Karl Kraus, that exquisite moralist of the German language, wrote that a patriot is someone who goes forth to greet the foreigner in his own tongue. It’s an insight that still bears weight in Vienna, where the pressure to be culturally  German often brings on a moral backlash. Just as a self-respecting foreigner in Vienna does his best to speak the language, so too, self-respecting Viennese try their best to speak the universal common language (which at this moment happens to be American English), especially in a delicate moment like this, when thousands of Middle-Eastern and African refugees arrive every day: meeting the Other in his or her language is one way to set yourself apart from the fascist propaganda that demands respect for unsere Sprache, unsere Kultur.

It's the Thought that Counts Prize.

[Translation: ”Trade unionists demand access to the labor market for asylum seekers.“] As another flyer explained, “This is not addressed to people with a refugee background or it wouldn't be in German only.”

On October 10 the City of Vienna runs a local election for City Council and Mayor, amidst anxiety that the extreme right-wing FPÖ, the party of Haider and haters, might have a significant breakthrough; but then that’s what fascists do, isn’t it—create anxiety? On October 3 some 200,00 people, Austrians and visitors alike, attended a mass demonstration in support of the stream of refugees, immigrants and undocumented workers, culminating in a monster rally at the Heldenplatz, where Hitler in 1938 addressed a mere 50,000: quite the Hadscha as the Viennese would say, meaning: quite the shlepp in Wienerisch dialect—the word is derived, of course from the Arabic Hadj. On Saturday, as one fascist explained, political and cultural personalities whipped the crowd into a Goebbels-like frenzy of love and tolerance. Scary...

On October 4 the jury for the Prestigious Pennies Awards for Excellence in Protest Posters met in secret. After due deliberation we are proud to announce the following prestigious winners:

The Prize for Meeting Foreigners Half-Way

to the chant that led off the march:

The Prize for Linguistic Subtlety:

This sign alludes at once to a right-wing slogan (Deutsch statt nix verstehen), and to Fassbinder's movie about migrants in Germany, “Angst essen Seele auf” [Ali: Fear Eats the Soul.] It also implies a subtle pushback of class and regionalism: the word nix (for nicht) which the fascists condemn as “not German,” is good Viennese as opposed to German spoken correctly, commonly called Nach der Tinte spucken, “spitting along with the ink.”

The Confusion Prize:

A woman in hijab along with a child bearing a balloon promoting the Neos, a new and so far unsuccessful political party promoting a neo-liberal agenda. The Neos themselves are a good indication of where next week’s election might head: two weeks ago they were pretending to be just like the fascists with different leadership; now they’re claiming to be the best way to fight the fascists. Did the toddler and his mom understand all this—or is it just that toddlers like balloons?

The Expand the Struggle Prize:

Through the union of migrants, political refugees and undocumented workers, of which there are huge numbers in Vienna and throughout Europe.

The Sign of Trust Prize:

to the recent arrivals making their own demands known.






The Welcome in Three Languages Prize

to two groups that followed and answered one another, blissfullfy indifferent to the fact that “refugees welcome” does not mean the same thing in English as “you're welcome.”


The Frank Zappa I Don’t Believe It Prize

to the large number of hand-made signs suggesting nothing more political than Love. The one on the right reads “Together we are less alone.”


The Prize for Linguistic Obtuseness.

One anarchist group carried a banner denouncing Barack Obama as a [vulgar expression designating the female genitalia]. Um, guys…


And finally,

The Universal Language Prize :

The beer label reads “Ottakringer.” That's the local proletarian brew. Like Karl Marx said...

10/6/2015; last revised 9/15/2016

Ththth.. at's all, Völker!

And remember:

The Pennies! Mightier than the Sword!