German neo-Nazis using Sesame Street's 'Cookie Monster' for youth recruitment

A pair of far-right German nationalists attempted to recruit members for their neo-Nazi party at a high school in Senftenberg, Germany this week. According to the Daily Mail, one of the two men, 31-year-old Steffen Lange wore a costume of the "Sesame Street" character Cookie Monster to the school as he handed out leaflets.

The two men were arrested when a teacher called police, complaining that neo-Nazis were recruiting on school grounds. When police investigated the men, they found ties to racist groups and more literature featuring far-right ideology.

Cookie Monster has reportedly been adopted by German nationalist groups as a tool for catching the attention of young people. Use of the fuzzy blue Muppet's image, said one police spokesperson, is on the rise.

"There is nothing humorous about far right ideology despite the fact they are trying to trivialize it by getting the Sesame Street character involved," said the officer, who responded to the scene in Senftenburg, which is located in Germany's Brandenburg province. "It’s an attempt to make it seem harmless and every day and perhaps something a bit fun and a bit rebellious."

A Guardian columnist quipped, "The Cookie Monster is not known to hold far-right views. He possesses no Aryan traits (his fur may be blue, but his eyes are googly, and he lives in the friendly, multicultural environs of Sesamstrasse). It's also unclear what use a bunch of Cookie Monster-loving schoolkids would be to the far-right movement."

[image of Cookie Monster via Flickr Creative Commons]