The Berlin tabloid ‘B.Z.’ is probably the only one to tell it like it is. On Wednesday (January 6), it ran two front pages. The first read: “Group of a thousand asylum seekers out of control”. It added the following explanation: “This is how the B.Z. would look if we trusted the Internet.”
The second front page was the real one. It read: “Those are the facts: We do not know who the perpetrators are.”
How extraordinary that there is this terrible ferment over dozens of alleged sexual assaults and robberies in Cologne on New Year’s Eve. And that witnesses and the police have described the perpetrators as “Arab and North African men” who had assembled in a crowd of about 1,000 in front of the train station.
What seems to be the problem with telling it like it is?
If offenses have been committed, lawful punishment should follow, no matter the identity and origins of the perpetrator.
Why is this becoming an issue that revolves around whether or not it was a crowd of refugees who did this?
How is it believable that a thousand refugees will work as one evil organism and converge on the centre of Cologne with sex and violence and robbery on their minds?
I’ll tell you why. Because it’s convenient.
Demonise all refugees and it becomes possible to draw the line at taking them in. The right-wing Alternative für Deutschland party has opportunistically dubbed the attacks as “the appalling consequences of catastrophic asylum and migration policies.”
There is evidence that a refugees were involved in the alleged attacks. But the way it’s being presented is that masses of them behaved appallingly to the mothers, sisters, girlfriends and wives of men in the country that took them in. The way it’s being presented has inflamed opinion.
One can sympathise with Germany’s situation. It has been generous in taking in 1.1 million refugees last year but it is troubled at the inevitable tensions that arise from the situation.
The way it has dealt with the alleged mass sexual harassment of women in Cologne on December 31st, says a great deal about the public mood.
People seem to want to have a reason to reject refugees.
There have, in the past few weeks, been indicators of a darkening public mood. Hundreds of attacks on refugees and asylum centers have been recorded, anti-immigration protests continue to draw thousands.
Even Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Bavarian coalition partner, the Christian Social Union, has alleged that the media had tried to cover up the Cologne attacks in an attempt of self-censorship and in order not to threaten public support for pro-refugee policies.
If that’s the case, how did that compact break down?
So Germany is once again being tested by the truth – its nature and believability and the emotional consequences of accepting it.
But it’s better to speak truth to oneself – and recognize it for what it is – than make up Grimm-style fairy tales.