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John Riceburg: Live and let pie

Sahra Wagenknecht of Die Linke and AfD's Beatrix von Storch have now both been hit in the face with a dessert. John explains why that's unfortunately not the only thing they have in common.

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Photo by dielinke_sachsen (CC BY 2.0)

It’s happened again: Another prominent German politician has been pied! Back in late February, Beatrix von Storch of the right-wing AfD was hit with a cream pie. Last weekend, Sahra Wagenknecht of the left-wing Die Linke got a face full of chocolate cake.

The two politicians couldn’t be more different. Storch is an aristocrat and the granddaughter of Hitler’s finance minister. Wagenknecht is the daughter of an Iranian student in West Berlin and an art dealer in East Berlin. Von Storch dedicated her life to Catholic moralising, Wagenknecht to Marxist economy.

But there are also a few uncomfortable parallels between the two women. Von Storch called for shooting women and children who try to cross the German border (unless you believe that ridiculous story about slipping on her mouse) and this is totally consistent with the AfD’s rabid xenophobia. Wagenknecht, in contrast, is the parliamentary speaker of a party which officially calls for open borders and opposes all deportations. But in the name of “realism”, she has broken rank to call for “upper limits” to the number of refugees – the same demand raised by Bavaria’s CSU.

Notoriously, Wagenknecht also called for the deportation of refugees who broke the law: “If you abuse hospitality, you lose your right to hospitality.” As many other members of Die Linke pointed out, asylum is a democratic right guaranteed in the constitution. It’s not some form of “hospitality”. And why should non-German criminals be punished more severely?

The AfD has been sucking away at Die Linke’s traditional voter base in the former East, leaving “the Left” in third or fourth place in the polls. Wagenknecht’s cynical calculation is that she can win some of them back by repeating some slogans from the Stammtisch. (By the way, this is never going to work – racist voters will always prefer the original to a copy.)

And so… BAM! This action was carried out by “Pies for Misanthropes“, with apparently no relation to the initiative “Order to Pie” that did the last one.

Since the incident, everyone and their great uncle from Die Linke has been shouting about “Soldarität mit Sahra!” They’ve spoken about “violence against women” and even a “terrorist attack”. But come on!

It was a pie.

I seem to remember a few left politicians laughing when von Storch got one (including me). I think the real issue here is that Die Linke is a party which, despite all proclamations to the contrary, is happy to deport refugees.

One thing doesn’t sit right with me though: In the last two cases, it was male pie-throwers and female politicians. In Storch’s case, this opened the floodgates for all kinds of sexualised shaming. And that’s not cool. But as the taz has pointed out, German politics has a long tradition of pie throwing, and most of the targets are men: Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg (CSU), Jürgen Trittin (Greens), Reinhold Gall (SPD)…

Let’s just say that pie-throwing fetishists clearly have it easier in this country than elsewhere. And if they hit a few racists while getting their jollies, I’m all for it.