Right-Wing Rock Fans Get Owned…by T-Shirts?

Members of Germany's far-right National Democratic Party (NPD).<a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:NPD-Vorstand.jpg">Marek Peters/www.marek-peters.com</a>/Wikimedia Commons

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This one goes out to all those who say combating right-wing hate can’t be done with a dose of prankster humor:

At this summer’s “Rock for Germany” music festival in Gera, Germany on Aug. 6 (an event sponsored by the country’s neo-Nazi National Democratic Party), nearly 300 attendees were handed free souvenir t-shirts emblazoned with the nationalistic message, “Hardcore Rebels—National and Free” and a skull-and-crossbones-and-flag logo.

But what the fans didn’t know was that after running their new concert souvenirs through the wash, the original message fades dramatically, and a hidden one is designed to appear. The Guardian reports:

…The tagline turned into a message from a group offering to help far-right extremists break away from the neo-Nazi scene.

“If your T-shirt can do it, you can do it too – we’ll help you get away from right-wing extremism,” reads the slogan on the shirts after their first washing.

The shirts were handed [out]…by organisers after they had been donated anonymously. They were provided by Exit [Deutschland], a group which helps people disassociate themselves from the far-right.

The “Trojan t-shirts” also revealed the contact information for Exit Deutschland, an outreach group that tries to help teens “break with…right-wing extremism and build a new life” by stressing the “values of personal freedom and dignity.”

Though no one is expecting any of this to suddenly erase the xenophobic tendencies or extreme-right views of some of the festival-goers, Exit’s leaders still think the operation went off better than expected, according to Spiegel Online:

“Our name will be stored in their minds. And when they consider leaving the scene at some point, they will remember us,” [said Exit co-founder Bernd Wagner]. The group’s main goal was to reach young right-wing extremists “in a situation where they would hopefully be alone at home.”

A marketing expert in Hamburg, who wished to remain anonymous, came up with the idea together with his colleagues, [according to the German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung]. His firm paid for the T-shirts to be printed.

Compared to other creative political stunts, this one stands as one of the most honorable and well-intentioned in recent memory. Click here for a before-and-after image of the crypto-anti-fascist t-shirt.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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