This article originally appeared in the German publication Nd on January 17
In the last week, tens of thousands of people across Germany have been demonstrating against the far-right party AfD. The website Correctiv had reported on a secret meeting last November between top AfD politicians and literal Nazis to discuss “remigration.” This neologism refers to the deportation of millions of people – including those with German passports.
A #NoAfD demonstration in Potsdam was attended by chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) and foreign minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens). The motto was: “Let’s protect our state.” It would be a great day in Germany if the government were pushing back against racism. But just three months ago, the same chancellor appeared on the cover of Der Spiegel saying: “We Have to Deport People More Often and Faster.”
This is the constant drumbeat of the AfD: Masses of people need to be deported, yet nothing is being done. The SPD and also the Greens are beating the same drum when they say we need to “finally” remove people from Germany.
The bureaucratic term Abschiebung hides the nightmarish reality. People are living in Germany – they might have been born here and never lived anywhere else – and without warning, heavily armed men come to their home or workplace and drag them away. From one second to the next, people get ripped out of their lives and sent to a far-off place, all because they lack a piece of paper. It’s incredible that any state that considers itself democratic could do such a thing. Yet the SPD, the Greens, and the CDU/CSU are saying we need far more of this. This is key to understanding why the AfD is above 20 percent in the polls.
The other parties clearly believe that if they deport enough immigrants themselves, then voters won’t feel like they need the AfD. Or put another way: To stop the Far Right, we have to implement their policies. But naturally, the exact opposite is happening. If every single party agrees with the AfD that migration is Germany’s biggest problem, why wouldn’t people turn to the party that is screaming loudest about deportations?
The “migration crisis” is entirely made up. Germany is currently spending 100 billion euros on extra weapons – on top of an already astronomical military budget. When finance minister Christian Lindner (FDP) says that subsidies for farmers were cut in order to support asylum seekers, that is nothing but racist demagoguery. The government’s only financial priority seems to be building up the army.
One could argue that the AfD is different from the other parties because it also wants to deport German citizens. Yet in November, at the same time the AfD was chatting with Nazis in Potsdam, Markus Söder (CSU) proposed in a debate about pro-Palestinian demonstrations to take away the German passports of anyone who “does not commit to our values and our constitution.” The Bavarian prime minister claims this is about “fighting antisemitism” – yet Söder formed a government with Hubert Aiwanger after it was revealed that he had carried around antisemitic fliers. The debate about “imported antisemitism” is nothing more than AfD-style racism. We need to fight the rise of fascism. But we can’t do that by implementing the Far Right’s agenda. “Defending our state” doesn’t help when the state apparatus is full of right-wingers. No, the only way to defend democracy is to fight for equal rights for everyone.