A professional hayseed in Austria has gotten himself into trouble by saying politically incorrect things about immigrants on social media. Our German translator JLH has translated an article and interview with the “EU Farmer”, along with an introduction.
The Farmer Wasn’t Cowed
The interview below was occasioned by the sudden emergence of a local celebrity as a white-hot focus of the “refugee” debate. The article in Kronen-Zeitung appended a short biography and the text of his remarks that caused the uproar. They appear here first, for the convenience of GoV readers.
Manfred Tisal: Born in Vilach in the Austrian state of Carinthia on September 23, 1953. Apprenticed as a chef, later editor and spokesman for the private broadcaster “Tele Uno.” Appearing since 1990 as the “EU Farmer” at the Vilach Fasching festivities. He offers “COWmentaries” on Austrian Broadcasting radio in Carinthia. Publishes books and CDs. He is the father of four and married to his second wife, Daniela, a former journalist.
Manfred Tisal’s “COWmentary” of a week ago:
For everyone who criticized my post of yesterday — the COWmentary sez it like it is:
Day after day, from my balcony, I see asylum-seekers with Adidas shoes, Nike T-shirts and Diesel jeans, with smartphones and shiny new bikes sauntering by, talking. Envy gnaws at me. Not because I don’t have that, but because they have it for free. And with a guaranteed minimum income they haven’t earned. Maybe I could afford all that, if I didn’t have to pay rent. If I didn’t have to enter a contract to buy my smartphone, if I didn’t have to pay for personal hygiene products, the TV fee, food, the car needed for my job, and didn’t have to meet diverse expenses for wife and child. And of course all taxes and fees. When I hear about refugees, I think of my father walking all the way back to Vilach from imprisonment in Russia. He and his parents had to re-build their bombed-out house. In the post-war era, he had to feed his family on a railroad salary of 740 schillings. And there were others even worse off. He fought for his land and, in the years leading to his death, was rewarded by fine phrases. But he built it up with his small contribution.
And that has allowed us to anticipate a social guarantee. A guarantee that is now being taken from us. By the onslaught of politically legitimized social spongers. I don’t think they chose their target without thought. After all, they are connected to the world by internet and cell phone. They are not so stupid that they would not choose the best for themselves. And I am telling everyone not to stick me into the “populist rightist corner” — which has become pretty much standard practice for us in this country. This is about justice and should not be about partisanship or religion.
And here is the interview:
Krone Interview With Manfred Tisal
With Connie Bischofsberger
September 2, 2017
His commentary on “asylum-seekers in Nike T-shirts, Diesel jeans and smartphones” has drawn the “EU Farmer” of Vilach Fasching into the public stew. Manfred Tisal (63) speaks with Connie Bischofsberger about the liberty of fools, applause from the right and anonymous death threats.
The waitresses in Staubers Städtschenke are serving the midway meal. The mayor of Vilach is there. When Manfred Tisal and his wife, Daniela, enter the pub, all present look up from their plates. In the course of the Krone interview, many of them come to our table and shake hands with the “EU Farmer.” “Thank you for you courage,” they say. Or, “You were right!” Mayor Günther Albel (SPÖ) does not feel that way — he would have preferred more a nuanced approach to the subject of immigration.
One post on Facebook in which Tisal was annoyed by “asylum-seekers with Adidas shoes, Nike T-shirts, Diesel jeans and smartphones,” reached hundreds of thousands of people and set off an unprecedented discussion about refugees.
The state’s attorney’s office in Klagenfurt is investigating a Carinthian woman for hate speech. On the EU Farmer’s Facebook page, she wished concentration camps and the Islamic State on “social sponges, rapists and Gutmenschen.” In our conversation, the Carinthian comedian regretted such comments, but took nothing back — quit the opposite, he doubled down. His wife, Daniela, on the other hand, looked worried.
|Krone:||Mr Tisal, Austrian Radio of Carinthia has temporarily put your satirical “cowmentaries” on ice. Do you fear that you will now have problems with the Vilach Fasching?|
|Tisal:||We had a program committee meeting on Wednesday evening. I brought this up. I said: If you think the reputation of the Vilach Fasching guild will suffer because of me, I’ll be glad to step back. They were unanimous in refusing that, even though not all of them agreed with my point of view. And there were other reasons for my “cowmentaries” not being broadcast by Austrian Radio on Friday.|
|K:||What were they?|
|T:||There is a general directive out of Vienna that nothing political be broadcast eight weeks before the election. It had nothing to do with my post. Tuesday there will be a meeting and I will know more then.|
|K:||In your post, you characterize the refugees as “politically legitimized social sponges.” What do you mean by that?|
|T:||Simple. A sponge is someone who serves himself from a pot he should have no access to. My post was not so much an attack on immigrants as on our political leadership. which has been unable to find a solution to this problem since 2015. The immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers, or whatever you call them, have cost us over eight billion euros, while our own people, who may have worked their whole lives, are fobbed off before the election with a pension increase of 2.2%. And our representatives are proud of themselves for that.|
|K:||What do you have against refugees? Austria must take care of them and integrate them, if they achieve asylum status.|
|T:||I have nothing against them. At first, when they arrived by way of Spielfeld and the Karawanken Tunnel, I gave clothing and also donated money. Refugees in need ought to be helped. But not these economic refugees who have descended on us. There must be some regulating, to stop it or at least limit it severely.|
|K:||Can’t a refugee be both? He comes from a war zone and wants to live in a country where he has it better.|
|T:||If it is about having more money, then policy will have to decide if that can be allowed. We cannot allow ourselves to be inundated by men who won’t even shake hands with a woman. Not all, but some There is also a creeping infiltration of our society. And if anyone wants to stick me into. the “rightst” corner, be warned. I am convinced that 90% of Austrians are of the same opinion as me.|
|K:||Are you a rightist?|
|T:||I don’t know what that means. Politics is just like driving — there are right turns and left turns. Sometimes you have to turn right, sometimes left, when it’s about your own safety.|
|K:||At any rate, you are getting applause from the right.|
|T:||But what matters to me is what feels right, not partisanship. The sense of justice. Why is anyone on the right today called a Nazi? Just because someone has an opinion — that’s bad! Speaking of opinion, there is a page on Facebook called “Freedom of expression for the EU Farmer.”|
|K:||You also have FPÖ chief Heinz-Christian Strache on your side. Does that seem right to you?|
|T:||Why should I complain, if Strache agrees with me that there is no freedom of expression in the country any more? I think that everyone can have his opinion. What is important is that people talk to one another. We live in a democracy, after all! But that is why I won’t let myself be collected by any party.|
|K:||But you are appearing at a festival Strache invited you to.|
|T:||Yes, and I can also tell you why. Because that is my job! I would also appear with Kern and Kurz and with the Greens, but they don’t want me.|
|K:||Do you have many cancellations now?|
|T:||Yes, just yesterday a community did that. Not to mention that it threatens my livelihood. It is really sad that my family is being dragged into this. My wife is being insulted.|
|(Daniela Tisal wipes away a few tears and says: “Tell her that you are getting death threats!”)|
|K:||Is that true?|
|T:||Yeah, sure. “You need to have your head cut off.” Or: “If we catch you on the street, we’ll knock you flat and take your iPhone.” One wrote: “Stick a knife in him so his stupid yap shuts up.”|
|K:||Did you report these people to the police?|
|T:||No. First, these threats are anonymous. They come by Facebook and the profile shows a Mickey Mouse or an angel, a tree or a mountain. These people are feeble-minded. I won’t be dragging them to face the Kadi.|
|K:||Are you afraid?|
|T:||They won’t be stupid enough to shoot me in the head. Why should I be afraid?|
|(Daniela Tisal says: “But I am.”)|
|K:||Mr. Tisal, you have stormed against refugees, because they wear brand-name clothes and have smartphones and you claim they get them for free. Where?|
|T:||People tell me every day about refugees shopping in stores and saying “Caritas is paying.” They have a card to charge it.|
|K:||But that is not true. Caritas has denied it.|
|T:||If what I wrote is not true and Caritas can show me the opposite, I will be the first to apologize and I will accuse all the hundreds of people who have been there and seen that of lying.|
|K:||But it could also be false.|
|T:||Where else would they get Nike T-shirts, Diesel jeans and smartphones? They arrive in an inflatable boat, empty-handed, and here among us, they are chic, tonsured and posh. So I ask where they get the money. I think it would be fair for them to get credit, interest-free, which they would pay off later. Then we would only have those willing to integrate among us, and they would never have to feel guilty.|
|K:||Aren’t you starting an envious debate that will also harm those who want to integrate?|
|T:||Hats off to them. But only 37% are willing to work. Unfortunately, our policy does not distinguish. It legitimizes everyone. Primarily young men. I don’t see old people or women or children.|
|K:||Why do you think there is such an energetic discussion of what you have said?|
|T:||Because I attacked the policy. I was a welcome rural sacrifice for the election battle. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you. But as a fool and a democrat, I am biting that hand.|
|K:||Will the affair influence your work with the Vilach Fasching?|
|T:||Not at all. I will go on stage again as the EU Farmer, tell a few smutty jokes, take some swipes at this or that politician, but my own opinion lost nothing at Fasching.|
|K:||Is the ÖVP chief Sebastian Kurz suited to parody?|
|T:||Well, a little something about anyone can occur to me. He certainly has wonderfully big ears.
|1.||i.e., crossing the border from Slovenia to Austria.|
|Photos:||Beginning, end and one in between = Manfred Tisal as the “EU Farmer”
Others [not shown] = Tisal in interview with Connie Bischofsberger, pictured alone during interview, and with his wife during interview