The culture of dialogue in Germany has changed. Parts of the population evidently feel left out, ignored. This was one of the topics of the opening panel, which was part of the #Hatespeech track on the topic of "Society – It’s Broken, Let’s Fix It!" with Carline Mohr, Frank Richter, Friedemann Karig, Falk Richter and Fabian Wichmann. The effect of this development can be seen in the rise of right-wing currents. So, does the logic of social media favour a shift to the right? "In a democracy, every idiot has the right to be confronted with a reasonable argument", said Frank Richter, Director of the Saxon State Institute for Political Education. We have to enter into a discussion with the people who share right-wing thoughts and views online.
Journalist Caroline Mohr also advises not to ignore these people: "A dialogue helps fight radical ideas." Mohr calls out the media curators for their responsibility in being able to implement this. She demands a soco-pedagogical education for journalists. It's not just about the dialogue with the people spreading right-wing ideas on the web either. Director Falk Richter emphasized that "the dialogue within our society is equally important".
But why are PEGIDA or the AFD so popular at the moment? Why is there so much right-wing ideology online? These ideas and views have always been there, stated Fabian Wichmann of Exit-Deutschland. "PEGIDA or the AFD are just the motor that gives these extreme right-wing views a collective voice."
Mohr stressed that subjects have now become addressable online which had previously been taboo. She sees a "moral imbalance". People with right-wing sympathies have more courage to express themselves on the internet than they would, say, at the dinner table. She's worried that: "If the confirmation from the digital world gets transported to the analogue world, then it starts to get dangerous."
To be able to work against this, Frank Richter demands a strengthening of the "soft areas of education" in our society. He sees empathy and a change of perspective as being of particular importance. There's no ideal solution when dealing with people who agitate with right-wing ideologies online. However, he outlined three things of particular importance: Identifying right-wing statements, isolating their originators, and, finally, ostracizing them.
Image: re:publica/Jan Zappner (CC BY 2.0)