We call on the University of Frankfurt to take a stand on civil disobedience

Two days before Christmas, we received a reply from the Equal Opportunities Office of Goethe University Frankfurt am Main to our letter dated 18.12.2016. We are pleased about the clear words: distancing from AfD and the Junge Alternative; insight into worrying press work; acceptance of responsibility for the support of right-wing agitation; assessment of the satisfaction of the workshop participants and the quality of the content of the workshop; statement on the perception of the cooperation with glokal e.V.; and offer for a clarifying conversation, possibly with the university president.

However, we do not believe that the “real[] scandal” is “Young Alternative damaging work against racism and other forms of discrimination through false statements” in light of the dispute with the university and the Equality Office. What else could be expected from a right-wing group? It is therefore all the more the responsibility of a society-shaping institution such as the university to actively counteract a general shift to the right in politics, social groups and the sayable. Not to do so is the scandal.

In this regard, we fail to understand why the Equality Office cannot make a clear commitment to the need to exercise civil disobedience to racist practices such as racial profiling. And how does the university, which has established an Angela Davis Visiting Professorship in Gender and Diversity Studies, view this? Angela Davis, who sees herself as part of the Occupy movement and for whom lived resistance is the linchpin of her theory and practice, was “on the one hand surprised, but at the same time also concerned, during her stay in Frankfurt in 2013 on the occasion of the professorship named after her, how much the problems with racially motivated violence and discrimination, e.g. with regard to “racial profiling” […] are similar in the German and U.S. context” (http://www.cgc.uni-frankfurt.de/angeladavis-bericht.shtml). After the Cologne police – well aware that their actions are well received by current racist discourses – carried out mass racial profiling on New Year’s Eve 2016, thereby violating the Basic Law, it is all the more important to act decisively against institutional racism.

Insight and an apology to us as an association and to the speakers directly affected is necessary and good. However, Goethe University must go beyond the isolated dialogical moment and face up to its social responsibility. In this sense, we ask the university to take a position on the practice of civil disobedience in a post-colonial, post-national socialist country and to engage in a public debate about this.