Höcke im Thüringer Landtag. Photo by Olaf Kosinsky (CC BY-SA 3.0 DE)
When can we agree that someone is a Nazi? And when can we agree that if you tolerate Nazis in your party, or your society, you're inviting the end of democracy? It used to be that people voted for the AfD because they thought Angela Merkel was letting in too many refugees. But that was a while ago and anyway Merkel has now accommodated most of the AfD's suggestions about it (except for killing people at the border). So now the AfD has lost interest in the refugee thing. In fact, they've cranked through all those issues – the EU, climate change, the euro, traditional families – like a series of chores, because they've finally got to what they really want to talk about – the Holocaust and how Germany shouldn't feel sorry about it.
Yesterday, Björn Höcke, the party's screeching history-revision teacher, survived the AfD's half-arsed non-attempt to kick him out for declaring that Germany needed a "180-degree turn" from the whole Holocaust remembrance thing. His leader Frauke Petry said he'd become a "burden" to the party. But not too much of a burden for the AfD's privy council of Skeksis, who, after briefly pretending they disagreed with him, gladly stretched Germany's Overton window to include questioning Holocaust guilt. (Looking for more evidence? The local AfD in Baden-Württemberg last week launched a bill to defund a Holocaust memorial.)
If you vote for the AfD – which 10-15 percent of Germans would've done if they could've voted last weekend – you're voting for a man who once argued for closing borders because of the differing evolutionary "procreation strategies" of Africans and Europeans and someone who thinks it's bad that "we Germans, our people, are the only people in the world to have planted a monument of shame in the heart of our capital." In other words, Holocaust shame is anti-German and unpatriotic.
Trump supporters would probably tell us we're supposed to "give them a chance". But the whole point of Germany is that we don't give Nazis a chance anymore. That's what the Grundgesetz was built around. Some opinions do not belong here. Some speech has no right to be free here. Because democracy has to defend itself against tyranny. We can't let our wishy-washy liberal reason invite in this wriggling worm. It will bring catastrophic decay. What I'm saying is if you see Björn Höcke go ahead and punch him in the face as hard as you like. It'd be a patriotic German act. It'd be democratic.
It's frightening that people don't realise how basic things have become. A year ago I was reading articles about how Berlin's refugee crisis wasn't really a refugee crisis but the result of the city's defunded bureaucracy. Now I'm reading about how Plato predicted the Trump tyranny and the extinction of American democracy and retweeting people who say things like "the Overton window becomes weaponized". Politics itself is dying - this isn't a political debate anymore. This is now just an attempt to stop people doing willful cruelty to other people.
Audio-Konrad is available here, on the News des Nachrichtens podcast with Drew Portnoy: