If it were still necessary to prove that the campaign against the musician Roger Waters is deeply reactionary and aims to silence all opposition to oppression and war by deploying the false accusation of anti-Semitism, Jürgen Kaube, editor-in-chief of the daily right Frankfurter Allgemeine zeitung (FAZ), provided the proof.
In a comment with the cynical title “A right to idiocy”, Kaube insults the famous rock musician, calling him “crazy” and “anti-Semitic”, and becomes angry at Waters’ critical attitude towards the war in Ukraine. Then the columnist of FAZ is pleased that after Berlin, Cologne and Munich, the request is now also being made in Frankfurt “to cancel the concert of musician and BDS supporter Roger Waters”.
Kaube knows his demand is deeply anti-democratic and authoritarian. “But whoever would try to ban the apparitions of the moon worshiper [Waters] would come up against freedom of art and freedom of expression”, he declares with palpable anger.
He nevertheless proposes to enforce censorship: the City of Frankfurt and the Land of Hesse, as shareholders of the Messe, where the concert is to take place on May 28, should “insist on appropriate points [c’est-à-dire l’interdiction de toute remarque critique] be included in future contracts with artists. Or the Mass should simply not enter into such contracts.”
Chairman of the International Editorial Board of World Socialist Web Site, David North, has previously said in a tweet that calling Waters an anti-Semite is “not just a lie.” Especially coming from Kaube’s mouth, this accusation is “also absolutely cynical.”
Kaube is internationally known as the defender of far-right Humboldt University professor Jörg Baberowski. At the beginning of 2014, Baberowski declared in Der Spiegel: “Hitler was not a psychopath, and he was not a sadist. He did not want to talk about the extermination of the Jews at his table”. In the same article, Baberowski, a supporter of the now deceased Nazi apologist Ernst Nolte, said: “Nolte was the victim of an injustice. Historically speaking, he was right.
In matters of foreign policy, Baberowski beats the drums for operations and methods of warfare contrary to international law. In October 2014, he is spoke during a round table at the German Historical Museum (DHM) on the theme “Germany, an interventionist power?” on Western military operations in Central Asia and the Middle East: “And if one is unwilling to take hostages, burn villages, hang people and sow fear and terror, as the terrorists do, if one is not ready to do such things, then one can never win such a conflict and it is better to stay away from it completely.”
When the World Socialist Web Site and the German Socialist Equality Party (SGP) criticized these shocking statements and thus expressed the enormous opposition of workers and students to fascism and war, Kaube intervened. On December 1 of that year, he published an obscene article in the cultural section of FAZ titled “Trotskyist Intimidation,” which called criticism of Baberowski’s far-right and militarist positions “defamation.” In fact, it was Kaube who “defamed”. As the SGP pointed out in his rebuttalKaube used derogatory language, falsifications and outright lies.
Using the same method, Kaube now goes after Waters. The claim that Waters is an anti-Semite is just as outright a lie as the claim that he is a supporter of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“I am neither of those things,” Waters wrote in a message on facebook . “I never have been and never will be.”
“I am, however, well known to be a passionate supporter of peace movements in general and of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights […] in particular,” continues Waters. “I support equal human rights for all my brothers and sisters everywhere, regardless of ethnicity, religion or nationality.”
Waters’ current tour, This Is Not a Drill, which will come to Europe and Germany in the spring of 2023 after many successful performances in North America, is a political statement. As the WSWS wrote in its critical of the tour, “virtually every song addresses pressing issues of our time: imperialist war, fascism, the poison of nationalism, the plight of refugees, the victims of state oppression, global poverty, inequality social security, the attack on democratic rights and the danger of nuclear annihilation”.
This is precisely the reason for Kaube’s agitation. Waters opposes anything that Kaube, the FAZ and ultimately the entire ruling class represent. Along with the strong shift in official politics to the right, the FAZ, traditionally right-wing conservative, has also become an aggressive spokesperson for militarism, war and far-right ideology under Kaube’s leadership in recent years. If Kaube is looking for examples of anti-Semitism and hate speech, all he has to do is read his own newspaper.
Here are some selected examples, some of which have already been commented on by the WSWS:
On September 14, 2015, Baberowski has offensive from the right in the FAZ Merkel government’s “welcome culture chatter” and refugee policy and set the tone for the smear campaign that led to the rise of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD ). He refused to accept refugees on racist grounds: “The integration of several million people in a short time disrupts our traditional continuity which provides stability and social coherence.”
On October 6, 2018, the FAZ published an op-ed of then AfD President Alexander Gauland, which relied heavily on a speech given by Adolf Hitler to Siemens workers in Berlin on November 10, 1933. Wolfgang Benz, an authority on research on the Nazis and anti-Semitism, warned after reading the article that one should “probably suspect that the same spirit is blowing as in 1933.”
the FAZ regularly pleads in its pages for the Germany gets nuclear weapons. The last article on this subject was published on October 29 under the title “Does Germany also need the bomb? The author of the article and co-editor of FAZ, Berthold Kohler, answers the question with a clear “yes”. If the United States turned its back on Europe, Germany would have to “equip itself with its own nuclear shield […] like its neighbour, France. “The German bomb would eliminate the credibility problem of remote deterrence because it would no longer depend on the sacrifice of friendly nuclear powers,” he continued. After all, Vladimir Putin cannot be “deterred by wind turbines and idle nuclear power plants”.
the FAZ plays a particularly repugnant role in advocating war against Russia. Hardly a day goes by without Kaube, Kohler and Co. demanding deliveries of German arms to Ukraine and a more aggressive mobilization of NATO against Moscow. The campaign goes hand in hand with anti-Russian racism and the promotion of far-right forces. the FAZ repeatedly gave a platform to the former Ukrainian ambassador to Germany, Andrej Melnyk. Melnyk is a declared admirer of Ukrainian fascist, anti-Semitic and Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera.
The rehabilitation of openly fascist and anti-Semitic forces by the FAZ is not limited to Germany and Ukraine. In recent weeks, the newspaper has been promoting the new Italian government led by fascist Giorgia Meloni. “Meloni is not the devil,” commented the FAZ in his first article on the September 26 election. On the contrary, with the elections, Italy “returned to political normality”.
Kaube and the FAZ couldn’t be more explicit. For the ruling class, fascism, war and authoritarianism are “normal”. Anyone who does not accept this – especially if he does so in such an expressive and massive way as Roger Waters – is an adversary who must be silenced. It shows Waters’ courage that he does not allow himself to be intimidated by the right-wing media horde, but instead goes on the offensive.
At the end of his aforementioned Facebook post, he wrote, “Your ruling class and your media want to ban me from carrying my message of love, peace and revolution in order to enrich your lives. Well, I will come, and together we will make known our opposition to this charade. The WSWS and SGP will also continue to defend Waters and mobilize the enormous opposition of workers and youth to the right-wing campaign in the media.
(Article published in English on November 12, 2022)