Agitators bear responsibility

07.01.2021 - Article

Article by Foreign Minister Heiko Maas in Spiegel Online

This attack on the Capitol affects not only the United States. Anyone who attacks America’s democracy attacks us all.

The pictures of the Capitol being stormed are distressing to all friends of democracy. The democratic world is shocked and horrified. But that alone is not enough. We need all democracies to close ranks – worldwide. The battle against bigoted blindness, intolerance and against the division of our societies is a battle which all of us must fight together. It would be self-righteous if we pointed a finger just at the United States in that regard. Here, too, in Hanau, Halle and on the steps of the Reichstag, we have seen how agitation and incitement have culminated in hate‑driven actions.

It goes without saying that people like Trump who for years verbally play with fire and constantly whip up their own followers bear responsibility for these attacks on the heart of American democracy. Around the world, we are seeing what happens when radical populists gain power and systematically delegitimize democratic institutions. It is true that democracy thrives on opposition and argument. But democracy dies if naked violence silences other voices, if pure hatred burns through all bounds of decency and respect.

The radical mob does not represent the majority in the United States. The vast majority of American voters are firm believers in democracy, and they chose not to vote for a right-wing populist in the elections. That should finally be accepted by Donald Trump and others. Any Republican with the slightest sense of responsibility should now finally and unambiguously stand up against Trump. The American courts have ruled unequivocally that the elections were legal. Anyone who does not respect these decisions is acting in defiance of their own people.

America’s strength is its diversity. It is admired around the world for its free democracy. President-elect Joe Biden knows that. His call yesterday for mutual respect and reconciliation were the soothing words of a President. And the confirmation of the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris by Congress was the best democratic response to those who sowed chaos and unrest in Washington yesterday.

As friends of the United States and as friends of democracy, we wish Joe Biden and Kamala Harris great strength in the difficult task of overcoming the division of America. We stand side by side with them in the battle for democracy. Just as the original American principle says: “E pluribus unum” – out of many, one.


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