Frontal and Free Public - 9/2/2004: Terror Analysis? - 9/6/2004: Debate Free from Rulers - Self-Analysis - 9/7/2004: Relativity of Terror? - 9/8/2004: We and the Others - 9/9/2004
- Frontal and Free Public -
(September 5, 2004) There are things more pleasant than to analyze the Sueddeutsche Zeitung. Like to listen to Chuck Berry records, for example. Or to stroll over a market-place in a foreign country. Or to go out on a sled in winter. But this here is about the Sueddeutsche Zeitung from Munich. The task is to accompany and to observe this newspaper for a while. In former times it had hardly been possible to have a discussion with a newspaper on eye level. Where should one have done that? Of course, you could stand on a box in the park, yet this would presumably impress the press only limitedly. There also is the possibility of expressing your opinion in another media, only that first you have to enter this media. Remember that until recently we had lived in an almost pure frontal public. This means that everybody, who wanted to say or do something publically, (with some exceptions) needed somebody else's permission for this, this somebody belonging to those people who decide who may enter the public to begin with, and as what? For example the editor of a newspaper decides that. Or the sponsor of a performance. Or the politician who supports that an individual or an opinion is heard. The publisher who accepts or refuses a book. Or the boss of a record company who provides a contract and a retail system for a band. The organizer of a public event. Or the professor who favors a certain individual or opinion. In other countries, partly also in Germany, there are clerics who give their blessings for an individual or an opinion to be heard so that it appears in the public. This is how it used to be.
Today there is the internet and with it everybody has the opportunity to build his or her own public, without anybody else to give a permission. This is only since a few years. It is a social revolution which in its effects has not yet become clear to many people. Today, two fundamentally different publics live together in one world: the frontal public and the free public. When you put a melon next to an apple you can make new statements about the apple. When you put a free public next to a frontal public you can make new statements about the frontal public.
I stood in front of the desk and stretched my shoulder muscles. Another book! And again not the one I have been intending to write the whole time through. I opened the window. In any case, I will not suffer, I said to the blackbird on the terrace and lifted my forefinger in affirmation. The blackbird looked at me and did not understand what I meant. I went to the mirror and looked into it. You are bad, said the face in the mirror, you are complacent. This is the free public, my friend, I replied, and I may do that. Vain you are, said the voice, a populist! But I did not listen. This was none of my business. I had a task to accomplish. Gotham City was in danger. I put on my cape and pulled the mask over my face. Of course there would be some villains unhappy about the fact that I was back in town, after all those years. That I have come to discuss things. You gotta be crazy, said the voice in the mirror and I gave it a sharp, silencing look. - The story with the Sueddeutsche Zeitung started with Lawrence of Arabia. It went something like this:
Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Aug 30, 2004, p. 11, "Faded Myths: The Arab. The Wrong Pillar of Wisdom" by Petra Steinberger
This article is a good example for how to use clichès to give a direction to aggressions und thereby to support camp thinking. Ms. Steinberger reproaches "many Arabs" of believing they were Omar Sharif in the film "Lawrence of Arabia" (big colored photo) and that this would be "the problem". The thing is that Ms. Steinberger sees in those many Arabs a "wrongly conceptualized pride" and a "stubborn persistence in a doubtlessly great cultural past". She quotes that the Arabs are "an artificially generated people", as if one could not say this about any people. She also warns about a "historical consciousness", for this would bear "the danger of retrogression". In Steinberger's analysis the Arabs have simply failed in their identity finding. "- and only the clichè remained". She also criticizes that demonstrations against suicide bombers end up in proclamations against Israel and the USA, who would be seen as guilty, "as they are guilty of everything". So here a conspiracy theory is insinuated.
In the same way that this allusion to a conspiracy theory is a conspiracy theory itself, behind the talk about clichès are clichès themselves, and rather simple ones, too. "For quite some of the ideologists", this is how the article ends, "there only remains religion. In its most intolerant form". One can beautifully observe here how the German press is writing about itself and just accuses "the other", because it could not bear to face this truth in a different way. Maybe a wrongly conceptualized pride, I don't know. Maybe the journalists should watch a little less telly and take a walk in the real world, for a change. The wrong pillar of wisdom...
This is a clear and increasing tendency in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung, and I have been observing it for some time. It goes together with statements like the one of Yusuf, a Palestinian student, reported by Thorsten Schmitz on August 26, 2004 in der SZ (p.3): "He said he could not understand the struggle about soil and independence in his homeland", as if there was one individual in the world who could not understand the struggle for independence. And of course the conspiracy theory about the UN which I have analyzed in the book "Kings We Are, with Wings of Dust" (Chapter 6, On Criticism of the Tour, paragraph 9).
This behavior, dear SZ editors, is not acceptable. You are using your power to promote stereotype images. And you do not even want that. You want peace, too. Have a relaxed thought about that. - A media review by Anis Hamadeh
Sueddeutsche Zeitung. Chief editors: H.W.Kilz, Dr. G. Sittner, vice: E. Fischer, Foreign politics: S. Kornelius, Dr. P. Münch, Home politics Dr. H. Prantl, Dr. J. Käppner, leading political editors: H. Leyendecker, K. Podak, M. Stiller.
Meanwhile this was some days ago. The respective article with the beautiful photo of Peter O'Toole and Omar Sharif now hangs at the wall of my office and I am looking at it every morning and every evening in order to not forget what this is all about. Actually, I was even considerate in my criticism, because I thought it would be enough like this. For I had forwarded the text to the complete Arab internet community, all over the world. The Arabs should know what the German press writes about them, they have a right to know. Considerate, because I spared the SZ the elementary analysis. For the skeleton of the argumentation in the respective article was: there is the Arab as Sherif Ali Ibn al-Kharish (i.e. Omar Sharif in this film) and there is the Arab as Bin Laden/Saddam. As the Arab is not Omar Sharif he accordingly is Bin Laden. The minute you get really aware of the level of this article you will understand why the free public has the responsibility to veto here. Otherwise they will next time write something likewise about women, black people, or Jews. We do not want any of this. We had this before.
- 9/2/2004: Terror Analysis ? -
When I had forwarded the media review in two languages I sat down for a moment. Such an article shortly before the Frankfurt Bookfair (Guest of Honor: The Arab World)... Don't people in newspaper offices consider these things? Then the terrible hostage taking in Beslan happened. On Thursday, September 9, 2004, the SZ editors were completely overcharged. The top article in the SZ always is on page 4 left above, it is the commentary of the day. Stefan Kornelius wrote it on that day. "The unchained terror" was the name of the story, like causing panic. Some journalists use their titles in a way that gives them a personal psychic relief. This man felt better when he saw his own title. As if saying: I show you the truth, theunchainedterror. Let's have a small read in the final paragraph:
"The victory over terror will not be through sheer power alone. Yet the contrary softness leads to even more terror. Effective have been vigilance and the work of the police and the intelligence services. A change will only then be noticable when fanatism decreases and when terror will be seriously banned also in Muslim societies. Three years after September 11 there is no alliance which has really committed itself to this aim. The states of the victims of terror are seeing the new wonder-weapon, but it does not find together in order to build up an effective deterrance."
You can observe here how a difference is made between "us" and "the others". The others, this is not only the terrorists, but also Muslim societies. Almost the whole page 2 (Issues of the day) shows that. In the current "Lexikon" different kinds of terror are named, purposes and etymologies. An article about "Black Widows", suicide women, talks about vendetta, drugs, blackmailings and destroyed souls. In the big article in the middle of the page the more and more boundlessly growing "lore of al-Qaida" is taught (with three photos of the terror), while Israel's South in the article below remains an "open flank". In this context the Israelis also give some guilt to Syria, not only to the Paestinians. On the bottom another photo of a muffled up Palestinian terrorist from Olympia 1972, a bit out of context, in an article about the dissent between New York's ex-mayor Guliani and Germany. But an article at the side also shows Muslims who are in solidarity against terror and who publically say that (with two small photos).
Was terror a "wonder weapon", as Herr Kornelius wondered? I had known this word only from a different context. -Deterrance... On page 6 Thorsten Schmitz, the Israel deputy at the Sueddeutsche, recounted that Israel now would return to the targeted killing and that the decrease (oh, a decrease) of terror was due to the wall. At that I turned on the computer and in thoughts wrote a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. I sent it straight away which originally was not planned:
At SZ September 2, 2004
Dear SZ editors, your issue of today (subject: terror) is very emotional and full of meta-messages. I can clearly feel your perplexity and the resulting aggressions. You obstinately try to avoid the question what the roots of terror are. It is conspicious that you have done completely without this plausible question, in Chechenia, in Palestine, and in al-Qaida. At this point you could become a bit startled and notice yourself that you are lacking something fundamental in your argumentation. Instead, you know start to justify the meaning of the official killings and of the wall by lack of commentary and you paint the terror in all colors, as if you would love it. You are focussing on terror and thus follow exactly the impulse of destructive camp thinking. And when it all gets too much for you you crawl away into the evil past and there you look for justifications of your behavior. The fact that you are not capable of discussing issues with real critics, either, shows that you are building a wall around yourselves which is not adequate for a bearer of public acting. It is my duty to clarify this point to you and to the concerned, because you are not only doing harm to our own society, but also to others. This is completely unintelligible. From now on I will have an even closer read in your newspaper, later on will analyze it in a bundle and publish the analysis and translate it. If you cannot discuss in a different way then I have basically no choice, because I have a responsibility, too. - A media review by Anis Hamadeh
In the commentary on Sep. 3 Daniel Brössler did write about the roots of terror and he admonished Putin to find a peaceful solution to the Chechenia conflict. Tomas Avenarius on the next day, in the weekend edition after the horrible massacre, is even more direct: Russia will have to separate itself from Chechenia. Still it sounded helpless. Of course, what can journalists do about it? They are supposed to map the world, to communicate it and, if possible, be a bit gifted, but they are not the ones who can end the terror. Can't they really? I am not so sure about this. Besides, the newspaper surely is mapping a world, but which world? The SZ does not believe in the war against terror, "every school kid in Israel" (Kornelius) would know that this war cannot be won. Still the SZ continuously is talking about the struggle against terrorism, having deterrance in mind. What do they think they are imagining? And how do they define terror at all? Other newspapers like the junge Welt at least bother to deal with this subject, there you can currently find a terror analysis by Noam Chomsky, an important thinker who lives in the USA, in New England, I think. - Also, this was not the first time that the SZ attracted my attention because of its fascination for terror. In March I wrote this article:
Article: "Fear of Terror Rules the Policy of the West" from March, 28, 2004
- 9/6/2004: Debate Free from Rulers -
(September 7, 2004) I love collective psyches! They are as juicy as fresh mangos. The Sueddeutsche Zeitung for example. When I read it - and this is my current task which I intend to spend as unboringly as possible -, I sometimes have the feeling as if the paper wanted to tell me something. Maybe it is the other way around, that I want to tell something to the SZ, but this is obvious, anyway. Otherwise I would be on Barbados now.
Yesterday's issue was very good, it was about the debate free from rulers. An excellent point for discussion! It reminded me of a mail which I had received shortly before. An insider wrote to me that our media would probably rather not be so liberal and that it would be good to deal with the press in a conciliatory way. This has been a very stimulating contribution. By the way, you can also participate in the discussion, I will post comments, if wished. If you have something of general interest write it in English or German to email@example.com. All democratic opinions are allowed, with the possibility of my asking back, of super-comments and abridgements.
The article of the day 09/06/2004 is called "Too weak for a sign of strength. President Putin demonstrates his incapability of adequately reacting on the terror of Beslan." It was created by Frank Nienhuysen, printed on the opinion page 4, on a prominent spot under the cartoon in which Angela Merkel is putting something into her bottom. Three sentences out of this article are important. Firstly: "In a country, in which all power originates in the control center in Moscow, it is vice versa so that all weaknesses must go back there." Secondly: "Russia needs an open debate, free from rulers, about the Caucasus policy, carried out also in the media which may freely inform about what happens at the Russian south flank." And thirdly the final sentence: "Unfortunately, all probabilities say that he (meant is Putin) is too weak for such a sign of strength."
The interesting aspect about this comment by Herr Nienhuysen is that it can help explaining the ruler fractal. It goes like this: one group blames another group of not having a discourse which is free from rulers, but originally, such an accusation is not allowed from a group which does not have a discourse free from rulers itself. A bit like the Americans when they think they could motivate Iraq to be democratic, with means that are not democratic. Or like some family fathers think they could bring their children to the good when they beat them. Concerning the discourse free from rulers one can say that the SZ criticism of Russia structurally is similar to my criticism of the SZ. And this is what the fractal is about. It is the same in the small and in the big. Like those little apple men from physics. (See a picture here).
When the SZ comments: "In a country, in which all power originates in the control center in Moscow, it is vice versa so that all weaknesses must go back there", then it shows the mechanism which allows it to deny responsibilities itself. There always is a higher one who can be blamed. And when it writes that Putin is too weak for such a sign of strength while rehabilitating him in the feuilleton then it may expect to be judged as mildly itself. For on page 13 Franziska Augstein writes: "Top down democracy. The pros of Wladimir Putin". You can find the word "Tätervolk" in it, perpetrator people, which is a good word for the worst-word-of-the-year-competition. Such a concept is not helpful at all, it is too suggestive, especially in Germany where people think of the controversial conservative legislator Martin Hohmann in this context. That democracy in Russia could only happen top-down is a quote by Egon Bahr (SPD), by the way. This is a politician whose best days lay behind him. I remember a recent article in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. How was that again? America leads war, Europe safeguards peace... or something like that. As a partnership. I have the quote in the book before my last, but I am not going to look this up now for Egon Bahr.
All in all, the article by Franziska Augstein is a catastrophe. Next to the title this is mainly due to two sentences at the end. Firstly: "Concerning the Chechenia war Putin could currently not succeed with negotiations in the lawless province: 'There is nobody with whom he can make binding agreements.'" (Quote Bahr). As if one could stop at this point! There are people suffering from oppression! I remember Mister Putin having talked in the German Bundestag about trust. Well, I don't trust him. In the good article below (below, because democracy goes top-down), by Sonja Zekri, it says that Russia rather sacrifices its people than only one square meter of land. That Putin's most recent announcements give little reason for optimism, concerning the whole Caucasus. And yet above, and this is the second sentence from the Augstein article, it reads at the end: "It does not matter so much that democracy functions according to its original idea, what matters is that it is perceived as functioning by the population." This is the most decadent sentence I have read for years, at all. As if this was about temperatures: not the real temperature is decisive, but the felt one. As if democracy was something belonging to the realm of the wellness industry.
Apart from that there was not much up in the SZ of September 6, 2004. There was this boring New York Times supplement, in English. As is known, the American press is even worse than the German press, because it cherishes this nationalist element. It is like reading the Mars press. They are by now living in a world of their own and do not really need communication anymore. The article about Bjork was an exception, it was at least interesting. This is not to say, by the way, that the Chinese press or the Arab press were much better. We will surely also talk about the Arab press in what follows.
The second supplement was the Protestant magazine Chrismon, that was better. The editor, Bishop Johannes Friedrich from Bavaria, on page 10 demands solidarity with the churches in Iraq. I find that he is completely right. The contribution "Solidarity with gaps" is good altogether. The only thing that irritated me was the talk of the "missionary mission" of the Christians. It is true that he says that this mission should consist in the living example of Christian values, but still, missionary is missionary. I don't think that such an idea - no matter in which religion or ideology - should play a role in the 21st century. This reminds me of the timetable flyer from the train. Yesterday I had a public discussion as a Palestinian, in Landau in the Pfalz, at the university, with the Israeli Alex Elsohn from the communication center Givat Haviva. On my way back in the train I read on the backside of this official German railway timetable a Bible quote in big letters, from John's gospel: "Jesus Christ speaks: I am the path, the truth and life. Nobody will come to the Father, except through me. John 14, 6b)". Included is the address and telephone number of a Mister Ralf R. Hildebrandt in Bremen. I found that really unpleasant and suggestive. Such claims of absolutisms do in a way indicate a discourse of rulers and are not fitting the times. Whether or nor Jesus had really said such a thing, by the way, is more than questionable, because we know very little about the historic Jesus from Nazareth and his sayings, as for example Rudolf Augstein makes plausible, in his book "Jesus Son of Man".
Chrismon, yes, it also includes the interview with a brain researcher, who is abstracting the free will, and a pedagogue who plays the role of a moral advocate and who gives humanistic comments. This is quite interesting, because this pedagogue is Mister Micha Brumlik from the anti-Semitism institute. I know him from different public situations in which he had worked for the exclusion of participants of the public discourse. Also, the philosopher Habermas apologized to him, when once Herr Brumlik became angry (see Google under the key-word "Ted Honderich"). In the book before my last I wrote about it. I wonder what the reasons are that Herr Brumlik's word has so much weight. There is not much substance to detect in his contributions. What might Herr Brumlik think about the discourse free of rulers?
- Self-Analysis -
(September 7, 2004, late in the night) What the heck was I doing here? Who was I? Why did I sit here analyzing the Sueddeutsche Zeitung? I went to the mirror and looked into it. "It is completely immaterial what you are doing here", said the face in the mirror. Oh yes, of course, I could have guessed that. "They will blame you." Oh yes, this was really boring. "What, for instance, was this Deanna Troi number with this 'I can clearly feel your perplexity'?" Yeah well, because it was true. I react differently on newspapers than other people, that's all. Certain things just attract my attention. Also, I look at the people behind it. I always ponder what people these are who do that. This is as important as the articles. At least. And the people at the SZ are not happy. They are not content and this reflects in their work. They are sending impulses which I can receive and they put strange thoughts into the heads of the population and infect them with their depression. "But do you think", asked the face, "that the people at the SZ are able to make something out of this, when you say it like that?" Yes, I think so. I think they realize that I do not want them harm. On the other hand they show themselves that they mostly react on shock. So I had to shock them. "They will certainly blame you for that." No, I don't actually believe that. Maybe in the first days... Except they don't read what I have to say. Besides, the discussion is developing in a very positive way. The face in the mirror looked at me unwillingly. Now, give this thing a chance! I said. It is a sociological experiment. The following issue, for example, the one from Tuesday, September 7. There the SZ implicitly says that it does not even want to discuss terror, but the others, the Muslim societies, are to stop it. This is quite interesting...
- 9/7/2004: Relativity of Terror? -
The article of the day September 7, 2004, is the comment by Rudolph Chimelli on page 4: "Always in the mirror of the own suffering. Despite the horror of Beslan the Islamic World is relative about the terror - and thereby excuses it." According to this article, pictures of horror in the Algerian and Iranian media would lead to a widespread knowledge of Russian cruelties in its sadistic details, more so than in the West. There is a report about the comparison of casualty accounts between Chechenian children and the children of Beslan, made by a Chechenian leader, and this would touch "a sensitive nerve" in the Middle East. The finish is about the Arab Peninsula: "The compassion with the Chechenians on the Arab Peninsula has made the support flow richly for the victims. No pious individual orders an accountant in order to know whether the money only is for the benefit of widows, orphans, and miserable people - or whether there also are weapons bought with it." Let's start with the title. It does not really fit the article. There was no report about the Middle East at all, only about a couple of countries. Moreover we find two quotes from Egypt which are denoted as typical and which say the opposite of what the title suggests. Then I would like to know from where Herr Chimelli knows that "no pious individual" from the Arab Peninsula is interested in the purpose of their donations.
Yet the most important thing here is the concept "to be relative about terror" (in German "Relativierung des Terrors", relativation of terror) as well as the alleged consequence that terror would be excused by that. With the concept "to be relative about terror" the discussion about terror is made a taboo. According to this argument one is not allowed to discuss the roots of terror within the general terror discussion, because one allegedly excuses terror with it. As if the wish to understand things was the same as to excuse things. When I think about the dead children of Beslan, then I quickly ask myself how such things can be avoided to happen in the future, no matter where. It got to stop. As a matter of logic I enter the question of the roots and causes. Here I do see the anger in Muslim societies as a factor, too, because indeed in some social circles it does lead to latent or manifest justifications of terror and this is in fact exploited by the extremist edges and it encourages them to a certain extend. Yet it is not enough for the situation analysis to demand this anger to go away. This would be comparable with the fate of Jack Nicholson in "One flew over the cuckoo's nest". In order to still his anger they took his brains out. The film suggests that this is not an adequate method for solving problems. Concerning Chechenia, Palestine, Israel, Iraq, the USA, Europe, the Sudan and other countries, the terror will cease as soon as the severe injustice ceases, this is so even according to the mainstream media. There is no alternative known to me.
Apart from that there was a book review by Alexander Kissler on page 18: "Killing terror. Stefan Zweig's forgotten revolution drama 'Adam Lux'". The core sentence is: "Shortly before the war Stefan Zweig was enthusiastic about his humanistic program in a similarly ecstatic way and with a similar lack of consequences like 150 years before Adam Lux was about the French Revolution. And like the title hero in Zweig's most passionate drama its author chose suicide, too." With this Herr Kissler is suggesting that an engaged humanism leads to suicide. It is as if one would judge Jesus to be a failure, because the world is bad. This is why I mentioned above that one should take a look at the people who are behind it. So if we compare the great writer and humanist Stefan Zweig with the nihilist SZ journalist Alexander Kissler, it becomes clearer what my point is. And this is also my legitimate reproach at the address of the SZ: you don't believe in anything!
A fuzziness of values occasionally can also be observed in Thorsten Schmitz. In the issue at hand on page 3 there is his article: "A minister for rebellion. He gathers like-minded people around him, because Uzi Landau has an aim: in Israel everything shall remain the same." It deals with a minister in the Israeli government whose creed is: "We must win the war." Thorsten Schmitz calls him the "Robin Hood of the settlers". This will surely have pleased Mister Landau. So will the photo on which the young minister can be seen, cool with sunglasses, together with a member of the US foreign department. In the subtext Landau is called "far right-wing" ("Rechtsaußen"). Thorsten Schmitz also ridicules Landau a little and thus has his fun, too. This article reveals a lot about the relation between Germans and Israelis. Never could Schmitz coquet with a German far right-wing individual in such a way, but with an Israeli one he can live this inclination publically.
This leads us to an examination of the images for Israelis and Palestinians in the repertoire of Herr Schmitz. So here we have a Robin Hood. Robin Hood in our culture belongs to the heroes. Images of Palestinians, on the other hand, look differently. For the time of this analysis there have so far been three examples in Schmitz's articles. The first one I do not have anymore, because on September 2 I threw away all the older issues of the SZ. I think it was on the first of September when Schmitz reported under the rubric "People" about a Palestinian singer: "Sad hero". Sad, because he reached "only" the second place in an Arab competition. I asked Thorsten Schmitz in an email whether he would not want to also write something about a happy Palestinian hero. On the next day there was this picture of the muffled-up Olympia perpetrator of 72, somewhat out of context, which I mentioned above. On September 3 on page 8 he reported about the call-off of the hunger-strike of 3800 Palestinians in Israeli prisons. The strike was called off because of the lack of interest in the (frontal!) world public. (This means that the lack of interest is reported about, but the conditions in Israeli prisons are not.) Underneath the photo, which shows two victory fingers through prison bars, it reads: "Winners? Palestinian prisoners have stopped their hunger-strike, apparently without concessions of Israel." Not only it is suggested here that those prisoners are losers, but we also meet a type of Palestinian here, like the muffled-up Olympia type and the sad hero type. We will see what kind of pictures we will get in the future.
A remarkably good article was the "View from the outside" on page 2, "Justice for the victims in Darfur" by Lotte Leicht, director of the Brussels office of the human rights organisation Human Rights Watch. In it she demands that Germany should urge on the establishment of an international investigation committee. Finally a quote from the media page 19. The article by Klaus Ott bears the title: "Controlled controllers. Stock-exchange news coverage: the state wants to examine the rules of profession, the Press Council stands up against this." There it reads about the German Press Council which was founded in 1956 as an instrument and voice of self-control: "The media people, this was the idea, were to prevent, or at least to correct, excesses within the own ranks by themselves." My comment on this issue is that I don't believe the German Press Council is fulfilling this task in a sufficient way.
- 9/8/2004: We and the Others -
The first article that attracted my attention in the SZ from September 8, 2004 is the one about the Indian author Arundhati Roy. "From the fairytale princess to the she-devil" are the first words of the title. I pondered about these words before I read the long article on page 3. From the fairytale princess to the she-devil... In the supermarket I had seen something very similar, on the title of the magazine Stern, it was a photo of Herr Hartz with the title: "From savior to boo-man". A cascade of memories came over me. In 2002, in the 400 pages online book "Rock'n'Roll. Message from Ozzy Balou", I had elaborated on the thesis that in our (frontal!) publics there hardly are stars, heroes, personalities anymore: the public has increasingly lost its faith in the human being after 1945. In the American and the British societies the turning-point came in 1977 with Elvis's death and the beginning of punk. In the previous issue of the SZ we already saw how an advocate of humanism, Stefan Zweig, was ridiculed and presented as a failure. It became clear that Jesus, was he among us today, would not have the least chance in the German frontal public. Let's see now what Stefan Klein says about Arundhati Roy.
Mainly a positive surprise. The long report with the full title: "From the fairytale princess to the she-devil: the change of roles of the Indian writer Arundhati Roy. A laughter lets the dykes breach. She curses, swears and is polemic, she stands up for the poor - her critics might not have understood that there is something which she does not want: to be objective". With it a big photo of a triumphing Roy. According to the text the thing about the fairytale princess and the she-devil is her own description. I read the article very critically and even - see above - with prejudice. There are indeed some points in it worth discussion, especially the role and perception of emotions in persons of public life, but the article is not ideological. It is... good. Of course, Ms. Roy is Indian. Had she such a political engagement and such an image as a German, this would probably a different case. Imagine this: a German doing these things ... Oh I see!! So it is an alibi article.
The SZ from September 8, 2004, was quite full of articles which attracted my attention. Especially on page 2. It mainly deals with the atomic program in Iran. Stefan Kornelius and Thorsten Schmitz atmospherically write about (against?) Iran. The report is from the point-of-view of the USA and Israel, in other words: the American and Israeli view is being carried on, including the threat of Israeli "preventive strikes". While the marginal notes by Rudolph Chimelli indicate that Iran seems to be dealing openly and constructively with the situation, the counter side (meaning "us") is suspicious and threatens and insults "unconcealed" (e.g. in the title "Bombs as a final means. Israel's plans etc." by Schmitz). About this article 11.1 of the human rights says: "Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence."
Also note that the USA and Israel are the ones with atomic weapons.
On the same page below the politologist Wilfried Röhrich in the "External views" writes about "Limiting the power of Islam." While the text is about limiting the power of religions in general Islam is singled out as an object of explanation in the title and in the conclusion. From it two sentences. Firstly: "Contrary to Christian consciousness and to the pluralism of values in the Western civilisation the individual has only little significance in the Islamic self-understanding." And secondly: "In order to effectively approach Islamism (...) those countries must do all they can to oppose the politisation of Islam." Concerning the first sentence there is to say that something is being constructed here. "Pluralism of values" can mean anything. I regard it as too general in this context to claim that the individual in the West is free and in the East not. For example, I see the exclusivity of the frontal public as being an indication for the fact the individual in the West is not so completely free. The second sentence is abstract, too: "politisation of Islam", what does that mean? The restriction to religious cultural things, says Röhrich. Hm. But religions also are social and thus always political. So the analysis of Herr Röhrich is too limited. Which values does Herr Röhrich name? Autonomy of the individual, technical industrial world orientation, private property, limitation of rule, tolerance and constitutional state order. Sounds quite reasonable. The article is not bad, except for those fears of losing control which are not sufficiently reflected and which thus are shifted.
So we come to page 4. The commentary "Terror, Muslims and the churches" by mad deals with a conflict between the chairman of the Protestant Churches in Germany, Wolfgang Huber, and the chairman of the Central Council of the Muslims in Germany, Nadeem Elyas. The central sentence is addressed to the Muslims and it reads: "As long as those organisations do not consequently ban Islamist thoughts and Islamist bearers of thoughts their explanations sound bound in duty." Nobody can exactly say what actually is demanded or expected from the Muslims here. Clear is that the other side (meaning "us") does not want any more terror and that the Muslims are to do something about it and not we all together, as one might have believed. This is an attitude we already know of the SZ. It rather likes to deepen the gaps than to concern itself with unpleasant issues. On this page 4 there also is a caricature where Iran is being brought into a connexion with atomic missiles and Joschka Fischer says "Crazy", but I did not understand this caricature. Probably for insiders.
On page 7 there is a report about "Vexations and taboos. Russias critical journalists again are led by the hand" by Thomas Urban. Hard to say what to make of such contributions. Interesting for the analysis of images about Palestine and Israel is the article "Hamas declares 'war against every Zionist'. After an Israeli air raid on Gaza City with 14 deads Palestinian terror groups now threaten with bloody assaults", by Thorsten Schmitz. The photo shows "anger and sadness: sympathizers of the terror group Hamas carry a killed Palestinian to the grave in Gaza City". There we have the type of the angry and sad Palestinian. Not exactly a role-model. The article itself is bad journalism as can be seen even in the title. The Israelis recently have carried out one of the most severe and most violent attacks on the population in Gaza. But this was not a headline. Hamas declares war, this is the headline. Every school child in Israel will notice that this is a trick so that the good remain the good and the bad remain the bad. Concerning Hamas see the German essay "Hamas: social integration and armed resistance" by Helga Baumgarten (in: inamo - Informationsprojekt Naher und Mittlerer Osten. Issue 38, Summer 2004, pp. 46-50, www.inamo.de).
Now for the feuilleton. There are two interesting contributions on page 11. In "Shooting children. The Chechenian rebels aim at the civil society" by the pedagogue Jürgen Oelkers it reads towards the end: "(...) Who shoots children, fleeing ones, from behind, committs more than a brutal act of terror, namely an assault on the society and its education." It is not very difficult to write something like that. Of course Herr Oelkers is right, but is the use of such articles? Honestly, who can benefit from demonizing the terrorists and from sentencing them over and over again in the mind? Why do the terrorists receive so much more attention than the victims and the advocates of the human rights? What makes the terrorists more important? Are they in the end indeed a mirror of our frontal public? Why do they get so much attention?
On the same page there is "School of terror, children of war. Only the international community can now save the Caucasus - if it wants: an interview with the Chechenian poet Apti Bisultanow" by Sonja Zekri. The best part of it is the note: when the people is suffering the poet must not stand offside. At first I had been happy about this interview and thought it was good. Mister Bisultanow explains the situation in the critical region as an insider. But then I saw the forth question (which rather is an answer than a question), of the SZ: "SZ: Chechenia has lost sympathies because of the murder of school children." (And the poet replies: I know). I wonder whether this principle of custody of kin is legitimate. This is not about sympathies, but about security and human rights. The SZ implicitly says firstly that human rights are only for sympathetic people, and secondly that a whole society (living under occupation, not souvereign) is called to account. Towards the end Mister Bisultanow explains the way of solution (temporary administration under international patronage, civil structures, new leadership, negotiations, contract), whereafter the SZ says: "This sounds utopian" and Bisultanow agrees and says resigningn that he also rather believes that the violence will increase. This is the way the SZ is hammering into the minds of its readers: the world is getting worse and worse. It lures and seduces: come with us into resignation. There is no solution, realize it etc.
Finally a short dpa press agency note on page 14: "Terror and culture. To be prepared for the peformance on the fair." It deals with the impending Frankfurt book-fair with the Arab World as the guest of honor. In it the Egyptian poet Hegasi says the Arabs must be prepared for the questions of the Germans, also about terrorism. Hoda Wasfi, scientist of literature, is against such an "act of defense" and emphasized the aspect of the cultural presentation. Whether Arabs also have a legitimate criticism towards Germans was not made an issue at all. I could easily think of two or three substantial and plausible items in this respect.
- 9/9/2004 -
Today's issue is more calm than the ones before. More relaxed. No stereotype images of enemies, no extreme poles. One would not necessarily have guessed that in view of the (bad) headline: "Russia wants to chase terrorists worldwide." Also the Israel contribution by Herr Schmitz was of the usual kind. Yet there is little to do for me. Hm.
The best article of the day is Alexander Kissler's "Grace of diverse opinions. The Muslims are divided in their positions on cloning" in the feuilleton on page 15. A progressive, substantial contribution. Informative, also for me. Also good was
Gustav Seibt on the new Hitler film and the public handling with the "unpleasant person". Whereas for me the aspect of Hitler's effect on the society is much more relevant than the question of how to deal with the person.
The best news of the day was that the known Israeli nuclear scientist Mordechai Vanunu now applied for the Palestinian citizenship.
Lately I have been wondering whether the direction of the SZ can be named somehow, but I cannot think of anything matching. It is too colored and in confusion. Things which are criticized in the USA are not criticized in Israel. It is not even clear what exactly is criticized in the USA. It is a Joschka Fischer newspaper, I think one could say that. Maybe I can come up with a better description with time. I wonder whether the SZ takes this as a compliment or as an insult or indifferently. I wonder how I take it myself. Foggy ... somewhat unclear. We will see.
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