FROM OUR PRINTED JULY 2023 EDITION
The New Normal – Criminalizing Socio-Political Criticism as ‘Right-Wing Supremacy’
by Aliana Brodmann E. von Richthofen
Last month the American writer C.J. Hopkins, who lives in Germany, was placed under investigation by the public prosecutor there for tweeting the cover of his new book: The Rise of the New Normal Reich that shows a face mask with the outline of a swastika over it. Using the image of the swastika is rightly forbidden in Germany as hate speech. It is, of course, the symbol subverted by the Nazis that today stands for everything hateful and cruel. Hopkins’ book criticizes the German government’s authoritarian response to the corona virus, likening its oppressive actions to fascist governance.
The cover’s design would not be my choice as I reject the use of Nazi or Holocaust evocation for any purpose other than the factual context. But make no mistake, Hopkins is not being put on notice because of a swastika on his book. There are tons of books in Germany bearing a swastika. Hopkins criticized the New Normal, which – as here in the USA, as well as many other former democracies – is evolving into a totalitarian entity that controls public information, suppresses free speech when not conforming to the official ideological narrative, and demonizes dissenting voices as “neo Nazis,” “white- supremacist extremists” and “racists.”
A writer in both English and my native German, I recently published my new novel in Germany as I primarily wanted to address German readers. Thus, experiencing a similar response as Hopkins.
SCHANDE (“DISGRACE”) 2021 Edition Buchhaus Loschwitz, chronicles the life of a Jewish woman born in post World War II Germany to Holocaust survivor parents. Starting with Helena’s childhood in the 1950s, the story unflinchingly exposes the impact of Germany’s socio-political atmosphere throughout her life.
Several prominent German publishers were interested in SCHANDE but wanted omissions of precisely those parts that were of importance to me, such as the antisemitism that continued seamlessly after 1945, first undercover, then increasingly more open, the public smoke-screening that some fig-leaf Jews participated in, the effects of importing millions of unvetted migrants from cultures known to promulgate their own brand of Jew hatred among others.
While I knew the German taboo topics, I was nevertheless shocked at the brazen censorship I was expected to accept in literary publishing houses that pride themselves as liberal proponents of freedom of expression. Eventually I chose a conservative publisher who promised and held to it that there would be no changes or omissions.
The publication coincided with the acclaimed Frankfurt Bookfair that year, which ran under the banner: Gegen Rechts (“Against the Right”).
Perfect timing, I thought. Wrongly, as it turned out. The topic of my book wasn’t in sync with the prevailing leftist narrative. My publisher was instructed by representatives of the host, the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels (“German Publishers and Booksellers Association,” part of the governments’ cultural arm), to remove all posters announcing the publication of my book. Note: Its cover depicts a snowy landscape.
When asked why, we were told they were “following orders” and we could file a complaint. “Following orders” was obviously still a popular excuse here, 70 years after the Nuremberg Trials. No surprise to me. Read my book. But these were today’s Leftists talking, not Nazis. That was a surprise.
I proceeded to be publicly shamed by being snubbed at the Blaue Sofa (Blue Sofa), the hoity toity gathering spot where new publications are introduced and interviews held with people from the industry. A venture supported by the Bertelsmann Media Conglomerate and, according to inside information, owner of a group that belongs to the fact checkers at Facebook, LinkedIn and perhaps other high tech platforms, from which I have repeatedly been banned for – as they state, without explaining – “violating (their) community standards.” It is actually always for my calling to documented facts in response to misinformative babble.
But back to the Frankfurt Bookfair 2021 and the aftermath: Mainstream journalists, some of which I knew, stated they couldn’t review my book. Most wouldn’t elaborate. Some, knowing me (or my book?) too well to smear me with the prevailing “rightwing” pretext, used it instead against my publisher. I lost the interest of a family friend and well-known actress who had wanted to speak the audio version of the book and then declined due to fear of damage to her career. McCarthyism came to mind.
The same fear is prevalent here in the USA once again. People afraid to speak freely. Mere thinking outside the constructed narrative, pounded in to us through the media and high tech, is prohibited today. The New Normal, cult-like ideology that invaded our universities, schools, sports, commerce and everyday life calls it “conspiracy theory,” “racism” and other choice defamations.
The powers that be are as vehemently suppressing SCHANDE in lockstep with its cohorts as our elitists in the USA are forcing compliance with false and harmful polarizing constructs.
That this is happening in post World War II to free and enlightened societies across the globe in unison should be alarming to everybody. Mostly, it should pose the questions, where this movement originated and exactly whom such orchestrated destruction of individualism, public well-being and dumbing down of inquisitive minds would benefit.
A ray of hope beckons in the epilog to the SCHANDE story. Despite the onslaught, the book is receiving public attention, albeit through the conservative media. It is being translated into other languages. An American edition is not yet planned, but may happen by our sorry society of followers who were once leaders, when it wins enough acclaim where truth counts, free speech is respected and lies are seen for the deceptions they are.
About the author: Aliana Brodmann E. von Richthofen is the author of numerous articles, essays and poetry in anthologies, German and American papers, as well as several notable books for children and young adults. She immigrated to the USA in 1971, which has since been her home. She is a member of P.E.N. USA. From 2003- 2005 she was the first female president of the P.E.N. Centre of German Writers Abroad.