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Konrad Werner: It’s not just terrorists spreading fear

Terrorists feed on our news-fevered brains.

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Photo by Maxence (CC BY 2.0)

Today, Justice Minister Heiko Maas and Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere are having a meeting to discuss all the things they could do to stop Tunisian asylum seekers driving trucks into Christmas markets near zoos. Other politicians have already sent in plenty of suggestions, including: re-checking all the Syrian refugees who arrived here in the last two years (that’ll be easy), more ankle tags, more surveillance cameras (with facial recognition software), locking people up who have had their asylum applications turned down, or, you know, just putting up a load of concrete blocks. Maybe give all the zoo monkeys guns?

Making these suggestions is what any politician would do when the media spunks madly all over another terrorist attack, straining in their gimp straps to force their consumers to really really feel the terror that Anis Amri wanted them to feel. For terrorists and TV stations share a terror of their own: your secret weariness. I imagine Amri smuggling his way across the Alps, reflecting bitterly that he didn’t get the black-red-gold Facebook filter. “How else am I to measure my success?” he asked the inside of the car trunk. But then he stopped near an Italian TV and saw the reporters clutched around the remains of his work, interviewing the same bedraggled handful of lost souls clustered at the scene, intercut with politicians turned purple with impotence and fake outrage about the Schengen area. And Amri breathed out. TV stations never let terrorists down. It will be worth dying today, he thought.

One problem is that the word that German secret agents have used to describe the people they think might do the terrorism is a vague and misleading word that has no legal meaning but which sounds great in a headline – “endangerers” – unhelpfully scary, but all it means is people who haven’t actually done anything wrong, which makes it – splutter, hack, BILD headline – difficult to either prosecute or deport them, because you know, not being able to tell what happens in the future is a fundamental law of our existence and even the cops mayn’t breach the cosmic membrane. And yet, thanks to the media’s desperate attempts to force out another thin drop, this is now what we demand of our leaders and our security forces. Fuck it. Ankle-tag them anyway. Ankle-tag all the Nafris. Ankle-tag everyone. 

For some audio Konrad, listen to the News des Nachrichtens podcast, with Drew Portnoy: