Germany’s Speech Police Target Truth, Spawning Cold War Flashbacks
April 25, 2017 By Dale Hurd
BERLIN – The Stasi Museum in Berlin is a monument to the ultimate surveillance society. It is housed in the old Stasi headquarters. The Stasi were the state police of communist East Germany whose job was to spy on the population.
On display is every type of spy gadget imaginable for a pre-Internet era.
One in six East Germans were either full-time spies or informers for the Stasi, watching their neighbors.
When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and East Germany collapsed, East Germans looked forward to living in freedom. But now, some are beginning to wonder just how free the new Germany is.
Germans Fear Speaking the Truth
Last year a married couple was convicted for creating a Facebook group that criticized the government’s open-door migration policy.
At the trial, the man complained that Germans cannot be critical of refugees without getting labeled ‘Nazi.’
And 60 others accused of writing so-called hate speech online had their homes raided by police.
In one poll, nearly half of all Germans said they did not feel safe in expressing their real opinion about the refugee crisis.
It is a fair question to ask, ‘Who really won the Cold War in Germany?’ Because today, former East Germans again live under speech oppression, similar to what they endured under communism.
Of course, today’s Germany very different from communist East Germany, but when it comes to criticism of migrants and the government’s migrant policy, some former East Germans see some disturbing similarities.
Former East German Pastor Relives the Past
Famous German pastor Dr. Theo Lehmann lived under persecution and surveillance for more than 40 years in East Germany. He learned after the Cold War that even his best friend had been spying on him for the East German police. He also learned that four local pastors spied on him.
“That meant that every word you spoke in public had to be thought through,” Lehmann said, “even in your own room.”
And Dr. Lehmann, now 82, knew what is was to be labeled and shunned for his views. And he sees disturbing parallels between communist East Germany and the political correctness that rules today’s Germany:
He said, “It is extremely annoying that nowadays again you have to measure every word because later somebody could come and criticize it. That hurts any free discussion and it’s an incredible fear that is everywhere in society. Nobody dares to speak up anymore because you are always in danger when you say something that is against the mainstream. You could be called a racist or a fascist without any discussion. These labels are put on you right away.”
Those Who Dissent Pay
Although Germany as a democracy has the standard political labels of Left, Right and Center, but by American standards, most German politics and media range from Left to Far Left. Flag waving, patriotic anti-immigration Germans are regularly branded as fascist, racist, and treated as a dangerous element.
Former East German Heidi Mund, known as the brave German woman because of her strong stand against islamization, has paid a high personal price for deviating from the Left-wing party line in modern Germany.
She told us, “We have had freedom of speech in Germany in the last few years but it is changing, very much. It’s not the same as it was in East Germany, but they want to control us and they do.”
Leftists cover her neighborhood in leaflets telling neighbors they live next to a Nazi. Her husband, Mathias, lost his job because he too has spoken out publicly.
He said, “No one is willing or daring to speak out because everyone would say you are right wing, you are a Nazi, you are a racist. And they will bash you terribly and they will ruin your reputation. And I know about what I am speaking.”
Heidi added, “When you speak out the truth and only the truth about Islam, about politics, about the media, they attack you and they have done it with me.”
It’s a problem in many Western European nations.
Next Stop: An ‘Opinion Dictatorship?’
Dr. Lehmann makes a bold assertion, saying he believes Germany is “moving towards a dictatorship. It is a dictatorship if one opinion is presented in such a way that everyone must conform to it. And he who does not do it is a fascist, racist or something, and immediately you are ‘out.’”
“This is what we had for 40 years under communism,” Lehmann said.
The German government is now trying to block so-called fake news on the internet, which to some looks a lot like the way communist countries tried to block information from the outside world.
Most Germans seem fine with it. Angela Merkel’s so-called conservative party is back in the lead, six months before the next election, even after a string of terrorist attacks tied to her open-door migration policy.
So, change may not come soon to Germany. Those who dissent will remain outsiders, labeled and shunned.
Some, like Dr. Lehmann, might say it looks a little like East Germany.
Report via CBN News
There will be no speech. Once again, leftist protesters at the University of California at Berkeley will get their way.
On Wednesday, well-known conservative commentator and WND columnist Ann Coulter canceled a planned appearance at the California university after the two campus groups sponsoring her event withdrew their support over security concerns.
“It’s a sad day for free speech,” Coulter told the New York Times. “Everyone who should believe in free speech fought against it or ran away.”
She said to Reuters: “I looked over my shoulder and my allies had joined the other team.”
Young America’s Foundation, Coulter’s main sponsor, pulled out on Tuesday, frustrated with the school’s apparent unwillingness to ensure the safety of students attending the speech. In a statement, the group criticized the U.C. Berkeley police department’s official “stand-down” policy for any situation on campus that doesn’t involve the imminent loss of life.
“Berkeley made it impossible to hold a lecture due to the lack of assurances for protections from foreseeable violence from unrestrained leftist agitators,” YAF said in the statement. “Berkeley should be ashamed for creating this hostile atmosphere.”
The group concluded: “Ms. Coulter may still choose to speak in some form on campus, but Young America’s Foundation will not jeopardize the safety of its staff or students.”
The executive board of the Berkeley College Republicans, who co-sponsored Coulter’s talk, also signed the YAF statement.
Related story: Coulter speech at Berkeley now off
Scott Greer, deputy editor at the Daily Caller and author of “No Campus For White Men: The Transformation of Higher Education Into Hateful Indoctrination,” said the administration at Berkeley most likely shares the protesters’ views.
“They view Ann Coulter as the invader and the enemy,” Greer told WND. “They don’t believe she has any right to protection. Her right to protection matters less than these students’ rights to not be offended. So that’s more important and they just see her as some crazy neo-Nazi coming to campus to spew ‘hate speech,’ and then whatever happens to her is justified and rightfully coming her way.”
It’s not the first time a conservative speaker has been forced to cancel a speech at Berkeley. In February, politically incorrect provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos scrapped a planned event at the university following violent protests by masked agitators. Greer recalled how the police simply stood aside as Milo supporters were beaten senseless.
“They just watched and let it happen because they thought their cause was right but their methods may be wrong, and the same here with Ann Coulter,” he said. “They view Ann Coulter as someone they don’t want to have on their campus.”
Left-wing activists who wish to silence dissenting views have certainly found sympathy in academia and the media.
On Monday, the New York Times published an opinion piece by Ulrich Baer, a vice provost and professor at New York University. Baer argued American culture has shifted to a state in which personal experience and testimony, especially of suffering and oppression, now challenge the primacy of reason and argument. And there’s nothing wrong with that shift, in his view.
To Baer, some topics should not be open to debate because they “invalidate the humanity” of certain people. Therefore, he said recent student demonstrations against Milo and political scientist Charles Murray “should be understood as an attempt to ensure the conditions of free speech for a greater group of people, rather than censorship.”
The professor views freedom of speech as being mostly about inclusiveness.
“The idea of freedom of speech does not mean a blanket permission to say anything anybody thinks,” he wrote. “It means balancing the inherent value of a given view with the obligation to ensure that other members of a given community can participate in discourse as fully recognized members of that community.”
Baer is grateful for those who try to shift the definition of free speech.
“We should thank the student protestors, the activists in Black Lives Matter and other ‘overly sensitive’ souls for keeping watch over the soul of our republic,” he wrote.
Greer marveled at Baer’s argument.
“This is incredible,” he said. “It shows that the moral argument for why ‘hate speech’ needs to be suppressed is more powerful than the constitutional argument.”
Greer said since he wrote “No Campus For White Men” last year, he has noticed an increase in campus insanity. In particular, he has noticed activists are increasingly willing to use violence to suppress speech and go after their political enemies. He believes the new president has something to do with that.
“Once Donald Trump became president, then there became more willingness to use violence and more ‘justification’ for violence,” Greer said.
He recalled how Yiannopoulos, during a speech at DePaul University last May, was hit in the face by a protester who stormed the stage. Yet the violence seems to have gotten worse since Trump’s election, as Yiannopoulos found out at Berkeley in February and as Charles Murray found out at Middlebury College in March.
“I think partially that’s due to Antifa finding a safe space on college campuses to wreak havoc and to commit violence against any of their political opponents,” Greer surmised. “So I would say the madness is increasing, there’s no sign of it stopping or ebbing or calming down, and there’s a great change in their willingness to use violence and to justify it against their political enemies.”