(By Ray D.)
It is a long and unfortunate practice in Germany: The political indoctrination of those who have yet to form a mature picture of the world. We at Medienkritik have already reported on a few particularly shameful instances of indoctrination from state-sponsored children's programs like "Lilipuz." But sadly, there are other groups, including a website named "Helles Koepfchen" or "bright little head", that push their political views on Germany's kids in the conveniently prepackaged form of "child-friendly" news. (Update: Quite appropriately, "Helles Koepfchen" in November 2005 received the "Erfurter Netcode" award for particularly successful internet based education for children and youths. The "Erfurter Netcode" is sponsored by the government of the state of Thuringia, the protestant church and others.)
One good example is an article "Helles Koepfchen" published on President Bush entitled, "Unbeloved President of a Beloved Land." Here the kids learn that German kids should be thankful to America for the "end of Nazi rule, democracy, rap music, fast food and Coca-Cola", but that America is an "inconsiderate superpower." They write:
When Germany has so much to thank the USA for - how is it then that so many Germans can't stand the leader of the United States? The answer is simple: It has to do with George W. Bush's politics, that many people see as very inconsiderate. Because he allowed the entire world feel that the USA is the only remaining superpower on earth after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
The previous President of the USA, Bill Clinton, also had a lot of power. But, unlike his successor, he did not show it so openly. Clinton wanted to solve the problems of the world together with as many nations as possible.
George W. Bush, by contrast, really didn't care whether other nations agreed with his policies or not. He simply did what he wanted. In any case, he is the most powerful man in the world, and no one can do anything against his decisions. And he knows that too. That showed itself with great clarity during the Iraq War.
Violation of International Law
Actually, only the most important committee of the United Nations, "the UN Security Council", can allow the attack on a nation. When the Security Council, however, does not grant permission and a nation still attacks another nation - then that is a violation on the part of the attacker against international law. And that is exactly what George W. Bush did in the Iraq war. Except for a few exceptions, all nations were upset by Bush's arbitrary and inconsiderate action."
So according to this neutral and objective site for the kids, no one can do anything about President Bush's decisions. I guess the people at "Helles Koepchen" are a little bit too dim to understand the fundamentals of American democracy. Every four years, the American people are given quite a lot of power to decide on their President's decisions. And if "no one can do anything against" Bush's decisions, how come he hasn't passed his Social Security reform package yet? Guess "Helles Koepchen" has also never heard of the United States Congress, the three branches of government or checks and balances.
And if Bush "didn't care whether other nations agreed with his policies", why did the United States ever go to the UN prior to the Iraq War? The irony here is that Bill Clinton, the site's paragon of multilateral diplomacy, also went to war without UN permission in the Balkans...with German assistance! That's right! If we follow the logic put forth by "Helles Koepfchen", then Germany was also in violation of international law when it became militarily involved in the former Yugoslavia. Wonder if the site has informed the kids that their own nation and leaders were just as "arbitrary" and "inconsiderate" as mean old President Bush?
Not surprisingly, the article goes on a rant about torture and Kyoto. In another article entitled "Austrians don't want 'Arnie' anymore", "Helles Koepfchen" also derides Governor Schwarzenegger for the Tookie Williams execution. In other words, the site's reporting on the United States is essentially a gallery of left-wing propaganda neatly spliced together for the little indoctrinees. And it gets much worse...
Helles Koepfchen: Recommended Links for the USA
Another fabulous feature of "Helles Koepfchen" is the site's lexicon of nations. Definitely a great source of information for growing minds. Here is the nation page for the USA. At first glance it appears rather harmless: You have your basic nation information and a list of recommended links. But one of the links recommended is really quite extraordinary. It's called: "20 Lessons from September 11." Here's a translation of a few excerpts:
"The WTC Conspiracy LIII
The anniversary of the events is nearing, time to summarize, what we learned in the first school year "WTC-Conspiracy."
1) We learned that the "war on terrorism" from Bush & Co. does not serve the purposes of capturing those responsible for 9/11, but instead an ongoing campaign for the establishment of a global Pax Americana, if necessary through violence.
2) We learned that Bush & Co. were allegedly totally surprised by the attacks, but were already able to name the 19 hijackers and their mastermind Bin Laden a day later. To this day no evidence admissable in a courtroom has been found to back this claim and the true identity of those behind the attacks remains in the dark now as then. (...)
7) We learned that the big media are outstanding at fulfilling their democratic duty as independent, investigative powers when it comes to major criminal acts such as sex with an intern or the private use of bonus miles by politicians - but when acceptable sins like the terror attacks on 9/11 happen, they all immediately let things be and degenerate into a pure propaganda bordello.
8) We learned that it was made possible to elevate a perfectly clean conspiracy theory ("it was Osama!") through constant repetition on all channels with the ringing tone of absolute, unquestionable truth, the basis upon which wars are led to this day."
This is just a small sample folks. There are 16 more lessons that sound just as loony. The entire list is a litany of insane conspiracy theories. And this is the sort of reading material that "Helles Koepfchen" recommends to Germany's bright little citizens of tomorrow. This just gives me such a warm feeling about future transatlantic relations...
Helles Koepfchen Attempting to Intimidate Critical Bloggers?
We initially learned of "Helles Koepfchen" from two of our partner sites, Politically Incorrect and Achse des Guten. Last week, Stefan of PI published a particularly critical piece (in German) on the children's site and soon received an angry and insulting email from Helles Koepfchen Editor-in-Chief Ingo Fischer threatening him with legal action for allegedly misusing images and logos from the site without permission. Not long thereafter, Stefan received a letter from the site's Business Director Andreas Fischer (a relation to Ingo?) demanding money and threatening to fine him 5,000 EUROS per day for every day he left their logo on his site. Below is a copy of the letter:
And this is how Ingo Fischer concluded his first email to Stefan:
"It is regrettable that you obviously lack the journalistic talent necessary to work as an editor at a real publication. But luckily you do reach the other members of your social fringe group with your online blog.
With Friendly Greetings, Ingo Fischer"
Wow. The Fischers sound like such nice guys. Just the sort of people you want running a website for your kids. Not heavy-handed or vindictive in the least...
In a strange way though, Ingo Fischer is right. Stefan doesn't have what it takes to work in the world of German journalism: He doesn't hate George W. Bush. He doesn't loathe the United States. He isn't a biased left-wing lock-stepper. He doesn't believe big-government is the solution to all the world's problems. He would never link to "20 Lessons from September 11" on a site for kids and he would never attempt to intimidate political opponents with threatening letters and emails. He just doesn't have it! He must be part of some "social fringe group" and out of the German "mainstream"...
Note: Here is the contact information for "Helles Koepfchen": Editor-in-Chief Ingo Fischer: email@example.com, Business Director Andreas Fischer: firstname.lastname@example.org .
Just in case you want to let the cultural minister of the state of Thuringia, Jens Goebel, know of your excitement about the "Erfurter Netcode" award for "Helles Koepfchen", this is his e-mail address. Goebel is member of the conservative CDU.
Update: Erik of No Pasaran has also weighed-in on the issue. Here is his take.