An assassination is a murder. But the word “assassination” is usually reserved for the murder of a prominent person – often a politician picked off for political reasons.
Recently was an assassination about which most Americans never heard. Never heard though it occurred in a country that is, or it should be, one of America’s closest and most important allies. Never heard though it triggered in the staid, stable Financial Times an editorial with a decidedly alarming headline, “German Radical Right Threatens the Survival of Democracy.”
Everyone who pays attention to these things knows that in the wake of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s 2015 decision to admit into Germany a million or more immigrants, refugees, seekers of safe havens, has been a political resurgence of Germany’s extreme right wing. For obvious reasons such a resurgence in Germany particularly has historical resonance. But, additionally, contemporaneously, in the last several years has been a surge in rightwing activity not just virtually, online, but actually – in the streets and in the corridors of power.
Still, the assassination on June 1st of a popular politician, Walter Luebcke, by a single shot in the head fired at close range, is another matter entirely. Given it was the first murder of a politician by a rightwing extremist in Germany’s postwar history, it is not too much to insist that though attention has not been paid, attention must be paid.
The difference is of significance. Laypeople are murdered, leaders are assassinated.