Instead of overthrowing Bavaria’s vice prime minister, the leaflet affair may strengthen him. The reason for this is also the journalistic activism with which he was persecuted.

The statements made by Bavaria’s Economics Minister Hubert Aiwanger on the authorship and use of an inhuman leaflet from his school days are scant, the memory gaps are striking. However, his version is difficult to refute. He called his brother as a witness, who confessed to the crime. Until proven to the contrary, it will have to be assumed that eleventh grader “Hubsi” was innocent despite detention. At that time it was a misjudgment and today: in case of doubt for the accused.

It is questionable whether Aiwanger’s story was told correctly

Nevertheless, a story that had to be told and which – perhaps – is not over. She reports vividly on a failure in dealing with the German Nazi past and suggests conclusions about the mentality of the people involved. The deficits are obvious.

It is questionable whether the story was told correctly: as a political scandal that revealed the politician’s “true” face as that of a far-right anti-Semite. At least that’s how it seemed in the first reports. His beer tent rhetoric that one had to “take back democracy” served as evidence of the continuity of sentiment. The verdict that the man had to go was clear from the start – especially with the investigators.

Much determination in the face of unclear facts. In addition, the pamphlet’s disgusting choice of words contrasted from the outset with the fact that it was actually a schoolboy joke. Without a doubt, an ID card for a brown monster – but that of a young person. It would have been an unusual step in political culture, even German one, to make an adult fully liable for this.

The fact that the alleged revelation had been a topic for many years and – presumably – a former teacher of Aiwanger pulled the strings, should have been part of the comprehensive formation of opinion on the table. Instead, the context of the case was made invisible to create space for outrage.

People notice when the media goes overboard, when it gets one-sided. The leaflet unveiling could eventually serve as an example of how certain forms of public activism cost credibility. Until then, Aiwanger will not be the only right-wing populist campaigning with this weakness.


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