Merkel’s previous term was marked by pragmatism and wise determination, Harvard President Lawrence Bacow praised the Chancellor, according to the dpa news agency, at the award ceremony on Thursday.
The American Ivy League university, situated in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a few miles west of downtown Boston, explicitly praised Merkel’s slogan “We can do it” during the asylum crisis in 2015.
The decision to let millions of asylum seekers into the country showed their will to stand up for what they thought was right – even if that was unpopular, the university said. The same is true for their actions during the EU debt crisis, it added. But Merkel’s slogan is hugely unpopular in Germany and has since been the target of satirists.
Merkel expressly misled the German people, who trusted her to fight multiculturalism. In 2010, she had told voters that she was a conservative who acknowledged that “the approach [to build] a multicultural [society] and to live side-by-side and to enjoy each other… has failed, utterly failed”.
A few years later, she was not only allowing record numbers of non-Europeans into Germany, but also ignored laws that govern border protection.
During the ceremony, reporters repeatedly applauded. According to the Süddeutsche Zeitung, around 30 000 people were at the gathering when Merkel gave her speech. The Chancellor called for “truthfulness to others and to ourselves”, which suggests “that we do not call lies truths and truth lies” she added without irony.
Her slogan Wir schaffen das, an assertion that Germany could manage to absorb very large numbers of immigrants, subsequently came into wide use by politicians and activists opposed to mass immigration.
Merkel first used the phrase on 31 August 2015, at a press conference following a visit to a refugee camp near Dresden where local opponents of her refugee policy booed and heckled her. She used the phrase against a background of violence and crime by and against immigrants in Germany, including the 2016 Munich shooting, the 2016 Ansbach bombing, and the Würzburg train attack.
In fact, in September 2016, Merkel stated that she would no longer be using the phrase. In an interview with the German paper, Wirtschaftswoche, she said “I sometimes think this phrase was a little overstated, that too much store was set by it — to the extent that I’d prefer not to repeat it”.
In her speech at Harvard, she avoided directly naming the opposition AfD, and rather condemned “walls of ignorance and narrow-mindedness” and claimed “more than ever, our way of thinking and our actions have to be multilateral rather than unilateral, global rather than national”.
Protectionism and trade conflicts threatened prosperity, she said. Parts of her speech were subsequently interpreted as criticizing US President Donald Trump.
According to the newspaper, the more her speech went on, the more the applause grew. “Let us tear down the walls of ignorance,” Merkel said. “Let’s do things together. Let’s do the right thing, and let’s not forget that our freedom is not self-evident.”
She added: “We should surprise ourselves with what’s possible.” One should not forget, “starting something new is always a risk. To let go of the old is the prerequisite for the new.”
But a member of the Bundestag Committee on European Union Affairs and a deputy member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, AfD member of parliament Martin Hebner shared his disturbing insight into the inner workings of the EU put into motion by Merkel’s policies.
At the AfD event on May 23 in the Schlossberghalle in Starnberg, he quoted some scandalous statements. Behind the scenes, according to Hebner, EU officials hoped that it would be easier to “manage” the next wave of “refugees”.
Hebner also told PI-NEWS that Islam is an absolute taboo subject both in the Bundestag and in the EU. Each time an AfD MP touched on this issue, the old parties revolted he explained.
At the end of May in Geneva, EU officials as well as the “Refugee High Commissioner” of the United Nations Filippo Grandi and representatives of Islamic states from North Africa and Africa of the Arab world discussed how the public perception of migration could be improved by only presenting success stories.
The dark sides of migration, however, are ignored. In addition, strategies against “Islamophobia” should be developed, building links between the media and governments.
Grandi also criticized the notion that it was an “invasion”. He said: “To speak of the fact that there is an invasion of Europe, that we are a continent besieged by people coming to exploit us, is profoundly wrong.”