Saturday, August 19, 2017

Alternative for Germany?

A disturbing video frame (©Der Spiegel)

Here in Germany we have recently heard a lot about the Alt-right movement - sometimes also called neo-Nazis - in the States. The Alt stands for alternative and the word is also part of the name AfD (Alternative für Deutschland ), a right-wing party that will certainly make it into the next Bundestag (Germany's House of Representatives) following our federal election on September 24.

Unsatisfied with the work of the existing parties quite a number of voters indeed are looking for an alternative not realizing that the AfD above all is a "Germany first" party. Its members are right-wing populists and Eurosceptics. Founded in 2012 the AfD is now represented in 13 of Germany's 16 state parliaments.

It is comforting to see that up to now the AfD has been self-absorbed in fights for sure seats in state parliaments and for the party's presidency. For me it is more important that so far no AfD member has shown the charisma of a Führer although some of the party faithful may think otherwise.

The AfD chairpersons are Frauke Petry and Jörg Meuthen. Frauke has a doctorate in chemistry but it may be unfair to quote the 18th-century German physicist Georg Christoph Lichtenberg: Wer nichts als die Chemie versteht, versteht auch die nicht recht (Anyone who understands nothing but chemistry does not even understand chemistry properly). Nevertheless this week the Saxon state parliament waived Dr. Petry's immunity so the prosecutor may continue his investigation into her having allegedly committed perjury in an AfD matter. Divorced from her husband, a Lutheran pastor, leaving four children in mental turmoil Frauke now lives with a party colleague and gave birth to a common child in May 2017.

Even tactless campaigning is welcome:
Dr. Petry presenting her love child on an election poster.

Another ambitious lady is Beatrix von Storch, AfD deputy chairwoman and member of the European parliament. Lambasting Angela Merkel as the biggest liar in Germany von Storch stated in a debate about incoming refugees: Und wenn die das HALT an der Grenze nicht akzeptieren, können die Vollzugsbeamten im Grenzdienst Schusswaffen auch gegen Personen einsetzen (And if they don't obey the HALT command at the border the border officials may use firearms against persons too), a situation we frequently had with East German border guards at the inner-German border before 1989.

Red Baron wrote this blog when he was digesting a small note in the Badische Zeitung: No bed for Gauland.

Alexander Gauland, a former Christian Democrat, is a co-founder of the AfD and a deputy chairman. Following a planned party rally at Bad Mergentheim old Alexander (76) wanted to rest his weary head on the pillow of a hotel bed. When the local AfD branch tried to make a reservation the owner of the hotel barred Mr. Gauland from his premises. Immediately the party made the story public calling the ban a reminiscence of the darkest period in German history: Deutsche! Kauft nicht bei Juden (Germans! Do not buy from Jews). Imagine, such an argument made by the AfD.

The hotel owner said that he has the domiciliary right to decide whom he would like to see as his guest. It goes without saying that the Central Council of Jews in Germany did not dig the historical comparison brought forward by the AfD.

Gauland is one of the two AfD lead candidates in the upcoming federal elections. The other one is Alice Weidel, a management consultant and an avowed lesbian. Although the AfD stands for the traditional German family and is strictly against eingetragene Lebensgemeinschaften (registered partnerships) Alice lives happily with her Swiss partner who brought two sons into the "marriage".

When Weidel was nominated as one of the lead candidates at a party convention in the spring she formulated the memorable statement: Politische Korrektheit gehört auf den Müllhaufen der Geschichte (Political correctness belongs on the garbage heap of history). Although Red Baron thinks that political correctness is sometimes far-fetched Alice overshot fully.

A strong reaction to her remark followed promptly. As translated on Wikipedia the host of extra 3, one of Germany's popular TV satire programs, said, "Sure, put an end to political correctness. Let's all be politically incorrect. That Nazi bitch must be right. Was that politically incorrect enough? I hope so." Weidel sued, seeking to forbid re-airing of the program, and on 17 May the Hamburg District Court ruled against her, stating that a public figure must stand against exaggerated criticism. Weidel disagreed with the decision and promised to bring it to the Oberlandesgericht (Higher Regional Court).

AfD, an alternative for Germany? Doesn't a fish rot from the head down?

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