Henryk Broder’s talk at the AfD fraction of the Bundestag onJan 29, 2019, as documented [in a shortened version] by Die Welt and Achgut.com on 31.01.2019 Translated by bea sara goll © 2019 [explanations in […] are of the translator.
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for the invitation.
I have been to the Bundestag several times, most recently at a meeting of the Petitions Committee. But I have never spoken before a faction. My first choice would have been the Grüne. I would have even come here by bike or a rowboat. But the Grüneare not that far yet, that they would invite someone like me. First of all, I would have to start separating my waste, heating my home sparingly and using less water. I do not do that. I do not even believe that the climate change exists because there has not been a day in history when the climate has not changed. Climate change is as new as the eternal succession of winter, spring, summer and fall. What is new is that the climate has become the fetish of the enlightened, who believe neither in Jesus nor in Moses or Mohammed. The British writer Gilbert Keith Chesterton, the inventor of Father Brown, has already said the right thing: "Since people no longer believe in God, they do not believe in anything, they believe all sorts of nonsense."
The worldwide hype surrounding a 16-year-old Swede, who considers herself a revenant by Jeanne d'Arc, has proved that again, just recently.
But this was just my attempt at an icebreaker to warm up. Back to the beginning: Just as I wonder why you invited me and not Richard David Precht, so ask yourself why I accepted the invitation.
The smell of garlic and sulfur
The thing is very simple. They wanted to see if anyone who can write as good as I do could speak just as well-in the den or hell of brown spotted lions, in the snake pit of reaction, in the darkroom of history. And besides, you want to know if I'm really as likable as I always seem when on TV. Some of you may never have seen a real Jew in nature and are now waiting for the room to fill with the smell of garlic and sulfur.
I like doing stuff I've never done before. I recently went on a cruise for the first time in my life - and I liked it a lot. On my to-do list, which I would like to work off before my 75th birthday, are still: the visit to a swingers club, the journey to the center of the earth and a ride on the Trans-Siberian Railway with Florian Silbereisen [actor playing a cruise ship captain in a German soap opera] as my personal butler. Although a visit to you was not on my list, I accepted the invitation anyway; when does a Jew get the opportunity to perform in a room full of Nazis, Neo-Nazis, Crypto-Nazis and Para-Nazis?
Besides, I'm only doing what the Bundespresident has recently advised us to do. We should approach each other; get to know each other better, talk to each other in order to strengthen the cohesion of this society.
That's exactly what I’m doing. I am a bridge builder, a reconciler; I advocate a colorful, open and tolerant society in which no one is marginalized. I judge people in my environment not by origin, skin color or religion, but by whether, in broad terms, they also accept opinions other than their own. I am tolerant to the limit of self-denial, but I do not want to be tolerant of a group of people: the intolerant ones, who make themselves the measure of all things and promise me either eternal life in paradise, if I follow them, or a box seat in hell, if I refuse them.
That, ladies and gentlemen, was the introduction. Now follows the main part.
PC is an empty box
The idea was that we talk about Political Correctness, though nobody knows what the term really means. It is an empty box into which anyone can throw whatever he considers inappropriate, evil, insulting or dangerous, anything that could threaten "social peace" and that - social peace - is not something that serves peace but rather something that threatens the freedom of expression.
That we can no longer buy "Negro Kisses" and that the Sarotti Moor has been renamed "Sarotti - Magician of the Senses" - that I can live with. Worse, much worse, I find that in some Dutch supermarkets there is no longer any "Jodenkoeken" (Jewish cake), a specialty of shortcrust pastry, which was invented by a Jewish baker at the end of the 19th century. The "Jodenkoeken" are now called "Dutch cookies" and are exported under this name all the way to China. That may be politically correct, but I shall call it a cultural expropriation. I want my Jodenkoeken back!
In Germany, this magnificent product is not sold, which probably has to do with the name. It would have to be renamed, politically correctly, in "Jewish Men and Women’s Cake," and that would be a great laugh then.
But even that is just a petitesse on the edge of the PC field. What I find unspeakable and intolerable, on the other hand, is a statement by Cardinal Marx, chairman of the German Bishops' Conference. He recently said in a discussion in Berlin that the term "Christian Occident" should not be used, because it is "exclusionary". Even more annoying than the cardinal's statement was that no one disagreed with him and nobody said what this statement is for: a preventive submission.
Now, as a Jew, it would not matter to me how a cardinal defines Europe and what semantic exercises he does to avoid being suspected of "marginalizing" anyone. At first glance, such a statement may be seen as a sign of humility; in fact, the opposite is the case. It demonstrates conceit and hypocrisy. "Look how tolerant we are! We do not even claim our story for ourselves!"
To exclude no one may be a noble idea. It just races past the reality. I have never been invited to a Eucharist celebration. Will I be marginalized? An application from me for a place in Jungle Camp was not even answered: a clear case of exclusion! And what about the many prelates, vicars, chaplains and deacons in the Catholic Church who did not make it to Cardinal? How must they suffer from exclusion? Not to mention the women, who have no chance of being accepted into the cardinals' circle.
Political correctness starts where reality ends
Even in nature there is always exclusion. A hamster has no choice, even though he would rather be traveling as a gazelle, one must feel sorry for all giraffes who dream of a life as dolphins, but we cannot help them.
Political correctness starts where reality ends, in the now over 70 gender options, in the rather funny assertion that man and woman are not biological facts, but "social constructs" that leave everybody the choice, whether he or she wants to be a man or a woman or today this and tomorrow that.
Whereby it is scandalous that der Mensch[human being] is a masculine noun for which there is no feminine counterpart.
While we sit here so nicely, a dozen doctoral theses are written about this problem and how you could overcome it.
To avoid misunderstandings, I want to say that I am not a principled opponent of political correctness, if it means that there are things that one should not do and should not propagate.
However, this space of what can be said and what can be done is subject to constant change. I think it is right and proper that homosexuality has been decriminalized and that marital rape has been reduced to a crime from having been a husband's privilege. I think it is right and proper that child marriages should be banned, regardless of the cultural background of the families involved. I am in favor of judging the offense of "child molestation" more severely, in order to be able to follow such cases as that of the already mentioned Greta from Sweden, who was chosen by the climate coalition as the icon of their movement.
I think it is also correct that I - if I call someone an "anti-Semite" - must prove this accusation, which is not easy given the level of education or German judges, for whom the [6 million victims of the] Holocaust is the measure of things and everything under that number is considered mere administrative offense.
And if someone calls a politician he does not like a "Nazi slut", then that would have to be proved and not rewarded by using the satire-card. There is still a considerable need for legal education here.
That's not done
But it is not just laws that can be interpreted differently, of course, by what is called the "discretionary margin" which in turn leads to verdicts that no "normal" thinking person can comprehend. It's also about something that our PC-wise unspoiled parents put into the words "That's not done". You do not put your feet on the table, you do not burp while eating, and you do not call the twelve worst years in German history "bird shit." [The AfD lead, Gauland called Hitler and the Nazis just a piece of bird shit on the more than 1000 years of glorious German historyat a congress of the AfD Junge Alternative].
This is a grave sin - not only from the point of view of the Nazi victims - the Jews, the Gypsies, the homosexuals, the resistance fighters, and the deserters;. It must also be a no-go for any German who is not a Jew, not a Gypsy, not gay and has no relatives who were persecuted by the Nazis.
Ladies and gentlemen, I did not come here to give you a sermon or tell you what to do or not to do. I do not want to block you nor do I want to show you the way. Well, maybe a little.
I am here for two reasons. First, I am all for fair play. And dealing with your party is anything but fair. When your Bremen colleague Magnitz was beaten up - does anyone know how far the search for the perpetrators is now? - Although all have condemned the act, in some of the distancing was also noted that those who sow the wind, must expect to reap storm. Like women, who are blamed, and accused of some complicity when sexually molested because they wear too short skirts.
This is not possible; this is unworthy of a democracy that is based on the idea in the broadest sense that "wrong" attitudes and opinions, that is, deviating from the general consensus, are to be protected. The limits of that which is permitted, I have already pointed out, are established by the Criminal Code. The right to freedom of expression knows no "right" and no "wrong" opinions.
No mirror at home
This also applies to tastelessness of all kinds, such as the SPD deputy Johannes Kahrs lowering himself into the levels of his outhouse a few weeks ago in the course of a parliamentary debate. You remember. He advised you to look in the mirror so you can see how ugly you are. "Hatred makes you ugly!" He shouted to you with the innocence of a man who has no mirror at home himself.
I was speechless and waited, in vain, for an order call from the Speaker of Parliament. Of a similar quality was the contribution of an editor of the Hamburger Morgenpost, who let his imagination run wild: "In a fair world, one would have to withdraw the right to vote from AfD supporters. The same ways as you take away children's toys when they behave badly."
The question of how one recognizes AfD fans and how such a measure would be compatible with the rules of a free election was neither asked nor answered.
This is an isolated case, but a characteristic one.
Yesterday, one day after the Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Grüne radio MEP Michael Cramer was interviewed on Deutschlandfunk - on climate change and pollutants in the air. Cramer said, among other things: "That you have different positions, that's part of it. There are people who deny the Holocaust. There are people who deny that particulate matter and CO2 and nitrogen oxides are harmful to health, that's part of it."
I am trying to imagine what would happen in this country if one of you had said something like that. I would be among the first to attack you.
Some deny the Holocaust, the others the climate, which is not just an idiotic analogy. As already mentioned, one would have to speak of climate change deniers, more precisely: of people who doubt that there is a man-made climate change. Now I am waiting for climate denial to be punished as much as the denial of the Holocaust, and I look forward to the first trial of a Grüne People's Court chaired by Michael Cramer.
Ladies and gentlemen. We live in a consensus democracy. That may not be bad, but I am convinced that it is not consensus but dissent that constitutes the essence of democracy, as we see it right now in England, where the Prime Minister is being cornered by her own party, which would be as unthinkable with us as a takeover of the Bundeswehr by the Salvation Army.
So today I am here to - as Anja Reschke [German journalist] would say - "set a signal" for fair dealings with the political opponent, in the spirit of our Bundespresident. And, because as a responsible citizen of this republic, I do not allow anyone to prescribe where and when I am allowed to appear. Of course, I know that the AfD is a no-go area that should be dealt with on a large scale. More and more it becomes routine to start disputed opinions with the words: "I am not a supporter of the AfD, but ..." But what?
The attitude to the AfD is a kind of political litmus test, as it was to my youth the attitude to the GDR. Whoever failed to refer to the GDR as the "so-called GDR" was considered a communist. My first and only summons to the political police I got before graduation. I had ordered some brochures somewhere in the GDR, which were intercepted on the way.
When a few days ago I told an old friend that I would be performing with you today, he made a face as if I had confessed to him that I made my living with drug trafficking. "You're only instrumentalized," he said. "Do not you know?"
Of course I know it. And you know what? I do not care. Everyone exploits everyone today. The Bild does it to Helene Fischer, Helene Fischer to Florian Silbereisen, Florian Silbereisen to his dorky fans who are following him.
No shit storm is good, a shit storm is better
And me, I'm instrumentalized every day. As proof that there is again a Jewish life in Germany, Jewish communities, Jewish literary and musical days and more and more Jewish cafés and restaurants, one more instrumentalization does not matter.
You instrumentalize me, and I instrumentalize you. I try how far I can go. If there is no shit storm, it is good; if there is one, it is even better.
And if you want to know now whether I intend to vote for you, all I can say is that it depends entirely on you. I am a picker. At the last general election, I gave my vote to the Animal Protection Party. If you want my vote, then you have to convince me. I think it is great that you affirm Israel's right to exist, although that is a matter of course, we also do not discuss the right of existence of Belgium. But that's not enough for me, I expect more. You would have to curb your enthusiasm for Russia and Putin, your US allergy, avoid ambiguities in German history, and give your members and voters clear wine that you are not a depot for contaminated German devotional items. It may cost you a few voters, but it should be worth it. Clarity before unity!
As with good wine, the same goes for political parties. A drop of butyric acid spoils the taste of the whole bottle.
I have long considered how to end this short speech. Dramatic or relaxed? With a good punch line or a bad joke? Maybe with the classic: I do not share your opinion, but I will always work for you to express them freely ... That's too worn out for me, and the source is unclear. It could be from Voltaire or Rosa Luxemburg.
So I make it short and painless: Thank you for the invitation. I hope I have not bored you. And I wish you the strength and the courage to question yourself.
The full talk in German.
Das tut man nicht, Herr Broder!