The war in Ukraine has plunged part of the right-wing conservative milieu into calamities. One fights against speed limit, mask requirement and green prohibition culture. But apparently authoritarianism is loved even more than freedom.

A friend of mine is the journalist Georg Gafron. We met on the terrace of the Polana Serena hotel in Mozambique. I know that sounds a bit crazy. On the other hand, anyone who knows Gafron better knows: Could there be a better place to meet him than a hotel terrace in Africa?

Always informed: The course of the war in Ukraine in the ticker – Putin deposes two top generals – Moscow: 1730 Azov defenders have surrendered

Gafron was anti-left when I thought all good things came from the Greens. He set up the first private radio station in Berlin for Leo Kirch. When Kirch filed for bankruptcy, he said the immortal sentence: “With an entrepreneur like Leo Kirch, even the common demise is still a great honor, compared to the miserable existence of so many others.” After that he was editor-in-chief of the Berlin tabloid “B.Z.” . The “B.Z.” is like “Bild”, only with even larger letters.

He was also close friends with Helmut Kohl. If there’s anyone who knows where the donations that disgraced Kohl came from, it’s Gafron. Of course, he regularly took one of the top spots on the list of the most embarrassing Berliners, which the city magazine “tip” lovingly curated every year at the turn of the year.

When the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” still had a Berlin page, there was a column that dealt specifically with him and his work. Did I already mention that Joschka Fischer once threatened to beat him because he made fun of his wife? Gafron gets along very well with Fischer today. They occasionally dine together at “Hot Spot,” a Chinese restaurant in the western part of the city that has a legendary wine list.

Three weeks ago, Gafron reviewed an “Anne Will” show on Tichy’s Insight, for which he has been writing for two years. The text was mainly about the appearance of Annalena Baerbock, who was on the talk show. Ms. Baerbock didn’t fare well in the article. That surprised me because a few days earlier Gafron had told me how happy he was that Baerbock was our foreign minister and not one of those Russia friends from the SPD.

A few days after the play came out, we spoke on the phone. “You won’t believe it,” he said, “but I just saw that it wasn’t my text that was put on the page under my name. There’s stuff in there that I never wrote.”

I then looked at the two versions, the text that my friend had sent to the editors and the television review that was published under his name. It’s really amazing. About a third of the text has been changed. Where Baerbock was praised for her clear answers in the original, it now said that she had squirmed and that it was only thanks to the moderator’s tough, unimpressed follow-up that viewers got an answer at all.

Some passages were completely new, for example a paragraph in which the minister was reproached for describing Germany as the “biggest country in Europe”, one of the “slips of the tongue” which, quote, “makes her so dangerous for the office “. Quick interim question at this point: I may be wrong about population and economic strength, but is there a country in Europe that can be said to be larger than Germany?

I’ve been in journalism since 1989. I was a department head myself for a few years. Editing texts, of course. Rearranging sentences and smoothing out awkwardnesses, too. But turning what is written into its opposite and then publishing the whole thing without notifying the author? I’ve never encountered that in 34 years of journalism. I thought this only happened in Putin’s Russia.

Why does an editor do this? Apparently, “Tichy’s Insight” fears that praising the Greens could upset the readers so much that it would be better to spare them this inconvenience. A good word about the Foreign Minister and her Ukraine course on such a portal! For God’s sake!

The war in Ukraine has plunged part of the right-wing conservative milieu into serious calamities. You see yourself as a defender of freedom, of course. One fights against speed limit, mask requirement and green prohibition culture. But even more than the freedom one loves the authoritarian appearance.

The same people who just campaigned against the “Corona dictatorship” are now keeping their fingers crossed for a usurper of all people who has anyone who criticizes his politics even mildly. In place of the corona measures, NATO has taken the place of the enemy, and the mask advocates have been replaced by the “warmongers”, against whom it is now necessary to defend oneself. It is sometimes only a small step from vaccination opponents to Russia friends.

The culmination of the affects is anti-Americanism. Everything is derived from this, right and left: the strange transfiguration of Russia, the longing for the homeliness of the orderly world, also the stuffiness and mustiness that accompanies the all too homely. For the sake of completeness, it should be mentioned that it is not far from anti-Americanism to anti-Semitism.

There’s a reason the Greens have been the least caught off guard of any party. They have never had any illusions about the nature of an authoritarian regime like Russia. There is a remarkable video from the election campaign in which Annalena Baerbock addresses Germany’s dependence on Russian gas. You can see that Scholz and Laschet don’t even know what she’s talking about at the moment.

Foreign policy has always been the best thing about the Greens, I agree with my friend Gafron on that. Even in GDR times, they were the only ones who regularly dropped by the civil rights activists when they visited the other part of Germany. Unlike many representatives of the SPD or the Union, they did not allow themselves to be deterred by threats or flattery.

Gafron hasn’t forgotten that. He was in jail in the GDR for attempting to escape from the republic. As soon as he was released, he immediately tried it again, in the trunk of a converted R4. This time he was successful. Anyone who has ever really had to fight for their freedom is forever impregnated against any form of collectivism. That’s why he always kept his distance from the AfD and its people, even if he was able to agree with some of the criticism made by the AfD.

I don’t believe in feminist foreign policy. Everything I read about it was pretty much nonsense. But I believe that a nation’s level of civilization is measured by how it treats minorities. All you have to do is superimpose the map of the countries where gays are persecuted and you know pretty much exactly where you, as a freedom-loving person, want to live and where you don’t. Wherever there are people at the top who feel threatened when people live differently from them, things quickly become very cramped and very ugly.

By the way, the article about Baerbock is the last article that you will find in Gafron’s “Tichy’s Insight”. A publication that wants to protect its readers from opinions they don’t share cannot be a home for someone like him.

The readers love him or hate him, Jan Fleischhauer is indifferent to the least. You only have to look at the comments on his columns to get an idea of ​​how much people are moved by what he writes. He was at SPIEGEL for 30 years, and at the beginning of August 2019 he switched to FOCUS as a columnist.

Fleischhauer himself sees his task as giving voice to a world view that he believes is underrepresented in the German media. So when in doubt, against the herd instinct, commonplaces and stereotypes. His texts are always amusing – perhaps it is this fact that provokes his opponents the most.

You can write to our author: By email to or on Twitter @janfleischhauer.

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