By Ida Buesch – Kleve, Germany
Gender and Diversity students and the AWO District Association Kleve organized a viewing of the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation exhibition titled “Strengthen Democracy – Fight Right-Wing Extremism.”
The exhibition held in October included workshops, illustration boards and two movie nights. The boards illustrated different forms of extremism and attempted to make clear its threat to democracy.
“Right-wing extremists only make headlines if they commit violent acts,” was written on one of the 15 exhibition boards. “But these assaults are only the tip of the iceberg. […] A special matter of concern of the exhibition is to show how to stand up against right-wing extremism and for democracy.”
The exhibition also delivered arguments to deal with discriminating statements or behaviors in everyday situations.
“In general, it is of very high importance for our society to be aware of the dangers that exist for our democratic structures,” said AWO employee Natalie Gutlinsbergen, who was involved in the planning of the exhibition.
Speakers hosted stand up for democracy workshops. The workshops mainly dealt with rhetorical training. They attempted to help people develop arguments against extremism and extremist slogans.
“You do not react to a slogan with another slogan,” said Timothy Tasch, who held a workshop. “You also do not react to it with arguments that are presented in the same emotional matter and force as the slogan itself.”
Different theories were presented during the workshop and put into everyday life examples.
“It is one thing to criticize [extremists] and to fight against their politics,” Tasch said. “But it is much more difficult to explain to your own mother why certain stereotypes or beliefs are completely wrong on a factual basis or why one or the other thing that she has heard somewhere can be scathing to some people.”
The two films in the exhibition “Das braune Chamäleon” and “Die Kriegerin” dealt with different forms of extremism. Amongst other things, they ask what makes people identify with non-democratic and right-wing extremist values.
“Democracy does not just fall from the sky and is not self-evident,” Guntlisbergen said. “Everybody must be aware of that. Democracy must be well maintained and elaborated. Only then it will be strong and resistant.”
According to Gutlinsbergen, the AWO is planning more events about democracy. She also encourages people to submit ideas.
“We are always happy about your ideas,” Gutlinsbergen said.
Tasch also gives regular workshops on topics like actions against discrimination, argumentation training and applied methods of equalization.