After the 2000 elections, many Germans - including Thomas Gottschalk of the famous television entertainment program "Wetten, dass?" - loved to joke about how Americans couldn't count...
Well, looking at German media reports about the demonstrations for and against the war in Washington, it seems that Americans aren't the only ones who struggle with numbers. Here is a small summary of the turnout numbers offered by German media reports:
Die Presse (Austrian media site) - "Around 100,000 Americans marched against the war..."
Do I hear 200,000? 500,000? 1,000,000 anti-war demonstrators? Going once - going twice - sold!
Surprisingly, many German media outlets actually did mention the presence of counter-demonstrators in favor of the United States of America's efforts in Iraq - and their turnout was consistently placed around 1,000 (if they were mentioned at all.) So why was the turnout of one group so inflated - so often - and the other held so constant? Could this have anything to do with bias or a lack of professionalism among German media elites?
Endnote: SPIEGEL ONLINE's use of the lowest (and most accurate) estimate of the number of anti-war demonstrators can be attributed to the fact that their reporting on the United States has increasingly devolved into a sterile, regurgitated blend of AP, Reuters, dpa and other news wire service articles. Had SPIEGEL ONLINE correspondent Marc Pitzke written the article, there certainly would have been at least 50,000 to 100,000 demonstrators in attendance...perhaps even more. He must have been too busy covering extreme obesity, religiosity, obsession with guns, use of the death penalty, social inequality or some other favorite pet issue of German media elites in some other corner of the United States to take part in report on this weekend's anti-war demonstrations.
ZDF - one of Germany's largest state-sponsored public media networks - came out with an article promoting a documentary on September 11 conspiracy theories - just in time for the sixth anniversary of the terror attacks. Next to the article is an unscientific poll asking readers to vote on who really "pulled the strings" on September 11, 2001. The poll provides several interesting choices (which themselves say quite a lot about ZDF) and recorded the following numbers:
Above: Who is behind the attacks? ("Rüstungslobby" = arms lobby, "US-Behörden" = US authorities, "Ich weiß nicht" = I don't know)
The results (with over 6,000 votes registered) indicate that 65% - or nearly two-thirds - of ZDF participants blame either George W. Bush (26%), US authorities (24%) or the nebulous and ever sinister arms lobby (15%) for 9/11. By comparison, only 27% selected Osama Bin Laden as the culprit and 9% said they didn't know. The article itself promotes a documentary which claims to shed on 9/11 and provide "research" that "solidifies" an "allegation against authorities." A translation of the summary can be read here - and the banner and headline can be viewed below:
Above: "Myth and Truth: Documentation: 11 September 2001 - what really happened: ZDF Research hardens allegations against authorities"
This article and poll - published by a major German television network six years to the day after 9/11 - bear further witness to the outrageous and warped views that cloud the minds of so many in Germany and around the world. Some, including German pacifist activist Angelika Claussen, chose to portray the attacks as "accidents" while others pretend to live in a world where the attacks simply did not take place or are to be collectively repressed. Genuine anger with the true culprits - the fanatical Al-Qaeda terrorists who plague the world with their murderous activity - is nowhere to be found.
Others, including the conspiracy nuts who have gained notoriety and a sizable following, twist the facts in an effort to create a narrative to suit their own primitive anti-American tendencies. They thrive on a culture that blames America for virtually everything. They seek to wash away their own historic guilt at the altar of the sacrificial world-scapegoat - the hated 800 pound gorilla and source of all the world's ills - The United States of America. These "useful idiots" are - sadly enough - all too useful to Al-Qaeda and other anti-American fanatics in their propaganda war against the United States - as Osama bin Laden's recent reference to Noam Chomsky demonstrates.
Let there be no mistake: The only reason ZDF and other German media promote this sort of material over and over again is because so many Germans want to buy and believe it. Deep down - far more Germans than anyone is willing to admit are convinced that American leaders destroyed their own buildings and thousands of their fellow citizens to justify a campaign to invade the Middle East for oil. They believe that George W. Bush - together with a sinister cabal of government authorities and arms merchants (i.e. the dreaded military-industrial complex that haunts the fantasies of much of the Angry Left) essentially murdered thousands of innocents - and managed to keep the entire operation secret - without so much as a leak. (This despite the fact that it is also universally accepted among members of the Angry Left that Bush is a complete idiot incapable of forming a coherent sentence...)
Sadly - this article is symptomatic of a wider mental illness that affects a disproportionate number of Germans and is to be found throughout the world wherever angry America-haters (and American self-haters) brood.
This can only be described as one of those moments - with state-sponsored media offering a public stage for these outrageous conspiracy theories - that one feels sincerely ashamed to be a German citizen...
UPDATE: Several readers point out that the documentary (which had not yet aired at the time of this posting) reviews numerous conspiracy theories - only to debunk or contradict them at the very end. It is true that the documentary reaches this conclusion - and we are happy about that - but the entire program is presented and advertised in a manner that hypes and promotes the madness - and offers the conspiracy theorists a platform to spread their lies. Further - had a ZDF documentary concluded that 9/11 was an inside job - the media reaction certainly would not have limited itself to this blog. But the cavalier and disrespectful manner in which the network handles the topic with its article and poll is disturbing - and has more to do with ratings than with a responsible handling of the subject. The poll - which offers outrageous choices (only "space aliens", "Israel", and "free masons" were missing) is a clear indicator that ZDF is anything but dedicated to dispelling the many myths that surround 9/11.
UPDATE: The terrorists were supported by the German welfare state - via the German taxpayer. Does this deeply surprise anyone? Some of the 9/11 hijackers also took advantage of free education and other handouts from the German "social" system.
When asked to comment on the danger of nuclear terrorism, Claussen refers to the 9/11 terror attacks on the World Trade Center as "airplane accidents" and "airplane crashes." The exchange was brought to our attention by German blogger David Harnasch and can be viewed below (with English subtitles):
It is interesting to note (in what can only be described as journalistic malpractice) that the interviewer - Dieter Moor - does not challenge or so much as question Ms. Claussen's outrageous characterizations of the attacks on the World Trade Center buildings as "airplane accidents" and "airplane crashes." Instead, he continues on - completely unperturbed by Claussen's twisted references to the 9/11 terror attacks - and concludes by thanking her for the "outstanding discussion" (View the entire interview here.)
Once again - German taxpayers' money is being put to good use by state-supported public television. Just makes you want to run out and pay your GEZ fee (a mandatory state tax on all radio and television owners) early this month - doesn't it?
Simply put: There is a segment of the Angry Left in Germany that is determined to deny or alter the reality of September 11, 2001. They revel in conspiracy theories or pretend the whole thing was an unfortunate accident. Is it any wonder then - with individuals like Ms. Claussen in positions of influence - and German public television offering them a ready-made platform to propagate their ideas - that so many Germans have so little sympathy towards the United States and the victims of 9/11?
Endnote: You can reach Ms. Claussen with your comments at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please keep all emails civil and respectful.
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