Welcome to the new version of European Tribune. It's just a new layout, so everything should work as before - please report bugs here.

German Weekend non-Roundup

by dvx Sun Sep 16th, 2007 at 08:49:15 AM EST

An arbitrary compilation of issues in the German news this weekend.


Art and Unart

German Cardinal Draws Fire Over Use of Nazi Term | Culture & Lifestyle | Deutsche Welle | 15.09.2007

A German cardinal has triggered a storm of criticism in Germany by describing atheist art as "degenerate" -- a term usually avoided in public discourse because of its association with the Nazis.

Cardinal Joachim Meisner was speaking at the blessing of his archdiocese's new art museum, the Kolumba, in the heart of Cologne, on Friday.

"Wherever culture is separated from the worship of God, the cult atrophies in ritualism and culture becomes degenerate," he said.

The use of the word in question - "entartet" - to signify degenerate is not simply an oopsie, but an "Unart" - a violation of acceptable norms of behavior. Because every educated German knows:

The word "degenerate" is hardly ever used in Germany today because of its known association with the Third Reich.

The National Socialists' aggressive persecution of artists whose works did not conform to their ideology culminated in 1937 with the infamous Munich-exhibition called "Degenerate Art" in which a collection of modernist artworks was displayed, accompanied by texts deriding the works.


Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Perhaps this commentary nails it best:

Regressing to the Middle Ages


Der Verzicht auf einige Reizvokabeln hätte Meisners Ausführungen freilich nur graduell besser gemacht. [...] [D]er Kardinal [legt] ein Kulturverständnis an den Tag, das eigentlich nur noch als mittelalterlich zu bezeichnen ist. Mit den ausdifferenzierten, plural-demokratischen Lebensformen unserer Tage hat es nichts zu tun. Man schämt sich ja fast der Banalität des Hinweises, dass riesige Kunst-Areale zumal der Moderne durch Meisners enges Raster fallen. Was ist mit der Kunst von religiös indifferenten Autoren, von Pantheisten, Agnostikern oder Atheisten? Was ist mit Picasso und Duchamps, mit Proust und Beckett, mit Brecht und Sartre, mit Nono und Henze? Alles ,,entartete" Kunst, weil nicht von Gottesverehrung angeleitet? But of course the omission of some inflammatory terms would have improved Meisner's remarks only gradually. [...] The cardinal is exhibiting an understanding of culture that can only be termed medieval. This has nothing to do with the differentiated, pluralistic-democratic lifestyles of our era. One feels almost embarrassed by the banality of the observation that enormous areas of art, particularly the modern, falls outside of Meisner's narrow parameters. What of the art of religiously indifferent authors, of pantheists, agnostics and athiests? What of Picasso and Duchamps, of Proust and Beckett, of Brecht and Sartre, of Nono and Henze? All "degenerate" art, because it is not guided by divine worship?

Shoot first. Ask if it's legal later.

Bund - Politik - FAZ.NET - Anti-terror: Jung: Shoot down Planes even without law if necessary


16 September 2007 
Bei einem Terrorangriff würde Verteidigungsminister Franz Josef Jung ein entführtes Passagierflugzeug notfalls ohne gesetzliche Grundlage abschießen lassen. ,,Wenn es kein anderes Mittel gibt, würde ich den Abschussbefehl geben, um unsere Bürger zu schützen", sagte der CDU-Politiker dem Nachrichtenmagazin ,,Focus". Es gebe das Recht des übergesetzlichen Notstandes.

Der Minister erklärte, er wünsche sich eine verfassungsrechtliche Klarstellung. ,,Aber da gibt es noch keinen Konsens in der Koalition." Jung räumte zwar ein, dass das Bundesverfassungsgericht den Abschuss eines gekaperten Passagierflugzeuges auf die Fälle beschränkt habe, in denen nur Terroristen und keine Unschuldigen an Bord seien. ,,Aber wenn es eine gemeine Gefahr ist oder die Gefährdung der freiheitlich-demokratischen Grundordnung, dann gelten andere Regeln."

16 September 2007 
In the event of a terror attack, German defense minister Franz Josef Jung would order a hijacked jet to be shot down even in the absence of legal legitimation. "If there is no other way, I would give the order to shoot it down to protect our citizens," the CDU politician told the news magazine Focus. He asserted that there was a legitimation of extra-statutory necessity.

The minister stated that he hoped for a constitutional clarification. Jung conceded that the Federal Constitutional Court had restricted shooting down hijacked passenger aircraft to cases on which only terrorists, and no innocent persons, were aboard. "But there is no consensus in the coalition." "But in the event of a general danger or that our free and democratic fundamental order is threatened, other rules apply."

I could deconstruct the enormity of this all day (and indeed, we all have engaged, singly and collectively, in similar exercises often enough before), but I believe it is worth noting that at least in Germany this issue is controversial; I can't imagine any discussion of such action in the current US/UK political climate, nor for that matter in the Sarkozy government. So I'll just raise two points that probably are not obvious to persons less familiar with the German scene.

  • "Constitutional clarification" is at best misleading. As Jung's comments imply, the issue as it stands is constitutionally perfectly clear: the Federal Constitutional Court has expressly disallowed it. Jung wants constitutional authorization.
  • "Extra-statutory necessity" (a more literal translation would be an "emergency above the law") is extremely controversial and way outside the mainstream of German law, but Jung is not pulling this out of thin air. Legal arguments asserting that "extremes situations call for extreme measures" regularly recur in times of political stress, perhaps most notably in the 1970's at the height of the Baader-Meinhof/RAF activities.

Be afraid, but don't worry about it.

Go figure:

Schäuble Warns of Nuclear Attacks



16. September 2007
Knapp zwei Wochen nach der Verhaftung dreier islamistischer Terrorverdächtiger hat Bundesinnenminister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) vor einem terroristischen Anschlag mit Nuklearwaffen gewarnt. ,,Viele Fachleute sind inzwischen überzeugt, dass es nur noch darum geht, wann solch ein Anschlag kommt, nicht mehr, ob", sagte Schäuble im Gespräch mit der Frankfurter Allgemeinen Sonntagszeitung.

Doch die Deutschen sollten sich von solch düsteren Aussichten nicht ihr Leben vergällen lassen. ,,Aber ich rufe dennoch zur Gelassenheit auf", sagte Schäuble. ,,Es hat keinen Zweck, dass wir uns die verbleibende Zeit auch noch verderben, weil wir uns vorher schon in eine Weltuntergangsstimmung versetzen."

16 September 2007
Not quite two weeks after the arrest of three Islamic terror suspects, Federal Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) warned of a terrorist nuclear attack. "Many experts have come to the conclusion that it is only a question of when such an attack will occur, and no longer if," Schäuble said in an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeinen Sonntagszeitung.

But Germans should not let such bleak prospects sour their lives. "But still, I call on all citizens to be calm," said Schäuble. "There is no point allowing our remaining time to be spoiled by gloom and doom before it happens."

What, exactly, is he saying here? Don't worry, be happy? If we change our lives the terrorists will ha e won? The terrorists have already won?

But whatever else he may be, Wolfgang Schäuble is always on-message:


,,Wir werden keinen Entwurf eines BKA-Gesetzes vorlegen, ohne dass es die Möglichkeit der Online-Durchsuchung enthält", sagte Schäuble. ,,Und wir können mit diesem Gesetzentwurf nicht bis zum Frühjahr 2008 warten." "We will not submit any draft [revision] of the Federal Criminal Police Office Act that does not provide for the possibility of online searches," said Schäuble. "And we cannot wait until spring 2008 for this draft."

Which calls for:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket - get it here!

And finally:

The Greens: Electorate 1, Leadership 0

Greens Reject Tornado Deployment


Göttingen - Die Grünen haben einen Abzug der Tornado-Aufklärungsflugzeuge der Bundeswehr aus Afghanistan gefordert und auch das weitere militärische Engagement insgesamt an Bedingungen geknüpft. Auf dem Sonderparteitag am Samstag in Göttingen lehnten die Delegierten am Samstag mit klarer Mehrheit die Vorlage der Parteispitze ab und votierten für einen Gegenantrag, der dem Bundeswehreinsatz deutlich kritischer gegenübersteht. Parteichef Reinhard Bütikofer sprach anschließend von einer Niederlage für die gesamte Parteiführung, wollte über mögliche Konsequenzen daraus aber nicht spekulieren. Einhellig befürwortet wurde ein Ausbau des zivilen Engagements. Göttingen - The Greens have demanded withdrawal of the Tornado reconnaissance aircraft of the Bundeswehr from Afghanistan and additionally tied further military commitment in Göttingen on Saturday, the delegates rejected a proposed resolution of the party leadership by a clear majority and voted for an opposing resolution that is much more critical of German Bundeswehr deployment. Party head Reinhard Bütikofer subsequently spoke of a defeat for the entire party leadership but declined to speculate on possible consequences. Delegates were virtually unanimously in favor of expanding the civilian commitment.

Polls (e.g. this one) consistently show between 60 and 70 percent of Germans opposing the Afghanistan deployment. On this issue the party base is much more in tune with the general sentiment than the leadership. Which begs the question of who the real "Realos" are.

Display:
You chose them ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Sep 16th, 2007 at 09:23:13 AM EST
I just don't promise they add up to anything.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Sun Sep 16th, 2007 at 10:14:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
between your diary and mine (the "Countdown" #47) - with the confluence of "gloom and doom" pseudo-critics, greens/alternative energy topics and distateful references to nazi times...

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Sep 16th, 2007 at 10:41:14 AM EST
I am constantly surprised at the german political leadership clinging so faithfully to Bush White House propaganda. Just as the French, they showed great independence in the run up to the Iraq debacle, but somewhere along the line they musta realised how much fun it is to just lie and lie and lie and get ridiculously invasive legislation through by scaring the public silly.

Something wrong with the economy ? Look, over there !!! Terrorists !!! be afraid, be very afaid, the muslims are coming.

I would like to think the german public are too cynical, but I see no signs of that asserting itself.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Sep 16th, 2007 at 11:13:24 AM EST
Just as the French, they showed great independence in the run up to the Iraq debacle, but somewhere along the line

...there was a government change.

Schäuble is a longtime Atlanticist, and observers in the media noted that he seems to follow a quite conscious policy of "off-hand" provocative taboo-breaking and/or scaremongering statements, which seem inspired by the Republican march to the right.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Sep 16th, 2007 at 12:14:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I see no signs of that asserting itself.

What about polls on the Afghanistan deployment, despite politicians increasingly speaking of it in connection with terrorism (from Realo Greens to CDU)?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Sep 16th, 2007 at 12:16:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's just populism.

You should know by now populism doesn't count.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Sep 16th, 2007 at 03:30:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not sure that's a given. At any rate I can think of at least one person who would disagree.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Sun Sep 16th, 2007 at 04:36:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
European Tribune - German Weekend non-Roundup
The cardinal is exhibiting an understanding of culture that can only be termed medieval.

Und das ist auch gut so!

Share of the Catholic Chruch in the population:
1950 - 45.8%
1961 - 45.5%
1970 - 44.6%
1987 - 42.9%
1990 - 35.4% [Re-unification]
2000 - 32.2%
2005 - 31.0%

(Source: forwid)

The rate of people leaving the Catholic Church (in Germany, many people don't just 'lapse', because there is a church tax which they can stop to pay only with official declaration about leaving) around 100,000/year, after a peak of almost twice of that in 1992. (Source for until 2005: Catholic bishop conference [pdf!])

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Sep 16th, 2007 at 12:08:50 PM EST
I feel inclined to do some Marchetti curves of religious affiliation in Germany...

Oye, vatos, dees English sink todos mi ships, chinga sus madres, so escuche: el fleet es ahora refloated, OK? — The War Nerd
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Sep 22nd, 2007 at 04:40:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But Germans should not let such bleak prospects sour their lives. "But still, I call on all citizens to be calm," said Schäuble. "There is no point allowing our remaining time to be spoiled by gloom and doom before it happens."

That's actually funny.

I'm sure it's not meant to be, but it is.

Luckily for those who'd rather live in a glass half full kind of a world, help is at hand.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Sep 16th, 2007 at 03:34:32 PM EST
Jeez I thought the Schäuble quote was majorly weird (and I can't begin to fathom what his ulterior motive is), but it doesn't hold a candle to your link.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Sun Sep 16th, 2007 at 04:31:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]


Display:
Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]