’s, Hitler’s Willing Executioners? I doubt that.

The synagogue rabbi did present a clue in an incidental aside concerning Wagner’s address Friday night. Wagner had admonished the Jewish audience not to get hung up blaming the Muslims for the rejuvenated anti-Semitism in Europe and Islam’s virtual invasion of European nations and attempt to establish Sharia law in these nations. Did not the Jews remember when they too were labeled and despised as new immigrants?

Huh?  How dare he make such a preposterous comparison and how clever of him to mine the endless caverns of Jewish guilt. Never mind that the Jews have spent generations attempting to meld into American society and at an immense cost to their own religious observance. Is that the case with Muslims?

At the question and answer session I was able to pose this question to Wagner. How could he state that the Muslims were a minor factor in Europe, a very small percentage of the population and just another group of harmless refugees attempting to establish a foothold in a new society, just like everyone else?

Wagner declared that he based his conclusions on the Pew Report. I then went to the Internet and read two articles on the Pew Report and was convinced that there must be two different Pew Reports. Not So! There is only one report – that compiled by the Pew Research Center Forum on Religion and Public Life itself plus several commentaries from other sources.

Professor Wagner evidently read the one by Tom Heneghan on his web site, FaithWorld. The opening remarks of this report are:

One of the most wrong-headed arguments in the debate about Muslims in Europe is the shrill “Eurabia” claim that high birth rates and immigration will make Muslims the majority on the continent within a few decades. Based on  sleight-of-hand statistics, this scaremongering (as The Economist called it back in 2006) paints a picture of a triumphant Islam dominating a Europe that has lost its Christian roots and is blind to its looming cultural demise . The Egyptian-born British writer Bat Ye’or popularized the term with her 2005 book “Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis” and this argument has become the background music to much exaggerated talk about Muslims in Europe. (The article continued in a similar vein.)

Heneghan’s above interpretation of the Pew Report (and consequently Thorston Wagner’s) stands in stark contrast to the Executive Summary coming right off of the pages of the Pew Forum report itself, dated January 27, 2011 and shown below:

The Future of the Global Muslim Population

Projections for 2010-2030, ANALYSIS January 27, 2011

“The world’s Muslim population is expected to increase by about 35% in the next 20 years, rising from 1.6 billion in 2010 to 2.2 billion by 2030, according to new population projections by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life.

Globally, the Muslim population is forecast to grow at about twice the rate of the non-Muslim population over the next two decades – an average annual growth rate of 1.5% for Muslims, compared with 0.7% for non-Muslims. If current trends continue, Muslims will make up 26.4% of the world’s total projected population of 8.3 billion in 2030, up from 23.4% of the estimated 2010 world population of 6.9 billion.

Muslims will remain relatively small minorities in Europe and the Americas but they are expected to constitute a growing share of the total populations of these regions.”

Unfortunately, unlike other immigrants to these countries, Muslims have shown no desire or inclination to become part of the greater cultures. Quite the contrary, there is an outspoken declaration and action to make the greater culture conform to Sharia law via  intimidating school systems, legislatures, the court system and the present administration itself, which already abounds with intrinsic Muslim support, empathy and identification.

But where does all this place American Jews. Despite Wagner’s scholarship of the Holocaust and its virtual annihilation of the Jews of Europe, he admonishes Jewish audiences to not be frightened by the lethal verbiage and action against them by Islamists. Jews are to ignore Islam’s declared intention to annihilate the Jews and Christians and turn the world into a giant Caliphate. ( And … it is painfully obvious, they are doing exactly that all over the world, including the US, at this very moment!).

Do not those actions sound a whole lot like those of Adolph Hitler and now Ahmadinejad? Are Jews then to conform to the recommendations of Thorston Wagner and hide their heads in the sand as they have done on so many other existential occasions? I think not.  Furthermore, I would never allow Wagner to appear before another Jewish audience. I don’t trust him!

Comment from reader, Jan. 27, 2012

Thank you for sending me this alarming article. Unfortunately, most every one is blind to the obvious truth you brought out for me who survived the war and lost 22 members of my family in the death camps….We live today in the same atmosphere as the one I lived trough in 1938….and I am sick with worries. For this reason I work with all my heart for Israel …for Magen David Adom who is “Israel ‘s second line of defense,” to quote Yitzhak Rabin. Indeed MDA is vital to the survival of our Beloved ISRAEL….but I wish the world would start to open its eyes before it becomes too late to stop the evil forces at work against civilization and against the Jews in particular.

With renewed thanks,

Jacqueline Goldman       (French/American citizen)



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