Saturday, January 9, 2016

Weekend Thoughts: 2016 January 8: Cologne

The story broke around January 3: a large group of “Arab and Middle Eastern men” had sexually assaulted the women participating in the New Year’s Eve celebrations in Cologne, Germany. Then it got bigger, over a hundred complaints filed to police, with half of them alleging sexual assault, and police looking into 1,000 suspects. It also appeared that this was in someways pre-planned with one group setting off fireworks to distract police while others carried out the assaults.

At first, the German government and the officials in Cologne specifically stated there was no evidence that any of them were refugees. Then Der Spiegel (Germany’s major paper of record) ran a story about the their behavior and the way they taunted the police in Cologne, with one tearing up his residential papers in front of a police officer stating, “I’ll get another one tomorrow” and another telling officers, “You have to treat me kindly. Mrs. Merkel invited me”. Given the huge welcoming mat the German government, Mrs. Merkel especially, put out for the refugees, you can see how such comments might be a problem.

Amidst accusations of a cover-up by the city officials in Cologne they proceeded to dig themselves even deeper. The pro-refugee mayor of Cologne, Henriette Reker, proceeded to make things worse by giving some advice —to Cologne’s women. Such advice consisted of a few reasonable ideas such as go to the police immediately but also had such ideas as women should keep an “arm’s length” away from male strangers and “Women would also be smart not to go and embrace everyone that you meet and who seems to be nice. Such offers could be misunderstood, and that is something every woman and every girl should protect herself from” and how Germany had “to explain to people from other cultures that the jolly and frisky attitude during our Carnival is not a sign of sexual openness.”

The people were not amused. One fellow on twitter wrote (I’m reciting from memory), “That awkward moment when you have to explain to migrants your cultural values include not gang-raping a woman in the town square.” The thoughts in Germany, I am told, were less charitable.

And it only got bigger. Allegations of a cover-up by the city officials in Cologne, reports (in the Der Spiegel story) that it is unlikely that most, or even all, of the perpetrators will be arrested since it happened in night and in a huge crowd, and reports of similar events occurring in other cities as well. You can feel the nationalist politicians picking up votes.

Meanwhile, those of us who warned about the dangers of bringing in large numbers of refugees due to concerns about assimilation, the ability to properly vet them, and whether or not they could be adequately managed and were called evil, racist bigots as a result are shaking our heads. I recall one Christian magazine* even responding to such concerns by asking “Does God want us to be safe?” An easy thing to say when you are not being shot at during a Christmas party or dodging rapists at a New Year’s Eve celebration in the town square.

Maybe, instead of dismissing our concerns as simply merely “stupid bigotry” the next time a debate like this comes up liberals could try listening to our concerns on the grounds that we may actually have a point once in a while.

*I was sure it was Christianity Today but I cant find it there. When I do, I'll post which one.


ArgentGale said...

Definitely a sad mess all around, and interesting that you mentioned the Christianity Today article. I actually saw a lot of similar sentiments on Facebook around the time the refugee reaction started: "Jesus didn't call us to be safe, he called us to love." Admittedly I'm not that devout but those sentiments disturbed me a bit and my thoughts run more along the lines of "take appropriate security measures" than "shut them all out, no questions." Unfortunately I don't see the debate moving into that territory any time soon, demagoguery is just too popular it seems.

- Daniel

Kit said...

The Christianity Today article may have been Relevant Magazine, though I was sure it was Christianity Today.

Anthony said...

My guess is the Christian Post.

The city of Cologne in Germany has called for crisis talks after 1,000 "drunk and aggressive young men" that were reportedly of Arab or North African appearance sexually assaulted at least 80 women on New Year's Eve.

Cologne police chief Wolfgang Albers called it "a completely new dimension of crime," according to BBC News, and said that most of the crimes were robberies, but women were also groped and raped.

Anyway, the next two paragraphs are part of a statement (rest is at the link) I made during our debate about the same issue late last year.

The concern about Syrian refugees strikes me as political grandstanding more than anything. Unlike Europe, America is screening Muslim refugees before admitting them (we are fortunate in that one can't take a raft from the Middle East or North Africa to the US).

Terrorists looking to enter the US would be smarter to come through Mexico same as the drug traffickers and whatnot do but if I were a betting man, I'd bet that a disaffected American born Somali teens will be involved in the next Islamist attack on US soil.


There have been some gruesome attacks (I did guess wrong about the next terror attack being staged by Somali kids of emigres) but the thrust of my argument still stands.

Screening and assimilation is a concern (as an article I mentioned in my previous post pointed out, there have been at least a couple dozen American Islamic terrorists) but much less of an issue in America than Europe, in part due to smaller numbers, in part due to a stronger tradition of assimilation.

Of course, as Ian Tuttle pointed out in an excellent article, its a numbers game, so if one wants a lower incidence of terrorism, one should admit fewer Muslims (screening doesn't rule out the possibility of kids radicalizing).

Suggesting a correlation between the number of Muslims in the country and the incidence of radicalism is, of course, considered insensitive, if not downright “Islamophobic.” But the only point here is a mathematical one: Whatever the percentage of Muslims who support or would ever consider supporting jihadism, the raw number obviously increases along with the total number of Muslims. One percent of 10 million is much larger than 1 percent of 1 million. The questions is, at what point does the radical population achieve a kind of critical mass?

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