Henryk Broder speaking at a Danish Free Press Society event in 2015 (photo © Steen)
Many thanks to JLH for translating the transcript of Henryk Broder’s speech published in Die Welt:
Address Given by Henryk Broder to The AfD
January 31, 2019
(On January 29, 2019, the AfD in the Bundestag had invited Broder to speak. He accepted the invitation “despite the misgivings of my attorney and my wife.”)
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for inviting me. I have been to the Bundestag often before, most recently at the committee on petitions. But I have never given a speech to a party in the parliament. My first choice would have been the Greens. I would even have come by bicycle or rowboat. But the Greens have not yet reached the point where they would invite someone like me. For that, I would have had to start separating my trash, heating sparingly and using less water. I don’t do that.
I don’t even believe in climate change; there has not been a day in history when the climate didn’t change. Climate change is as new as the perpetual sequence of winter, spring, summer and fall. The only thing that is new is that the climate has become a fetish for the enlightened who believe neither in Jesus, Moses or Mohammed. The Brit, Gilbert Chesterton — creator of Father Brown — had it right when he said: “Since people no longer believe in God, they don’t believe in nothing; they believe in all imaginable nonsense.
The worldwide hype about a 16-year-old Swedish girl who considers herself the second coming of Joan of Arc has proven this again in recent days.
But that is just by the way, a warm-up. Back to the beginning. Just as I wonder why you invited me and not Richard David Precht, you are wondering why I accepted the invitation.
It’s quite simple. You wanted to see whether someone who can write as well as I can can speak as well — in the cave, or perhaps the hell of the brown-spotted lion, the snake pit of Reaction, the darkroom of history. And besides, you wanted to know if I am really as congenial as I appear on television.
A number of you may never have seen a living Jew in his natural state, and are waiting to see if the room will be filled with the odor of garlic and sulfur.
I, on the other hand, like doing something I have never done before. Recently, for the first time, I was on a crusade — and I liked it. On my bucket list to accomplish before my 75th birthday are a visit to a swingers club, a journey to the center of the Earth and a trip on the Trans-Siberian Railroad with Florian Sibereisen as my personal butler.
A visit with you was not on my bucket list. Nonetheless, I was happy to accept the invitation. When does a Jew have the opportunity to appear in a room full of Nazis, Neo-Nazis, crypto-Nazis and para-Nazis?
Besides, I am only doing what the federal president recently counseled. We should come together, become better acquainted, speak with one another, in order to strengthen the cohesion of this society.
That is exactly what I am doing. I am a bridge-builder, a conciliator. I advocate a diverse, open and tolerant society where no one is excluded. I do not judge the people around me on the basis of ethnicity, skin color or religion; rather — to put it plainly — whether they accept opinions other than their own. I am tolerant to the point of self-denial. There is just one group of human beings of whom I will not be tolerant — the intolerant, who appoint themselves as the measure of all things, and either deny me eternal life in paradise if I wish to follow them, or promise me a place in hell if I deny them.
That, ladies and gentlemen, was the introduction. Now the main part.
The idea was that we should talk about Political Correctness, despite the fact that no one knows exactly what the concept signifies. It is an empty chest, into which anyone may put whatever he considers to be inappropriate, evil, insulting or dangerous — whatever could disturb “social peace.” And this social peace is itself something that does not serve peace, but threatens freedom of expression.
I am okay with the fact that we can no longer buy “Negro kisses” and that the Sarotti Moor has been renamed to “mage of the senses.” But I think it is much worse that “Jodenkoeken” — “Jew cookies” — a specialty made with short pastry, created by a Jewish baker at the end of the 19th century — are no longer to be found in Dutch supermarkets. They are now called “Dutch cookies” and exported to China under this name. That may be politically correct, but I call it cultural expropriation. I want my “Jodenkoeken” back!
This splendid product is no longer available in Germany, which probably has to do with the name. It would have to be renamed — politically correctly — as “Jew and Jewess cookies” and then it would be a joke.
But even that is just a trifle on the margin of the PC field. What I do find unspeakable and intolerable is a remark by Cardinal Marx, chair of the German conference of bishops. Recently at a discussion in Berlin, he said that the term “Christian West” should not be used because it is “excluding.” Even more irritating than the Cardinal’s comment is that nobody gainsaid him, and no one said what this comment was advocating — preemptive submission.
As a Jew, it might be of no interest to me how a cardinal defines Europe and what semantic exercises he undertakes, in order to avoid any suspicion that he might intend to “exclude”.
At first blush, such a comment may indicate humility, but in fact it is the opposite. It speaks of arrogance and hypocrisy. “Behold how tolerant we are! We don’t even claim our own history!”
To not exclude anyone may be a noble idea. But it flies right past reality. I have never been invited to take Holy Communion. Am I being excluded? My application be in the reality TV show, “I’m a celebrity, get me out of here!” was not even answered. A clear case of exclusion. And what about all the prelates, vicars, chaplains and deacons in the Catholic Church who haven’t made it to cardinal? How they must be suffering from that exclusion. To say nothing of the women who have no chance at all of being accepted into the circle of cardinals.
Exclusion is universal in nature. A hamster has no choice, though it may prefer to be a gazelle. And we must sympathize with all giraffes that dream of life as a dolphin. There is no help for them.
Political correctness begins where reality ends — with the more than 70 gender options, with the comparatively humorous claim that man and woman are not biological facts, but “social constructs,” leaving every person free to choose to be a man or a woman, or one thing today and another tomorrow.
There is a small scandal in this [in German] since “human being” is masculine and does not even have a feminine suffix.
While we are gathered together here, a dozen doctoral theses are being written about this problem and how it can be remedied.
To avoid misunderstandings, let me say that I am not opposed in principle to Political Correctness, if what it means is that there are things which may not be done and should not be propagated.
At any rate, this realm of what is permissible to say and do is constantly in flux. I consider it right and proper that homosexuality be de-criminalized, and that marital rape be reduced from a married man’s privilege to a criminal act. I consider it right that child marriages should continue to be forbidden, regardless of the cultural background of the involved families. I am for toughening the definition of “child abuse” to allow prosecution of such cases as the above-mentioned Greta from Sweden, whom climate crusaders have made an icon of their movement.
I also believe that if I call someone an anti-Semite, I have to prove it, which is not simple — in view of the level of education, or dis-education, of German jurists, for whom the Holocaust is the measure of all things, and anything less is disturbing the peace.
And if someone calls a female politician he doesn’t like a “Nazi slut” then that has to be proved and not rewarded with the free pass of satire. There is much to learn in justice.
But it is not just about laws, which of course can be interpreted in various ways — what is known as “latitude” or “discretion” — and this leads to judgments that no “just and equitable-minded” person can understand. It is also about something that our PC-like, unspoiled parents expressed in the phrase “That isn’t done.” Don’t put your shoes on the table, don’t burp at meals, and don’t call the twelve worst years of German history “bird poop.”
That is, not just from the point of view of Nazi victims — the Jews, the gypsies, the homosexuals, the resistance fighters, the deserters — a serious sin. It has to be a No-Go for any German who is not a Jew, a gypsy, homosexual and has no relatives who were persecuted by the Nazis.
Ladies and gentlemen, I did not come here to give you a sermon or to tell you what you should do and should not do. I neither want to show you the way nor stand in your way.
I am here for two reasons. First, I am for fair play. And the way your party has been dealt with is far from fair. When your colleague Magnitz was struck down — does anyone know how far the search for the perpetrators has progressed? To be sure, everyone condemned the act, but there was some distancing and noting out that “He who sows the wind, must expect to reap the whirlwind.” Like women who share the guilt for being sexually assaulted because they wore their skirts too short.
That is not good enough. That is unworthy of a democracy which is based on the thought that even “false” attitudes and opinions — that is divergent from common agreement — are protected. As I noted before, the criminal code determines the limits of what is allowed. The right to free expression does not recognize “correct” and “false” opinions.
That is also true of all sorts of bad taste, like the outhouse humor of SPD representative Johannes Kahr. You remember. He advised you to look in the mirror to see how ugly you are. “Hate makes ugly!” he shouted at you, with all the innocence of a person who has no mirror in his home.
I was speechless, and awaited, in vain, a call to order from the parliamentary president. There was a similar quality to an essay by an editor of the Hamburger Morgenpost, who gave his imagination free rein. “In a just world, the right to vote should be withdrawn from AfD fans. As blocks are taken from children who are acting up.”
How an AfD fan is identified and how such a measure would be compatible with free elections was neither asked nor answered.
An isolated instance, but a characteristic one.
Yesterday, one day after Holocaust memorial day, German Broadcasting interviewed EU representative Michael Cramer about climate change and the pollutants in the air. Among other things, Cramer said: “People having different opinions, that’s part of it. There are people who deny the Holocaust, There are people who deny that dust, dust particles and CO2 and nitric oxide are harmful to the health. That is part of it.”
I am trying to imagine what would happen in this country if one of you had said any such thing. I would have been among the first to attack you.
Some deny the Holocaust, others deny the climate. That is not only factually an idiotic analogy. As already mentioned, we should say climate change deniers, or more exactly: people who doubt that there is human-caused climate change. Now I am waiting for climate denial to be made a crime, like denial of the Holocaust, and I look forward to the first trial by a Green people’s court chaired by Michael Cramer.
Ladies and gentlemen, we live in a consensual democracy. That need not be bad, but I am convinced that it is not consensus but dissent that is the essence of democracy, as we observe it in England, where the prime minister has been driven into a corner by her own party. Among us here, that would be as unthinkable as the takeover of the military by the Salvation Army.
So I am here today to — how would Anja Reschke put it? — to lay down a marker for fair play with political opponents, in the meaning of our federal president. And also because, as, a responsible citizen of this republic, I do not allow myself to be told where I may or may not appear. Of course I know that the AfD is a No-Go Zone that should be given a wide berth. It is increasingly routine to begin controversial expressions of opinion with: “I am no follower of the AfD, but…” But what?
|1.||Philosopher, author and professor.|
|2.||Play on words in German — Höhle = cave, near homophone Hölle = hell.|
|3.||Musician and TV host.|
|4.||Chocolate-covered marshmallow cookies.|
|5.||Produced for the 50th anniversary of the Sarotti chocolate company, whose original shop was at Mohrenstrasse 10 in Berlin. The cookie became famous as the Sarotti Mohr — the Sarotti Moor.|
|6.||Fat (usually butter)-heavy dough.|
|7.||“der Mensch” and not, for instance, “die Menschin”.|
|8.||in place of “wie man…kann,” Broder humorously illustrates the problem by saying “wie man/frau…kann.”|
|9.||Another play on words: “Hass” = hatred; “hässlich” = ugly.|
|10.||Moderator in North German Broadcasting.