I was going to write fairly comprehensively and in much detail about my thoughts on the Pegida movement in Germany, but have decided to abandon that project.
So much has been written about it already, and most of it displays a remarkable consensus across almost all serious media outlets and politicians of all parties that I can come up with only two possible explanations for this: Either
- this consensus is correct, or
- everybody is totally blind to the facts.
If (1) is true, then I should shut up already anyway, and if (2) is true, then writing to contradict this consensus would be a waste of time and energy.
Hence I will only say this:
It seems to me that
- in view of the way in which our politicians are still desperately trying to deny any connection between the doctrinal content of Islam and the actions of violent jihadists;
- in view of the way in which adherence to Islam and its concept of honour are allowed as mitigating factors in trials of certain violent crimes in Germany and elsewhere in Europe;
- in view of the intolerance which meets anyone who disagrees with the increasingly influential gender ideology;
- and in view of many other similar developments
some of the worries and concerns articulated by Pegida are not completely baseless and irrational.
To label everybody who shares these concerns and therefore participates in Pegida rally as right-wing extremists and to denounce them as nazis, xenophobic, anti-islamic and racist strikes me as arrogant, stupid, and dangerous.
Those who make such blanket judgments about Pegida consider these concerns and worries unfounded and irrational, the result of ignorance and a lack of intelligence. Maybe they are right, but they should consider this:
If we want to have universal suffrage, and not limit the right to vote and participate in the political process to certain social, economic, or intellectual segments of society, then we have to take account of and respond to voter concerns which we ourselves do not consider justified. If we do not do this, there will be others who will appear to take these people seriously, and they will then win their votes.
If the people who worry about “islamisation” and similar things are not being taken seriously by the respectable political parties and movements (social democracy, conservatives) and do not feel represented by them, they will become easy prey for truly right-wing extremists like AfD in German or FPÖ here in Austria.
Consigning this movement and these people to the extreme right thus becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, with potentially dire consequences.