12. April 2022

It is clear where this is bound to lead. It's a pity, as perhaps the West is indeed the best of worlds

"I have been living in the West for more than half of my life now, but the bigotry of this 'best of worlds' still amazes me, and continues to do so. The West is simply incapable of understanding anything. In the current Spiegel, a cover story - well done for the most part - about young Muslims from Germany who join ISIS. Reporters try to find answers to the question of why, and they do an excellent job, researching, going into courtrooms, talking to parents, friends, experts, visiting mosques, tea shops, clubs - whatever you do as a reporter.

And then they say that the young men come "from a world in which war and religion have been banished from political self-understanding. The 70-year peace that has reigned in Western Europe has made warlike violence taboo ..."

What baffles me about this is the matter-of-factness with which West (Is Der Spiegel "the West"? Yes, it is.) passes over its own warlike actions here (not least in the Muslim world), as if that had nothing to do with the topic. And let's stay with Germany: 15 years after the air strikes on Yugoslavia, five years after the negligent bombing at Kunduz, we see ourselves as a society that has "made warlike violence taboo"? This is interesting.

The FRG was incapable of understanding the GDR, West Germany is incapable of understanding East Germany, Obama, Merkel, Spiegel, ARD and ZDF are incapable of understanding Russia. They are incapable of understanding Putin, and they are even proud of it. The West is incapable of understanding anything. Everything foreign to it is just an opportunity for self-congratulation, and good opportunities must not be missed.

It is clear where this is bound to lead. It's a pity, as perhaps the West is indeed the best of worlds." Notebook, November 21, 2014

19. November 2020

Maritime writing

Ever since I did research for my reportage "Rearguard action in Gdansk" at Stocznia Gdanska in 1996, I have written again and again about the connection between men and  sea. Reasons are simple. The ocean breeze, the wide horizon, seagull cries, fish, salt water. All that does me good in every respect. I don't have any romantic idea about working in the maritime logistic complex. Navegare necesse est - seafaring is a must, but it is most beautiful if you can do it for pleasure. Unfortunately, it is one of the pleasures I cannot afford as often as I would like to. Far too seldom I manage to spend my vacations on the coast, at sea and on islands. So what can I do? I just have to find some suitable work ...



26. August 2019

Endlessly traveling to Honolulu

"Many a trip continues long after movement in time and space have ceased. I remember a man in Salinas who in his middle years traveled to Honolulu and back, and that journey continued for the rest of his life. We could watch him in his rocking chair on his front porch, his eyes squinted, half-closed, endlessly traveling to Honolulu."

John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America



9. April 2019

Fixing up things


I've done a lot of different things journalists do over the last 25 years, but my favorite discipline is still to drive around the country and write stories about unspectacular people - workers, refugees, hillbillies of all kinds. Unlike politicians, artists, scientists or people who want to sell something, they don't push themselves forward. On the contrary, they have a certain basic mistrust of "the press," which, in my opinion, has increased in recent years.

This is not surprising. Since we have the internet and above all the "social media", people pay much more attention to their privacy. Today, nobody can be photographed as easily as 15 years ago. Those who are not already people of public interest prefer not to read their name in the newspaper (i.e. on the internet).

The other point is that they perceive journalists - if at all - either only as scurrying piecework workers in a media industry that seems incomprehensible but suspect to them (with which they are intuitively perfectly correct) or as part of the elites - no less suspect to them. They rarely, if ever, come into contact with the latter type in their world, but if they do, it seems self-evident to them that there is an unbridgeable gap between them and those "alpha journalists" that has rapidly widened in recent years.

The crazy thing is that most of the people I've written about in the last 25 years, when they've read my lines afterwards, have reacted with an overwhelming and touching thankfulness to me (at least if I haven't allowed myself any major mistakes in my job and haven't written any nonsense about them).

ITF Baltic week of action, Sept. 2018, Wismar

22. Januar 2019

Vote for Lula

As long as I remember, I know Lula as a person who works for social justice, the liberation of the poor and excluded, peace and democracy. In the early 1990s, I co-organized a public discussion with him at the Technical University of Berlin. At that time, Lula was still under the impression of the political defeat in the Brazilian elections, which was a direct consequence of the changed world political climate after the fall of the Berlin Wall. The situation was confusing and questioned almost all the certainties of the political left. I remember Lula as a modest and reflective person, without all the airs and graces that political leaders often have. When I see where Brazil stands today, I fear that he made many mistakes in his time as President. I say this without really knowing and certainly without malice. But whatever mistakes he may have made, for me it is evident that he is an intergre person. The reason why they are prosecuting him now is certainly not his wrong decisions, but what he has done right.



https://kurzlink.de/Lula

16. Januar 2019

Pinien, Palmen und Piraten


Südlich vom spanischen Alicante liegt ein ruhiges Stück Mittelmeerküste

Von Jörn Boewe, junge Welt, Reisebeilage, 12.Dez. 2018


Liebstes Urlaubsland der Deutschen ist – abgesehen vom eigenen – immer noch Spanien. Meist ist »Spanien« dann aber doch nur ein Synonym für Mallorca. Wer es individueller mag, fährt ins Baskenland oder nach Andalusien. Dabei hat das Land noch eine Fülle lohnender Reiseziele, auf die man einfach nicht kommt, weil einen niemand mit der Nase drauf stößt.



Eins davon ist das Gebiet im Dreieck Alicante–Elche–Guardamar. Der südliche Teil der autonomen Gemeinschaft Valencia gehört zu diesen eher unspektakulären Weltregionen, die es im Aufmerksamkeitswettbewerb nicht auf die vorderen Plätze geschafft haben. Nichtsdestotrotz ist die Gegend eine Reise wert und gut erreichbar. Aus allen deutschen Großstädten gibt es Direktflüge nach Alicante, wenn auch nicht täglich. Die Tickets, auch die der Low Cost Carrier, sind zwar nicht so obszön billig wie die nach Palma oder Barcelona, aber doch erschwinglich. Wer ein bisschen Spaß daran hat, sich seine Unterkunft übers Internet zu suchen, für den ist die selbstorganisierte Kombination aus Flug, Mietwagen und Ferienwohnung das perfekte Arrangement.

10. Januar 2019

Die Dinge in Ordnung bringen


Ich hab in den letzten 25 Jahren eine Menge verschiedener Sachen gemacht, die man als Journalist so macht, aber meine Lieblingsdisziplin ist immer noch, durchs Land zu fahren und Geschichten über unspektakuläre Leute zu schreiben – Arbeiter, Flüchtlinge, Hinterwäldler aller Couleur. Anders als Politiker, Künstler, Wissenschaftler oder Menschen, die irgendwas verkaufen wollen, drängeln sie sich nicht nach vorn. Im Gegenteil, sie haben ein gewisses Grundmisstrauen gegenüber »der Presse«, das nach meiner Wahrnehmung in den letzten Jahren eher größer geworden ist.

Verwunderlich ist das nicht. Seit wir das Internet und vor allem die »sozialen Medien« haben, achten Leute viel penibler auf ihre Privatsphäre. So leichtfertig wie noch vor 15 Jahren lässt sich heute niemand mehr fotografieren. Wer nicht ohnehin schon eine Person des öffentlichen Interesses ist, möchte seinen Namen lieber nicht in der Zeitung (also im Netz) wissen.

Der andere Punkt ist, dass sie Journalisten – wenn überhaupt – entweder nur als wuselnde Akkordarbeiter einer Medienindustrie wahrnehmen, die Ihnen unverständlich, aber suspekt vorkommt (womit sie intuitiv vollkommen richtig liegen) oder aber als Teil der - ihnen nicht minder suspekten - Eliten. Mit letzterem Typus kommen sie in ihrer Welt zwar nur sehr selten, wenn überhaupt, in Berührung, aber falls doch, ist es für sie selbstverständlich, dass zwischen ihnen und diesen »Alpha-Journalisten« eine unüberbrückbare Kluft liegt, die sich in den letzten Jahren rasant verbreitert hat.

Das Verrückte ist, dass die meisten dieser Leute, über die ich in den letzten 25 Jahren geschrieben habe, wenn sie meine Zeilen dann gelesen haben, mit einer für mich immer wieder überwältigenden und anrührenden Dankbarkeit reagiert haben (jedenfalls wenn ich mir keine groben Fehler in meinem Job erlaubt und keinen Unfug über sie geschrieben habe).