The Nightmare of Cologne: Denialism and Bigotry are not the only choices

January 9, 2016 at 10:55 pm (Anti-Racism, Germany, Human rights, immigration, islamism, misogyny, posted by JD, Racism, reblogged, religion, thuggery, women)

This article has been re-blogged from the Rambling Infidel:

A member of a German-Tunisian association handed out flowers Thursday near the site of scores of holiday assaults in Cologne, Germany. 

Above: a member of a German-Tunisian association hands out flowers near the site of the assaults

By The Rambling Infidel

Writing this article will be like walking through a minefield because this is a very sensitive issue. As it touches on sexual violence, multiculturalism, immigration and intergration, which are not easy subjects to talk about.Let me make one thing VERY clear from the start: I am not interested in spreading propaganda or spreading hatred and bigotry towards people. Nor am I interested in endorsing far-right narratives about immigrants, muslims or whatever group they wish to persecute. However, I believe we must have a serious and scrupulous discussion about this, as for too long now this issue has been swept under the rug, deflected and dodged. We cannot remain silent on this.

What happened?

In Cologne, there were reports of shocking sexual assaults taking place during the New Years celebrations prompting 90 legal complaints by women to the police. Dozens of young women in Cologne were groped: and in one case raped, by hundreds of men described in testimonies as having a “a North African or Arabic” appearance.

The attackers are believed to have organized themselves into gangs then stalked, molested and eventually mug women as they were enjoying New Years celebrations. The accounts of these assaults seem very reminiscent of the sexual molestation -with the intent to intimidate women- that went on in Tahir Square during protests that brought down President Mubarak and Morsi respectively in Egypt in 2011 and 2013.

Similar attacks were reported in Hamburg, Frankfurt, Dusseldorf and Stuttgart on the same night. In a seperate incident a gang rape of two teenage girls in the southern German town of Weil am Rhein on New Year’s Eve is believed to have occured. Police have arrested four Syrians, aged between 14 and 21, as suspects.

Shocked German authorities called these assaults “unprecedented in nature” saying “hundreds of young men appeared to have participated”.

Who did it?

The identification through testimony of the attackers in Cologne as “North African or Arab men” will inevitably raise the question of whether they were refugees from Syria and Iraq or recent migrants from North Africa. As of now, we are not sure all the attackers were recent migrants into Europe, but it is clear that at least some will be if we go by suspects currently detained by German authorities.

German police initially claimed there was no evidence that asylum seekers were involved in the violence, only for it to emerge that they had in fact detained several (mainly from Syria) on the night.

This does not mean there have not been cases of sexual assault committed by migrants in Germany, never mind in other European countries and amongst refugee women also. We are seeing a growing number of anecdotal cases where this is happening. I stole my anecdotes from this piece.

In November a club in Bavaria started turning refugees away after a string of complaints of sexual harassment from female clients.

In Baden-Württemberg at least one hospital has hired guards to protect nurses who feel intimidated by the refugees they treat.

The Woman’s Council in Hesse claimed in an open letter to the state parliament in September that they have substantial evidence of sexual abuse, including forced prostitution, in refugee shelters.

In August a regional paper in North Rhine-Westphalia also reported police covering up a serious sexual crime. After hearing about the rape of a 13-year-old girl by a refugee, the paper enquired with police as to what crimes they knew of in the refugee shelters.

There have been other reported cases in Sweden, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark, Norway, Finland  and within refugee camps and shelters. This is a full blown European problem.

Why?

It is true refugees and migrants are no more likely to commit sex crimes or any other crimes than the local population. Sexual harrassment on the street is obviously not exclusive to Arabs and Muslims. In recent years India (last I checked it was a Hindu majority state) has had huge problems with sexual violence. However, there are certain truths that must be stated. This by no means discredits my previous points but it gives a more nuanced picture of this crisis. That is what is often missing from these debates- nuance.

One plausible reason why there is this sex crime phenomenon among migrants is because of a gender imbalance in favour of males among the migrants and refugees. According to the International Organization of Migration 66.26 percent of adult migrants registered through Italy and Greece over the past year were male. Many are young, unmarried, military aged males. Some are fleeing being coerced to join militias in Iraq and Syria, some have come from refugee camps in Turkey and hope to bring family members with them and others are simply fleeing the dangers of war.

Politico had a great article explaining why having such a massive gender imbalance is a problem. It argues a skewed gender imbalance in favour of males can lead to an increase in violence. It references the research of Valerie Hudson in her book which focused on China’s surplus male population which found an imbalanced sex ratio can lead to more violence, crime, rape and danger for women.

“There are also clearly negative effects for women in male-dominated populations. Crimes such as rape and sexual harassment become more common in highly masculinized societies, and women’s ability to move about freely and without fear within society is curtailed. In addition, demand for prostitution soars; that would create a deeply ironic outcome for Sweden, which invented the path-breaking Swedish abolitionist approach to prostitution.”

It is important to take this into account when dealing with the migrant and refugee crisis.

There is also a cultural dimension to this sadly.  Many of the men come from The Middle East and North Africa which are not exactly known for their exemplary treatment of women. I know this sounds like a racist thing for me to say, but it is absolutely true.
In many of these countries arcane and backward ideas about women and sexuality are widespread. Women’s bodies are shamed, women are taught as girls to revile their sexuality and to feel guilty if a man is “seduced” by their “fitna”. This then leads to men feeling  they have the total right to sexually harass any woman who is not in a burqa or the “correct hijab” or anything that does not meet the “modesty” standard. They are all asking for it. Hell! even women in burqas get harrassed so women never get a break from this oppression. Sexual harrassment for women in the Middle East and North Africa is so much a part of daily life that, for example, the Cairo metro is gender segregated in a reactionary measure to try to address this.

While a cultural element does undoubtedly exist, one has to be careful of not exaggerating it to the point of evoking old stereotypes of dark-skinned, foreign men out to prey on white women. This struggle will not be won by sinking down to racism and collective punishment. Like I said before a nuanced understanding is what we need not propaganda.

The responses

What I found particularly unhelpful was when the mayor of Cologne Henriette Reker was asked by journalists what women could do to protect themselves better from this. She said. “There’s always the possibility of keeping a certain distance of more than an arm’s length”and that she would soon be issuing a “code of conduct” for women “so that such things do not happen to them.”

Yeah…I intend to molest and mug a women, but shit! She’s an arm’s length away from me! therefore I can’t do anything. Reker’s comments reeks of utter stupidity. She is essentially saying “German women watch you behavior, dress modestly, dont look cheery and keep quiet”. I can’t believe I have to say this in 2016 but women are not to blame in any way for sexual assaults they expierience. The blame LIES exclusively WITH the creeps who violate a woman’s bodily integrity and no one else.

This is the same backward and medieval mentality used to excuse sexual harassment of women all around the world whether in Egypt, Nigeria or India.

There are two responses one often sees in reaction to events like this, both are unhelpful and feed off each other.

The knee jerk reaction from immigration sceptics was “I told you so, you PC Liberals were wrong”, therefore we should “shut the borders”, as  “they cannot adapt to a civilised society”.

Pegida and their likes will definitely be more mobilised as they have announced a protest on the 9th January where they will to spread their alarmism, bigotry and their Eurabia conspiracy theories which is very scary.

As you can see Pat Condell with his terrible shirts jumped with glee to “prove us all wrong” about “third world muslim men” invading Europe through sex Jihad of western women.

On the other hand, the extreme left wing spasm was “we do it too”, “we are no better”, embodied in articles such as this. This piece basically argues “white people also commit sex crimes”, which is true. No one is saying the west is perfect when it comes to sexual harrassment but all of a sudden it is a problem if you point out sexual harrassment done by someone of a different culture.

This wasn’t the only absurd reaction.

Laurie Penny I am afraid to say does have a whisk of a point here. Of course, anti muslim bigots like PEGIDA will faux concern for women so that they can exploit this in order to attack muslims. However, it is dangerous to imply that anyone who explores the plausible cultural phenomena behind sex crimes done by muslim immigrants is automatically a bigot.

Conspiracy theories like this certainly do not help. This is pure denialism and a refusal to face up to reality. A very common trope among the left these days.

Then we have this from The Independent which instead of blaming the specific people responsible for the crime, it blames all men and says to point out the “difference” is to play into the far right narrative. The problem is not about race. While gender is part of the problem there is also a cultural one. Cultures can have specific ideas within them that are harmful and can be changed for the better. It is not “racist” or “bigoted” to point that out as the slimy writer implies.

This piece in the Guardian by Gaby Hinsliff was marginally better than the various tepid responses from Liberals but still it veered into apologetics.

Again, we have this refusal to give the attackers any sense of autonomy and free will. Gaby is arguing these attacks happened as a result of German women being materially better off than their attackers. In fact many of the refugees have I Phones and the latest Samsung devices, even if they did not have them that is not excuse or an “explanation” for their action. There are many people around the world who are much poorer than the refugees from the Middle East who are capable of moral restraint. This is moral bankruptcy.

Maajid Nawaz’s take in the Daily Beast was so much better. His argument is we should take a level headed, sensible approach to this grounded in data and facts which does not stigmatize all refugees but also doesn’t pretend there is not a problem. For example, creating citizenship and employment courses to help these refugees intergrate better into European societies.

What was quite worrying about the Cologne case was how reluctant authorities were to give out information. This sparked accusations of a cover up done by the police which has lead to the Cologne police chief announcing his resignation.

Even the German public broadcaster, ZDF, on Wednesday apologised for delays in reporting on the wave of sexual assaults and for deciding to postpone a news segment until Tuesday.

This discrepancy will inevitably be noticed by right wing media outlets who will use it to feed their narrative that the mainstream media and the multicultural Liberals are liars who are not interested in protecting European citizens but rather in appeasing the “Islamic invasion of Europe” that will destroy western civilisation.

We are right to fear the far-right who will exploit this for their own despicable agenda. If you follow the faces of the “Counter-Jihad” movement like Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller, Tommy Robinson or Pat Condell on Twitter you will notice they had a field day with this story

In saying that, I do not think the response should be that we are held hostage by what the far-right may or may not do and just ignore the problem or not say anything about it in order to maintain the PC, so called “multi-cultural” status quo. I certainly do not think there should be any censorship under any circumstance. We should know the truth even if it is uncomfortable to us.

Germany is now at a stage where we want to be so sensitive that they will arrest people for hate speech against migrants. You can arrest as many people as you want for saying things you don’t like but it is not going make the sex attacks done by Arabs magically dissappear. This enforcement of political correctness using state coercion will backfire as it will just breed defiance; because you cannot punish people for simply having opinions.

Silence and suppression will only embolden racists, fascists and anti-immigrant/refugee propagandists. Their legitimacy only comes from the fact that they claim to “speak the truth” on the supposedly rapid “Islamization of the west”. As with all propaganda there are certain grains of truth to what they say and if Pat Condell or Anne Marie Waters is the only person you hear speaking on this then do not be surprised if considerable numbers of people sympathise with them even if it is only a little bit with their views.

What is to be done?

I don’t have all the answers but I am skeptical the anti-immigrant response of “keep out the muslims” will actually do anything. It doesn’t solve the problem, it just transports it somewhere else. It essentially says you can rape or harass “your women over there” and amongst “your people” but just dont’t bring it to “our women over here”. Of course, I am not suggesting we take all of them in, as that is impractical. But it is also wrong to have a “shut the borders” policy, not only is it impractical, it is plainly immoral as it punishes those who desperately need refuge from war, fascism, theocracy and anarchy.

We must firstly, affirm without excuse or exception the right of women to their bodily integrity and their right to public safety. Secondly, confront and refute these backward, medieval ideas about women, honour and shame that lies under these crimes. Thirdly, urgently address integration, citizenship and social cohesion. Until we do that, then this problem will fester which will lead to more racism, more hostility towards migrants and refugees and the bolstering of reactionary forces within Europe.

In Norway which has went through similar problems is now offering newly arrived migrants classes on sexual violence. You may think this isn’t perfect but it is certainly better than silence. I would suggest we make them compulsory for all refugees and migrants. In addition, we should have comprehensive citizenship and integration programs for these people to improve social cohesion.

I would also propose that we should prioritise families in particular women and children in order to achieve a gender equilibrium like Canada has done with its own refugee policy. This to me is a fair and balanced policy as we are able to help the very vulnerable fleeing the Middle East, not have an absolutist rejectionist stance but keep things under control.

We must be sensible, level headed and calm without giving in to populism and demagoguery . Denialism and bigotry are not the only choices we have.

20 Comments

  1. Jim Denham said,

    An important article by Sean Matgamna: http://www.workersliberty.org/node/23910

  2. Political Tourist said,

    Not forgetting the women sexually assaulted in left wing circles over the years.

    • Glasgow Working Class said,

      I am sure women get molested/assaulted from right or left! men do this it is a power thingy. Men are macho and women just love fluffy puppies and should know their place.

  3. Mike Killingworth said,

    A statement doesn’t stop being racist just because it’s true.

    • Jim Denham said,

      “A statement doesn’t stop being racist just because it’s true”: what an extraordinary statement to make. I’m still thinking it through. Surely, racism, by definition is an irrational prejudice and, therefore cannot be based upon true facts (though I suppose it may make use of true facts, taken out of context). Are you, Mike, seriously arguing that to be a consistent anti-racist, it is necessary to ignore or deny *facts*?

      This would reduce anti-racism to the status of something irrational – like religion.

      I prefer to follow Trotsky’s dictum: “The first characteristic of a real revolutionary party is to be able to look reality in the face.” (Trotsky: The Turn in the Communist International and the German Situation).

      • Lamia said,

        You are talking to the same Mike Killingworth who believes the following:

        “Surely it would be better to have a conservative Islamic party committed to peaceful means attracting disaffected youth? And if in the fullness of time that leads to the creation of Muslim enclaves in parts of our cities, where Sharia law operates – is that not better than having those same cities bombed or even nuked?”

        i.e. throw women, Jews, apostates from Islam and gay people under the bus for the sake of ‘socialist’ multiculturalism.

        That’s the regressive left for you. And the Labour party is now rife with such people.

        http://liberalconspiracy.org/2015/03/15/how-muslims-are-smeared-as-entryists-in-newspapers-without-reason/

  4. John Welsh said,

    Hasn’t PEGIDA succeeded because the left has dropped the ball on Islamic misogyny? You can’t read a left-leaning article without a criticism of UKIP or PEGIDA or the EDL. These groups are a distraction; a means of avoiding the difficult questions.

  5. Glasgow Working Class said,

    Merkel would have known this would happen when she allowed masses of fundamentalist islamic men into her country. Another German experiment and detrimental to its people who have been trying hard to rid themselves of the Nazi legacy. Even Assad warned Europe what was going to envelop them. People will die because of Merkels stupidity.
    Thank goodness Cameron stood firm while the idiot Sturgeon wanted thousands to enter the UK.

  6. Steven Johnston said,

    i.e. throw women, Jews, apostates from Islam and gay people under the bus for the sake of ‘socialist’ multiculturalism.

    Which is bizarre is that the left supports mulitculturalism, given what Marx said on culture. Why do they get such a boner on the culture of capitalist countries? Very strange. I can understand and agree with their support for a multiracial society but they cannot, if they are Marxists support mulit-culturalism. Have they forgotten the basics???

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_hegemony

  7. Steven Johnston said,

    Lamia, I’ve fixed it for Mike…

    “Surely it would be better to have a revolutionary socialist party committed to peaceful means attracting disaffected youth? And if in the fullness of time that leads to the creation of Worldwide socialism – is that not better than a policy of bombing or worse?”

  8. Andrew Coates said,

    I would suggest that the Islamophile former left has its head in the sand if it imagines that in North Africa, as well as Egypt, this is a major problem which the denialists ignore:

    November the 13th 2015. Tunisie: Le harcèlement sexuel dans la rue, un fléau dénoncé par la société civile.

    Sexual harassment in the street, a plague denounced by civil society.

    http://www.huffpostmaghreb.com/2015/11/13/tunisie-harcelement-sexue_n_8553558.html

    Perhaps the StWC will announce that this will end when Tunisia stops intervening in Syria

  9. damon said,

    I agree that denialism and bigotry are not the only choices, but it seems that a lot of people insist that those who disagree with them are practicing one or the other. Even when they are seeming to be a lot more open than they normally are.

    Sunny Hundal for instance, started off by tweeting ”White men rape too you know” when the story firct came to light – but yesterday wrote this article for the Independent.

    In light of the Cologne attacks we need to face facts – not all refugees are saints

    There’s still quite a bit of denial in there I would say.
    And I’d like to see Sunny properly take on some of his usual allies who have written utter rubbish about Cologne and its implications. The worst of those has to be Laurie Penny in the New Statesman the other day. Hundal really needs to publicly have a go at what she said if he’s to have any credibility IMO.
    What she said was really really bad. And much of the left is on her side.

    The reality is, that no-one knows how this mass migration of young male asylum sekers is going to work out. But I have seen a few slightly worrying signs both in London and when I was visiting Vienna a couple of years ago.
    In Vienna, I used an internet cafe several times, which looked like the hangout of a lot of young asylum seeker boys. And they were a little bit wild.
    Unsuperviesd and free to do what they pleased and living on their wits in Vienna, they looked like they could easily get up to mischief. And they did a bit. A couple of fights broke out amomgst them when I spent some hours in there, and I saw them taking an interest in the hookers in the nearby brothel bars of the red light district. They were Afghans mostly, and leaving them unsuprvised like that looked like it could lead to trouble I thought.
    Old hands would be showing new arrivals the ropes and the lowdown of surviving in the city, which included going to charity soup kitchen places.
    Of course it was a posibility that some of them could become disillusioned and alienated. There were already those problem amongst European citizens of Arab and Turkish origin.

  10. Rilke said,

    Jim and Mike,
    The question of a ‘truth’ being racist and the ethical and political question surrounding the stating of this ‘truth’ or ‘fact’ involves a number of qualifications that are necessary to overcome the binary truth/untruth simplification. These qualifications revolve around the use, deploying and intent of stating such a ‘truth’ as a proposition.
    For example, it is true that Jewish, Muslim, Catholic, Anglican, Atheist and Hindu men rape women. But the religious or irreligious identity is not the reason they rape women, it is supplementary and perhaps contributory in some cases. By stating that Jewish or Catholic men rape women I am highlighting the religious identity as a probable cause of the rape and this is untrue. If in answer to the the question; how do you feel about the current Israeli governing party? I answer, ‘Jewish men rape women’. The statement may be true as such – there are rape convictions in Israel – but the propostion is unture and therefore racist and antisemitic in its intent. If, in response to the appalling attacks on women in India, I walk around with a t-shirt with the slogan, ‘Hindu men rape women’; is this not racist? I would say, it is. It is racist in its intent and use, not in its content as a simple truth claim. Understanding the rhetoric of motives helps us to overcome the fact=truth conflation. However, just because a fact can be deployed in this way does not make it untrue as such and neither does it mean that those who acknowledge this fact are racist by definition. The same rules as to use and intent applies. The liberal ‘leftist’ who would rather deny a fact entirely and remain silent is committing the same error as the racist but in bad faith. In its broad philosophical sense, the Greek notion of ‘unfitting’ and ‘fitting’ is useful here.
    Now, will you please explain this to the nutcase from Glasgow.

  11. Steven Johnston said,

    I walk around with a t-shirt with the slogan‘Hindu men rape women’; is this not racist? I would say, it is

    I would say it isn’t as it’s a religion not a race ergo it cannot be racist. If you disagree then tell me with you don’t think “Scientologists/Jehovah’s Witnesses men rape woman” on a t-shirt is not racist as I can bet you don’t think such a statement would be racist.

  12. Rilke said,

    It is intended as racist based on the underlying implication of ethnicity and as a deliberately prejudicial proposition. The Hindu culture and belief system has such a long history and is rooted so much in a continent and with the peoples of that history and region that the manner of offering the propostion implies a racist intent, that is my point. You are surely aware that anti Irish bigots frequently use ‘Catholci’ as a cover term for their anti Irish prejuidices. As far as I am aware, the same does not apply to Scientologists. Of course, you are correct in that there is no such thing as ‘race’ it is a pseudoscientific category now rejected. Even archaeologists have rethought the previous pre historical sub and intra species categories based on new evidence, phenotypical relations and classifications and DNA analysis. Does this mean there can be no such thing as racism because race does not exist?

    • Steven Johnston said,

      I see, well then the message is still not racist. It is all about underlying assumptions of those behind the message. My point was not that there is no such thing as race, that is a separate issue, just that race and religion are too different things, hating a religion does not make you racist. Given that each religion always claims they are the one true religion they hate all other religions. Therefore each one is guilty of racism if you accept that a religion is a race.

  13. pedro said,

    funny how muslims see themselves as a race,really,what makes you so special there to give yourself the honour of being called a race mmm ,everybody says!! oh isnt it horrific what happened in cologne,sweden etc,huh,the mass rape and sexual abuse by muslim men against white girls and women has been going on in the uk for 20 years plus,the media,the police and the politicians have been trying to cover this up until the atrocitys in rotherham was exposed,the bottem line is this, sex starved and sexually frustrated,muslim men(not All but most) all over the uk just like rapiing and abusing gora white girls and women because they cant get sex in the ghetto off the muslim sisters,they are the racists and they know it.

  14. Rilke said,

    Listen carefully Steven. I had to tolerate (because the situation was an employment one and would not allow me to have him bashed – my two brothers were professional boxers) a racist who thought it clever never to use direct racist epithets but always to mouth apparently dubious terms. For example, he was fond of smirking and saying ‘I always call a spade a spade’, and ‘I am totally browned off’ and other odious phrases when black people were around. He made a point of repeating them until people became angry. Now according to your position, these statements cannot be racist because factually a spade is for digging the garded and has nothing to do, empirically speaking, with racism, and of course, a spade does not have race, but is a tool. He claimed that he never uttered ‘racist’ phrases. I
    disagree. This kind of semi-covert racism goes on a lot. You see the point?

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