Sunday, April 27, 2008

A New Kind of Brownshirt

Being a poser is a way of life when you’re in political environment where quangos and appointees make most policy. If you don’t have a platform or opposable thumbs, much of it involves either scaring people or trying to convince them that you walk on water.

John Rosenthal introduces us to a German politician who backtracked after saying that Germany shouldn’t discriminate against Iraqi non-Christians in awarding asylum. The logic is goes something like this: symbolically, giving asylum to a minority of people being targeted for matters of upbringing or conscience makes you prejudiced, especially in the eyes of the people targeting them. Better to open the policy to anyone, and let Ba’athists into your country.

Herta Däubler-Gmelin, you probably won’t recall, is the same woman in September 2002 who compared George Bush to Adolf Hitler. Apparently this is enough to get you appointed to the Bundestag’s Human Rights Committee, having resigned her post of Minister of Justice after the Hitler gaffe only to find that she has a whole new bunch of fans.

Her father deported 70 000 Slovak Jews to Nazi camps.

It’s all very amusing when you consider the confusion Europeans carry around with them. She is an SPD member who has to share space with people who are as wildly Anti-American as the far left and the far right, yet when you corner them, they all have their strange pet theories about America, Jews, minorities, etc. à la Front Nationale, don’t have a very stern notion of what individual freedom is, don’t necessarily understand that there’s anything suicidal about the redistribution policies of the left, or the roles of the unbridled mega-corps of European industry that are as protected from competition from within as they are from abroad.
In Germany, however, the spring and summer months of 2002 would mark the return of a virulent anti-Americanism into the mainstream of German political discourse, as Schröder made a novel sort of "preemptive" opposition to military intervention in Iraq into the centerpiece of his re-election campaign. Däubler-Gmelin made her remarks at a campaign event only days before the elections and the -- at the time merely hypothetical -- prospect of a war against Iraq was again the theme. Bush wanted to use a war "to divert attention from domestic problems," Däubler-Gmelin suggested, just as "Adolf Nazi" had once done.

The chancellor would offer his American counterpart an ambiguous "apology" for his minister's comparison. Significantly, however, he rejected calls for her resignation. Indeed, on the very day of the elections, government spokesman Uwe-Karsten Heye went to the trouble of dismissing reports of her impending resignation as "pure speculation" (ddp, Sept. 22, 2002). The election results would secure victory for Schröder by a razor-thin margin. Shortly after their announcement, Däubler-Gmelin brought the controversy to a close by informing the chancellor that she was not available to form part of the new government.
Which is funny, considering that the history past that she’s so keen to dissociate herself from also happens to be politically useful. Odder still is that those Ba’athists who will likely flee to Germany under her policy revision will recall where their movement has its’ origins: in Hitler’s SA that her father was a “jurist” in.

Just who is it here tangling with evil? The people whose president she compared to Hitler or the parties to mass murder under Saddam that political correctness is manipulating her into helping?

A note to anyone who isn’t convinced that this subject remains touchy: her Wikipaedia page describes her father, the political instrument behind the exportation of people to death camps as merely “a Nazi diplomat and the mayor of Tubingen”.

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