Fascism is not to be debated… *gahh!*
Seven years ago, I moved to Berlin from the United States. It was time for a long overdue change, and Europe had been in my sights for quite a while. During these seven years, I must admit that I have not ‘integrated’ as a German. Instead, I’ve done something better.
I’ve become a Berliner.
Berlin is a melting pot. One of races, identities, religions, ideas, languages, and walks of life. It is where one of the world’s rejects will find themself, and it is where they’re welcomed with open-arms by the rest of the world’s rejects. Rejects like me. I love Berlin for that, and I believe this inclusivity, tolerance, and celebration of diversity should be preserved.
So when Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) announced that they would be holding a Citizens’ Dialog at the Bürgersaal Zehlendorf on September 15th, my wife and I decided to attend. After all, they were trying to sell their party platform in our neighborhood, and we felt that the demographics of our neighborhood should be accurately represented.
My original intent as an attendee was to live-tweet color commentary as the speakers spewed the racist garbage we’ve come to expect from the AfD. The speakers did not disappoint. Even though they were supposed to be there pitching their party platform, the vast majority of the evening’s content was anti-Islamic and xenophobic misinformation.
Gottfried Curio claimed that Muslim children mob (bully) German children. Of course, he didn’t bother to cite any statistics about the ratio of mobbing incidents in either direction. He also neglected to mention the likelihood that more mobbing incidents against Muslim children go unreported. His purpose was to extend the targeting of hatred beyond adults, and prime his audience for rejecting even children. I’m sure his followers were more than happy to comply.
At one point, Alexander Gauland claimed that the German press are more critical of Donald Trump than even the New York Times or the Washington Post. To that, my wife’s patience with the absurd lies came to an end, and she yelled “Das ist Bullshit!.” It was at that point when I noticed the event organizers shooting us daggers. It was also the moment when I tweeted “We are probably going to be kicked out after this speech.”
Gauland then recalled his suggestion that Aydan Özoğuz, a German SPD politician from Hamburg, be dropped in the middle of Turkey, similar to how American racists love to tell African Americans to go back to Africa. Many in the audience voiced their agreement with him. They cheered, yelled “Jawohl,” and “But that is right!.” I was once again disgusted, but remained silent.
It was around that time that I noticed the event organizers beckoning the security people over and directing them to position themselves near us.
About a half-hour later Gauland wrapped up his speech by asking that everyone in the room vote for the AfD on September 24th, to which the room erupted in cheers. During the cheering, and probably heard by nobody but the security guards, my wife loudly said “For sure we won’t!” and that is when a guard swooped in.
He said something along the lines of “I’m warning you, no more” to which my wife replied “yeah, ok” in a tone that he apparently didn’t like. So he immediately changed his mind and ordered us to leave. As we stood up, my wife yelled “boo!” followed by me yelling “Fascism is not to be debated.”
That’s when they got violent, as you can see in the video.
The bald guard put me in an intense choke hold and dragged me out by my neck. He kept saying “are you calm?” while applying increasing pressure, despite the fact that I resisted in absolutely no way. At one point the choking was so intense that I couldn’t breathe for about ten seconds.
Once I could breathe again, I started yelling at him to tell me his name. Eventually he replied “Daffy Duck.”
I think he was lying.
The choking and dragging continued out into the hall and down the first flight of stairs. If I were to guess, I’d say I was in the choke hold for about two minutes, partly because a set of doors was locked and he had to wait for them to be opened.
But isn’t it just like the AfD and their ilk to complain constantly about their right to free speech being abridged, yet they are willing to respond with violence as soon as a dissenting voice is heard. It is in that moment that they expose themselves, and the world sees them for exactly what they are.