It looks like not everyone in the SPD is thrilled with the election poster put together by Rolf Schwanitz, one of Gerhard Schroeder's senior ministers and a top SPD man in eastern Germany. Just as a reminder, Mr. Schwanitz's poster depicted the coffins of dead Americans to make the point that Angela Merkel would have allegedly sent German troops to Iraq:
SPD Campaign Poster: "She (Merkel) Would Have Sent Soldiers"
As we have already said in past posts, we at Medienkritik find this poster to be one more disgusting and exploitative manifestation of anti-Americanism in today's Germany. The abuse of those who have sacrificed everything for political gain is something that we thought even prominent members of the SPD wouldn't resort to. But unfortunately, Rolf Schwanitz sees it differently.
Karsten Voigt Blasts Rolf Schwanitz, Calls Poster "Totally Inacceptable" and "Inappropriate"
After we reported on the Schwanitz poster, several of our readers wrote to the SPD's Coordinator for German-American Cooperation, Karsten Voigt. Mr. Voigt responded to more than one of them with the following email:
Thank you for your email concerning the election poster used during a short
period by Mr. Schwanitz, a candidate of the Social Democrat party in Saxony.
The use of a picture of coffins of dead service men and women in an
election campaign is totally inacceptable and I deplore the fact that Mr.
Schwanitz acted like that.
I regret very much that your feelings as well that of other Americans and
Germans have been hurt by this inappropriate initiative.
For your information, I would like to add, that this election poster was
not authorized by the SPD party or the Federal Chancellor but was an
initiative by the candidate himself. The poster was withdrawn on Friday,
two days before the election. My office will ensure that Mr. Schwanitz
receives a copy of your email message.
With my best regards,
Karsten D. Voigt
Coordinator of German-American Cooperation"
Mr. Voigt makes it clear that this poster was not approved by the SPD party at large or by Chancellor Schroeder. And although this is a commendable first step in the right direction, our question is this: Why hasn't the SPD more publicly distanced itself from Mr. Schwanitz and his poster? What are they waiting for? Perhaps they hope a few standardized emails will be enough of a bandaid to make this disturbance go away? Perhaps they think that most Germans and Americans won't be aware enough to care? Perhaps they hope to sweep this all under the rug and continue on as if nothing ever happened?
We would strongly welcome it if Mr. Voigt and other party leaders did more than just send canned emails to those writing in to complain. The SPD needs to publicly distance itself, once and for all, from this sort of outrageous, over-the-top anti-American populism. If this is truly as deplorable, "inacceptable" and "inappropriate" as Mr. Voigt says it is, then Mr. Schwanitz needs to tender his resignation immediately or be forced out.
And let us conclude with this: All German political parties need to finally take a strong moral stand against the blatant anti-Americanism that is running amok in so much of German media and politics. It is out of control and it is an embarrassment for Germany. And let's not forget to acknowledge politicians like Guido Westerwelle who have already gone out on a limb to stand against this very sort of ugly populism. We can hope against hope that he will soon be joined by others. But we aren't counting on it...not in today's Germany...