According to this report in the FAZ (G) newspaper, the German magazine Tempo created a fake right-wing foundation called the German National Academy (Deutsche Nationalakademie), complete with a fake director named Professor Wendelin Däubler. Prof. Däubler had goodies to distribute — specifically, honorary doctorates.
He sent a letter to one hundred prominent Germans offering them an honorary doctorate in the name of the German National Academy. And boy, were these doctorates easy to get! All you had to do to get the precious Dr. (h.c.) (Doctor honoris causa) after your name was to "identify yourself completely" with the aims and Weltanschauung of the Academy: a document filled with right-wing blather in it about the glorious of the German Nation, the need to preserve Traditional German Values, build a new Elite, etc. To get just the right nationalistic tone, the Tempo lads turned to the original sources of good old nationalistic blather: Mein Kampf and the platform of Germany’s far-right National Democratic Party.
The FAZ notes with "relief" that many recipients of the letter recognized the "national tone" of the institute’s principles and rejected the offer "with clear words." However, Dieter Bohlen, dimple-cheeked, pink-lipped pop singer, gladly accepted the honor. Now, that’s also not such a big deal. If there’s one thing you don’t necessarily associate with Dieter Bohlen, it’s razor-sharp analytical ability. A much bigger catch, however, was Prof. Dr. Julian Nida-Rümelin, professor of political theory and philosophy at the University of Munich. Not only did he write a friendly letter back announcing his "unreserved support" for the party’s goals, he also enclosed a 17-page long essay!
To be fair (and to avoid a lawsuit), I should make clear that Prof. Nida-Rümelin says he confused the German National Academy with the similar-sounding German National Foundation (G), an extremely nice foundation founded by Helmut Schmidt.* Further, nobody’s accusing the good professor of actually being a nationalist fanatic himself; he’s just a mainstream conservative by German standards. However, the FAZ suggests, the whole affair shows how hot-button phrases such as "the collapse of our values," "the mass society", and "the rejection of mediocrity" can automatically trigger "sober head-nodding" in mainstream-conservative circles.
And speaking of mainstream German conservatives, soon it’ll be time for my review of Die neuen Spiesser! I bet you can’t wait!
* I learn from the homepage of the German National Foundation that the winner (G) of their 2006 National Prize is the "Herbert Hoover School" in the Berlin neighborhood of Wedding. Since when do German schools get named after crappy American presidents? Kennedy, I can understand. Maybe even Reagan.
But Hoover? Most historians consider him far below average, if not the Worst. President. Ever. Liberal U.S. historian Douglas Brinkley calls him the second-worst here (after you know who), and points out that in America, Hoover’s name is "synonymous with failure to respond to the Great Depression." What’s next — the Martin van Buren School in, say, Tönisvorst?