Youâ€™ve heard it here first: itâ€™s Sunday night in Berlin, and brown-shirted storm troopers are marching through the streets once again, torch in one hand and swastika flag in the other, singing the â€œHorst Wessel Songâ€ and smashing shop windows.
Or, as most other people would see it, the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany party scored a pretty good result in todayâ€™s state elections.
â€œBerlin is not any old city,â€ said during the week the cityâ€™s current Social Democrat Mayor, Michael Mueller. â€œBerlin is the city that transformed itself from the capital of Hitlerâ€™s Nazi Germany into a beacon of freedom, tolerance, diversity and social cohesion.â€ According to Mueller, a double-digit vote for the Alternative for Germany â€œwould be seen around the world as a sign of the return of the right-wing and the Nazis in Germany.â€
The Alternative, or AfD as itâ€™s known in Germany, scored 14 per cent of the vote. The ruling Social Democrats are down from 28.3 to 22.4 per cent and their coalition partners the Christian Democrats down from 23.3 to 18 per cent. Mueller will send Merkelâ€™s Christian Democrats packing and likely form a new coalition with the Greens, whose vote fell slightly to 15.9 per cent, and the far-left Die Linke party, whose vote rose 4 per cent to 15.7. It was another bad result for the Christian Democrats, but Berlin once again lived up to its reputation as a trendy city, with a very comfortable left-of-centre majority. For the left, however, itâ€™s all about the return of the Third Reich.
Herr Mueller is probably unaware of a variant of Godwinâ€™s Law that whoever invokes Hitler first, loses the debate. Reductio ad Hitlerum has â€“ or at least should have – a particular resonance in Germany; itâ€™s one thing for the â€œGuardianâ€ fools who wouldnâ€™t know history if it came up to them and kicked them in their balls (or vaginas) to throw the Nazi epithets around like Nuremburg rally confetti, but citizens of the country that actually gave the world Hitlerism should know better. Europe today is nothing like Europe of the interwar years, Germany of today nothing like the Weimar one, and the Alternative for Germany nothing like the National Socialist German Workersâ€™ Party.
And so Frauke Petry, the leader of the Alternative is called a new Hitler, and a day later her car is set on fire. Last year it was the car of the Alternativeâ€™s deputy leader Beatrix von Storch. When you call someone a Nazi, you give yourself a licence to do anything you want to them, no matter how violent, because thatâ€™s what all Nazis deserve after all.
You also give yourself a licence not to argue, debate and persuade, because after all you canâ€™t argue with Nazis; their vile and irrational beliefs need to be silenced and repressed. Thus open political debate, the lifeblood of a democratic society, is curtailed and large areas of publicâ€™s interest put out of bounds for discussion.
Why could anyone possibly question the quantum or the composition of the migrant intake? There is only one acceptable immigration policy: open door. Anyone who canâ€™t see that must be either ignorant or malicious. Either way, their views not only need not be taken into consideration but they must be actively stigmatised and eliminated in the interest of multicultural harmony.
Thus in the neighbouring Netherlands, Geert Wilders, politician often prefixed as â€œcontroversialâ€, â€œanti-Muslimâ€ or â€œfar-rightâ€, faces criminal prosecution for inciting racial hatred against Moroccans. The said incitement occurred earlier this year at a meeting with supporters, where Wilders allegedly asked the crowd whether they would like to see more or fewer Moroccans in their country. His supporters enthusiastically opted for the latter, eliciting a promise from Wilders that â€œWeâ€™ll take care of thatâ€. Thus the debate about the immigration policy is effectively criminalised. Leave it to your government to decide who comes to your country, and if you disagree weâ€™ll prosecute you.
But not all is lost in Europe and one does not have to go to extremes either. Take Polandâ€™s ex-PM Donald Tusk, who is now the president of the European Council, talking some sense before the EU summit in Bratislava this weekend:
â€œNew images every day of hundreds of thousands of people moving across our continent without any control, created a feeling of threat among many Europeans. They had to wait too long for action to bring the situation under control. Instead, all too often they heard politically correct statements that Europe cannot become a fortress, that it must remain open.â€
To his credit, Tusk, unlike most of the rest of the European political class and the intelligencia, is reflecting a widespread and rather overwhelming feeling right across the whole continent from Spain to Poland and from Sweden to Greece that the current immigration policies are not working. Take a look at this graph illustrating the recent results of a Pew poll:
Only small minorities, one-third at best, think that growing diversity has made their countries a better place to live, and many see the current wave of Syrian and other refugees as a security threat.
The European immigration system is broken. This is the clear verdict of the European voters. The left might be going into paroxysms of hysteria about the rise of populist, right-wing or anti-immigration parties like the Alternative for Germany, but their vote â€“ 14 per cent in Berlin â€“ actually grossly underestimates the popular sentiment that the immigration status quo is untenable. If for the left a double digit vote for AfD represents the return of Nazism, the two-thirds and up rejection of the EUâ€™s open borders policies is an Armageddon. The left is completely out of touch with the people. Welcome to democracy, guys; one day you might even understand it.