Sometimes one can observe the characteristics of a country by example. Two „events“ in the days from 1 to 5 July and the reporting on them are shedding a telling light on the inner tension in Germany and the reasons for it. But the country could also take a different path if the fronts were broken up and the people affected were able to talk to each other.
On 1 July, as on every Monday since a few years now, people met in Dresden for the weekly Pegida rally. Pegida is the acronym for “Patriots of Europe against the Islamisation of the Occident”. According to what is known, people from Dresden and the surrounding area are meeting there. They reject the current German politics and the political personnel in Germany – in part rigorously – and are very concerned that the unusually large number of migrants from the Islamic cultural sphere since the summer of 2015 are associated with problems that we cannot deal with. They are aware of concrete disadvantages of the Germans who have been living there and fear the destruction of what German culture means to them. They have lost their confidence in many media. Among them there will also be people without honest concerns. That would not be surprising. But this will not apply to most of them – and one should be careful not to conclude from a partly crude language alone that there is an undemocratic attitude.
“Kontraste”, a political ARD magazine, had visited the rally on 1 July with his recording team and had asked participants: “Do you feel sorry for the death of Lübcke?” The CDU politician and Kassel District President Walter Lübcke had been murdered a few weeks ago. The suspect is a young man who is said to have contacts to the extreme right-wing scene.
The answers of the interviewees from the television journalist were inappropriate in view of the murder. But it wasn’t skinheads with jumper boots or similar-looking people who responded, but, as is commonly said, “ordinary people”, most of them older than 50 years, women and men.
When the show was broadcast on 5 July it was obvious that the magazine “Kontraste” had been set out to get inappropriate answers. The participants in the rally were already labelled in the introduction: “Racists, right-wing populists, conspiracy theorists and frustrated people still gather in Dresden every Monday.” And it was also pointed out at the very beginning that the demonstrators should at least be “spiritual arsonists”: “The hatred for him [Walter Lübcke] was also stirred up again and again by Pegida in Dresden”. – Was it really “hatred”? Among Pegida’s demonstrators the murdered man’s policy would surely not have been supported. In a public event in October 2015 Walter Lübcke had said, after massive resentment towards building a first reception accommodation in his administrative district, that German migration policy was an expression of high standing values, and then again, reacting directly to the discontent in the hall: “And whoever does not represent these values can leave this country at any time if he does not agree.. That is the freedom of every German”.
It seems like the broadcast of the political magazine had only a single purpose: to put Pegida’s demonstrators into the extreme right-wing corner, beyond what a liberal society can tolerate. No questions were asked as to what actually was preoccupying the citizens questioned and how it feels to be persistently questioned by a television team which is obviously biased against them from the outset, wants to label the participants as described and is merely looking for “material” for a confirmation.
For many people “right” is synonymous for “new Nazis”, for a violent, inhuman, murderous, totalitarian politics. It should be natural for any citizen to clearly oppose such politics. Most probably many people joining events against “right” act out of this motivation.
Thus also at a concert with Herbert Grönemeyer and others in Chemnitz on 4 July. The event was organised under the title “Kosmos Chemnitz”. The organisers saw their event as a sequel to last year’s event which was labelled #wirsindmehr [we are more]. This year, the organisers titled their event #wirbleibenmehr [we are still more]. “A second festival against right – good idea”, Zeit online wrote on 5 July, praising appeals like “If you see racism or sexism, speak out!”
But: it is not popular to look at things in a more differentiated way. So the Saxon Office for the Protection of the Constitution. It had listed last year’s event in his 2018 report, published in May 2019, writing: “Frequently, music events with active participation of left-wing extremists – as performing artists or as organisers – take place in public institutions or as open-air music festivals. This offers left-wing extremist music groups the possibility to use public non-extremist events for the mediation of their political ideas, to present themselves and to find social acceptance in order to finally influence non-extremists in the context of their extremist ideology.”
As a result, the Saxon Office for the Protection of the Constitution was facing strong criticism, even from the Saxon Minister-President (a member of the Christian Democrats) and was compelled to issue another press bulletin on 15 May. The bulletin stated that the report was far from putting all participants of the event in summer 2018 in a left-wing extremist corner. Only the bands “Feine Sahne Fischfilet” and “K.I.Z.” had been mentioned explicitly. K.I.Z. had recited a “song” containing the line “I ram the knife blade in the journalist’s trap”, expressly thanking the “black bloc” in Chemnitz.
Ergo: Like with Pegida in Dresden, there were also forces pursuing their own political goals in Chemnitz.
But why do most media and political leaders differentiate so little? Why do they contribute to polarisation instead? Further questions are obvious. Are there any tangible interests in splitting up German society and turning differences of opinion into fronts? Are such disturbances of internal peace perhaps even part of a preparation for war against the outside world? The nomination of the German War Minister, Ursula von der Leyen, as President of the EU Commission is once again a bad sign. Is this about the further erosion of freedom, the rule of law and democracy and the path towards a new type of dictatorship?
Meanwhile one must assume that there are only few or no talks at eye level between participants of the events against “right” in Chemnitz and participants of the Pegida demonstrations in Dresden. The trenches are widened every day. But what good will it do the citizens if they no longer talk to each other, if they do not work together for freedom, the rule of law, democracy and … for peace? •
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