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John Riceburg: Tortal war

The AfD's Beatrix von Storch has been pied in the face by a clown. And John is very, very happy.

“Happy Birthday to You,” the clown sings in a German drawl as he walks into the conference room in a Kassel hotel. In his left hand he’s carrying a pie. And at the five-second-mark: BAM! Right in the face of Berlin’s own Beatrix von Storch! She’s an aristocrat (her actual title is the Duchess Beatrix of Oldenburg) a politician and racist demagogue.

Storch is currently the head of the Berlin chapter of the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), the right-wing party which might get 17 percent of the votes in the upcoming elections in Saxony. Her career as a right-wing politician would certainly make her grandfather, who served as Hitler’s Reichsfinanzminister, proud.

Why did they do it? The pie-thrower released a deliberately convoluted statement (and I promise, this doesn’t sound any better in German):

“No activist wants to throw a pie at a politician. I don’t want to either. But the last resort includes the use of cream pies. (…) If you want to prevent the crossing of moral borders, you also have to make use of cream pies. That is the law. Because if you don’t accept the STOP at our ethical-moral borders, you are an attacker. And we need to defend ourselves against attack.”

Okay. Wait, what?

Well, to understand this mumbo-jumbo, you need to be familiar with the latest rhetorical flourishes of German racists who are trying to sound respectable.

Just a few weeks ago, AfD leader Frauke Petry had spoken out for shooting refugees on the borders: “No police officer wants to shoot at a refugee. I don’t want to either. But the last resort includes the use of weapons.”

Her party colleague Storch had added via Facebook: “If you don’t accept the STOP at our borders, you are an attacker. And we have to defend ourselves against attackers.” “Ja” was Storch’s answer when asked if that included shooting women and children. (She later claimed her hand had slipped on her mouse. Yeah.)

This agit-prop action was organised by Berlin’s own subversive campaign agency Peng! Their blog calls for a “tortaler Krieg” on the AfD – combining Goebbel’s totaler Krieg (total war) with Torte (pie). But as Germany’s history has proven, even the most ridiculous-sounding agitators can be very dangerous. The AfD’s rise in the polls correlates to record numbers of racist attacks against refugees in this country. And the AfD is right in the middle of this racist maelstrom. When two clowns entered a meeting of their programme comission in a Kassel hotel, the AfD leaders “hit and kicked them”, as reported by Peng! on Twitter. Storch published the name and address of the clown, who is now receiving death threats.

(This is, by the way, another good example of the difference between right-wing and left-wing violence: Right-wingers throw Molotov cocktails into refugee homes; left-wingers throw pie.)

My social media feeds have exploded with joy about the pie. But one thing does bother me: sexist remarks about Storch. One instance was the appearance of a photoshopped image of the cream-covered Storch in the middle of a bukkake scene. This was followed by comments that Storch isn’t attractive enough to be in the middle of a group of men jerking off.

As much as I want to see Storch get pushed off a very high building, I don’t think criticism of her needs to be sexualised. In her own perverse way, she has made a strong statement for gender equality: If a woman can incite a racist mob to violence as well as any man, then there’s nothing women can’t do.

We should fight against Storch the same way we fight against male racists (who make up the vast majority of her party): With sitting blockades, political campaigns, and yes, cream pies.