There’s more on the upcoming German presidential elections behind the cut, including what Joachim Gauck thinks about the internet (hint: he doesn’t like it), a link to an interview with Gauck challenger Beate Klarsfeld and the candidates evaluated from a German Jewish POV:
The leftwing newspaper tageszeitung a.k.a. taz responds to the accusations of Jürgen Trittin, co-head of the Green Party and former secretary of the environment (see this post), that the critical editorials about Gauck published by the taz were “swine journalism” by pointing out that the taz is at least furthering real debate and has published both pro and anti-Gauck articles and editorials, while the rest of the mainstream media is just uncritically pushing Gauck and does not even acknowledge the widespread criticism of his many problematic positions. Of yes, and the taz also illustrates its response with a photo of the cutest piglets imaginable.
Apart from the taz, criticism of Joachim Gauck’s nomination can be found mainly on the internet. Now Gauck has stated what he thinks of the internet, in the foreword of a study on internet usage in Germany carried out by DIVSI, an organisation for internet security that was founded by the German postal service, i.e. an organisation whose business model is threatened by the internet.
The study itself is pretty worrying, since it claims that a significant part of the German population mainly views the internet as a threat to their personal safety or that of their children and grandchildren and that those who actually feel comfortable with the internet are just unable to recognize the dangers. Sigh!
In his foreword to the study, Joachim Gauck has written that he views the internet as a threat to the German constitution and the constitutionally enshrined rights of the German people. The tech news site ” target=”_blank”>Telepolis wonders how on Earth the internet can threaten the equality of all people, the freedom of religion and conscience, the protection of marriage or the freedom of meeting and association. However, Gauck particularly sees human dignity and the freedom of speech and the freedom of the press under threat.
Wait a minute, what? Joachim Gauck, the self-styled fighter against totalitarian regimes and Stasi snooping, believes that the internet is threatening the freedom of the press and the freedom of speech? Never mind that the internet has made it possible for millions of people worldwide, including people in totalitarian states, to finally exercise their freedom of speech. And that the internet has made it possible to find alternative information sources about news stories neglected or dismissed by the mainstream media. But that’s the problem, isn’t it? That those nasty internet users are blithely ignoring the freedom of the press to celebrate Gauck and dare to post critical links and commentaries. Pissed off much that those nasty internet users don’t support your candidacy, Mr Gauck?
The media blog Indiskretion Ehrensache has more on Gauck’s foreword and the study itself.
The Jüdische Allgemeine, a German Jewish newspaper, has a differentiated profile of Joachim Gauck (check out the photo) and also an extensive profile of the alternative candidate Beate Klarsfeld. The paper lauds Gauck’s organisation Gegen das Vergessen – Für Demokratie (against forgetting, for democracy), an organisation for remembering Nazi crimes. Somewhat surprisingly, the Jüdische Allgemeine is willing to accept that Gauck’s problematic remarks regarding the holocaust and the German Polish border were not meant the way he said them, though they wish he would express himself clearer. Quite unsurprisingly, the Jüdische Allgemeine seems to prefer Beate Klarsfeld.
Talking of Beate Klarsfeld, the taz has an interview with her.
One thinker often quoted by Joachim Gauck is the German Jewish philosopher Hannah Arendt. Particularly her reflections about totalitarianism seem to be a favourite of Gauck’s. However, in the taz Micha Brumlik, a professor at the University of Frankfurt/Main, points out that Hannah Arendt’s views on what is and is not a totalitarian regime were a lot more differentiated than Gauck’s and that Hannah Arendt would not have equated the GDR of the 1960s to 1980s with neither the Third Reich nor the Soviet Union under Stalin.