Saturday, January 9, 2016

The Assaults in Cologne: A Progressive Highwire Act

When mass migration hit new highs last year and Germany opened its boarders to refugees from Syria and elsewhere, there were many voices from the right predicting that an increase in sexual assaults and crime would result. On New Years Eve, an attack too place against women during celebrations by a mass of men, a number of whom have been identified as asylum seekers. It also appears that these attacks may be connected to a larger criminal organization. Over 100 women have reported assault and there have been some reports of rape.

There has been strong reaction to this horrible crime, as there should be. I myself struggled to believe that something like this could actually happen, and that sickening feeling all to familiar to women when they imagine large groups of men coming toward them with malicious intent swept over me. I was shocked and angry thinking about it, and frustrated that the police were not able to help these women, who were assaulted for simply being outside enjoying New Year's celebrations.

My other reaction was some curiosity about the media coverage of this event. The police have been very slow to report, and with good reason. For one, people are too quick to jump to conclusions and the resulting blacklash against the migrant community would be severe and could cause panic. Yet there seemed to be very little attention paid at all. It took days before major networks picked up that this event had even happened. But this is a story that needs to covered, and covered accurately. If there were migrants involved the public has the right to know.

I also sense that there has been a real struggle among the more progressive elements of the political landscape to both juggle their pro-immigration stance with their feminism. The truth is that these migrants come from countries where women are not treated as equals, are often abused in public for being "immodest", and are expected not to leave the house without a male present. This will inevitably cause conflict and difficulties in adjusting to the society to which they have arrived.

With groups this big there will always be criminal elements hidden among the masses, and it will at times like these make it difficult to defend taking in more refugees from these places. I do not defend these men, but we cannot deny the societies from which they come. Nor can we simply ignore crimes against women because we do not want to talk about the difficulties that come with bringing in people with very different social and cultural ideals. What we need to do is face these challenges, and deal with the criminals. And the first step is to recognize that this is not a migrant problem, but  a criminality problem.

If the men involved in these crimes are asylum seekers, they should have their status revoked and be sent back to their country of origin. Germany needs impose German values and German laws. If these criminals do not wish to abide by the law they should be sent back from where they came or put in jail. There are plenty of hard working, law abiding refugees fleeing war who want to get into Germany. But the important thing is that we separate the discussion of the criminals from the refugees in general. This is the biggest problem we have seen in recent years. A difficulty in treating crime by Muslims as crime, rather than terrorism, and a general conflation of terrorism and criminality.

Most of these refugees just want to get on with living their lives and get to work in their new home. Refugee or Migrant criminals are no different than other criminals. They are not reflective of the whole, and need to be treated as criminals first, rather than "Muslim criminals". Allowing the public to conflate these two things by refusing to face criminal acts like this one frankly and openly will only cause more strife.

The police and government need to come out clearly against these men, and remind the public that these are criminals who are possibly connected to a larger criminal network, and are not like the vast majority of asylum seekers, who are simply going about their business like everyone else. Criminals are criminals, regardless of their background. Their being migrants does not make them criminals. Their committing crimes makes them criminals. We'd be best not to confuse these things.