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Walk: A little political etymology


Why "lateral thinking" and the extreme right talk about strolls at the "Corona protests".

The protests against the Corona measures, which are currently pushing into the public sphere with great reach, specifically occupy terms in their sense. The organisers call their demonstrations a "walk" and suggest that they are not political gatherings. The organisers are thus following a tradition of extreme right-wing actors, especially in East Germany. Pegida had already used the term "walk" to describe their demonstrations. Calling the protest a walk aims at four things:

  1. It is about reaching out to people who see themselves as apolitical or who do not move in the political sphere. Participation in "walks" is associated with fewer hurdles than participation in a demonstration.
  2. The point is to suggest spontaneity and agility of the protest: Apparently spontaneously, people come together for a "walk" on the basis of short-term announcements in the social networks. The aim is to convey the impression of a mass revolt.
  3. It's all about self-deprecation: although mostly organised by networks of the extreme right and/or shaped by them in terms of content, the term "walk" conveys a peaceful leisure activity.
  4. It is about linking up with experiences of the turnaround and GDR opposition. Environmental groups from the GDR, for example, called their attempts to collectively draw attention to the pollution of rivers a "walk".

The adoption of the term "walk" for the actions of the "Corona protests" under assembly law by media and politics reinforces - whether intentionally or unintentionally - the politically motivated staging of spontaneity, resistance and self-deprecation. Those who (unconsciously) take up the terms coined by Pegida and "lateral thinking" in terms of content provide them with reach and plausibility. It would be better to call the protests what they are: right-wing extremist demonstrations or marches.

David Begrich/Pascal Begrich