Some kudos to Die Welt for publishing the opinion piece by one of the rare remaining fighters for liberty in Germany, Henryk Broder.
With the stunning anti-establishment results coming from Brexit and the US presidential election, and the surging populist right wing parties across Europe, it is not an overstatement to say that the old continent’s established political class is in a state of sheer panic. And they are now reacting with disturbing proposals: policing the Internet for lies.
“Climate deniers” on trial?
Broder is now asking at Die Welt: “Are we getting a Ministry of Truth? Will ‘climate deniers’ be soon put on trial?”
The basis for the proposed Internet intervention is, of course, the claim that Internet users are too stupid to recognize “true” information and thus they unwittingly accept Russian “propaganda”, for example, as facts. Responsible for the distribution of false information are especially the large social media platforms such as Facebook, Youtube and Twitter – and so a clamp-down is necessary and overdue.
Leading politician Volker Kauder of Angela Merkel’s CDU party recently wrote in an opinion piece in Welt am Sonntag: “If the Internet continues to lie, then it’s over with freedom.”
Readers are free to interpret that sentence as they wish. I certainly would not take it lightly, however.
Government as keepers of the truth? “Wishful thinking”
First Broder calls Kauder’s belief that traditional news sources such as “governments, parties and associations” are neutral and doing a good job of informing the public as “wishful thinking” and he reminds readers that these elements too are also driven by their own self interests and commit the sins of “defaming critics, spreading untruths and distorting reality”.
A major target of Internet control are “climate deniers“. Broder writes:
The use of the term “climate denier’ is a nice example for this type of demagogic self-appraisal. It sounds similar to ‘Holocaust denier’ and suggests the affirmation of a crime against humanity; when in fact no one denies there is climate and that it changes – as it has for millions of years.
The question that remains is what is man’s share and whether the travelling Climate Conference circus can agree on an end to climate change. Just asking that question today is heresy.”
Broder then criticizes Kauder’s statement that “criticism is a part of democracy, even when it’s harsh and caustic, but that it must not be ‘vulgar’“, and asks who shall judge what is what?
I have a suspicion. Could it be that the vulgarity of the citizens results from the feeling that they are being screwed and deceived by politicians, if I may express this in vulgar terms? Is it possible that this feeling may not be without justification?”