Open letter from the Initiative for a left counterculture

Dear artists,

In the schedule of Conne Island, it says that you are going to perform there soon.

We call upon you to cancel this concert!

Why?

For quite some time now, the allegedly left-wing Conne Island has been promoting racist and chauvinist views. This trend has reached a peak with Conne Island’s invitation of a speaker sympathizing with the rise of the populist right that we are undergoing in Germany and everywhere around the globe. Conne Island’s permanent staff is deliberately promoting right-wing politics by organizing public lectures with these kind of speakers. They are defending their agenda vigorously against any criticism.

Recently, Conne Island rolled out the red carpet for German journalist and author Thomas Maul. Maul openly supports racist, chauvinist and imperialist positions. In his texts and keynotes, he regularly rants against Muslims, endorses military interventions by western countries, defends colonialism in general and the suppression of the Palestinian people in particular, while belittling violence against women. His political views hardly differ from what right-wing populists like Donald Trump, Front National or “Alternative für Deutschland” (AfD) are preaching. He explicitly promotes the latter: “Time and again the AfD objectively appears to be the only voice of reason in the German parliament”, writes Maul on his Facebook page, paying homage to the AfD less than three weeks before his speech at Conne Island. Further, he deplored the supposed “demonization of the AfD”.

Let us show you, why this venue is no center for left politics and the invitation of a right-wing speaker is no coincidence like the staff of Conne Island suggests. In fact, this seems to be part of the club’s swing to the right.

Antileft and racist views at Conne Island

For many years, it has been common practice for Conne Island’s staff to cancel shows with artists, who take a stance against oppression and war. Usually they justify the cancellations referring to anti-Semitic views these artists allegedly advocate. Anti-Semitism, as Conne Island conceives it, does not only mean racism towards Jews, what, indeed, we have to fight and should not grant any platform. Conne Island interprets any criticism of the oppression of the Palestinian people by the Israeli state as a form of anti-Semitism. They show unconditional solidarity with the state of Israel. This means showing solidarity with half a century of military occupation and defending an ultra-nationalist government and their political agenda. Moreover, criticism of imperialist policies of the United States is off-limits. For Conne Island, this is a mediated form of anti-Semitism, as the US is Israel’s most important ally in political and military matters. It does happen that left-wing bands perform at Conne Island, but most likely this is because there are limitations to their understanding of non-German/non-English lyrics and interviews.
Furthermore, they forbid wearing a keffiyeh at their venue. While they do not allow carrying this worldwide renowned symbol of solidarity with the oppressed people of Palestine, you frequently see logos of the Israel Defense Forces on clothes and stickers, tolerated and embraced by Conne Island staff. In addition to the ideological and symbolic promotion of imperialism and war, they explicitly advertise voluntary services at the Israeli military.
They systematically marginalize left positions of guests and artists. They invite right-wing populists while many left speakers and musicians never made it to their stage.

Conne Island still may call itself an anti-racist location promoting values like equality. A closer look shows, however, that this is a sham.
Migrants entering the venue recently had to face sweeping accusation of being potential criminal offenders: Several women became victims of sexual assaults at Conne Island. Because a few of the offenders were migrants, bouncers at Conne Island have been depicting any refugees from Arabic countries as potential rapists since these terrible incidents took place.
Now they have a racist admission at their doors rather than a consistent fight against sexism gladly taken note of by right-wing spokespeople all over the country.

Inviting Thomas Maul showed the ideology that the people operating this venue have. As we have shown, this is no slip-up but in fact a firm commitment to positions that have been present for many years now.

Still Conne Island presents itself as a place for alternative subculture. Only the ones who take a stand against exploitation, oppression and war should call themselves left, whereas Conne Island is a venue, where right-wing ideologies have a solid position. Under the guise of left subculture and anti-discrimination politics, they defame left wingers, push for war and oppression and have racist admission at their front door.

Take a stance for left culture, oppose Conne Island and call off your performance at this venue!

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