Germany: Berlin Paper Prints Photos Of Extreme Right Leaders

Johannes Schneider Johannes.Schneider at
Fri Aug 25 04:39:35 PDT 2000

Michael Pugliese quoted:

> Germany: Berlin Paper Prints Photos Of Extreme Right Leaders
> >from Radio Free Europe
> August 22nd 2000
> By Roland Eggleston

Below is an article from the conservative FAZ ( ) about the issue.

I have to admit this time I have to agree with the FAZ author. The taz has moved to the right (more or less like the Greens ) in recent years. This action is just a cheap PR action to sharpen a sort of anti-fascist profile and no costs at all.

Today junge welt ( ) has taken the place the taz had twenty years ago as _the_ left wing daily.


The Enemies of Freedom By Michael Hanfeld

FRANKFURT. Twenty-two faces, 22 names: The German daily die tageszeitung, known by its acronym taz, published the photographs of "twenty-two important figures in the right-wing extremist scene" on the front page of its Saturday issue and identified them as enemies of us all, as enemies of democracy.

We may assume that the editors' estimate is not wrong, and we may hope that they did not make mistakes in matching up passport photos with names. The people whose pictures were published in the taz are card-carrying members of right-wing extremist organizations and make no secret of the fact that they are enemies of the free democratic fundamental order. Among them are Gerhard Frei, publisher and head of the German Peoples's Union, holocaust denier Manfred Roeder and Udo Voigt, the head of the National Democratic Party, NPD. Some people may be surprised at the inclusion of Horst Mahler, ex-founder member of the Red Army Faction and currently "mentor of the 'Free Comrades'and the NPD." The rest of those named are political officials, some as low in rank as an NPD town councillor in Königstein near Frankfurt.

But why did the paper select exactly these 22 for the tacit exculpation of all others and for the catharsis induced by the photographs that lend a face to the evil in this country? Why did they leave out the people who set fire to Erfurt's synagogue in April, or those who in February 1999 hunted down and killed the Algerian Omar Ben Noui in Guben in Brandenburg? Public naming and shaming might have had the power to shock those right-wing criminals, just as the real or assumed child molesters in the United Kingdom were shocked to be named. But the prominent neo-Nazi figures named in their stead are more likely to feel vindicated, and one or two whose pictures were not published might even resent the omission.

But the taz did not choose these 22 men randomly. They serve a purpose: They show us "that WE are the absolute majority" -- we, the upstanding anti-fascists, the silent majority in this two-thirds society, in which a considerable minority of 20 percent has sympathy for xenophobic slogans.

Naturally, the taz will not reach that minority, nor does it intend to. What it wants is for us, the hesitant members of the silent majority, to feel a little better -- and subscribe to the taz.

The campaign is modeled on the example of four leading Swedish newspapers, which published the names, photographs, and personal details of 62 leading Swedish right-wing extremists last December. The difference between this campaign and the "naming and shaming" of British child molesters in News of the World is marginal. It is significant that the taz admonishes its readers "not to pick up a baseball bat" and join the kind of lynch mob that has become familiar from Portsmouth. The taz writes that the point is not to unmask criminals or suspects, but that we should be able to recognize right-wingers on the street and to "know whether our neighbor or co-worker is among those denying the Holocaust." This is exactly the argument with which News of the World justified the naming of child molesters which the German press -- led by the taz -- was unanimous and vociferous in condemning.

News of the World wrote that 88 percent of Britons were in favor of publishing the details of known pederasts. The taz writes that 10 percent of Swedish right-wing extremists abjured the neo-Nazi scene after the naming campaign by the four newspapers. Thus, each side can cite statistics to support its position.

At first glance, it's hard to resist a certain sympathy for both campaigns. Doesn't it seem justifiable for parents to consider that their children's right to life and safety outweighs pederasts' right to privacy? Shouldn't a democracy know and name its enemies, lest the enemies of freedom have a free hand? But those named by the taz will not be too concerned about their privacy. In fact, some of them get off far too lightly. For instance, the paper presents Roeder simply as a denier of the Holocaust, when in fact he was sentenced to 13 years in prison in 1982 for being the ringleader of a terrorist association which had perpetrated several bomb attacks that cost the lives of two Vietnamese in Hamburg.

The taz' naming action is the final battle of a newspaper which, after several subscription campaigns, has still failed to reach the circulation of 60,000 that it needs to survive. The paper wants to convince us that we are only a hair's breadth away from conditions prevalent in Sweden, where nine out of ten policemen and their families are being threatened by right-wing extremists. To condone this sort of action, one would have to abandon all faith in the state, justice and the police.

All this plays right into the hands of the professional right-wingers. They will emerge feeling even stronger than they became in the times when their violent acts went largely unnoticed by journalism but nevertheless grew into a structural problem -- but one which the news media generally notices only in the summer season. Come autumn, we will be left alone with the right-wingers again.

Aug. 21

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