In recent years, a strange Trend has prevailed among the opinion makers of the Republic: demonstrations are no longer evaluated on the basis of substantive debates, but reduced to the stupidest non-common denominator. In 2015, when 250,000 people in Berlin responded to the call of trade unions and environmental associations and took to the streets against the TTIP Free Trade Agreement, der SPIEGEL already raunched that “Pegida, NPD, Front National and their counterparts” were the “Secret leaders” of this protest. Of course, after all, an estimated 250 of the 250,000 demonstrators had not responded to the call of the organizers, but to the call of Lutz Bachmann, a Pegida frontman who was still very present in the media at the time. This percentage was apparently enough to discredit not only the 999% of the other demonstrators, but also their demands. Those who are against Free Trade go to bed with the right-wing populists. What nonsense. But this nonsense has method.
In 1968, the Springer press had already shot at some particularly bizarre participants of the student protests in order to portray the totality of the demonstrators as weirdos. And anyone who only found out about the New Germany and the current camera in 1989 had to think that the participants in the Leipzig Monday demonstrations were mostly right-wing Revisionist lunatics.
Certainly some “conspiracy-believing spinners” and in Leipzig also some “right-wing radicals” marched with the 68 Demos. But surely no one today would come up with the idea of classifying these demonstrations on the basis of this stupidest non-common denominator. This is different in the contemporary demonstrations against free trade, for peace, de-escalation and disarmament, or even against the corona measures.
There is hardly a topic at the moment that is so polarizing and emotionally touching people as the topic “Corona”. And anyone who even allows himself the luxury of taking a differentiated critical attitude has bad cards anyway.
It is strange, however, when every deviation from a dogmatic extreme position is demonized not only by intellectually wild, mostly anonymous Facebook commentators, but also by the journalistic funfair boxers in the richly powerful media. Are you automatically a right-wing Spinner when you take to the streets against the corona measures?
Politics is not a Dogma and there are only in the rarest cases scenarios in which there are only black and white, but no shades of Grey. The whole Corona theme is not about optimizing virological scenarios, but about balancing the scenarios of virologists with innumerable other aspects, starting with fundamental rights, over the question of the material existence of millions of people, up to social and psychological problems. And when it is weighed, there are always people who do not agree with the result. This should be perfectly normal and should be discussed in a democratic discourse in a living democracy.
Is it, for example, a sensible consideration, in a state like Mecklenburg-Vorpommern with currently 16 (!) active Covid-19 cases to restrict the right to demonstrate, ban people from meeting with their friends, and close borders with neighboring countries? I mean, no. Someone else may see this differently. This is perfectly fine and could be the basis of a fruitful debate. But this debate is not wanted and if people then seek the debate on the street, they are immediately pushed into the “nut corner”. Why?
Am I immediately a “Corona denier” because I criticize the incomprehensibly non-transparent and bad figures of RKI and co.? Am I a” nutcase " when I criticize the fact that I am not even allowed to meet with a few friends – all of them not members of a risk group – because of the contact barrier and that the state at the same time negligently fails to protect the risk group in hospitals and old people’s homes? Am I a” conspiracy theorist " when I criticize the fact that development aid is being cut more and more, international organizations like the who are chronically underfunded, and controversial foundations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are closing this gap to push their own Agenda beyond democratic controls? Am I a” right-wing radical " when I ask myself where the state actually wants to get the money that it is now powdering with both hands without significant control and yet millions of people are right to fear for their naked existence?
But such questions do not play a role for the editorials, of course. It’s about “Detlef, Ken and Attila” and some other bizarre characters. I don’t even know Detlef, Attila and Ken. But what does my criticism of the corona measures have to do with “Detlef, Ken and Attila”? What does the criticism of the thousands of demonstrators have to do with “Detlef, Ken and Attila”? What image of humanity is behind this, if one denies people any ability to criticize themselves and turns them into the hand camps of others?
Certainly, some people will also be running along on the Demos, whom one could most likely describe as “irradiated” without wanting to offend them. But at what events do such people not exist? Has democracy since recent times also become the opinion of others? Those who reduce the entire demonstrations to the stupidest non-common denominator, naturally pursue the goal of deterring potential interested parties and discrediting the events as a whole. Who wants to go to a Demo full of “spinners”, “conspiracy believers”, “right-wing radicals” and “other lunatics”? Then you prefer to stay at home and if everyone thinks like that, then at some point there will really only be irradiated on the Demos. Goal achieved, debate ended. At some point, “Mommy” will already acknowledge that we have followed the measures well, and promise to relax if we continue to be good. Just as if it was about being able to watch Netflix for another hour in the evening, if we do our homework nicely. Is this democracy? I’m sorry, I have a different understanding of democracy. But apparently I am also a weirdo.