Yesterday I wrote about Mrs. Merkel. Today I want to mention Mrs. Renate Künast, another German female politician, that did something impressive. She is a member of the Green Party (Bündnis 90-Die Grünen) in Germany. She has been active in the anti-nuclear movement as a young person, joined the Green Party early on, eventually became their chairwoman and is a Member of Parliament. She once even ran for the job as Major of Berlin, where she lost.
Being a political leader and living a public life, she has been on the receiving end of hate mails and horrible facebook hate-posts. She makes a point of reporting them to the police, although she has to always only pick a few, as it would be too much to go after every single one. Such is the extend of hate, she is exposed to on a daily base.
But she did something wonderful, I think, on top. Of the thousands of hate posts, wishing her pest and cholera and worse, she picked out a few people, who used their real names on the internet and went to visit them personally. To ask them, why they are doing it. To talk to them. She decided to go to their houses uninvited, just the same way, they entered her own life.
She fetched a reporter from “Der Spiegel” (the leading weekly paper in Germany, comparable to Time magazine) to come along and minute the conversations. The ensuing article can be read here. She had a printout of the respective hate-posts with her and asked, why they were writing this.
Some couldn’t even remember posting her (they said, they just do that to air their anger), some thought she is as horrible as they posted (at the same time knowing very little of her and her political work) some apologized, some tried to excuse themselves with: “I didn’t think you actually get to read this.” But all of them were very surprised, that it was her in person, coming to see them. Some even wanted a photograph together with her, I guess to brag about on the internet, later on.
What surprised her the most, Mrs. Künast said, is, that they ALL were what we would call middle class people. With jobs, families, some with their own houses and gardens, properly educated, well situated folks. She had fully expected to arrive at poor people’s abodes, defunct homes and lifes. She was frightened by this fact. And so am I.