The recent “Declaration 2018” about illegal immigration caused a stir in Germany. JLH has put together a summary of the brouhaha, including a translation of an essay by Henryk Broder.
The Media Are the Message
On March 15, 2018 (six days before the French Intellectuals’ declaration) the following Declaration 2018 appeared in Germany. Reading the original signers, you will recognize at least a few names. Thereafter, the statement was thrown open to further signatories, and a very great number added their names. See here.
With increasing dismay, we watch as Germany is damaged by illegal mass immigration. We join with those who demonstrate peacefully for the restoration of constitutional order at the border of our land.
Henryk M. Broder
Dr. Thilo Sarrazin
Dr. Jörg Bernig
Prof. Egon Flaig
Dr. Frank Böckelmann
Dr. Till Kinzel
Dr. Ulrich Fröschle
Dr. Karlheinz Weissmann
Frank W. Haubold
Prof. Max Otte
Two weeks later, on March 29, 2018, the first of the original signers, Henryk Broder, wrote this comment — a typically snarky, broderish romp through the German media and “commenterati. From Die Achse des Guten:
Declaration 2018: Germany Freaks Out
I hesitated a little before signing the “Common Declaration 2018.” It seemed too general, too friendly, too unengaged. I thought the discussion was further advanced. There was a report of the Bundestag’s scientific service, which left the question of the constitutional basis for the opening of the borders unanswered. Previously Horst Seehofer [Bavaria’s CSU leader] had caused nation-wide consternation when — in an interview with the Passauer Neue Presse — he spoke of a “reign of injustice,” referring to an opinion of constitutional expert, Udo di Fabio, who maintained that the government had a duty to protect the German border. “There is no internationally sanctioned obligation of unlimited acceptance of victims of civil war or national collapse.” Rather, the Federal Republic “is duty-bound to re-establish effective control of the national borders, if the general European system of border security and immigration is temporarily or permanently dysfunctional.” Anyone interested in the legal implications was acquainted with a decision of the Regional Superior Court in Koblenz in February, 2017, which established clearly that “illegal entry to the area of the Federal Republic” is “at the moment no longer legally prosecuted.” In this respect, “legal order in the Federal Republic has been deactivated for approximately one and one-half years.”
Against this background, the “Common Declaration 2018” is of a downright touching harmlessness. Like the first sentence in Article 1 of the Golden Rule, “What you don’t want someone else to do to you, don’t do that to anyone else.” Okay, I thought, it’s not the best, it’s not the beginning of undoing the Gordian Knot, but maybe it’s the lowest common denominator acceptable to a few people who are concerned about the erosion of the rule of law. So I signed.
I had anticipated everything possible, but not the storm of outrage that broke out. As if a couple of nutcases had demanded rebuilding the internal German wall or introducing sharia in Bavaria. Starting with one of my industrious biographers, who caught me off guard, and on to the flagship of political correctness in Germany [Die Zeit], where people were surprised at “Who-all is signing Declaration 2018,” e.g. “ministerial undersecretaries and plastic surgeons,” that is, exactly those people who are prized by Die Zeit as subscribers and readers.
It was, you could say in all modesty, a tempest in a teapot. Expressed positively, it was a festival of freedom of opinion, even though it sounded as if the participants were all about doing away with it. Here is an incomplete but quite representative selection of voices:
The Augsburger Allgemeine opines that the Declaration 2018 shows that German society is “doubly divided.”
Telepolis writes that the East Germans “never understood Western democracy” and as evidence mentions Monika Maron, who had the nerve “to spring to the defense of Tellkamp on German Broadcasting.”
In NDR (North German Broadcasting), “the oft-honored Dresden author, Ingo Schulze” is astounded “at the intellectual simplicity of the Declaration” and the Association of German Writers announces that “making immigrants into scapegoats solves nothing.”
The Tagesspiegel is surprised that Rüdiger Safranski “did not sign, but gave Spiegel an interview, in which he expresses an “obligation of friendliness to foreigners.”
In German Broadcasting, Ulrich Greiner spills the beans about Die Zeit: “And there was controversy about it today in conference. Some colleagues said, ‘Why are you showing these people? You’ll only make them presentable.’ And others said, ‘No, why shouldn’t we show these people? It’s a private circle of interested contemporaries’…”
The young world grumbles about the “German Spirit” at its “top form” now. Meanwhile, the actual young people are thinking about Matthias Matussek.
The Berliner Zeitung notes that with “this subject” there is a “rip that extends through partnerships,” and asks why, for example, Caroline Sommerfeld-Lethen signed the Declaration but not her husband, Helmut Lethen, or Kristina Koenen did, but not her husband, Gerd Koenen.”
Neues Deutschland envies Thilo Sarrazin his success as an author, and asks: “Why isn’t this man in the gulag yet? Or why hasn’t someone at least stapled the left side of his face to his chin?”
It occurs to Freitag that two names “are not on the list” which makes the team “that has become rightist” a little incomplete.
On Spiegel Online, “the usual suspects — Sarrazin, Broder, Lengsfeld,” run through the picture — followed by “AfD sympathizers and other brown shirts,” who know exactly what they are doing: “they want a Muslim-free Germany.”
Deutsche Welle is disturbed that the line “between Islam and Islamism is hardly distinguished” and “climate change is disputed.” The “Declaration 2018 probably did not (appear) by chance at the beginning of the Leipzig Book Fair,” where the controversy about freedom of expression and dealing with rightist commentators were guiding themes.
Neues Deutschland warns against “becoming too close to those who interpret attacks on refugees as the desperate rebellion of the German people.” Another comment runs: “Granted, by Sunday, there were no prominent AfD representatives among the supporters of the Declaration, but the list does include names which, in the past, directly or indirectly, showed sympathy for the ultra-right party,” among them “writers like Tellkamp and Broder,” who support “a call against open borders.”
taz comes to the point: “Talking with Nazis yields nothing… Life must be made difficult for them, wherever possible… So they must be socially despised, until they no longer even have the confidence to go to the baker.”
Tagesspiegel talks about “immigration movements in the fall of 2015” and denies a rumor “that politicians had broken laws to bring refugees into the country. [It is] an accusation ritually repeated by the AfD and Pegida. That doesn’t make it true.”
The Berliner Zeitung, too, denies the “presumed fact that an illegal mass immigration was taking place” and asks: “Where is the evidence? The numbers of refugees who have arrived speaks another language.”
We find a similar, nay the very same article in the Mitteldeutsche Zeitung, whose author slinks around in the cold porridge (“It is wise to take a look at the skimpy text and the list of signers, so you know where you are…”) before he comes to the point: “What is interesting about the Joint Declaration, besides the whispered insinuation that it is nothing but criminals who are inundating our country, is the claim that an illegal mass immigration is taking place.”
What the “illegal mass immigration” is all about was explained by Liane Bednarz, “writer and lawyer, author of books about the AfD and the new Right,” in an interview with German Broadcasting’s Kultur. That, she says, is “a term one often hears.” It is certainly “not substantiated.” Besides, it is “controversial.” Because “there are people who say that the refugee policy is, at least in part, illegal, But there is no definitive decision on that by the Supreme Court. And until then, it can’t be called illegal.”
The Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung, the Wolfsburger Allgemeine, the Dresdener Neueste Nachrichten, the Leipziger Volkszeitung, the Schaumburg Nachrichten, the Oberhessische Presse and maybe two dozen other newspapers put out by RND (Editorial Network Germany) have two reports on Declaration 2018. One is about what is not in the Declaration. “What exactly is the meaning of the fighting words ‘illegal mass immigration’ — the wave of 2015 or every asylum seeker who came, comes or will come to the country? What can be done to fix the damage? Are there suggestions for integration, for avoiding parallel societies and for encapsulation? There is nothing about that.” And in the other one: “What is especially gripping about this skimpy appeal is what it doesn’t have: no distancing from the radical right or extreme right groups, who use and, to some extent form, the demonstrations in Cottbus, Berlin, Hamburg and elsewhere.”
Preceding all this was an interview with Monika Maron on German Broadcasting, She says, among other things: “I say what I think. I come to my convictions, or opinions, by looking at the world or reading about it or weighing one opinion against the other, and orienting myself. Whether it is rightist is ultimately of no matter to me, because I find it to be correct.”
Never, ever, ever! have two sentences of altogether 33 words and 273 characters, including spaces, been so psyched up and so exhaustively commented upon. The Declaration must have hit a nerve which had been quiescent. If the Declaration had been about the earth being a flat disk or a piece of toast floating in a salt sea, it would have gone unnoticed. But what hits home, is accurate.
Furthermore, in no other trade is the herd instinct so strong as in journalism, or the desire for consensus so meaningful. I know colleagues who became journalists purely for that reason, because they thought it was a step up the career ladder leading to a press position in the federal chancellor’s office. Or at least to the cargo area in the plane flying the Foreign Minister to Kuala Lumpur. And anyone who doesn’t make it into the entourage of a minister, can still be happy with two free tickets to a Helene Fischer concert.
There is no enforced conformity from above. But what there is, is the boundless desire to participate, to ride along, where the current is smoothest. It is, however, possible to drown even in a wading pool, as shown by some of the comments quoted here.
Because I am just now preparing for the Exodus from Egypt (Passover) which begins this evening, I will just briefly note three texts.
Jakob Augstein quotes the Declaration word-for-word and states, “These people” (the signers) know exactly what they are doing. They want a Muslim-free Germany.” An allusion burdened by a lot of history, which only shows how contaminated Augstein’s thinking is. I want a “Muslim-free” Germany as much as I want an Islamized Germany. But I could live with an Augstein-free Spiegel.
In the Berliner Zeitung, Arno Widman jokes about the “combined political and journalistic intelligence” of the country, which “bestirred itself (to produce) two sentences of protest” — and Arno refuted it with 4,371 spaces in 660 words, that is, 20 to 1. An astounding achievement, culminating in the revelation: “Immigration has not harmed the post-war Germany I grew up in — it helped to destroy it. To all our good fortune.” What would Alfred Tetzlaff say to that? Arno is not inherently stupid; he’s just unfortunate in his thinking.
According to DLF Kultur, Liane Bednarz, as a “writer and lawyer, author of books about AfD and the new Right” has made a name for herself. As with the female specialist awarded the feature page award, the “Golden Mole,” for “acquiring her own documentation,” opinions are diverse. Some say this, some say that. However that may be, it certainly is enough for an interview with DLF Kultur — see above. In it, she “reveals” not only “which female signers are no longer on the list” but also why there can be no talk of “Illegal immigration.” The concept is “argued among legal scholars.” At any rate, “There are people who say that the refugee policy is at least partly illegal. But there is no binding decision of the Supreme Court. And for now, it cannot be designated as illegal.”
Breathtaking. How did this dim bulb get through the first and second state exam? By maintaining that any act not explicitly declared illegal by the federal travel authority could not be illegal? Which caused the test-givers to fall into a coma? Seen that way, the drug trade in Görlitzer Park is not illegal.
So there is no “illegal immigration.” But if there is no “illegal immigration,” then we have to ask, why are legal immigrants being deported? Has Anis Amri holed up in Germany? Were his 14 identities just an expression of his personal diversity?
One of the books by Liane Bednarz is titled: “Germany Freaks Out. The Truth about the AfD.”
Should there be a new edition, the title should be adapted. “Germany Freaks Out. The Truth about Liane Bednarz, Arno Widman, Jakob Aigsein and the whole gang.”
|1.||Nicknamed the “Günter Grass of the Right.” In other words, a powerful, novelistic voice on the conservative side of the spectrum.|
|2.||Prominent scholar and writer, with specialties and publications on philosophy, especially as it manifests in German authors — Schiller, Goethe, E.T.A. Hoffman.|
|3.||Journalist and literary critic — his ‘Homeless” describes his leaving the SPD and finding no “home” for his conservatism.|
|4.||Journalist and author, seen as carrying on the work of Udo Ulfkotte, who was a passionate foe of immigration, regarded by some as a conspiracy theorist and by others as a ground-breaking investigator.|
|5.||Erstwhile party and government voice in East Germany.|
|6.||Think Archie Bunker in German.|
|7.||Culture-oriented German programming.|
|8.||In the Berlin Christmas Fair attack, he killed 11 and wounded 55.