Tue Aug 11th, 2015 at 03:30:08 AM EST
After the surrender of the Syriza government in the Eurozone vs. Greek democracy battle, the focus of European public opinion shifted to the new wave of refugees. And it gets even uglier than in the case of Greece. Especially in Germany, where xenophobia in public speech is fast on its way to catch up with and surpass Britain or the Netherlands, now going into terrorism territory. Last week, the outspoken commentary of a German TV journalist triggered a debate on on-line racism:
German TV presenter sparks debate and hatred with her support for refugees | World news | The Guardian
Anja Reschke used a commentary slot on Tagesthemen, the nationwide news bulletin of German public broadcaster ARD,to lambast hate-filled commentators whose language she said had helped incite arson attacks on refugee homes.
She said she was shocked at how socially acceptable it had become to publish racist rants under real names.
"Until recently, such commentators were hidden behind pseudonyms, but now these things are being aired under real names," she said.
In a follow-up interview in Die Welt (of all places), Reschke says:
|Anja Reschke über ihren "Tagesthemen"-Kommentar zu Flüchtlingen - DIE WELT
| Anja Reschke on her "Tagesthemen" commentary about refugees - DIE WELT
|...Wir Journalisten kriegen irre viele Zuschriften, und ich finde, dass sich der Ton im letzten Jahr massiv verschärft hat. Das ging mit der Ukraine und Griechenland los und weiter mit Pegida und den Flüchtlingen. Man wird regelrecht überschwemmt mit üblen Kommentaren.
|...We journalists get a ridiculous amount of letters, and I feel the tone has worsened massively in the last year. This started with Ukraine and Greece and continued with Pegida and the refugees. We are downright swamped with nasty comments.
This is interesting for two reasons: one, Reschke acknowledges (even if passingly) the uninhibited xenophobic anti-Greece hate-mongering and connects it to what is traditionally and more widely recognised as racist hate-mongering; two, she claims an escalation based on something quantifiable (hate mail received by journalists).
As for publishing racist rants on-line under real names, Reschke is not the only one writing about this. In a commentary on SpiegelOnline, Sascha Lobo not only says that a new wave of arson attacks on refugee homes would deserve the "terrorism" tag, but extends it to the self-reinforcing on-line movement of 'alarmed citizens' who now set up closed Facebook groups to warn each other about the appearance of foreign-looking people in their neighbourhood.
Media critic Thomas Lückerath tried to get Facebook to take down racist postings, including ones calling for outright murder, but was rebuffed in each single case, with ridiculous arguments (the postings they do bother to take down are erotic ones).
Meanwhile, another on-line activist, Heinrich Schmitz, declared surrender after someone called police in his name, telling them "he" just killed his wife, leading to a police search. Schmitz thinks this attack was a reaction to his public support for the re-launch of a petition against refugee home attacks, which was first taken down by its original initiator after an anonymous caller threatened to kill his family members, citing their names and addresses. Schmitz justifies his provocative surrender with losing hope in his cause, seeing the meagre public support for pro-refugee activism and the reluctance of personal friends to take risks against the angry mob.
|Rechte Hassbürger und Meinungsfreiheit: Nicht mehr den Arsch aufreißen für meine lieben Mitbürger - Politik - Tagesspiegel
|Right-wing hate citizens and freedom of opinion: No more busting my ass for my dear fellow citizens - Politics - Tagesspiegel
|Ich habe kapiert, dass die ,,schweigende" Mehrheit der Bevölkerung am liebsten ,,schweigt". Dass sie keineswegs mit dem Hass auf den Straßen einverstanden ist, aber lieber hinter den Gardinen steht, statt selbst auf die Straße zu gehen. Dass die Frau an der Spitze dieses Landes das Schweigen zur Regierungsmaxime erhoben hat und sich gerade deshalb alternativloser Beliebtheit erfreut. Dieses Schweigen wird über kurz oder lang zu einem ,,Schweigen der Lämmer" werden. Es soll dann nur niemand behaupten, er hätte nichts gewusst oder er habe nichts tun können. Ich habe es oft genug gesagt. Das ist jetzt vorbei.
|I understood that the "silent" majority of the population prefers "silence". That they don't agree with the hatred on the streets at all, but will rather stand behind the curtains than going on the street themselves. The fact that the woman on top of this country elevated silence to with the government's maxim and enjoys a popularity without alternative for just that reason. This silence will be sooner or later turn into a "silence of the lambs". But no one should then claim that he had known nothing or he couldn't do anything. I've said it often enough. That's over now.