When Foreign Secretary and soon to become Federal President of Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, calls president-elect Donald Trump a „hate preacher“ and refused to apologize, you get an idea of how politics are debated in Germany. Trickle down political correctness and consensus rules, implemented by the MSM and public TV, that every citizen, regardless if he owns a TV or not, has to pay for by legal compulsion.
Thus, conservative arguments are scarce in the public debate. In many minds, convervatism belongs to „The Right“ and that, for left-wing zealots in the media and many other, equals Naziism. Germans getting ever stronger and braver battling the Third Reich, the longer it is gone. Being on „The Right“ is a pejorative word in Germany. Conservative voices you find mainly in the blogosphere. Yet there are several efforts in place, to quiet them. For example the „Amadeo-Antonio-Stiftung“, a foundation run by Anetta Kahane, an active ex-informant of the „Stasi“ (the secret police in the deceased, totalitarian German Democratic Republic). Mrs. Kahane thus has a rich experience in how to quiet critical voices. It should come as a surprise, that deparments of the German Government fund this foundation with millions of dollars per year. To battle „hate speech“ and so forth. Instead of focussing on attacking the extreme right, that challenges the constitution, the foundation concentrates heavily on discrediting blogs that are extremely succesful and critical to the government of Mrs. Merkel. According to the – tax funded – foundation, it is hate speech to use the term „economic refugee“ for an individual not entitled to asylum.
In late November, an heretofore unknown „Executive Strategy Director“ of the advertising giant Scholz & Friends (of: „Tofu is gay meat“-fame), a company with the German federal government and big corporations as clients (General Motors‘ „Opel“, Deutsche Bahn among them), started a boycott, prompted by a social media campaign titled „KeinGeldFürRechts“, which translates as “No Money for the Right“. The website is called davaidavai.com. „Davai, Davai“ was the most beloved word in the language of the guards of the gulags in the former Soviet Union, while chasing the prisoners to forced labour. The red communist star shining above this headline indicated that a late stalinist was on a mission. With success, at first. Deutsche Telekom, the parent company of wireless carrier T-Mobile, said it “absolutely does not tolerate discriminatory actions or statements”, confirming its adverts had not been placed intentionally on breitbart.com, one of the early targets of the boycott.
But then, the „Excecutive Strategy Director“ made a strategic error. He not only implemented illegal data-mining to sell his followers to whoever bids most. The digital wonder-boy attacked the highly successful conservative Blog „Die Achse des Guten“ (The Axis Of Good), run, amongst others, by one of Germany’s most well-known and prize-winning journalists and author of many books, Henryk M. Broder. Broder, whose parents survived the Holocaust, did not like to be categorized as a Nazi. Even less by an intellectually servely challenged ad-agency-executive-strategy-director with no historical knowledge whatsoever. The „strategist“ had to learn it the hard way, that he punched three classes above his weight-class. Broder responded with scathing criticism to the boycott, comparing the effort to silence free speech to 1930s Nazi propaganda against the Jews. „Deutsche! Wehrt Euch! Kauft nicht bei Juden!“ („Germans! Defend yourselves! Don’t buy from Jews!“).
The wind shifted, the social media postings and comments in defense of the Blog and free speech exploded. „Die Achse des Guten“ (@ach_gut) trended on twitter and the employing agency Scholz & Friends and its customers caught fire as well. Thousands of 1-Star-Ratings, many with elaborate comments in defense of free speech, rained down and tanked the appraisal of the agency on Facebook. The agency, that heralds strategy, public relations, campaigning, public affairs and digital media as key fields of competence, appeared overwhelmed and unable to react. At first, it responded with an appeasing posting on Facebook and, later, with an op-ed of its managing director in an advertising-industry publication. A weak and lukewarm meandering and semi-distancing from the boycott effort of its employee showing an ineptness in the alleged areas of competence, that left many speechless.
The counterattack of Broder et al seems to be succesful at the moment. The stalinist is purged from the website of its employer, his facebook-profile was heavily redacted back to 2008 and the denunciation-platform is offline for all not in possession of a password.
Scholz & Friends are advising branches of government. They support the abovementioned Amadeo-Antonio-Foundation. The agency is the incubator and the breeding ground for what now begot from their midth. I.e. an employee, using the stalinist regalia (davai davai, red star) of terror to restrict freedom of speech it pretends to defend and using anti-democratic methods it pretends to fight.
The battle for free speech is far from over. With federal elections on the horizon in September 2017, expect more efforts to silence those, daring to make use of constitutional rights. It remains to be seen, if Mrs. Merkels government, as a client of Scholz & Friends, will react in any way. Don’t bet the farm on it.
© Joachim Nikolaus Steinhöfel 2016 – Disclosure: The author is a regular, but strictly pro-bono contributor to „Die Achse des Guten“.