There was a brilliant moment in one of the presidential debates between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama where Mr. Romney was trying to lambast President Obama for being out of touch with the needs of the American military. Mitt Romney had made an impressive showing in the first debate, and Obama seemed to need a touch-up lesson in debating if he was going to secure reelection. Obama, in response to Romney’s critique that Obama would cut military spending and reduce the military’s size, pounced. Our military is smaller than it was in 1960 because “we also have fewer horses and bayonets.” Obama also patronizes Romney and starts describing military equipment to him as if Romney were 7 years old. You can watch it here.
I’ve long thought that the only way to win, rhetorically, against the radical and extreme rights (although, let’s be clear, Romney is not – compared to Trump – that radical or extreme) is to be funny. Funny, silly, ridiculous, albern, doof – whatever you want to call it. Trying to debate irrational and empty claims with reason is absurd.
Whether Frauke Petry or Donald Trump, the only thing they have on offer are patronizing, authoritarian commentary and a hot temper.
Last Friday, the Kinder (Children) chocolate brand unveiled a new series of packaging that was a masterful marketing ploy to advertise for the European Soccer Championship. The standard packaging shows a blond child as the face of the brand. But somehow, Kinder managed to get childhood pictures of members of the national German soccer team and issued a special edition of the chocolate bars with players like Götze, Schürrle, Kramer – and Gündogan (who has Turkish roots) and Boateng (who has Ghanian roots, and whose brother plays for the Ghanian national team). You can see the video here.
PEGIDA adherents hated it. They posted disparaging comments on Facebook which were taken down by Ferrero, the Italian owner of Kinder.
But PEGIDA, whose leader Lutz Bachmann, was recently convicted on charges of inciting the people, now just looks a little bit “silly,” as the Washington Post and Stern have reported. Not only were Facebook users not having all this disparaging talk, but hundreds of Twitter followers have posted pictures of themselves as children under the hashtag #cutesolidarity, started by Zeit reporter Mohamed Amjahid:
#cutesolidarity ist eine antirassistische MiniKampagne#Pegida–@AfD_Bund verbreitet Hass 💩
Wir dagegen gewinnen gemeinsam nicht nur ⚽🏆
— Mohamed Amjahid (@mamjahid) May 25, 2016
Translated: #cutesolidarity is an antiracist mini-campaign against Pegida and AfD, who spread hate. In constrast, we don’t just win soccer tournaments [by playing] together.
The pictures posted under the hashtag normalize childhood, which is one of the most effective antiracist visual strategies I’ve seen in a long time. Humor helps. The childlike playfulness of this campaign is a strong antidote to the constant temper tantrums of the far-right.