Educating Germans about racism is like training dogs to be vegan, so this post is in English, although the original article was in German.
I recently found an anthology published 61 years after the purported discrediting of scientific racism: Binder et al.: Berliner Blätter 39/2006: “Europäische Roma – Roma in Europa” by the Society for Ethnography (GfE in German) of Berlin’s prestigious Humboldt University. I would like to scandalize not that Germans publish racist propaganda again – they never stopped – but that it passes as science.
The author claims to study the influence of Pentecostalism on the middle and lower classes of Roma (whom he refers to by the pejorative “Zigeuner”, because THEY use it too) people in a small Romanian village, where he spent some months. Although an analysis of the invasion of WASP missionaries into former socialist countries and class conflicts within an oppressed group – THEY are always presented as monoliths – sounds interesting, the writer produces nothing from his field study, except for a reinforcement of his Schwaben prejudice.
But instead of turning away in dignified horror, let’s look how this author crafts liberal workhouse ethic and classical Nazi Übermensch theory into a whip against the “lazy poor” [comments/interpretations in square brackets]:
“Despite the many studies about the economic sphere of the gypsy culture, only few tsiganologists have dealt with the economic ethic [or “laziness”] of the gypsies. A [positive] exception are ethnologists who decode an economic and work ethic within the gypsy culture, which forms a stark contrast to the work complex of European modernity.” [So “gypsies” are “lazy” and enemies of progress. “Europe” means progress and jobs for all. Ethnologists should study Rroma only to find out why they’re so lazy.]
“They [the Rroma] prefer informal work relationships, which can be cancelled or modified at any time.” [THEY want to be unemployed.]
“The gypsies understand a fair, balanced reciprocal exchange as ‘robbery and swindle’ against their birthright to asymmetrical trade.” [THEY are born with the “privilege” of being street hustlers.]
“The Roma – according to Stewart – have no problem living as ‘parasites’ of the majority population, because they live at the expense of a society that rejects and excludes them.” [So yes, there is discrimination, but THEY are still parasites. Society pays for THEM.]
“For the Corturari [wealthy Rroma artisans], I can confirm the findings of the ethnologists: They too endeavor to make something out of nothing. Beggary and free-riding are sources of income where the Corturari play asymmetrical trade to the extreme and refuse any reciprocity.” [If THEY ever make it out of poverty, it’s just by stealing even more!]
[And finally the purpose of his study, his “policy recommendation”:]
“Through the Schengen agreement, the Corturari need ‘only’ 500 euro to revive their ancient nomadic practices [The “ancient nomadic practice” of mass expulsion is the only “progress” modern capitalism can offer.] of at three-month intervals and travel to Italy, France, Spain and other rich EU countries. There they roam about as traders, many route euros won through beggary and illegal work [How can you work without legal protection and be lazy at the same time?] back to Romania. Sometimes the Corturari can rely on networks that span the entire continent [World conspiracy!!!]. You hear that some Corturari even work as human traffickers and smuggle Romanians and gypsies to Europe. The new opportunities offered by Europeanization [Select careers such as selling homeless newspapers in front of organic supermarkets.] further support the Corturari in their nature as born middlemen, who profit from transactions between gazos and gazos [Indeed, the 19% sales tax goes straight to THEM!!!].”
So the “asymmetry” is not created by the Western armies, but by the “hordes of paupers.” Not Western companies are “proliferating,” but the people who can’t afford to buy their products. Maybe if we killed all the poor people, only rich people would remain, and their ultra-qualified productive forces would save the world economy!
Such hate speech offers no useful information on how to improve the lives of poor people, but kick-starts many academic careers. This genre deserves the name of ethno-pornography for its glorification of oppression. As in pornography, the details captured by such ethno-pornographers are superficial, the characters portrayed are predictable, even if the production effort can be pharaonic; the only interesting questions are: Who suffers, who watches, who profits?
It hardly surprised me to read that the author now seems to work for a consulting firm. As a “private person,” he resides near the Green capital of Germany, Stuttgart, and spends his free time “on mountains, in art exhibits or at good concerts.”
Berlin, March 13, 2014. The factions of the Berlin Refugee Strike united to protest against the collaboration of Mali’s ambassador with the German authorities. Like her Nigerian colleague, she seems anxious to save the white overlords from her pesky compatriots, as Malijet reports.
Mme Hawa Keita: “If hard-working European immigrants can get rich in Mali, if I could get rich in Mali, anyone can! It’s a land of boundless opportunity. I don’t understand why these people are fleeing. They are enemies of liberty.”
Unfortunately I missed the attempted occupation of the embassy because I was making donuts, but three people were arrested and the state attorney may persecute some protesters for entering the embassy building.
When I arrived, a man from a Malinese youth organization was discussing loudly with 15 or 20 protesters. Police were guarding the entrance. The representative had more courage than his official donors in the embassy and discussed with his angry brothers for at least an hour. Probably he feared his bosses more than the protesters.
Another brave soldier for Mali later came out behind the German police line, showing off his parade uniform and yelling at us for blocking the exit and causing him to be late for an appointment. Maybe he wanted his countrymen to respect his selfless battle against the exorbitant champagne prices in West Berlin. His sacrifice was not appreciated and German patrol officers kindly ordered this Idi Amin wannabe to get back inside and stop bothering.
Many of the bourgeois shoppers stopped to watch our spectacle, which is unusual, because the cops and shitty weather usually protect our demonstrations from public view. Apart from the arrests, the cops were very relaxed on this bright spring day.
The ambassador announced that she wasn’t in her office but would let us talk to one of her lackeys sometime next week. Maybe she was out shopping. It’s like a second job to find the right dress for a deportation. Nothing less than silk will do. How embarrassing if the German cops were to arrest her as a refugee…
Why does the Germany’s political language call immigrants and their children “migrants” or “people with migration background”?
Because plans for their/our emigration (or deportation) are already being made. It would be cruel to call us em>immigrants and thereby make us believe we’re here to stay. This is German humanism.
Why are legal migrants from the imperialist nations not discussed as a problem?
They don’t just take German jobs and apartments, they buy the whole company and the whole house (the poorer ones just buy the bar in Neukölln). They’re more like absentee migrants. Who is and who’s not a migrant is a class issue. An exiled prince is not (mis)treated like his peasant compatriot, Rassismus hin oder her.
Why is counting “minorities” in good jobs a meaningless criterion for inequality?
Because many of those “migration backgrounders” in good jobs were already privileged in their former countries. Discussing the social question as a “racial” issue promotes the racialization of class.
For example, looking at the university enrollment of working class children of all nationalities and at the wage difference between academics and non-academics leads to a more fundemantal critique than talking about racism within academia.
Comparing my social situation as a “swarthy” male from a middle class family to the social situation of an East German welfare recipient tells me more about society than any heated kitchen table discussion with my white middle-class flat mates. With my flat mates I can joke about our imagined “differences,” with my social inferiors I can’t.
This text uses the legitimately criticized term “refugees” for simplicity’s sake. I also often refer to myself as “we.” Feel free to comment on any other sins against language awareness or journalistic prudence below.
During the entire protest camp at Oranienplatz, the main demands of the striking refugees in the German asylum process were:
1. Abolish Residenzpflicht
2. Abolish Lagers
3. Stop Deportation
The left-liberal paper TAZ calls this makeshift catalog “pretty big.” In fact it’s just “pretty.” A major weakness of our modest demands is that they disguise the German legal codes that impose Residenzpflicht, internment camps and arbitrary deportation. Compared to the US Civil Rights movement, a carnival for itself, we are currently demanding desegregation of water fountains. And how far have Civil Rights progressed? Obamacare, 2 million prisoners, BET, “white flight” & “urban blight” and a handful of imperialist wars at once…
So how does segregation in Germany work? Similar to US segregation against immigrants – by turning “them” into aliens and keeping them out of the nation legally (not geographically). Germany’s apartheid system for non-citizens works by subjecting “them” to Ausländerrecht (foreigner law). Its main components are Zuwanderungsgesetz (immigration law) and Asylverfahrensgesetz (asylum procedure law). The categories we use in our daily work, such as “German refugees,” “Schengen refugees,” “migrants”, “German citizens”, “EU citizens” are created by these laws. Although I suggest to avoid “word wars” and focus on practical problems, we should know the source of our terminology.
The full title of Zuwanderungsgesetz is “Law for Control and Limitation of Immigration and Regulation of Residence and Integration of [European] Union Citizens and Foreigners.” So the first obvious purpose is to control immigration, the second to segregate EU citizens (called “Zuwanderer”) and foreigners (called “Einwanderer”).
The part of Zuwanderungsgesetz which applies only to “aliens” is called Aufenhtaltsgesetz (residence law). It applies only to non-EU citizens and second-class EU citizens from the new member states. The explicit purpose of the law is to protect the economy and labor market of the Federal Republic of Germany and to “fulfill humanitarian commitments.” It also decrees that immigrants need to “integrate” before they can even think of working underneath Germans.
Unlike the US civil rights movement, we do not demand more rights for excluded citizens, but citizen rights for non-citizens. This is not to say that all Germans drink milk and honey, but German authorities actively persecute non-citizens. It’s still their nation vs. the world. In the narrow national setting, we simply want the Grundgesetz to apply to all residents. In the narrow national setting, the German state even does a fairly good job of protecting its citizens. This might be why loyalty to the nation always trumped cross-border solidarity – even among immigrants. Whether you hate it or love it, being loyal to Germany pays, that’s why its government bonds are among the best-rated in the world.
People of non-European citizenship are turned into humanitarian cases – because charity victims do not “participate” in the economy. Politicians smear labor migrants as Armutsflüchtlinge (refugees fleeing poverty). This evokes stereotypes of “Afghan Eyes Girl” and “African Water Belly Boy,” but most people who “flee” to Europe are not nomadic shepherds, just average manual or administrative workers who need as much “integration” as an English Lord in Calicut.
The reason why policemen, beekeepers, doctors, car mechanics, IT workers, tailors, engineers cross the Schengen border on deadly boats or under trucks and not via Air Berlin is that, even if they can afford it, it is illegal. Perversely, Air Berlin does provide authorities with charter planes for deportations. Imagine it were illegal for German tourists to fly to Sharm El Sheikh for EUR 39.99… They’d probably call the Bundeswehr.
Likewise, the reason asylum seekers don’t have regular jobs and proper housing – as they had under fascists like Gaddafi, Al Bashir, Ahmadinejad – is not that there are no jobs or houses in Germany, but because it is illegal. So for one, the situation of people in their home countries really has no relevance for their legal status in Gemany. The wars in Sudan and Lybia, for example, are directly influenced by NATO, but the legal treatment of refugees from Lybia and Sudan in Germany is a German issue.
The “asylum cheaters” are the European masters, because they lure migrants into the refugee trap. If you aren’t entitled to citizenship by blood law, your only chance to enjoy the products of your birth country is to declare yourself a humanitarian victim of the anarcho-capitalist regimes installed by the IMF and NATO.
But refugee or “sex tourist,” any justification for your “trespassing” is futile. The reason for your migration is secondary to your origin. It doesn’t matter why you’re here, but where you’re from. A French citizen could flee to Germany to escape government persecution – this happens – but German law will not treat her as an asylum seeker. According to their states of origin, people are either granted freedom of movement and (almost) equal rights with Germans or the slim chance to apply for asylum and “enjoy” humanitarian hospitality.
The reform of the Ausländerrecht was concluded around 2004, under the Red-Green government, which also started the invasion of Afghanistan and thereby triggered the mass escape from that region. As part of the reconstructionist reform of foreigner law, most affairs of non-citizens were delegated to the local Ausländerbehörde (foreigner’s office). For example, non-citizens now no longer apply to the JobCenter for a work permit, but directly to this “special” office. This allows the state to deny non-citizens the right to work guaranteed to German citizens under Article 12 of the German Basic Law (Grundgesetz).
By centralizing decisions, the state can reject applications systematically. The rulers advertised this as “one-stop government.” In reality, it is a “dead-end government.” Most immigration stories end here. Although still in peacetime mode, the Ausländerbehörde is the institutional successor to the Reichszentrale für jüdische Auswanderung, a Nazi office tasked with accelerating the “voluntary” emigration of Jews before the war.
This bureau enforces all the dirty details of Apartheid – exclusion of foreigners from the Grundgesetz, their uncertain residence status, exclusion from the labor market, the legal basis for deportation. These persecutions make it is impossible and unbearable to live in Germany as a non-citizen. Many non-citizens prefer to emigrate voluntarily. So while Germany can claim to protect the rights of its citizens, it effectively keeps out those that pay for these privileges. Oppression is outsourced, profit is nationalized.
The Germans who work for this authority seem to enjoy their deadly occupation. Once I dealt with a case worker who had in her office a vacation poster of the Namibian desert, the location of the first modern genocide committed by Germans. Martin Luther King, Jr. said: “Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.” Nothing and nobody is illegal in Germany. Racism is not a personal fault of certain unemployed hooligans, it is the basis for the legal system, which gives civil rights only to German citizens and “humanitarian” rights to “strangers.” The body of laws that legalizes the crimes of the Ausländerbehörde is Ausländerrecht, so it is not enough to demand abolition of some minor aspects, such as Residenzpflicht, Lagers and Deportation.
We cannot be too demanding, too ideological, too radical. Our ambitions should go beyond the borders of our local Landkreis. Many people who participate in the Refugee Strike do so, because they hope that some protesting refugees may trigger the social revolution Europe’s “little people” so often failed to achieve. This is a lazy projection. Why should the less privileged be more powerful than we? “National liberation” of the colonies did not spark the class war in Europe and neither will the refugees’ individual liberation from their national prisons.
Many rookie supporters only realized through the protest the scope of the “refugee question.” Restricted movement here, neo-colonialism there, Nike-sponsored freedom everywhere. A chorus by Romanian pop star Connect-R goes: “I can be want I want to be / Losing my identity / Cause I got a lot of life in me / Let me live my Americandrim.” Of course your identity is not your choice and your share of booty from the “American Scheme” depends on your market segment. You don’t choose to be rich or poor, black or white.
Yet every other petty trader aims to be the next Donald Trump. Identification with social superiors not only cements the class compromise but nurtures abhorrence against social inferiors. (Yes “we” can speak of superior and inferior people, because every society has a hierarchy; unless we aren’t equal in practice, it is cynical to proclaim theoretical equality. Inequality is not abolished by proclamation.)
After struggling for equal rights with Germans, some refugees may ask: “Why are we here begging them for improvements when we could be preparing the funeral of their empire at home?” The refugee movement was first an empowering awakening to the powers that rule us, then a sobering awakening to the limits of our own power. In the belly of the beast, you eat what you get. Often enough you get what you can take from those weaker than you.
It is obvious that even the small demands we started with will not be fulfilled. The “master race” is unable to reform itself, we are either unable or unwilling to reform it and thereby prolong its rule. The refugee movement is growing. Every external threat strengthens us, mobilizes the activists, every lazy compromise throws us into lethargy and infighting. Such compromises are not just backroom deals with the party that helped draft the current foreigner law, but also sustain the uneasy tolerance between the competing interests in our own movement.
The refugee movement is not a classical “left movement.” It is not primarily a proletarian movement or a majority movement. Most supporters are students or academics, many refugees have the financial or social capital to afford the long trip to Europe. In the movement there are strong class divisions. Educated, “political” refugees have easier access to supporter circles, while Roma or harraga (Maghrebi sans-papiers) are shunned. National and linguistic borders are also strong. There are conflicts between “Lampedusa refugees,” who receive no money from the German government and “German” asylum seekers. The movement is almost exclusively male, although there are some prominent female leaders and many female supporters. The reasons are various, the results foreseeable.
German labor partisans, such as unions and socialist parties, may be egalitarian in their charters, but many risk angering their members by endorsing “foreign competition.” Also, while Marx claimed that “workers have no country,” Marxist states have always been enemies of free movement. Most even imposed some sort of Residenzpflicht on their own citizens. They supported “national liberation” movements only to regulate migration between “socialist brother states.” So while our egalitarian aims overlap with some socialist doctrines, they also compete.
“No Border, No Nation” is not a utopian demand, although we may seem like Qixotes for engaging “imperial capitalism.” Maybe we are nihilists, for simply adjusting to the reality of neoliberal anarchism, which dismantles “weak” states and transports the defeated subjects into captivity? Much of our work is practical support, so we cannot avoid moving within the system. Citizen supporters are encouraged to understand their privileges, not to deny or even reverse them. Our primary goal is not to topple or replace the ruling elite, but to raise the living standard of non-citizens – punctually, if necessary. For this, we could be accused of elitism, and we surely don’t enjoy the support of Germany’s laboring masses, whatever their status in the racist hierarchy.
After the obligatory criticism, many positive aspects remain. Our “market” is growing. Unlike the industrial proletariat, our mass base is unlikely to disappear, because migrants will not stop coming to Europe. Imperial epicenters, like Istanbul or Paris, like Beijing or New York, bloat to Babylonian size, because the goods that flow to the metropolitan consumers are followed by their producers. The pressure will increase the more Europe’s leaders use military force. It’s a statistical law: the more people are affected by a problem, the more perceive it, the more will resist. Every wall will fall.
At first, the oppressions seem to be separate – patriarchy here, racism there. But by understanding your “individual” blockade, you can see that you are standing at different sections of the same wall. We feel the rising pressure within our own movement, we feel that awareness for a single issue can grow into consciousness for the greater picture. But we also see how a pat on the head can turn hungry wolves into German Shepherds.
Even if the strike stagnates, we should not avoid formulating bolder demands. We need to be stubborn assholes, fundamentalists with a healthy anger against Germany, Europe and everything they symbolize. The nation whose most recognized celebrities are Adolf Hitler and Heidi Klum claims authorship of the “enlightenment,” but progress was not possible without lightbulbs and those need aluminum, wolfram, quartz. Without material control over resources in other “independent” states, Germany would look like North Korea at night.
For old-school internationalists, transnational networks of migrants in Europe offer another glint of hope. We have no transnational organization at the moment, because laws and language differ, but the problems are essentially the same. Resistance against Schengen, against chauvinism and against state-operated “peacekeeping” forces offers alternatives to the axis of fatherlands that constitute the current Union. We hope to re-import some of the disorder Europe is exporting worldwide. Whether this breaks or strengthens the class compromise within the member states, whether it improves the position of non-citizens “at the expense” of indigenous Europeans depends on their reaction. It’s not our fault if Europe fails to adjust to a historical development.
The army of refugees is the bravest, strongest force of our days. A few dead killing machines plunge the NATO bullies into deep crisis, but refugees die by the thousands every year. Their army includes women and children, they injure nobody, they fear neither bullets nor sandstorms (they have no choice), but they move steadily and their presence is more stable than any occupation by Western mercenaries. Their persecution is so inevitable that they need no theoretical manifesto or international conferences to grow. They don’t even need to gain “consciousness.” As supporters, maybe we realize that refugees will not take over “because they’re awesome people or something, but because they’re the majority.” We, the privileged, are the minority. The defenders of Fortress Europe are defending a wreck, that’s why they’re paid so well, that’s why it’s right to stab them in the back.
[This post contains confusing references to various uncles and cousins. I have a confusingly large family.]
On September 4, 2013, Bundeswehr pilots dropped two bombs on a wrecked oil truck outside of Kunduz in northern Afghanistan, killing more than 100 civilians. Just weeks before the Bundeswehr massacre, I visited the district where it happened and witnessed the “peace-keeping effort.”
I traveled to a burial in Char Dara from Kabul with a convoy of relatives. Our Toyota van crossed the mountains without any major interruptions. Just a few hours from Kunduz, a long line of cars stood on the road. Our driver halted. The men got out and told me to stay inside.
Someone told me there was a shoot-out on the road between NATO soldiers and “taliban.” In my patchy conversations with Afghans, anyone with a gun and no uniform was a “taliban,” regardless of actual affiliation.
I heard clapping fusillades in the distance. A straight road stretched for about a kilometer. Occasionally, turbaned men ran across under the noon sun. A dozen or more Toyotas stood on each side of the danger zone, men in huddles besides them.
In the late summer of 2009, there was a large NATO offensive against “insurgents” around Kunduz. Locals and officials claimed these “taliban” had come to Afghanistan from Chechnya and other former Soviet regions. Fighting could break out anywhere and civilians were shot and bombed all the time.
So it was this day. After two hours of waiting, a cousin called on the phone, telling us to drive through the skirmish and hold a rag out of the window as a “white flag.” One after the other, the cars passed, each waving a rag. When we drove through, I saw the gunmen waiting in the shrubs.
Half an hour after our passage, we got a call. The van my uncle and cousin drove in had been shot. They had not waved a flag. A gunman had fired a warning shot, causing the driver to speed up, so the shooter emptied his magazine on the van. One passenger had a bullet in his belly and was in critical condition. A bullet had grazed my cousin’s thigh. My uncle and the driver were unharmed.
Our family gathered at a relative’s house in Kunduz to spend the night. The next day, we drove out to Char Dara, although people had warned us against it. Some of my relatives worked for German organizations and were contractually prohibited from leaving their hotels, for fear of attacks. My car passed the last ISAF post, a small hill stacked with sandbags, shielding scared soldiers waiting for orders. This post must have been Elevation 431 (“Höhe 431”), which was fortified the next year.
One aim of the 2009 Bundeswehr “Operation Eagle” – the first offensive since World War II – was to establish a permanent outpost and “pacify” Char Dara, because many fighters used this Pashtun “exclave” as a retreat. (Northern Afghanistan is inhabited by various Central Asian peoples and separated from the Pashtun tribal lands in the south by the Hindu Kush mountains.)
The other aim of the offensive was to reinforce the rule of the Kabul government shortly before the 2009 national elections. Karzai is often called the “Mayor of Kabul.” He is in the same situation as his Soviet-backed predecessors.
Villagers support insurgents out of fear or common interest. ISAF “justice” makes no difference. News report that civilians die in “clashes” between “forces” not in attacks by Western mercenaries. Before my 2009 visit, an uncle’s house in Char Darah had been destroyed by Bundeswehr bombers, because they suspected he was hosting “terrorists.”
Back in 2009, most relatives had already fled to Kunduz or Kabul. Afghans flee the hinterland not because of poverty – they still starve in the cities – but because the country is a war zone. Rockets also fly into Kabul every night, but the city has 5 million inhabitants. Even Obama can’t kill them all; in Char Darah: Yes, he can!
I stayed in Char Dara only for one day. I fell asleep in a garden hut on our walled estate, so I missed the burial, but my cousins and uncles woke me up. Armed men had interrupted the funeral and kidnapped the same uncle who survived the previous day’s shooting.
Gunmen had surrounded our farm. Apparently they wanted to take some rich visitors for ransom, including me and my relatives from Kabul. My cousins, uncle and I climbed over a wall behind a shed into a neighbors farmyard. We hid in his living room for some hours. Every Afghan house is fortified by a 3 meter wall, and I was happy for it.
My uncle phoned his German colleagues, but they were unable to help. Somehow, relatives from the village brokered a deal. Before nightfall, we were able to leave the village in taxis, driving past the insurgents’ sentries. The kidnapped uncle returned a few hours later. In those two days, I learned to stay away from angry people with guns. 4 years later, the Bundeswehr still hasn’t gotten the message.
This year, another “anti-rebel offensive” (Pajhwok) has driven the last members of my extended family from the district. On June 4, 2013, ISAF soldiers raided 15 villages and killed civilians, some of them relatives of mine. The “offensives” have evolved into a war, soldiers massacre people daily. Peace is further beyond the horizon than Communism. My relatives would like to come to Germany – to flee the German soldiers in their own country. But migration is illegal, unless you have a gun and a uniform.
On August 20, Germany’s neo-nazi party NPD tried to hold a rally against a newly opened refugee lager in Hellersdorf, a neighborhood on Berlin’s far-right fringe.
**The concrete-slab dwellers here are economically and emotionally frustrated. Their fearful psyches yearn for authority. The parallel society persiflaged on “reality” TV: infantile grunts who have been promised jobs since 1990, but got only shopping malls.**
Yet, contrary to mainstream prejudice, openly nationalist parties like Pro Deutschland and the NPD achieve only results in the lower single digits. Most of their candidates are “not fit for daylight.” Hellersdorfers support Nazism like fast food fans support cowicide: It’s on the menu, so you eat it. All restaurants sell meat, so it must be normal; likewise, all “non-radical” parties openly promote jingoism. You don’t have to vote far-right to vote racist.
The strongest parties in the neighborhood are the Christian Democrats (CDU), the Democratic Socialists (LINKE) and the Social Democrats (SPD). Like most average citizens, the major parties were completely absent during the protests against the Nazi rally.
Around 800 protesters faced 20 Nazis. Nearly all protesters were “radical activists” according to police and media depictions. In theory, resisting fascism is not “radical,” nor is it particularly courageous. In practice, it gets you beaten and arrested.
If opposing Nazism is coined “radical activism”, then nothing has changed since Weimar: The majority of people in Germany are passive opportunists who’d allow their grandmother to be deported, if it doesn’t interfere with their paycheck.
This includes all residents. The majority of the protesters against the last (failed) NPD rally in Kreuzberg belonged to the politicized elite. Most locals hardly bothered to watch from their balconies.
This does not mean that working-class Kreuzbergers don’t protest. They just seem to care little about German politics, of which racism is an integral part. The Taksim solidarity (and anti-Erdogan) protests attracted thousands of Kreuzbergers.
The Hellersdorfers also kept their distance during the Nazi rally. Boys with overtight shirts and girls with too much make-up watched from across the road. A group of public drinkers, unusually young, unusually female, stared menacingly from their regular bench.
Maybe the hundreds of riot cops dissuaded regular citizens from voicing their protest. The cops had the job to protect the Nazi rally, and they did well.
Apart from the vulgar press, also bourgeois infotainment mags like DER SPIEGEL (“Conflict around asylum center in Berlin escalates”) and the Bionade Socialists of TAZ (“Action in Hellersdorf”) exercised conformity: Radicals here, radicals there, Police keep the peace.
This is not true. The police made the rally possible and escalated a peaceful counter-demo. I’m wondering why the cops didn’t hold the umbrellas for the Nazi speakers. The cops can – and regularly do – dissolve gatherings at will, for example, by citing risks to public safety.
Police squad leaders know various loopholes to bypass freedom of assembly. I’ve been arrested twice this year for attending arbitrarily cancelled (or declared) public gatherings. The Nazis were outnumbered forty to one. Had the police not been present, they would not even have been able to leave their truck.
All of the estimated 25 arrests against activists were for hiding their faces, throwing eggs or just protesting against police brutality. Using the minimum (600) and maximum (800) attendance estimates, your chances for being arrested arbitrarily at a protest against fascism in Germany is 3 to 4%. Your chances for being arrested for holding a Nazi rally: 0%. In 2013. You can see photos of the police’s “peacekeeping efforts” against anti-fascists here.
Not one of these images appeared in the press. Most of the stylish mainstream photographers took their shots from the side of the Nazis. To them, anti-fascists are the “mob.”
When a Nazi beat down a female journalist, the police did not even talk to him, much less stop him. The next day, I heard the officer in charge on the radio, telling citizens not to worry, because his troops had “everything under control.” Christian politicians were quoted, telling “concerned neighbors” not to let themselves be instrumentalized by “rat catchers.”
Hellersdorf is where the subcultures can clash without bothering the fancy folks: Proles, immigrants, Nazis, protesters. Don’t worry, downtown they’re discussing solutions for everybody.