The Corner

Germany Awards Top Prize to Philosopher Who Belittled 9/11

Berlin — One of Germany’s top journalists, Henryk M. Broder, today returned the prestigious Ludwig-Börne literary prize in protest against the anti-American philosopher Peter Sloterdijk’s receiving it.

Sloterdijk termed the destruction of the Twin Towers by radical Islamists to be “small incidents.” Broder, famous for his piercing polemical skills, received the Börne prize in 2007 for his body of work, including a best-selling book — Hurray! We’re Capitulating — on Europe’s über-appeasement of growing fanatical Islamism.

Sloterdijk who hosted a television show on philosophy and whose talks and books are ubiquitous in the Federal Republic, chalked up 9/11 to an “incident in American skyscrapers.” In a piece titled “Why I Returned My Börne Prize” in the conservative daily Die Welt, Broder wrote that Sloterdijk’s scandalous understanding of the 9/11 terror attacks amounted to acting as if “the air conditioning went out” in the Twin Towers.

What Broder did not mention in his fine commentary is that Sloterdijk has singled out two states as rogue nations in his writings. Unsurprisingly, in view of his anti-Western ideology, the countries are the United States and Israel.

Sloterdijk posed this question (with an implicit answer) in a Focus magazine article: “Have we still not understood that Western democracy is that way of life in which one is responsible for his enemy because this enemy mirrors its [Western democracy] own practice?”

There we have the conflation of Western values with naked Islamic-animated terrorism and ideologies seeking to dismantle capitalism, democracy, and personal freedoms. Europe being Europe, it is perhaps not surprising that Sloterdijk will receive the rough equivalent of the American Pulitzer Prize. Europe cannot even bring itself to include the Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah in its terror list.

Italy, Sweden, and Denmark are worried about losing a channel of communication to the anti-Western terror group in Lebanon. It is worth recalling that Hezbollah has murdered Europeans in Europe and in Lebanon since the group’s founding in 1982.

In an academic essay entitled “Antisemitism In Germany Today: Its Roots and Tendencies,” Dr. Susanne Urban writes that Sloterdijk’s book Airquake: At the Source of Terror “recounts catastrophic events that for Sloterdijk are all similar: the Holocaust, the Allied bombings of Germany, the atomic bombing of Japan, and September 11 are the strange pearls on Sloterdijk’s string.”

Sadly, the bottomless pit of cultural and political relativism that Sloterdijk articulates is part and parcel of many European philosophical departments and mainstream elitist chatter. Sloterdijk will receive his Börne prize in Frankfurt, the city where the anti-Western American philosopher Judith Butler was awarded the Theodor W. Adorno award on September 11, 2012. By way of background, at an “Anti-War Teach-In” in 2006 at Berkeley, where Butler teaches, she answered a question about Hamas’s and Hezbollah’s place “in the global Left.” Butler’s response to her students was that “understanding Hamas [and] Hezbollah as social movements that are progressive, that are on the left, that are part of a global Left, is extremely important.”

Sloterdijk now joins the company of Butler, an academic who shows, like himself, great understanding for anti-Western terror organizations. To quote Broder, Hurray! We’re Capitulating.

— Benjamin Weinthal is a Berlin-based fellow with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. Follow Benjamin on Twitter @BenWeinthal

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