The enduring brown cloud
One of the constants of my many sojourns in Germany, whether one speaks of 1982 or 2009, is the enduring presence and influence of the radical right. Back in the 1980s it was the Republikaner, today it is largely the NPD, but whatever they call themselves, they are neonazi fascists and truly despicable.
The other day I watched a ZDF documentary “Neue braune Welle” and was deeply disturbed by it. In many ways, it just reported what we already know, which is that the NPD and their ilk have a strong hold on disillusioned young men and remain prepared to commit violent acts. The disturbing part was that it reinforced my not-so-vague impression that the German police, in general, turn a blind eye to these pinheads, or go further and actually help support their activities. There is even a saying in Germany that the police are auf dem rechte Auge blind (blind in the right eye).
The Bavarian town of Gräfenberg has the misfortune to have become something of a magnet for this trash, likely due to the presence of a large war memorial. The NPD routinely organizes loud, ugly marches to the memorial, poking their finger squarely in the residents’ eyes. The townspeople got sick of it, organized themselves into a civic forum, and organized a counter protest in the form of a sit in blocking the approved path of the NPD march. Not only did the police assist the NPD with finding an alternate route, some of the organizers of the local counter protest received fines for blocking the march and others are being brought up on charges of obstructing a legal demonstration.
Given that the NPD is always on the cusp of being declared illegal (verfassungswidrig–unconstitutional–Germany’s constitution forbids neonazi activities), and since Bavaria’s interior minister has spoken loudly and forcefully of his support for such a ban, one would think that the events in Gräfenberg would motivate the politicians to take this final step and outlaw the NPD. Instead they choose to fine and prosecute people who want to defend their town against bigoted and hateful young men.
That this is shameful and disgusting would seem to be obvious. Alas, one sees so much latent anti-foreigner sentiment here that one suspects the NPD remains legal out of fear of a backlash.
[Note: I refrain from linking to the NPD. Remember that Google ranks pages based in part on how many times they are linked, so be cautious with links to noxious content.]