Taide’s Weblog

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So Difficult: “Independent Info from Syria”

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Clock Tower

All the atrocities are coordinated and conducted from this clock tower. Of course, that's just my assertion (I thought it up), it may not be the clock tower's fault at all, and anyway, I have nothing to back the allegation up, but it sounds good, doesn't it? Besides, a number of people was hanged there by the regime, in 2007.

It is still extremely difficult to obtain independent information from Syria”,writes ARTE, a Franco-German television station. “Now, for the first time”, a journalist, Sofia Amara, succeeded in shooting pictures with a hidden camera, in Syria. Her project was supported by the oppositional “Syrian National Council”.

Yes, it must be extremely difficult to obtain independent information. In June this year, Jürgen Todenhöfer, a German politician, travelled Syria. A video journalist accompanied him and took pictures, too. Not as spectacular – but then, Todenhöfer didn’t need the “Syrian National Council’s” support – and that makes his report much more trustworthy than the one ARTE is mongering, on television, and online.

How did she verify the atrocities reported? How can she tell who commited them? At least on the video shown, ARTE didn’t ask her such questions. A German newscast (ZDF, simply took this into its evening news on October 14, and asked no questions either.

Sure – the Assad regime has failed. How to do business with Syria in the future – or how not to do business with Syria any more – is a legitimate question. Military action should be discussed as an option, too.

But for this kind of journalism, I prefer reading a big German tabloid.

For some more quality, see this interview, conducted by NPR (yes, ARTE, that’s an AMERICAN station).

Written by taide

October 15, 2011 at 8:41 am

Verden’s Commemoration Efforts: those Unhappy Memories

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It has been said before that the way Germans remember their former fellow citizens –  citizens murdered and expelled in the 1930s and 1940s, and many of them Jewish – may matter more to the German citizens of today, than to the actual victims, their surviving relatives and the following generations (many of whom live abroad).

This thought could make commemoration easier. It wouldn’t need to include the horrors, which can’t be adequately described anyway. People who once lived and worked here, and who worshipped their God in our town, would be remembered for the respect we owe them. People who, if this had always been a normal and decent country, could have stayed among us, rather than getting killed, or having to flee what had been their city and country, too.

Excavations on the old synagogue site, Verden, July 18, 2011

Excavations on the old synagogue site, Verden, July 18, 2011

Verden’s synagogue was inaugurated in 1858, and burnt down during the “Night of Broken Glass” (Reichskristallnacht or Reichsprogromnacht) in November, 1938. Until recently a car dealership’s location, the old site is now to become a shopping center. Excavations have begun last week.

Some eight years ago, a Verden Society for Regional History (Verein für Regionalgeschichte Verden e. V.) planned to place a Reichsbahn railway waggon at Verden Railway Station, as a site to remember the haulage of forced labourers and other nazi victims to the concentration camps. The railway waggon was arsoned on January 2007.

For the arson attack alone, the waggon had served a function after all – the attack was a clear indication that commemoration of nazi crimes was deemed undesirable by certain quarters (something that many opponents would have liked to deny). But many Verdeners – correctly – pointed out that deportations by rail had taken place from Bremen, rather than from Verden, and that for historical reasons alone, Verden’s railway station was hardly the right place for the waggon.

In April 2010, Eilert Obernolte, teacher at Verden’s Domgymnasium (one of the city’s secondary schools) and two students,  picked up a suggestion by city council member Jürgen Weidemann (FDP, liberal democrats) to find a way to commemorate the synagoge, within the shopping center concept.

While the railway waggon approach was questionable from a historian’s perspecitve, the synagogue is definitely part of Verden’s past. Now that the shopping center’s construction has begun, one wonders if and how the synagogue and Verden’s former Jewish congregation will be remembered.

Stay tuned.

Written by taide

July 18, 2011 at 4:52 pm

We, the Anti-Democrats

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The following is my – unauthorised – translation of a short article by Adam Soboczynski, a journalist who has attracted a lot of attention and frequently readers’ anger with his articles for Germany’s weekly Die Zeit. In his latest article, he criticises the appreciation for a French manifesto, “L’Insurrection Qui Vient” (German: “Der Kommende Aufstand”). Whenever published online, Soboczynski’s utterances draw great numbers of – mostly angry – comments. His references to Stuttgart in the following are about Stuttgart 21.

– TAIDE

We, the Anti-Democrats

Adam Soboczynski, Die Zeit (online and printed ed. 49), 2 December, 2010

 The angry citizen isn’t conservative. He’s reactionary.

The Coming Uprising (Der kommende Aufstand), the much-discussed, partly printed by Der Spiegel, prized in the feature pages, manifesto of a French “invisible committee” has, despite all revolutionary rhetoric, a conservative nucleus: the loss of traditional conviviality, donnybrooks, good manners. Thought that could be associated with the left – a call for building communes, a celebration of subversive protest, anti-capitalism – are being notched with mourning past everyday habits.

The coming uprising is also anticipated so briskly because it seems to picture the uprisings of angry citizens who didn’t only agitate this country in Stuttgart. That’s what Der Spiegel claims this week. The paper misses the point that the protests are – despite what they may seem to be – of no conservative kind. Certainly, as a pensioner, you don’t want to be confronted with a construction site that is going to stay for ten years. For the last few years of your life, everything should remain the way it has been.

What appears to be, at first glance, a conservative impulse, is in fact reactionary. Reactionary in that secretly, it is moulded by a fervent distrust of parliamentarism and democratic institutions that structure [political or social, probably – Taide] participation.
Apparently, every sense of formal aspects of democracy have been lost: people don’t want to get involved in the political parties’ mean business, but shortcut opinion formation by referenda. No governments relying on discreet communication, people celebrate WikiLeaks. People wish to restrict minorities (such as migrants or smokers) by referenda, while the state is unnecessarily still protecting them.

Just as the sixtyeighters once came from America to Germany, it’s the reactionary Tea-Party movement today which inspires us. Even if only for operating the principle of majority against democratic institutions, quite in accordance with market-economy principles, you can’t consider citizen anger as conservative. If the sixtyeighters believed that the state was mixing with capitalism in a calamitous way, today’s angry citizens structurally align with capitalism.

Henning Ritter, a publicist, has recently noted in his jotter the fine observation that self-fulfilment may be highly appreciated, but without having anything in common with emancipation. The sixtyeighters were filled with the legitimate desire to emancipate from many things – the generation of their parents, or the patriarchy. Despite all revolutionary pathos, the protest soon turned to subcultural recesses or all kinds of careers that were felt meaningful. But from the moment where it dawns on you that self-fulfilment beyond the existing achievements doesn’t translate into individual gains in liberty any more, there will be no march through the institutions any longer, but their dismantlement instead.

Web Critic: a Website about Aleppo

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The best way to experience Aleppo, other than going there, is to view the pages of this website, Historische Alepposeife, which means Aleppo soap in English. The authors are clearly overweening, but their rambles through the city, its history and its specters is entertaining enough.

This is true for the North Arabian Diary in particular, from 2007, with words and pictures, and occasional ideological quarrels between Germans and Arabs, some news (more frequent updates there wouldn’t hurt), and an overview over Syria’s foreign-language media.

Written by taide

November 19, 2010 at 9:39 pm

Pekings neue Waffe gegen Nicht-Regierungsorganisationen

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Zeng Jinyan, verheiratet mit dem AIDS- und Umweltaktivisten Hu Jia, arbeitete nach der Verhaftung und Verurteilung ihres Mannes Ende 2007 / April 2008 an der Aufrechterhaltung der AIDS-Hilfeorganisation “Loving Source” (Ai Yuan), an deren Gründung sie beide beteiligt gewesen waren.

Den Betrieb dieser Organisation hat sie nun eingestellt. Als Grund nannte sie in einem Blog-Eintrag steigenden Druck durch Steuerprüfungen. In ihrer Erklärung rief sie alle freiwilligen Mitarbeiter dazu auf, auch nach der Einstellung der Tätigkeit der “Loving Source” alles in ihren Möglichkeiten Stehende zu tun, um weiterhin den Kindern zu helfen, denen die Organisation mit ihrer Arbeit geholfen habe.

Verschiedene andere – bei der chinesischen Führung missliebige – Nicht-Regierungs-Organisationen gerieten seit 2009 ebenfalls unter den Druck der Steuerbehörden.

Eine Australierin chinesischer Abstammung steht per Internet in Verbindung mit Zeng Jinyan und wird – vorausgesetzt, dass die chinesischen Behörden die Kommunikation nicht dauerhaft unterbrechen – weitere Informationen auf ihrem Blog veröffentlichen. Sie bittet andere Blogger, bei der Berichterstattung zu helfen, um damit möglicherweise eine Milderung des behördlichen Drucks auf Zeng Jinyan und anderer Aktivisten zu erreichen.

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Hintergrundinfo: Die ausländische Krankheit, “Die Zeit”, 25.11.2004

Written by taide

November 17, 2010 at 9:55 am

Narziss und Schmollmund: “so was von gewalttätig”

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Thilo Sarrazin ist SPD-Mitglied, Ex-Finanzsenator Berlins und derzeit Bundesbanker. Die Bundesbank hat bei Vertragsabschluss einen diskreten Lebenswandel von ihm erwartet – jedenfalls lässt ihre Reaktion auf ein  Interview Sarrazins mit “Lettre International” im vorigen Jahr das vermuten – ein Interview, in dem der Mann erklärte, er müsse niemanden anerkennen, “der vom Staat lebt, diesen Staat ablehnt, für die Ausbildung seiner Kinder nicht vernünftig sorgt und ständig neue kleine Kopftuchmädchen produziert” .

burqas needn't be boring

burqas needn't be boring

Dass Sarrazins Ausführungen seinem jetzigen Posten nicht angemessen sind, mag durchaus sein. Dass er sich persönlich mit der oben zitierten Wortwahl diskreditiert, glaube ich selbst. Provokation kann zielführend sein – aber in diesem Fall drängt sich der Eindruck auf, dass vor einem Jahr ein – soeben erschienenes – Buch schon einmal vorab interessant gemacht werden sollte. Jedenfalls steht es auch Türken, deren Töchter kein Kopftuch tragen, allemal frei, sich gekränkt zu fühlen. Zumal dann, wenn sie Gemüsehändler sind (was ist eigentlich an dem Beruf so ehrenrührig?).

Man wird den Eindruck nicht los, dass Sarrazin sein Publikum nicht überzeugen, sondern im Buchhandel abmelken will – und dass er es gründlich verachtet. Manche von denen, die den Narzissten heute für seine “klaren Worte” lieben, haben ihn vor gar nicht langer Zeit  gehasst, als er ihnen vorrechnete, wie ein Hartz-IV-Empfänger für weniger als vier Euro am Tag in der Küche prima zaubern könne.

Jetzt “verdummen” wir also “auf natürlichem Wege”: durch Einwanderung aus der Türkei und dem Nahen Osten, in irgendeinem Zusammenhang. Vielleicht ist das rassistisch – wenn es bedeuten soll, dass die Einwanderer natürlicherweise dumm seien.
So scheint Sigmar Gabriel, Vorsitzender seiner und Sarrazins SPD und ihr oberster Schmollmund, das auch aufzufassen. Grundsätzlich wolle er sich mit Sarrazins Thesen zur Einwanderung ja “intellektuell” auseinandersetzen, sagt Gabriel. Aber sie seien teilweise “sprachlich so was von gewalttätig”, dass eine Auseinandersetzung schwer in Frage komme.

Das ist Quatsch. Wenn das rechtlich geht und sich in den entsprechenden Gremien oder Verbänden hinreichende Mehrheiten dafür finden, kann die SPD den Genossen Thilo natürlich rauswerfen. Aber sie soll nicht glauben, dass sie damit um eine Auseinandersetzung mit ihm herumkäme. Ein Großteil der Wählerinnen und Wähler erwartet eine solche Auseinandersetzung – nach Abzug jeder Menge sarrazinscher Effekthascherei, Pauschalbeleidigung und persönlicher Eitelkeit bleibt nämlich immer noch genug kritische Substanz übrig, über die gesprochen werden muss, um zu einer brauchbaren Beurteilung der deutschen Einwanderungs- und Integrationspolitik zu kommen – und insofern sind Sarrazins Provokationen, über deren Appetitlichkeit sich streiten lässt – ein Angebot. Das Buch muss sich deswegen keiner kaufen.

Und dann beginnt überhaupt erst die Arbeit. Aus der Beurteilung muss man ja auch praktische Schlüsse ziehen. Welcher Mitarbeiter eines Sozialamts oder einer BAGIS soll bestimmten Zeitgenossen – mit oder auch ohne Migrationshintergrund – die Leistungskürzungen präsentieren, die Sarrazin als Antwort auf Arbeits- oder Bildungsverweigerung vorschweben? Sarrazin hat – vermutlich und hoffentlich – Personenschutz. Der Sozialamtsmitarbeiter oder -leiter leider nicht. Und im Gegensatz zu Sarrazin wohnt er möglicherweise auch noch in der selben Nachbarschaft wie sein gemaßregelter Klient.

Man mag argumentieren, dass es zum Job eines Amtsmitarbeiters gehört, das auszuhalten. Aber in manchen Stadtteilen wird der Job dann allenfalls noch Bewerber finden, die nicht wissen, was sie tun.

Auch solche Probleme sind grundsätzlich – höchst wahrscheinlich – lösbar. Das Dumme ist nur, dass die meisten Debatten, auch Sarrazins, genau da enden, wo es konkret wird.

Zur Not mit einem Parteiausschluss.

Stand der Debatte: 27.08.2010

Six Decades of Kitsch and Vulgar Productions

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From the News

Culture Minister Cai Wu criticized the trend of “vulgar productions” and “kitsch” in print and on electronic Chinese media, and lashed out at publications with gossip and sensational stories that advocate money worship and consumerism.

“We publish more than 300,000 books every year, but how many of them could be compared with the scriptures inherited from our ancestors?” asked Cai in an interview with Xinhua.

From china.org.cn

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Some vulgar books about China suggest to point at the mulberry but curse the locust when you criticize someone or something.

But what I do know is that China is as old as it owns Tibet. When I’m looking at the list of Chinese classics as listed by Wikipedia, it seems to me that the classics weren’t all written within sixty years. (The first Chinese classic I ever read, aged twelve or so, was Jin Ping Mei).

The People’s Republic of China is a rather young dynasty state, and during the 1950s China reconstructed, during the 1960s, the Great Helmsman and his vulgar fat ass knocked over what had been reconstructed previously, same during much of the 1970s, and then it was time to reconstruct again.

But it’s true – after 1978, some more useful stuff could have been written. Instead, we got:

– Deng Xiaoping’s Theories (and some other of his works)

– Jiang Zemin’s Three Represents and an opera building which (experts say) lacks architectural freedom (but still looks like the shell of a nuclear reactor)

– and I’m sure Hu Jintao has hired a gang of ghostwriters already, to write some more politporn.

Not to mention the “Modern Beijing Opera” and Chinese pop “music”. And almost every speech ever delivered and printed by a Communist cadre, on whatever level of the hierarchy.

But there’s no reason to become alarmist. Time after 1949 has been too short to build a civilization in China.

Written by taide

August 8, 2010 at 8:44 pm