Photo by tetedelacourse (Flickr CC)
Germany is once again locked into a big debate about banning the NPD. It’s an old wheel that gets cranked around every few years. What’s more important – freedom of speech and freedom to be in a party, or the freedom not to, y’know, have Nazis around, intimidating people they don’t like and generally spoiling the world for everyone else?
Obviously, the old “it’s better to have them out in the open” argument has been slightly destroyed in recent months, now that we know that there are secret Nazis, who go round shooting immigrants in the head. It turns out that allowing a few “moderate” Nazis to form parties does not stop the murderers doing their murdering – and probably helps them a bit.
But there’s an easier argument that cuts through the complex knot of conflicting freedoms. The basic problem is that the NPD is really just a convenient punching bag for the German middle-classes. Normal Germans don’t hate the NPD because they give a shit about immigrants. They don’t hate the NPD because they’re racist idiots, or because they still like Hitler. They hate them because they’re working class Easties who went to Hauptschule. That, to the bourgeois sensibility, is much more offensive than hating immigrants. And that’s exactly where the NPD draws its last remaining political strength from – the disenfranchisement of working class Easties who went to Hauptschule.
The last thing that Germans want is for the NPD to be banned, because they’re a convenient way of proving that they are not racist themselves. “I can’t be racist because I flash-mobbed the NPD Facebook page.”
The German media has been saturated for the last few months with stories about the National Socialist Underground and the NPD. In case you don’t know, they were three deranged bastards who got away with killing nine immigrants because the police were too racist to figure out who was doing it – “Brown people being killed? It must be other brown people.”
But this week, another story did not get much of a mention in the press. A court in Koblenz ruled that the German police was allowed to use skin colour as a guide on who to spot-check in trains. The decision came after a black German, who had been made to produce his ID one too many times, finally snapped and refused. You can read his reaction here.
This ruling, which essentially suspends the German constitution and sanctions police harassment of ethnic minorities, has distinctly not become much of a scandal.
So that’s why, on balance, I’m in favour of banning the NPD. Maybe then middle class Germans might look around for other, less dirty and uneducated racists to get all pissed off about.