Readers of this blog know that I am not a fan of Thilo Sarrazin. His best-selling book Deutschland schafft sich ab was a crude screed against immigration, drawing on long-discredited arguments about the genetics and intelligence. His book played into the the policies of the neo-Nazis and other far right groups.
His new book, Der neue Tugend-Terror ("The New Terror of Virtue") , which I haven't read, claims that freedom of speech is dead in Germany, since only "politically correct" talking points are permitted:
In this book I look at how public opinion is developing, and what limits exist for the freedom of speech and what specific restrictions we currently have in Germany. Each society has some limits of what can be said without being subjected to some sanctions, which in general is right. A free society cannot function without such limits. On the other hand, I am observing that here in the West as well the range of things that can be said is constantly shrinking. I am 69 now, so I can look at about 50 years of mass media work. I have been reading newspapers on a regular basis for a long time and I see that over the past 20 years the range of opinions one can express without fearing to be nailed to the pillory and is morally discredited and always shrinking.
This argument is ridiculous on its face. Sarrazin's book is in every bookstore, the man is a frequent guest on the television talkshows, his face is everywhere in the media. Last Sunday, however, Sarrazin was invited to speak about his book at an event open to the public at the venerable Berliner Ensemble. A group of protesters were there to greet him:
Es kam zunächst zu verbalen Auseinandersetzungen zwischen Sarrazin-Gegnern und -befürwortern. Sie schrien einander an und warfen sich gegenseitig Rassismus und "Tugendterror" vor. Die Leitung des Berliner Ensembles räumte dann zur Beruhigung der Lage einer Demonstrantin Rederecht ein. BE-Direktorin Jutta Ferbers holte die Demonstrantin auf die Bühne und ließ sie sprechen – in der Hoffnung, anschließend mit der Veranstaltung beginnen zu können. Die Demonstrantin kritisierte Sarrazins Thesen als rassistisch. "Seine Ideen sind das Zündholz für die Brandstifter von Mölln und Hoyerswerda."
(At first there were verbal disagreements between Sarrazin supporters and protesters. They screamed accusations of "racism" and "virtue-terror' at each other. The management of the Berliner Ensemble attempted to calm things down by allowing one of the demonstrators to address the audience. BE-director Jutta Ferbers brought the protester on stage and let her speak - with the hope that the event could then go on. The protester criticized Sarrazin's ideas as racists: "His ideas are like handing a match to the arsonists of Moelln and Hoyerswerde.")
The protesters continued to disrupt the event and eventually the Berliner Ensemble management decided to cancel it rather than bring in the police. Here is what Claus Peymann, director of the Berliner Ensemble, had to say afterwards about the demonstrators:
Diese unbelehrbaren "Linken" benehmen sich wie die Brandstifter von Hoyerswerda. Sie sind nicht erreichbar. Sie brüllen nur, beschimpfen normale Zuschauer als Nazis und Rassisten. Sie haben sogar Leute geschlagen, draußen vor dem Theater.
(These incorrigible "left-wingers" are the ones who act like the arsonists of Hoyerswerda. They can't be reached. They only yell, and call the completely normal people in the audience Nazis and racists. They even beat up on some people just outside the theater.)
Thilo Sarrazin could not have asked for better advertising for his new book.