Honorary Doctorate in Right-Wing Blather

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 Bohlenhitler 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!

[Hat-tip FJM.]

* 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?

6 thoughts on “Honorary Doctorate in Right-Wing Blather

  1. Herbert Hoovers worst career-move was to get elected as president. His name has still a good ring in Germany, where he organized food aid for children after the First World War(“Hooverspeisung”).
    It would have done wonders for his reputaion, if he had tried this during the Great Depression.
    Isn`t it great, that even the second-worst president could be remebered in this way?

    Wiki-Link: Herbert Hoover(G)

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  2. Hoover was not a great Persident – he was in over his head. He was a great enguineer and manager and probably the President with the best formal qualifications before taking office. He was also the biggest disaster as President. Not the most incompetent – there is a long line of those ahead of him.

    He deserves to be remembered for his many accomplishments including his greatest one bringing famine relief to Europe after WWI.

    I often wonder whether Hoover’s horrible Presidency deterred another great man from running for President; George Marshall. Harry Truman was willing to stem down and run as the Vice-President on a Marshall ticket, but he declined the offer.

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  3. George W Bush the worst President, argues historian Douglas Brinkley? He’s talking out of an orfice not located on his head.

    There is plenty of competition for the spot of worst. Start with the Presidents elected in 1852 and 1856, Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan. A little thing called the American Civil War resulted in significant part from their dithering and blathering. Hoover was a disaster, as were Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon. There are plenty of presidents in the ranks of the not too competent. John Tyler, Zachary Taylor, Millard Filmore, Chester Arthur (a hack), Warren Harding.

    On the scale of American disasters Iraq is small compared with any of the major wars or even compared to Vietnam. Or compared to the Spanish-American War or the insurrection in the Phillipines – both now almost lost to memory.

    Fortunately it’s not the Brinkleys (or any contemporary historian) who really determine such things. There will be waves of revision before the historical record settls down perhaps 30 or 40 years hence. The trouble is that historians who were contemporaries of a President are simply not detached enough to properly judge such things, as witness Arthur Schlesinger’s hagiography of Kennedy. Schlesinger is a pretty fair historian and wrote an excellent life of Jackson – but he worships Kennedy – an unwonted predjudice I fear. Kennedy was a bit above average I think – but certainly not among the top ten.

    Where will History (sic) place Bush? I wouldn’t care to venture a guess, Wayyyy too many variables on this President – more than the normal. An awful lot rides on the long-term success or failure of virtually ignored domestic policy. In the fullness of time Katrina will largely be forgotten. Iraq will not; but the final judgement on Iraq is not quite as settled as the President’s detractors are telling us. A possible comparison might be with President Truman – who also left office under a cloud. But South Korea has been a decided success story and Truman’s reputation has recovered amazinging with it. Truman is now considered solidly in the top ten.

    Bush may follow a similar trajectory, but it’s impossible to know now.

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