JLH has translated and fisked an article by one of the Gutmenschen, a journalist originally from the DDR who now resides in the Czech Republic.
So You Think You Know What Happened in Cologne?
Since you are reading this blog, you are probably a sour and angry person of limited mental capacity and distrustful of the more illustrious sources of news and opinion. Your thoughts, when you have any, rise directly from your viscera. What you need is exposure to an elite and enlightened view of the world, to help you unscramble your untidy reactions to what happened on New Year’s Eve in Cologne and other cities in Germany and beyond.
Good news! Here is just what you need, in the form of an introspective article by a cosmopolitan journalist. Born in East Germany, he lived there for the first ca. 45 years of his life. He studied journalism in Leipzig and joined East German radio, specializing in Eastern European politics and foreign affairs. In the 1990s, after the Wall came down, he moved to what was then Czechoslovakia, and is now the Czech Republic, where he still resides and writes for Die Sächsische Zeitung (Dresden), Die Welt (Berlin), a Czech news service and the German-language newspaper in Prague.
His article in Die Sächsische Zeitung will take you by the hand through the thoughts and feelings proper to this series of events. I will provide marginal remarks.
Am I a Racist?
Our correspondent in Prague is horrified by the events in Cologne. His opinion is that everyone has to assimilate in a foreign country — Everyone!
by Hans-Jörg Schmidt
The troubles in Cologne and elsewhere on New Year’s Eve recently impelled me to pour out my fury in a long comment on Facebook. I admit, not every word was chosen carefully. It was consistent: I had imagined how it would have been if women or girls from family or my friends’ or acquaintances’ families had been among the victims that night. I don’t believe I would have accepted that easily. Although naturally I see that vigilantism can belong at best in a plot for “Scene of the Crime.” And yet, my adult daughter could have been among those molested — even my two granddaughters. What a traumatic thought. You could blow your top. Fortunately only verbally.
In my rapidly written post, I became very agitated about the police in Cologne, who repeatedly failed to control the situation. When a policeman in a newspaper interview admitted he had been afraid, I thought, I’m in the wrong movie. How can it be that, in a country of laws, the police can tuck in their tails and look away when something goes completely haywire? Don’t misunderstand me. The police have many complex tasks to perform nowadays. That makes me think of the poor behavior of countless “soccer fans” on every weekend, wherever you are in Germany. None of that is any fun. I don’t envy the police their job. Nevertheless, they are the keepers of order on whom a citizen absolutely must rely.
Right now in Cologne, there is a feverish investigation under the pressure of massive publicity. At the time of my Facebook post, the word was that the perpetrators were “North Africans” or “Arabs.” That infuriated me for two reasons. First because I realized that it must be a downright tsunami for the mills of everyone who is of the same mind as those who feel compelled to go on weekly “strolls” or, even worse, attack asylum residences in order to “save” the West from foreigners. In my opinion, neither PEGIDA nor AfD and certainly not the arsonists at asylum residences, are “the people.” Still, as an aside, I no longer feel quite at ease in my regular visits to Dresden. In public transportation, I have the — possibly exaggerated — feeling that everyone is examining me and seeing how much I despise the openly racist part of PEGIDA.
[Well, obviously the really crucial point here is that this could damage the PR efforts to make the influx seem like a good and humane thing.]
[PEGIDA should not use “We are the people” — because they are unworthy? Did this guy ever even go on those walks in 1989?]
The second reason for my anger was that, for the first time since the refugees started arriving, I sensed that I might not be free of prejudices myself. They arise from the time of the “Wende” [Fall of the GDR] — the time of open borders in [East] Berlin, where I was living at the time. On weekends, my then-adolescent daughter frequently arranged to meet friends at discotheques in West Berlin. Her tales about young Turks who — speaking euphemistically — showed little respect for young blond girls, made me nervous. After that, my daughter always received taxi money so she could get away “safely” and quickly. That nothing ever happened to her, I had put down to our successful parenting. But I also thought, perhaps she had exaggerated a bit in her stories about the young Turks.
[Maybe she exaggerated??!!]
I know that Germans too can have a very dubious relationship with women and girls, most recently since my first train trips from Germany to Prague at the beginning of the 1990s. There were whole compartments full of mostly young men who were interested in anything but the Charles Bridge or Prague Castle. Barely past Dresden, and full of beer, they were booming out what they were thinking of: cheap sex with “hot Czech girls.” When I drove on the 170/E 55 from Dresden to Prague on Saturdays, I found actual columns of cars going to the border location, Dubi. Previously a spa, it had become an out-and-out brothel. For years I was embarrassed by my German fellow citizens. And I was very angry when private German TV stations filmed the E 55, and counterfeited shock at the sad fate of the prostitutes. They were really interested in the half-naked girls. Fortunately all that changed. Dubi is on its way back to being a spa.
[So the thousand roving, molesting “alleged” North Africans and Arabs are just like any thousand or so marauding Western youths in a train station in the Middle East or Asia or Prague, or possibly New Jersey.]
[On the other hand, what if these Western youths had fireworks that they were firing at the folks in the downtown area? Well, maybe the locals could scream and duck like the folks in the cathedral square.]
One of my female Facebook friends rightly commented on my post, “It’s not foreigners who debase women, it’s a******es.” I had suppressed that in my furious reaction to the troubles in Cologne, although of course I knew it. So the question is, am I at bottom susceptible to racism? Why am I getting exercised during the whole refugee drama, when this is about sexual attacks on women by alleged refugees? On one hand, I would defend myself by saying that I am doing it for the sake of the women, who are more defenseless than strong men. But, actually, maybe I should now consider a little longer the question of my “predisposition to racism.”
[Clearly, this is a case of retraining ourselves to be less biased.]
And still, there is something else that makes me mad about all this. What happened in Cologne has now reached the social networks and has arrived in “my” Czech Republic. And it will be used here as a vehicle for strengthening the extremely negative Czech attitude on the refugee question. “This land belongs to us” (and so is taboo for refugees) was the end of President Zeman’s Christmas address to the nation. His predecessor, Václav Klaus, made use of a New Year’s appearance to compare Angela Merkel and her goals with Hitler and Stalin — in all seriousness.
[“This land belongs to us” What a nerve! Who does he think he is — a 20-year-old immigrant with an inalienable right to invade?]
When a major German paper reported on these two, there were hundreds of reader comments which exalted Zeman and Klaus to the skies and blustered about how misguided the chancellor is and that they wanted to emigrate to Czechia., That gave me gooseflesh. I know both of these top Czech politicians much better than any reader of a German newspaper. If I should present Zeman’s and Klaus’s every remark on the refugee question as an article, the readership would eventually become annoyed, probably even hard-core PEGIDA adherents.
[It’s good to be the expert of record. Could we have a few examples? Do they say nasty things about the EU?]
But concerning the reaction of the Czechs to Cologne, I can understand it. Their fear of Muslims, which is hard for some in Germany and Europe to comprehend, does not come only from the fact that they have had hardly any experience with people of this cultural group. Since the expulsion of the Germans and the end of the common state with the Slovaks, Czechia has been a truly Czech “national state” with a tiny number of foreigners. What the Czechs see in the refugee crisis is, above all, what is happening in Germany — the land most desired by refugees from the Near East, the Balkans and Africa. Reports like those from Cologne are not especially helpful to them in reducing prejudices and reconsidering their own perspective. Merkel will not easily find a partner in Prague who is willing to uncritically accept thousands of refugees.
But even if the basic attitude should change, the Czechs — like the Germans — would expect the immigrants to adapt to their laws and customs. If I, as a resident of 25 years in Prague, did not honor these laws and customs, I would have problems, first, with my own neighbors and then local authorities up to the point of getting a notification, against which even my EU citizenship would not protect me. I cannot even drive my car in Czechia unless I have drunk absolutely nothing alcoholic. I have so internalized these rules that even in Germany I never step into my car after even one beer.
[So if you had lived in Iran for 25 years and internalized its rules, how would you be acting in the Cologne train station now?]
I take my own behavior in a foreign country as a standard for the behavior of foreigners in the land of my birth — Germany. So I expect the perpetrators of Cologne will be found, without exception, held responsible and spend a few years behind bars. If it should really turn out to be “North Africans” or “Arabs” who went after women and girls, then there is, in my opinion, no alternative to putting these people on the next plane home. I know the laws in Germany do not allow it to happen so simply. But, I beg your pardon, the law must be changed. That is the other side of the German “welcoming culture.”
[Easy-peasy. Just round them all up, just they way the police have been rounding up the Antifas who have been roaming the streets of Cologne for years now.]
[The law must be changed — from your mouth to God’s ear.]
Everyone in need must be welcome. But he must be willing to integrate. In “my” host country, I could not cheat on basic things. I did not even need a German translation of the Czech constitution to know that.
[Everyone in need must be welcomed — even if they are not really in need, but in heat.]