How Democracy Dies in Germany

A scandal has unfolded at a high school in a small town in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany involving a 16-year-old student named Loretta B. who posted some videos on TikTok. The reactions tell us a lot about the increasingly repressive left-wing climate in Germany, the threat to freedom of speech, and the sad state of democracy in that country.

In one of the videos Loretta posted, she was asking what the Smurfs and the Alternative for Germany Party (Germany’s right-wing populist party, also known as the AfD) have in common. Both are blue, she wrote (blue is the party color of AfD). Another of Loretta’s videos stated that Germany for her is not only a place on the map but her home. Yet when the headteacher at the girl’s high school watched these TikTok videos, he decided to call the police.

Incredibly enough, three police officers arrived at the school, looked at the videos and, although they realized the posts were hardly illegal or extremist, they went to interrogate Loretta. The headmaster extracted her from class and had the police escort her to an office, where they lectured her not to post such content again. It was officially called a “Gefährderansprache” (a “warning to troublemakers”). This is a talk that police give to extremists and would-be perpetrators, mostly Islamist radicals, to prevent them from harming and endangering the public.

Quite naturally, the girl was humiliated and frightened by the police and the actions of the headteacher. Her mother has called the whole stunt “a Stasi-shit,” referring to the late state security service (Stasi) in the former communist dictatorship GDR. Mecklenburg-Vorpommern was a part of the GDR until 1990.

After Junge Freiheit, the German weekly newspaper of which I am the founder and editor-in-chief, broke the story about the scandal last week, it became a major issue for many news outlets. For instance, the editor-in-chief of the daily newspaper Die Welt criticized the headteacher for calling the police and stated sarcastically that “the new ideal citizen in Germany is the shamus.” A commentator at Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung blasted what he called “hysterical snooping” against political views the left does not like. The state Minister of the Interior of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, a Social Democrat, nevertheless insisted that he considered the school’s and the police’s actions against a 16-year-old “proportionate.”

This sorry affair tells us a great deal about the political climate in Germany, which grows more and more repressive for anyone who dares to hold views on the political right. AfD is the main target of this repression. During the last months Germany has seen a massive wave of protests “gegen Rechts” (against the right) orchestrated by the mainstream left-wing and left-liberal parties, the mainstream media, the unions, churches, migrant organizations, and Antifa groups.

These protests came in the wake of a highly misleading hit piece by a left-wing journalism organization called Correctiv which alleged that members of AfD had been planning at a meeting in Potsdam “mass deportations” of foreigners. The Potsdam meeting was fantasized to resemble the infamous Wannsee Conference where the Nazis decided on the mass murder of Jews during World War II. Later Correctiv denied that they had talked about deportations, but the aim of fomenting a massive backlash against the party had been achieved anyway.

Even before that, politicians from the mainstream parties were discussing if they could ban the challenger party from the right, founded in 2013 by disgruntled conservatives and right-wingers, which has enjoyed growing support and surged to more than 20 percent in polls amid Germany’s escalating migration crisis and economic problems. In east Germany, more than a third of voters have shown the intention to back AfD. After the Correctiv smear, the party’s poll numbers have slipped back to around 18 or 19 percent. And the pressure is escalating from all mainstream forces to push the “populist” party back.

Germany’s Verfassungsschutz, a domestic intelligence service that supposedly protects the constitution but is actually a spy agency, has branded the AfD a suspected case of extremism primarily because of the party’s opposition to uncontrolled mass immigration. What the German authorities especially contest is the notion of a German people (Volk) with an ethnic component, as opposed to a multicultural conglomerate of immigrants who have been handed German passports.

Under the Federal Minister of the Interior, Nancy Faeser (a Social Democrat), the state has plans to prosecute people for expressing opinions and saying things that, while not strictly illegal, are considered “harmful.” The head of Verfassungsschutz, Thomas Haldenwang, has said that he wants to prevent “certain patterns of speech and thought” to get a hold in the public. He did not clarify what “certain patterns” he means. Respected professors of law and the constitution have expressed deep concerns about these intentions.

“What Ms Faeser is pursuing here, is pure ideology and against the constitution,” warned former Defense Minister and professor of state law, Rupert Scholz, in a recent interview in BILD newspaper. “She delegitimizes free speech, the core of our democratic state.” The law professor Volker Böhme-Neßler of Oldenburg university called out the minister for her “appalling negation of free speech.” Others have drawn parallels to the former GDR policies of suppressing freedom.

But the government of SPD, Greens, and Liberals is on the advance. In recent months, a relentless propaganda wave has presented AfD and other critics of the establishment as a danger to democracy. In fact, the only thing the party is a danger to is the hegemony of the left-liberal establishment and their vision of a “rainbow” democracy that caters to the interests of all kinds of minorities and woke causes. An array of left-wing and green NGOs are showered in taxpayers’ money to “work for democracy” in this specific sense. The Federal Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser pushes ahead with plans for a Orwellian-termed “Demokratiefördergesetz” (Law for the promotion of democracy) which would give an extra €200 million per year for predominantly left-wing pressure groups busy fighting the AfD.

The “Smurf scandal” at the high school in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern might sound like an overblown, once-off sort of outrage, but it is emblematic of hundreds and even thousands of similar incidents where citizens are intimidated for stating unruly views that the government and the mainstream media do not like. Public servants are afraid to lose their jobs or suffer a career setback if they speak out. AfD party activists have had their cars burnt or their houses attacked with paint or stones; hotels and other venues are very reluctant to rent out locations for AfD meetings and events because, if they do, they are often faced with threats or violent attacks by Antifa groups.

The government claims they are “promoting democracy.” But what kind of democracy has a government that denounces the second-largest opposition party as “enemies of democracy”? What kind of democracy allows the main political block to organize state-sponsored mass protests against dissidents who divert from the mainstream—to the point where citizens and even schoolchildren are intimidated because of their political views? Is this democracy or is it a half-totalitarian state?

The attempts to crush an outspoken opposition force through a combination of state propaganda and the disturbing abuse of a domestic spy organization are reminiscent of the former GDR, not a proper democracy of the type that the people in the former GDR had hoped for when they took to the streets more than 30 years ago to rid themselves of left-wing dictatorship. What we are witnessing now is the emergence of a kind of GDR 2.0. Those who claim to protect democracy are effectively undermining it.

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