The “Bündnis gegen Rechts” have again called for a protest against right-wing demonstrations, of which we were part last weekend. Our march (approximately 1000 people) took us from Rosenthaler Platz to Hauptbahnhof, where we encountered around 400-500 right-wing and Neo-Nazi protesters of the “Merkel muss weg!” demonstration.
The Nazi demonstration met at Hauptbahnhof, then took another route through Mitte, on a Saturday afternoon, through Linienstraße, to Alexanderplatz. Through Linienstraße, the artery of Berlin-Mitte. You could hear them shouting “Ausländer raus!” and other vile and disgusting things.It’s true: everybody has a right to voice their opinion. But we also have a right – and a responsibility! – to resist hate, intolerance and easy solutions. Berlins communities have always been a great example of love and solidarity. This city stands for freedom and democracy, not because the parties go all night long (as most seem to have misunderstood), but because our predecessors fought for it! We must fight to keep this tradition. We must continue to voice our protest, we must continue to physically stand against the over-simplistic ideas of the Nazis and new nationalists.
The power of the political protest
When I was a teenager, I would often join political protests. I wasn’t really part of any political movement. But those protests made me feel powerful. I shouted on the top of my lungs. When you’re young, and you’re surrounded by friends, and you start fighting a common enemy, you suddenly become a part of something much, much bigger. I was floating on top of waves that would take me to a better place.
We held hands in those demonstrations, we exhausted ourselves. We protested agains the Iraq invasion, we protested against nuclear energy, we protested against the Greek crisis. In Berlin, a protest is not just a political vehicle, it’s also a rave, a party, a place to meet people and discuss – it’s literally the only thing that we have left to socialize outside of any normative structure.
There is a reason why political marches have always been an energetic and mighty weapon of democracy. It’s hard to describe the wild mix of emotions and the atmosphere of such a protest. But I was immensely proud to see mostly young people – teenagers – chanting Antifa protest cries. I was almost moved to tears when we were finally standing at Hauptbahnhof, and our counter-demonstration managed to make enough noise to drown out the Nazis and their pack.
Dit is Berlin.
Fuck slacktivism and fuck your apathy, too!
But I was also disappointed. How many allegedly liberal people simply love to complain? They fan fear on their Facebook accounts, shake their heads at those “dumb AfD” voters, they keep on posting about Trumps bullshit and think they’re uncovering a scandal. On a local level, all I can hear are complaints about ‘the old Berlin not existing anymore’ and how the city is changing and that its uniqueness is fading away (thanks to capitalism and to bigoted people).
Well, where are you when your peers are trying to reclaim YOUR city? I never see you at the protests. I never hear your rallying, I never see you showing solidarity unless its for a cause that is only important to you.
Where are you when it comes to actually doing something? Berlin thrives on a political culture. There’s a whole history of protest marches in this city. If you really want to know the real Berlin, then you must get involved. Maybe that won’t change the world, but there’s a chance it might change something about our city… for the better.