Monday, June 6, 2011

Killer Vegetables and the German Nuclear Shutdown

The recent German panic over an E. Coli outbreak would seem completely unrelated to the recent decision by the German Government to shut down Germany's nuclear power plants as the reach a certain age. Yet both the cucumber panic, and the German nuclear power panic are examples of an irrational and potentially sinister pattern of social behavior, the social panic.

An E. Coli infection outbreak in Germany, that has resulted in 2000 illnesses and 18 deaths was initially blamed on Spanish cucumbers, but the cucumbers have been exonerated. Prior to the determination of EU authorities that Spanish cucumbers were not to blame for the German E. Coli outbreak, European salad eaters were throwing out their salads. German authorities treated Spanish produce as undesirable aliens to be stopped at the border.

The source of the German cucumber scare was a banquet attended by German
trade-union officials who were meeting in Lübeck. Thirty four of them got sick, and suspicion fell on the salad. People got sick all over North Germany, although quite obviously not from eating the Lübeck salad. Indeed German authorities have not come up with evidence beyond all doubt that the salad was to blame, or that the toxic E. Coli entered the salad via tainted vegetables. Perhaps the salad preparer neglected to wash his hands.

The Irish Times observes,
Despite a reputation for being calm, sober people, Germans have a record of emotional reactions to threats, real and imagined.
The fact that the German E. Coli strain is resists all antibiotics, suggests that it came from a hospital, where anti-biotic bacteria strains are likely to originate and not from a Spanish cucumber field. But German irrationality has reached an absurd level. Scott Rooney points commented to the BBC,
I live in a part of Germany which is not affected by the outbreak but we, and a lot of people I know, have stopped eating all raw vegetables and have also stopped buying cucumbers, tomatoes and all types of lettuce.

The vegetable sections at most shops are empty - people are not buying fresh produce at the moment.

One local greengrocer has already gone bust.

We have also stopped eating fruit which cannot be disinfected and skinned, for example strawberries. This may be a bit paranoid, but until a source has been found, no-one can tell what is safe to eat.
Irrational social panics are not only common, but nations that lack a means of checking them may find themselves doing all sorts of crazy things. In the current E. Coli, outbreak, irrational panic has lead to the destruction of tons of harmless Spanish cucumbers. While we may see this as a joke, past social panic episodes have lead to some very unfunny consequences. For example. Canadian writer Jonathan Kay described the source of a panic that lead to the destruction, not of cucumbers but of millions of people:
In August, 1897, Theodor Herzl and two hundred fellow activists convened at a concert hall in Basel, Switzerland, to attend the First Zionist Congress. The capstone of their deliberations was The Basel Program, a landmark manifesto aimed at "establishing for the Jewish people a publicly and legally assured home in Palestine." The delegates also officially adopted the Hatikvah, a song that, six decades later, would become the national anthem for the country we call Israel.

But as legend has it, it was all an elaborate act -just a respectable set-piece to divert gentile journalists and spies from the real meeting taking place at a secret location nearby. There, Herzl delivered a clandestine 24part lecture series for Jewish ears only. In these speeches, "protocols" as Herzl called them, there was little talk of carving a small country out of the Middle Eastern desert. What he proposed was nothing less than a plan for total world domination.

Europe's gentiles -or goyim, as they were described in Yiddish -generally were a happy, earnest lot, Herzl told his audience. They worked their farms and small businesses assiduously, prayed to a benevolent Christian God, and prospered under the kindly, lawful aristocrats who rose up from among their ranks.

But they were also gullible, lustful, greedy and unstable in their attitudes -human frailties that the calculating, ascetic Jew could exploit in order to rob them of their entitlements.

The Jewish strategy, Herzl explained, would target all strata of goyim. To corrupt the proles, Jewish smut merchants would provide pornography and "alcoholic liquors." To ensnare middleclass farmers and merchants, Jewish moneylenders would practice usury. Ambitious gentile politicians would be co-opted through extortion and outright bribery; or else installed as quislings in Europe's Masonic lodges, which Jews secretly controlled.

Meanwhile, gentile intellectuals, such as they were, would be beguiled by democracy, liberalism, Marxism, socialism, communism, Darwinism, anarchism, "Nietzsche-ism," and all the other fangled creeds the Jew had created.

Ironically, the Jews' most powerful weapon in the campaign to enslave gentiles would be none other than the lure of sweet liberty itself: "The abstraction of freedom has enabled us to persuade the mob in all countries that ... the steward may be replaced like a worn-out glove," Herzl explained to the assembled Elders. "It is this possibility of replacing the representatives of the people, which has placed at our disposal, and ... given us the power of appointment."

Of course, God-fearing men would never willingly succumb to Jewish tyranny. But Herzl had an answer to that: Jews would not only annihilate Europe's earthly rulers, but also "the very principle of God-head and the spirit," whose presence in men's souls shielded them from the "arithmetical calculations and material needs" upon which the Jew preyed. No longer would the peoples of the world "walk contentedly and humbly under the guiding hand of [their] spiritual pastor submitting to the dispositions of God upon Earth." Instead, "all nations will be swallowed up in the pursuit of gain, and in the race for it will not take note of their common foe [the Jew]."

As his plan played out, Herzl explained, Jews would cycle the world through an endless series of bloody wars and economic depressions, which would serve both to enrich Jewish war profiteers and speculators, and cast the rest of the globe into poverty. Traumatized to the point of total despair, the peoples of the world would have no choice but to succumb.

When Herzl was done with his 24 protocols, the conference disbanded and the Jewish Elders returned to their homes in order to prepare their plots. The world might never have learned of the protocols' existence -but for a single Russian police agent who, through means unknown, intercepted one of Herzl's acolytes at a German Masonic lodge.

In exchange for what one must assume to have been an extravagant sum, the Jew agreed to turn over his handwritten transcription of Herzl's protocols -but only till the next morning. All through the night, a team of Russian scribes feverishly copied out the Hebrew text. When sunrise broke, the fruits of their labour were sent to translators in Moscow, who would go on to warn the world of the Jewish menace.

Thus ends the fairy tale, known to history as The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion -a document that would become the most influential conspiracist tract since the era of the French Revolution. Millions of readers were taken in by this poisonous fraud following its widespread publication in 1919. Adolf Hitler and other war criminals would be inspired to act on it, setting in motion a wave of anti-Semitic hatred so intense that, by the end of the Second World War, Central and Eastern Europe were left virtually Judenrein. . . .

The Protocols was a lie. But like all successful conspiracy theories, it was a lie that people wanted to hear.
The Protocols was exposed as a fraud concocted by The Russian Czarist Secret Police. The
exposure of the Protocols as a fraud did not prevent the German people from experiencing an ongoing Judaophobic panic. That ultimately lead the Nazi Party to power in Germany and ultimately to the death of millions of Jews.

Like the the Judaophobic social panic triggered among Germans by the The Protocols, the German social panic over nuclear energy can have serious and negative consequences for people who are not Germans. Dan Yurman has don an excellent job of documenting consequences of the German social panic over Nuclear Energy. However, Dan does not document the panic itself.

The Green anti-nuclear message has always sold well in Germany, and Chernobyl related fears were sold by food contamination panics. Spiegel International Online reported,
For weeks, there were food and health scares as a result of radioactive contamination, but few could agree on the degree of danger it represented.
In 1986 following the Chenobyl accident Der Spiegel reported
But no one is touching the salad buffets in the country's steakhouses. Some scientists, including those at Hanover's Ecological Institute and at the University of Oldenburg, are warning against drinking milk again. The term "radiation-free" has become part of advertisements for fresh vegetables, like the one used by Dutch farmers. . . .

Politicians tried desperately to jump on the bandwagon of the new anti-nuclear sentiment. Electoral candidate Ernst Albrecht discovered his love for solar energy, announcing the creation of an institute devoted to solar technology, and the general secretary of the Free Democratic Party, Helmut Haussmann, did a 180° turn by declaring that the German nuclear reactor in the western German town of Kalkar was unnecessary.
Yet as the 1986 Der Spiegel story pointed out the fallout from Chernobyl posed minimal risks to Germans, and no German deaths have ever been linked to the Chernobyl incident, although Greenpeace claims otherwise. But the German fear of food poison runs deeper than that. A Nazi children's book, "The Poisonous Mushroom," written by the infamous Julius Streicher drummed into the brains of German children the link between poisoned food and Jews:

Jewish Toadstools

Jewish Toadstools
photo courtesy of German Propaganda Archive

A mother and her young boy are gathering mushrooms in the German forest. The boy finds some poisonous ones. The mother explains that there are good mushrooms and poisonous ones, and, as they go home, says:

"Look, Franz, human beings in this world are like the mushrooms in the forest. There are good mushrooms and there are good people. There are poisonous, bad mushrooms and there are bad people. And we have to be on our guard against bad people just as we have to be on guard against poisonous mushrooms. Do you understand that?"

"Yes, mother," Franz replies. "I understand that in dealing with bad people trouble may arise, just as when one eats a poisonous mushroom. One may even die!"

"And do you know, too, who these bad men are, these poisonous mushrooms of mankind?" the mother continued.

Franz slaps his chest in pride: "Of course I know, mother! They are the Jews! Our teacher has often told us about them."

The mother praises her boy for his intelligence, and goes on to explain the different kinds of "poisonous" Jews: the Jewish pedlar, the Jewish cattle-dealer, the Kosher butcher, the Jewish doctor, the baptised Jew, and so on.

"However they disguise themselves, or however friendly they try to be, affirming a thousand times their good intentions to us, one must not believe them. Jews they are and Jews they remain. For our Volk they are poison."

"Like the poisonous mushroom!" says Franz.

Franz's Lesson

Little Franz Gets A Lesson
photo courtesy of Yad Vashem

"Yes, my child! Just as a single poisonous mushrooms can kill a whole family, so a solitary Jew can destroy a whole village, a whole city, even an entire Volk."

Franz has understood.

"Tell me, mother, do all non-Jews know that the Jew is as dangerous as a poisonous mushroom?"

Mother shakes her head.

"Unfortunately not, my child. There are millions of non-Jews who do not yet know the Jews. So we have to enlighten people and warn them against the Jews. Our young people, too, must be warned. Our boys and girls must learn to know the Jew. They must learn that the Jew is the most dangerous poison-mushroom in existence. Just as poisonous mushrooms spring up everywhere, so the Jew is found in every country in the world. Just as poisonous mushrooms often lead to the most dreadful calamity, so the Jew is the cause of misery and distress, illness and death."

The story concludes,

German youth must learn to recognise the Jewish Poison-mushroom. They must learn what a danger the Jew is for the German Volk and for the whole world. They must learn that the Jewish problem involves the destiny of us all.

"The following tales tell the truth about the Jewish poison-mushroom. They show the many shapes the Jew assumes. They show the depravity and baseness of the Jewish race. They show the Jew for what he really is:

The Devil in human form."

For Germans in 2011, the Devil has taken the form of the nuclear power plant, and the Spanish cucumber.

19 comments:

Anon said...

Now they're saying it was sprouts from an 'organic' farm.

Probably not too big a surprise though there tends to be a lot of overlap between the 'organic' food fanatics and the anti-nuclear movement.

Charles Barton said...

The last time I checked yesterday, the experts were saying, "The true source may never be known."

Meredith Angwin said...

I heard a VPIRG speaker at Putney School on May 5, attacking Vermont Yankee, of course. One of the ways he attacked it was by imitating a Southern drawl.

During the tritium "crisis" Entergy sent a high-ranking VP from headquarters to speak to people in Vermont. This VP is a Southerner. He spoke with a drawl.

The VPIRG man at Putney school said that Entergy sending this (senior VP) person to Vermont just showed how out of touch Entergy is with Vermonters. The VPIRG guy imitated the drawl and got the students laughing. The underlying assumption: nobody in Vermont would listen to or trust someone with an accent?

The level of prejudice shown by nuclear opponents sometimes takes my breath away.

Duncan M said...

When you put events into context like that, I have to think it's better to have the Germans focused on killing nuclear power than to have them focused on killing Jews again.

I think it's probably a mistake to link the holocaust too tightly to the protocols of zion. The Germans have been hosting periodic pogroms against Jews since before the crusades. It's been a common theme throughout Europe for the past 1,000 years. I've read that Hitler's real innovation was to apply the technology of the industrial revolution to the effort.

Anyway. The Germans are great people, but they are just batso crazy when it comes to nuclear power - been that way at least since Chernobyl.

I used to cut my friends slack on the issue, since they had spent their youths under the spectre of tactical nukes from both sides in the Cold War. Now I just find it difficult to speak to them.

Charles Barton said...

Duncan M, except that today it is the the cucumbers and nuclear power plants, but after that who or what? We are confronted by a social phenomena that drives people to do unreasonable things. The real problem is the absence of a restraining mechanism.

donb said...

The ironic thing is that the disease outbreak could have been avoided by irradiating food to kill pathogens, using appropriate isotopes from (gasp!) a nuclear reactor.

Anon said...

Now they just backtracked and said the sprouts weren't the cause and that they still don't know.

Meredith Angwin: The level of prejudice shown by nuclear opponents sometimes takes my breath away.
To think they probably all consider themselves to be among the most tolerant people out there.

Duncan M: When you put events into context like that, I have to think it's better to have the Germans focused on killing nuclear power than to have them focused on killing Jews again.
Of course it would be better if they weren't focused on either.

Still, I wouldn't want to be in the German nuclear industry right now.

Duncan M: I think it's probably a mistake to link the holocaust too tightly to the protocols of zion. The Germans have been hosting periodic pogroms against Jews since before the crusades. It's been a common theme throughout Europe for the past 1,000 years.
Christianity has had a long history of anti-Semitism and is probably where the majority of the blame should be directed but I highly doubt The Protocols of the Elders of Zion didn't contribute to increasing the hatred.

Though come to think of it, if what were written in that were true then the Holocaust may well have been a justifiable act, it is mainly because they were factually wrong that they were morally wrong (and I think much the same applies to the anti-nuclear and their millions of victims from coal pollution and global warming).

donb: The ironic thing is that the disease outbreak could have been avoided by irradiating food to kill pathogens, using appropriate isotopes from (gasp!) a nuclear reactor.
Maybe, some foods will be damaged by even low doses of radiation and so can't be effectively sterilised that way (so always cook said foods).

If the source of the outbreak were one of those foods then irradiation wouldn't have helped although it probably would be a good idea for food which hasn't been irradiated to be required to have a warning label stating that it should not be eaten raw.

George Carty said...

Why is no one mentioning that Generalplan Ost (the Nazi plan for genocide in Eastern Europe, of which the Jewish Holocaust was merely Phase One) was driven essentially by Malthusian considerations?

We need a vast expansion of nuclear energy primarily so that we can send the Malthusians to the ash-heap of history where they belong.

Anon said...

George Carty: Why is no one mentioning that Generalplan Ost (the Nazi plan for genocide in Eastern Europe, of which the Jewish Holocaust was merely Phase One) was driven essentially by Malthusian considerations?
Why couldn't the Nazis have just used nuclear energy (among other things) to sustain the larger population they'd get had they actually been competent enough to succeed without killing everyone their conquer?

Oh right, E=mc² is Jewish physics.

George Carty: We need a vast expansion of nuclear energy primarily so that we can send the Malthusians to the ash-heap of history where they belong.
Malthusian nonsense will keep popping up (and becoming population) no matter how many times it gets proven wrong (eventually it may someday be accurate but given how big the universe is that isn't something we need to worry about now).

George Carty said...

Why couldn't the Nazis have just used nuclear energy (among other things) to sustain the larger population they'd get had they actually been competent enough to succeed without killing everyone they conquer?

Because then they wouldn't have been Nazis, just German imperialists. The whole basis of Nazi ideology was the view of world history as a life-and-death struggle between races over the means of survival.

AB400 said...

Interesting to compare Austria: This is the most anti-nuclear country in the world. They, too, were reacting hysterically to Fukushima, calling for an end to nuclear power in all neighbouring states, and now want to block nuclear electricity coming to them from Czech reactors.

When Hitler, who was born in Austria himself, came to power, Austrians welcomed him and gladly accepted to become part of nazi Germany. Video footage from the time shows Austrians fanatically demonstrating.

More similarities between the anti-nuclear movement there and the nazi movement of then:

- both are fanatical and don't allow rational debate about their ideas

- staging huge demonstrations, with flags and symbols

- boycotting companies directly or indirectly involved with "the enemy", anti-nuclear groups boycott banks for providing loans for nuclear projects, and have forced many banks to cancel such projects for fear of bad public relations

- using propaganda, distributing leaflets that greatly exaggerate and distort facts

This is more than coincidence, these folks have a tendency for fanatical causes, that eventually end up becoming a disaster

LFTR_Fan said...

==> IMHO I think it would be good to remember that DISCUSSIONS and DEBATES are FACT-based. Fling enough UNCERTAINTY and DOUBT into a debate and FACTS become OPINIONS. DEBATES become ARGUMENTS which are won by the loudest, most emotional, and most frequently shouted OPINIONS. Watch for the FACT=>FUD=>OPINION transitions in news coverage of controversial issues such as evolution, global warming and nuclear power.

After living in a small, rural German village for three years, and enduring the social pressure to conform to local customs, it seems to me that the social "norm" in Germany includes blind obedience, conformity, and absolute respect for authority, academic or political. It used to be known as the "Herr-Doktor-Professor" syndrome. Some Germans would wait forever for a defective traffic signal to change, even without any traffic, before crossing the street.

There also seems to be a strong lemming mind-set in Germany. Hitler led millions over the cliff into WW II. Now the "greens" are leading millions over the cliff into energy poverty.

The Russian slang nickname for Germans, "Dubwy", translates to "oaken-headed". Russian gas producers are about to become incredibly wealthy from the decisions of the "oaken-headed".

Anonymous said...

Nice! I myself am a German Bursche, so excuse my Klatchian when I say zat zis discussion is pure art. Have you never heard of Godwin's Law?
Going wiz ze flow, I must admit zat ze most xenophobic Nazis - generally all people in ze East wiz ze funny accents and no jobs - are also ze ones shouting "Atomkraft - Judenkraft!" ze loudest and buying ze most organic food. Zis last sentence made as much sense as the discussion above.

And don't forget ze Desertec. It is lead by ze Deutsche Companies. What we really want is to enslave all North-African sand people under our solar zermal oppression. And zen, when ze power won't suffice, we will have to "adjust" ze population size zere. And we will blame it on zeir small neighbour country in ze east. Ve are a clever bunch, us Germans.

George Carty said...

ROFL! Nice parody...

The North Coast said...

Charles, thank you very much for this post, and not only for pointing out the similarities between the anti-Jewish hysteria then and the anti-nuclear hysteria now.

I had not been aware of the origin of "The Protocols", and knew this nasty document only as something composed by some anti-Jewish group somewhere along back there. It's nice to be able to point out to those who STILL can't say use the term "communist" without coupling it with "Jews" or "Jewish".

The Protocols still have a huge following, but not in Germany. For those who haven't noticed, this country is amply populated with paranoid right wing conspiracy freaks and militia nuts, and this nasty fraud is one of their favorite tomes, along with The Turner Diaries and Mein Kampf.

Anonymous said...

"For Germans in 2011, the Devil has taken the form of the nuclear power plant, and the Spanish cucumber."

Paraphrasing, "For Americans in 2011, the Devil has taken the form of islam, and the hispanic immigrant."

--

Charles, you are drawing a very long bow with this article and are well wide of the mark.

For a start, that many people all over the world (including within Germany), oppose your favourite technology does not make them hysterical or irrational or wrong. Surely they are entitled to hold their values just as as you are entitled to hold yours?

Having recently discussed matters nuclear with a German woman who happens to consider nuclear reactors hopelessly disasterous, I am certain that she would consider your views outdated, naieve and based on a misguided rehash of unreliable pro-nuke propaganda. So, given she has been proved correct by events in Japan, the former-USSR, Gt Britain and even the USA (as well as on the high seas) were I to give her your article to read it is reasonable to expect that she would disagree with your characterisation and provide ample reason for so doing. Indeed she'd be more than likely to consider your view to matters nuclear as wrong-headed as the ideology of the national socialists. She could fairly draw an analogy of your essay as equivalent to that of racial discrimination and the murdering of Jewish people simply for the fact of their ancestry and accident of birth. Of course, such an approach does nothing to resolve the differences in your viewpoints or to discern where the truth ultimately is to be found. Then again, neither does yours...

This issue really surrounds the question of what should be done when opinions on a subject differ. Whose view should predominate? Why should that be? What mechanism decides? Why is that a valid approach? Who is ultimately soverign?

In the present political situation ruling within the USA and in Germany the ideal that is widely promoted is that the common people decide through the mechanism of representative democracy. In this case what has occurred is that the German people expressed their preferences through their representatives and what they are expressing is that the vast majority of them do not want to suffer the presence of nuclear plants in their homeland. Interestingly enough, the stated special purpose of the USA has been, according to your President Wilson among many others, to make the world safe for democracy. For over 100 years this is what the US government has been promoting itself as doing, as it involved its military and other branches in an unending series of international conflicts, invasions, occupations and wars. American soldiers died for the idea of representative democracy. For you to oppose the German people expressing democracy within their own homeland is anti-democractic and, in the context, that must be understood to be un-American.

Perhaps you might like to reconsider your approach to the German population. A clumsy smearing of Germans along the lines of "they don't agree with me therefore they are like the national socialists of lore" does your cause no favours whatsoever. Shame on you.

Sione

Charles Barton said...

Sione I happen to be Jewish and I am not impressed with the good sense of the German people for obvious reasons. I am not at all impressed with the german lady who no doubts mistakenly believes that reactors are more dangerous than bean sprouts. Most Americans don't fear Islam as much as the Germans fear nuclear power. As for hispanic immigrants, no one objects to them if they are in this country legally. I am sympathetic to the undocumented immigrant, but the people who don't share my sympathy, hardly can be accused of demonizing them.

Nothing I can say is going to change the views of the German majority so your advice to me is pure elephant shit.

Anon said...

Sione: So, given she has been proved correct by events in Japan, the former-USSR, Gt Britain and even the USA (as well as on the high seas)
Not at all.

No member of the public has been harmed by what happened and nor has the US nuclear industry harmed a member of the public (and the US Navy has a very good safety record with nuclear power).

OTOH those coal burners Germany has been building to replace their safe nuclear power plants kill thousands each year through normal operation (i.e. you don't even need an accident for people to die).

Even the worst nuclear accident hasn't killed any more than have died from non-nuclear accidents at things like chemical plants.

Sione: were I to give her your article to read it is reasonable to expect that she would disagree with your characterisation and provide ample reason for so doing.
She may provide reasons but I doubt they'd be any good for the arguments the pro-coal movement (and that is what the anti-nuclear movement really is) uses have pretty much all been discredited.

Sione: This issue really surrounds the question of what should be done when opinions on a subject differ. Whose view should predominate? Why should that be? What mechanism decides? Why is that a valid approach? Who is ultimately soverign?
Well it would certainly be a good idea of people would understand the science behind the decision and look at the statistics.

Of course you aren't likely to do that as reality has a pro-nuclear bias.

When a large population gets deluded then they should have to pay the costs of their delusions (especially when that costs falls on others) which if the German nuclear phase-out doesn't get reversed they will (especially when countries which are less irrational on that issue start putting steep punitive tariffs on their exports for the effects the German coal phase-in will cause to the planet's climate (or do you deny global warming?)).

George Carty said...

Wanna know why German environmentalists are so fanatically anti-nuclear? Well, the Polish newspaper Gazeta Ryborcza discovered back in April that three German environmentalist groups – WWF Deutschland, Naturschutzbund Deutschland and BUND (the German division of Friends of the Earth) had between them received $10 million from a foundation.

The sole sponsor of that foundation is Nord Stream AG, which in turn is controlled by Gazprom. Damn traitors ‐ Erich Honecker would be proud.

Here's a machine translation of the article.

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