The so-called multiplier events in ERASMUS+ projects, such as Arguments Against Aggression, serve primarily to present the results of the projects and to discuss them with stakeholder groups. This is exactly what happened in the first of the AAA Multiplier Events in Germany: Around 70 educational specialists used a full day on 20.2.2020 in the Josef-Martin-Kraus-Saal in Buchen, Baden-Württemberg, to deal with democracy and the threat to democracy. The event took place in cooperation with the Burghardtgymnasium in Buchen.
The day was dominated by two events that gave the day’s program a special character: The night before, a radical right-wing attack in the German city of Hanau shook the German public, in which 11 people were murdered by a xenophobic perpetrator. The day before, a cabinet decision of the German government had passed an expansion of the legislation against hate speech on the Internet. Thus, the presentation of the AAA instruments against hate speech received a special explosiveness, accompanied by the mourning for the murdered and consternation about the terrible event.
Karin Drda-Kühn and Ingrid Zimmermann from media k GmbH, the coordinating institution of AAA, presented project and outputs and discussed with the participants their experiences and handling of hate speech. The answers to the question “How can we react to hate speech?” included elements of self-reflection, which also plays an important role in the AAA instruments: “When I am emotionally affected myself, sometimes I cannot react immediately, but have to rethink the overall situation:”
The paedagogical experts agreed that it is necessary to react immediately if third parties (e.g. a school class) are present and have heard a hate statement. “One must not let hate speech stand,” was the clear assessment. Moreover, in the field of education there is a clear obligation for teachers to take action, especially against jokes about Jews. For teachers, therefore, both are important: direct countering to obscene and derogatory expressions as well as the argumentation based on objective facts and data.
The pedagogical staff emphasised that in the case of young people, individual terms that can be attributed to hate speech are often used without reflection. As a rule, however, the youths are generally perceptive when the use of hate speech or derogatory speech is taken up in a conversation or a learning unit. Final statement of the participants: In all cases it is important to show a clear attitude and not to listen away!
(Picture credits: AAA, showing Karin Drda-Kühn and Ingrid Zimmermann during their presentations)