I’m not going to talk so much about Cologne itself or the implications, there’s plenty of discussion about that already going on and I can’t contribute a huge amount to that (Refugees, immigrants and migrants aren’t the same thing. Even a thousand young men behaving abominably doesn’t mean everyone’s a problem. This is a bad combination of deprivation, culture clash, grievance, opportunism, religion and ideology. In short, it’s complicated).
What I do feel I can contribute to and bring up is the surrounding problem of discussion and some of the opportunism and hypocrisy we’ve seen around this. I also want to point out that this problem is not confined to Cologne but has been reported in other cities, Germany has a long-standing problem with Islamic-culture immigration especially in the relatively impoverished former East Germany, and that similar attacks and issues have become shockingly common across Northern Europe.
This situation is now a conversation we are forced to have, because up until now we have not been able to have it. The taboos around racism and islamophobia have meant that some hideous wrongs have occurred that could have been prevented. The biggest and worst of these examples is, of course, Rotherham but it’s far from the only one. There’s some evidence and suggestion that assaults and rapes in Germany and elsewhere have been kept hush-hush (I wouldn’t go as far as to say covered up, yet) in order to avoid feeding into a climate of fear, racism and islamophobia.
The problem is that this has happened anyway, and by keeping the Overton Window so small, the entire conversation on the problems of large numbers of dispossessed people from a different culture, antithetical in many ways to western liberal values, has been entirely ceded to far right racists, the ‘white genocide’ lunatic fringe. Most dangerous of all, it almost makes their pathetic ideas seem credible if things are being ‘kept quiet’.
If reasonable, rational people can’t have conversations about race, immigration, culture and other issues, then the lunatics will and when people’s experiences on the ground aren’t listened to, or see them condemned as racists and islamophobes, then they’ll turn to the people who will listen to them.
It has also been absolutely breathtaking to see the… well, hypocrisy doesn’t even seem to be the right word here, it’s not strong enough. The… squirming discomfort, doublethink and apologetics about all this coming from the regressive left. Especially media feminism. When the air conditioning is too cold or some poor schlub makes himself comfortable by sitting with his knees apart there’s hell to pay, but when hundreds of women are molested and raped… then there seems to be relative silence.
Over the past couple of days a few things have emerged, but it has largely been this apologia I describe. Attempts to broaden the blame to men, as a gender as opposed to men of a particular culture, religion or ethnicity (this strikes me as being even more bigoted as it’s broadbrushing 50% of the population), attempts to shame people from talking about it via accusations of racism or islamophobia and worse. It seems that when it comes to feminism at least, patriarchal oppression is fine provided you have brown skin and originate from an impoverished or war torn country.
We need to have conversations about these issues and the rational left, the compassionate and measured voices need to be a part of that debate. Not cowering in fear of being branded with a scarlet letter from their insane, radical fringes. The same goes for the right, who need to be able to enter the conversation on a level-headed basis without being branded by their insane, racist fringes and the ‘white genocide’ conspiracy loons.
Be brave, have the conversation, give the lunatics on both sides the finger and let’s work towards a calm, compassionate, rational solution.
So bored of racists who only pretend to care about women’s rights when they see an opportunity to bash Muslims.
— Laurie Penny (@PennyRed) January 6, 2016