Boris Palmer is a popular and successful mayor in Tübingen. Beyond the city limits, he attracts attention primarily through verbal tactlessness and racism and is now drawing his conclusions from this. A short chronicle of the gaffes – without claiming to be complete.
Boris Palmer has been the elected mayor of the university town of Tübingen in Baden-Württemberg for almost 16 years. And has been attracting attention with racist statements for almost a long time. He reached the preliminary low point on Friday in Frankfurt am Main. He used the so-called “N-word” several times at a migration conference, whereupon Palmer was confronted with shouts of “Nazis out” from students. The N-word describes a racist term for black people.
Palmer’s response: “It’s nothing but the Star of David. That’s because I used a word that you attach everything else to. If you say the wrong word, you’re a Nazi.” He initially reacted to the criticism that followed with a defense. Then with the announcement of a “time out”. He posted a personal statement on Facebook. He apologized to his constituents and announced that he would seek professional help. To this end, he officially resigned from the Greens on Monday – his membership had been suspended until the end of the year – and reported sick to the city of Tübingen on Tuesday. It’s not his first blunder, and it’s not uncommon for the not always social network Facebook to play a role.
Boris Palmer has repeatedly attracted attention with racist statements
- Palmer will be banned from Facebook for 24 hours for using language perceived as discriminatory. Palmer speaks of “censorship of an astounding extent” and calls the procedure “Orwellian language control”.
- According to his own statement, Boris Palmer was almost knocked over by a cyclist in Ulm. From the appearance of the cyclist, the mayor deduces a possible asylum status: “I bet that it was an asylum seeker. Nobody who grew up here with black skin behaves like that. That would be a complete failure of integration.” The Green City Association in Tübingen and other members of parliament distance themselves from these generalized statements in a statement: “Through his statements, Boris Palmer contributes to the fact that black people and asylum seekers are stigmatized across the board and the climate against these groups is poisoned.”
- Also: In a letter to the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Transport, the mayor claims that refugees often travel by train without a ticket. That’s why he pleaded for “refugee tickets”, similar to those in the neighboring state of Hesse. Bahn, in turn, can make these statements: “We know that refugees – mainly because of the language barrier and lack of experience – sometimes have no or invalid tickets. We cannot confirm an accumulation,” says a railway spokesman for the “Stuttgarter Zeitung” and the “Stuttgarter News”.
- the mayor announces that he wants to keep a kind of “list of the conspicuous”. Anyone who appears to the police as a refugee should be transferred to a residential home with a security service. After a month-long dispute with, among others, the state commissioner for data protection and freedom of information, Stefan Brink, Palmer is prohibited from continuing the list. The list is not compatible with data protection and has a “serious discriminatory effect”, according to Brink.
- Palmer criticizes an advertising campaign by Deutsche Bahn in which the testimonials include television chef Nelson Müller and presenter Nazan Eckes. “I find it incomprehensible which criteria the ‘Deutsche Bahn’ used to select the people on this entry page. […] Which society is this supposed to represent?” In addition to the following criticism of racism, Palmer is publicly suggested, for example, by the former Green Party leader Claudia Roth to change parties. Afterwards, Palmer apologizes for “bullshit”, but sticks to his basic statement.
- At the beginning of the corona pandemic, Palmer criticized the federal government’s corona measures. In this context, he also says: “I’ll tell you quite brutally: In Germany we may save people who would be dead in six months anyway – because of their age and previous illnesses.” The Green Federal Party leadership withdraws its confidence in these statements. The party will no longer support Palmer if he runs again in Tübingen. In 2022 he will stand as a non-party candidate in the mayoral election in Tübingen and will have an opposing candidate from the Greens in Ulrike Baumgärtner, who, however, lags far behind his result (52.4 percent to 22 percent).
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- In , the mayor shared an article about former national soccer player Dennis Aogo, who spoke of “training until he gasped” during a broadcast and then apologized for the Nazi-related choice of words. Palmer himself criticizes this “cancel culture” on Facebook: “The furor with which storms can destroy existences on the Internet is getting worse and worse.” He continues to discuss in the comment column and uses, among other things, the phrase: “The Aogo is a bad racist.” The ex-soccer player offered his N * tail to women. He is criticized for his racist and “disgusting” choice of words and justifies himself: He only used irony and satire as a stylistic device. In November 2021, the Baden-Württemberg Greens initiated party exclusion proceedings against him, which ended in a settlement.
- A man from Gambia is killed in a deadly knife attack in a park in Tübingen. The background is still unclear a few days after the fact, but the mayor of Tübingen has already publicly drawn his conclusions. Apparently, a dealer was stabbed, and the rule of law is “almost powerless against them. New ones keep coming.” There was nothing to justify the act, “but it wasn’t inevitable”. Palmer apologizes to the following criticism of racism in an open letter, but sticks to his statement about the drug environment.
The mayor of Tübingen was only re-elected in October 2022 with an absolute majority, so he is in his third term.
Other sources: with information from the news agencies DPA and AFP
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.