Anyone who listens to their speeches and reads their books will get a good feel for AfD leader Alice Weidel’s worldview. It is full of anger, racist and full of contradictions, says our columnist.

Alice Weidel is probably the most colorful representative of the AfD for several reasons. She has been co-chair of the Bundestag parliamentary group since 2017 and has also been her party’s federal spokeswoman since 2022. It stands out simply because women hardly appear in this men’s party and have even less to say. Of course, Weidel is not a quota woman – the party resolutely rejects such a thing.

But Weidel outdoes the men. While some top politicians like Björn Höcke can only fake self-confidence, rhetorical elegance and political knowledge, the economist with a doctorate has an above-average level of all of this. That probably explains why she is (still) doing so well in this party, even though she does not correspond to the reactionary image of women and men as a family – even if Weidel wants to make her lesbian marriage appear as heteronormative as possible: she is (just), said Weidel in the summer interview of 2023, “married to a woman I have known for 20 years. We have 2 children together.”

However, the question arises as to how Weidel can reconcile the fact that her wife was born in Sri Lanka and her children are people of color with the ethnic racism of her party. That’s why I sometimes catch myself thinking that Weidel is just a Trojan horse. After all, she said at the opening event for the European election campaign on April 28, 2024 that it would take place in a “dark hall”. But I don’t do well as a conspiracy theorist. So I stick to facts. Because of course this AfD start was overshadowed by the accusations against the list leaders Maximilian Krah and Petr Bystron of allowing themselves to be corrupted by Russia and China. This had a dark impact on Alice Weidel’s mood.

Susan Arndt is Professor of Anglophone Literatures at the University of Bayreuth. After studying German, English and African literature in Berlin and London, she received her doctorate on feminism in Nigerian literature and oracle.

In her new book “I am East German and against the AfD – An Intervention” she gives a voice to the often overlooked majority of East Germans who do not vote for the AfD.

To understand what ties them to the AfD, I also read Weidel’s 2019 book “Widerworte. Thoughts about Germany”. Here she speaks openly about anger as the engine of her political ambitions. She also took this up in her campaign speech: “What kind of neck do you think I have? I’m a typical angry citizen. That’s why I went into politics.” But where, I ask myself, does “anger” lead as a basis for political work? Not far. Weidel’s 15-minute party conference speech testifies to this.

Because instead of using the time to discuss AfD goals for Europe, Weidel throws around grandiose empty sentences that she hardly ever finishes accurately. (I only mention this here because in this speech she uses Annalena Baerbock’s slips of the tongue to deny her any competence as Foreign Minister.) The only thing that really resonates with me from Weidel’s speech is her anger at all politics that are not from her AfD is coming. She deliberately misuses her tone. Governing politicians are “sick people” who should be “chased out of court”. These “ideologues… shouldn’t be allowed to rule this country.” Because: “In a normal medium-sized company, they wouldn’t even be touched with a pair of pliers, not even with a pair of pliers.”

I am East German and against the AfD: An intervention

So upset, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) condescendingly calls her “Karlchen Chaos”. Then she changes her voice and facial expressions to mimic him. The nasal and high-pitched intonation comes close to an anti-Semitic embellishment of Yiddish. She even threatens Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, the FDP’s top candidate for the European elections, who has been chairwoman of the Defense Committee since 2021, with a death metaphor: “Do you know what I mean by this woman’s responsibility? By, if she wants it herself, she puts herself on a Taurus rocket and gets shot down there (Weidel means Ukraine).”

This hatred of democratically elected politicians is also part of the basic tone of her book. At first glance, one might think that this pits “right-wing politics” against “left-wing ones”. This would be legitimate insofar as the right and the left, if one follows Karl R. Popper, belong to the democratic spectrum of an open society.

However, the AfD has the problem that there are already established right-wing popular parties such as the CDU/CSU – and the AfD proactively locates itself to the right of these parties. Since this largely amounts to right-wing extremism, the AfD is pursuing the course of wanting to “destroy” the CDU and quickly declare them to be left-wing. Weidel, for example, accuses the CDU of degenerating into a social democratic project. In a domino effect, it must also shift the center parties to the left.

Accordingly, Weidel invents the SPD as socialist, quasi-communist. The Greens, whom they accuse of being enemies of the German nation, are also standing here. This is not politically inept, but intellectually ridiculous and substantively baseless. Freedom and democracy are being abolished in this country, writes Weidel in her book. In her speech she said that three quarters of Germans no longer had any trust in the state and its institutions such as the church, trade unions or the media: “Yes, how? Such lavishly funded state broadcasters that really only do what the government wants. No critical reporting.”

Just as this elliptical sentence saves verbs, there is a lack of facts and evidence for Weidel’s political analysis: Germany is a socialist, anti-capitalist and anti-bourgeois state. The state enriches itself from people’s property and lies to them. The Covid vaccinations have achieved nothing other than making people sick (as if they hadn’t defeated the pandemic), shutting down nuclear power plants is absurd (because there is no climate crisis) and the war in Ukraine is a German ploy (and not something like that). Putin’s imperial aggression): “If people like Strack-Zimmermann and Ms. Baerbock and the Chancellor and Mr. Habeck and whatever they are called, with their concentrated competence, Claudia Roth (laughter), if these people want war in Ukraine” , she says in another unfinished sentence in her speech, “to burden us with arms deliveries, to send soldiers, then please let them go themselves (roaring applause!) and send their sons! (tumultuous applause!)”

But migrants are mostly to blame for everything that is going wrong in Germany. There is “completely uncontrolled illegal mass immigration”. Just one sentence from her later, these supposedly streaming in masses are already sitting in Germany’s school classes – even though this would not be possible for people without a residence permit. Nevertheless, she comes to the conclusion that the German nation is abolishing itself through “progressive Islamization”.

Ultimately, Weidel makes no distinction between Muslims and other people of color – nor between people who have always lived here or on a visa basis, people seeking political protection or people fleeing. Their claim that the government is pursuing policies “against its own national interests, against its own population” equates the population of Germany with ethnically white Germans.

Without commenting on the AfD’s political goals in Europe in her campaign speech, Weidel concludes sharply at the end of the speech. “What do you think would happen if this… country were run by the AfD. The spook would be over in one second. Isn’t it… That’s disgusting. These sick people. This needs to end now. The beginning has been made. Choose the alternative for Germany. So that we can finally get this country, we Europe, back on its feet again.”

This is how the AfD works. Inventing chaos that doesn’t exist and turning everything upside down. Then claim that the chaos cannot be repaired – only to conjure up a blue poison recipe up your sleeve.

What this means in detail can be read in Weidel’s book. In addition to the AfD motto “close borders” (i.e. deport “migrants”), leaving the EU and reintroducing the D-Mark could solve all problems as if by themselves. And the ‘overpowering state’ must be overcome. This suggests that she wants to create a slim, invisible state.

However, exactly the opposite is the case. In agreement with her party colleagues, she is relying on an even more powerful, stronger state – a police state. Because wanting to drive away so many ‘foreign bodies’ and keep enemies of the AfD in check directly presupposes this. Weidel repeatedly refers to wanting to restore the law.

At the same time, she rails against the party state that she wants to overcome and against all those who oppose her social and state project. Weidel should know what the strength of our Basic Law, which is currently turning 75 years old, lies: representative democracy is there for everyone who shares and collectively shapes the “open society” in Popper’s sense. Freedom is not a privilege for individuals, but a right guaranteed by the Basic Law that must be accessible to everyone.

Anyone who, like Weidel, wants to shake these principles of the Basic Law is aiming for nothing less than the abolition of the Basic Law and the overcoming of representative democracy. Incidentally, in her book, Weidel offers an answer to how such enemies of the Basic Law should be dealt with – see also Article Art. 20, Paragraph 4: “No state can reasonably be forced to support its enemies from public funds .” Only that she forgets to mention that she herself is this enemy of the Basic Law.

Because Weidel is not striving to turn democracy upside down. On the contrary, she tackles her legs to kick her into the blue-brown mud. Stirring up hatred against migrants and against established popular parties amounts to the establishment of an autocratic state that relies on ethnic racism and builds fascist structures.

I’ll say it quite openly: Since 1945, democracy in Germany has never been as threatened as it is now by the AfD. Not every party that can be elected democratically is therefore also democratic. It is definitely not the AfD. Anyone who mocks democratically elected politicians so violently is providing the incendiary statements that call for physical violence against those who think differently. Those who engage in racist agitation build the nail bombs and bullets that threaten blacks, Jews and people of color every day.

Even though I am critical of the Enlightenment concept of reason – because it excludes all people of color and all women – I am convinced that anger is a dangerous compass when steering a country. This course threatens to lock not only the AfD election campaigns, but our entire country in a “dark room”. Because a country in which not everyone is safe is a dangerous country – for everyone.