British New Age conspiracist David Icke has had a second event in Germany cancelled after being dogged by accusations of anti-Semitism. Experts say conspiracy theorists should not be laughed off as harmless.
David Icke, the British conspiracy theorist who argues that the world is being run by reptilian shape-shifting humanoids, has had a second stop on his "World Wide Wake Up Tour" cancelled in Germany.
The Maritim hotel in Berlin confirmed to DW that it did not want to host the live event planned for October 2017. "Unfortunately, at the time of the request we were not aware that David Icke would participate in the event," a spokeswoman said. "We only found this out later."
The news seems not yet to have reached Icke's management, which is still selling tickets to the all-day event - for 60-85 euros ($63-$90) - on his website. The show was billed as a replacement for the only other German show on the tour, set for April at the Carl Benz Arena in Stuttgart, which was also cancelled by the venue.
German constitution and reptiles
While the Maritim declined to give a reason for the cancellation, the Carl Benz Arena posted a statement on its Facebook page on January 17 putting its decision down to the "contentious nature and the contradictory statements, which for us as a politically neutral event venue do not give a clear picture."
Carl Benz Arena added that it held to the "values of the German Basic Law - which also includes the right to free speech. But of course only as long as this conforms to the democratic principles of our society."
Icke, a well-known soccer goalkeeper and sports broadcaster in the UK in the 1980s before he announced that he was the "son of the Godhead" on a TV chat show in 1991, now regularly holds live speaking events that run for several hours promoting a theory that the world is run by a reptilian elite known as the "Brotherhood."
Slipping into the physical world from another dimension, Icke says the Brotherhood has genetically manipulated humanity and sought to divide people along racial and gender lines as a means to subjugate them.
He has identified dozens of leaders as shape-shifting lizards, including ancient Egyptian pharaohs, the majority of US presidents, and the British Royal Family, and argues that the Brotherhood runs the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the Bilderberg Group, as well as several other international organizations, and encourages genocide, war, and the mass slaughter of animals. He also says the reptilians use human anxiety as a source of energy.
Lizards and dog-whistles
Many critics have noted that Icke uses anti-Semitic arguments and imagery. Like many racist conspiracy theorists, he identifies investor George Soros as an enemy of humanity, and has endorsed "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion," a long-since-debunked Russian anti-Semitic book published in 1903 that purports to detail a global Jewish conspiracy to take over the world. The book influenced Adolf Hitler and was used by the Nazis to agitate against Jewish people in the 1930s - though Icke himself denies being anti-Semitic and says the book is not evidence of a Jewish conspiracy, but a reptilian one.
In response to an interview request, Icke sent DW a link to a YouTube video entitled "Try As You Will Tyrannical System You Will Not Shut Me Up" posted in late January, in which he addressed protests by anti-racism groups against his events in the UK and Ireland (which were not cancelled). "What I'm actually saying in the talks is that we become obsessed with race, when what we are is consciousness," he said in the "videocast." "And that whatever color, creed, background our 'body' is ... they're just vehicles for experience."
He also says that Zionism - a key enemy in his talks - is "not about race" but is a political philosophy. "What I'm saying is that there is a cabal at the center of Zionism, not least connected to the house of Rothschild, that is in effect ... a secret society. And it's that secret society ... that is manipulating within the wider web of manipulation," Icke said.
But some German critics are not convinced by the denial, and warn against simply laughing at Icke. Jan Rathje of the Amadeu Antonio Stiftung, an NGO that tracks racism in Germany, welcomed the cancellation of the German events. "David Icke has a lot of influence on the conspiracy ideological scene, especially through the anti-Semitism he spreads, which appeals to people in Germany because it offers some relief from the guilt of German crimes against humanity in the Holocaust," he told DW.
"David Icke denies the Holocaust, and I think that's more important than focusing on the fact that he sees reptilians in power behind everything," Rathje added.
He also argued that the reptilian theory is no more than a dog whistle for the anti-Semitic: "People know how to decode the code about reptilians - whether Icke means it or not, it doesn't change that fact. It seems ridiculous, but the conclusion that Icke draws is that because he thinks the reptilians are pulling the strings behind it, therefore the Holocaust didn't happen - that's anti-Semitism."
Maritim Hotels, one of Germany's biggest hotel chains, has not shied from taking a political position in other recent cases. On February 14, the company released a statement banning prominent Alternative for Germany (AfD) politician Björn Höcke from all its hotels - including at the AfD party conference at the Maritim Hotel Cologne planned for April - specifically because of his remarks about the Holocaust in a speech in Dresden.