D.he big demos of the corona deniers and the critics of the corona measures were almost a year ago. In August 2020, almost 40,000 of them had gathered in Berlin. It was a bizarre gathering of bourgeois critics, opponents of vaccinations, conspiracy theorists, esotericists, Reich citizens and right-wing extremists – several hundred overcame the barriers in front of the Reichstag building and occupied the stairs. The horror and fear of what was fermenting in the country were great.
In the meantime, things have calmed down around the lateral thinkers. It almost seems as if vaccination also helps against protesters: the more successfully the fight against the pandemic progresses, the weaker and less they are, one gets the impression. But that is deceptive, even if the lateral thinkers are currently not particularly visible. In fact, the opposite is true: the danger they pose is even increasing. And that won’t change if the pandemic is over at some point. The “lateral thinkers” will stay anyway. Because the core of the movement is not interested in the virus.
Lateral thinkers will not all return to the center
The protection of the constitution in North Rhine-Westphalia published a “special report on conspiracy myths and ‘corona deniers’” this week. The protection of the constitution write of the great dissatisfaction with political and social developments in parts of society that has arisen in the past two decades – and see this as the origin of the “lateral thinkers”. The “angry citizens” at Stuttgart 21 or the anti-constitutional Pegida movement were harbingers of the “corona deniers”.
The protection of the constitution has come to the conclusion that “the potential of the people behind the ‘corona denier’ scene will not fully return to the center of society after the end of the corona pandemic”. Rather, it is to be feared that these people could also be mobilized in the event of future crisis developments.
The danger of radicalization
And even worse: The protection of the constitution speak of an “extension of the extremist discourse into the middle of society”. In addition, “corona deniers” became radicalized – and this is especially to be feared “if the messages and convictions do not find an echo in society and public perception declines”. The pandemic must be seen as an accelerator and amplifier.
So anyone who no longer takes the lateral thinker movement seriously, even declares it dead, is wrong. The problems do not go away, and the anger of the “lateral thinkers” has not gone, just because fewer of them are now taking to the streets and are being ignored. It only takes one occasion, just another crisis, to get them back on the streets.
It is very likely that there will then be even more dissatisfied people who think that it is the solution to their problems, to cling to some kind of conspiracy theories and fantasies of overthrow and to seek solidarity with citizens of the Reich and neo-Nazis. It’s still fermenting – and that won’t change for the time being. According to the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, short-term successes are certainly not to be expected.