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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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Christian Berntsen is nothing if not enthusiastic. An activist with Bunt statt Braun, a group dedicated to combating right-wing extremism in the northern German city of Rostock, Berntsen has been instrumental in helping plan and stage events dedicated to commemorating the xenophobic, 1992 assault on an asylum-seekers home in the city quarter of Lichtenhagen. The list of activities is long: films, podium discussions, international cooking courses in local schools and presentations by local and regional politicians of all stripes.
"The city is working hand-in-hand with us when it comes to the remembrance program," Berntsen says ardently. "And the events have been extremely well received and well attended."
The effort in Rostock is indeed impressive. The city has gone out of its way to ensure that the kind of hateful violence that flared up two decades ago does not make a reappearance. But elsewhere in Germany, particularly in the east, the situation offers decidedly less cause for optimism. There are, to be sure, myriad groups pursuing goals similar to Bunt statt Braun, but entire regions remain where foreigners are afraid to venture, towns dominated by neo-Nazi thugs and repeated attacks against those who look different. Twenty years after the despicable Rostock violence, Germany's xenophobia problem remains daunting.
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