Commenters sometimes ask me to delete some of their previous comments, or other peoples' comments.
I am not going to do that. Let me repeat points I've made a few times, but which apparently need to be made again and again:
- This blog is a private, non-profit hobby run by exactly one person, me. I have no staff, no helpers, no assistants.
- I like having a comments section and am usually amused and stimulated by what goes on there, because the vast majority of commenters have something interesting to say.
- Many comments contain points of view with which I strongly disagree and are phrased in ways I wouldn't choose myself. I let them stand anyway because they contribute a point of view to the discussion.
- I have a real job, and therefore a limited amount of time to work on this side hobby.
- What little time I do have I put into writing new stuff.
- I have neither the time nor the inclination to search through thousands of past comments to find ones which someone regrets having posted, or which they think is inappropriate.
Yet if a comment comes to my attention which I don't like, I reserve the right to delete any comment, at any time, for any reason, at my sole and unappealable discretion. Period. This blog is not a democracy; if I find a comment crosses the line, I will nuke it.
I define the line, and I don't do so in any consistent way. Nor do I read every single comment ever posted here. I have only deleted a very few comments during the life of this blog. If you ask me nicely, I might explain why I did so, or I may ignore your question. I am ignoring it not because I dislike you, but because I have only a limited time to work on this blog, and I would rather spend it creating new posts than adjudicating disputes about old posts.
I suspect you would rather I spend my time that way as well.
So, with that in mind, feel free to comment away. But please do not ask or expect me to intervene in the comments section. Handle it yourselves.
Given that recent migrants have been committing a goodly number of crimes in Germany since 2015, the question facing reporters and editors is whether to tell their readers when crimes are committed by foreigners.
The German Press Code, a non-binding voluntary code of conduct put forward by the German Press Council, contains the famous Guideline 12.1, which specifies that news reports should not mention a that a criminal suspect is a member of an ethnic or religious minority unless there is an "objective reason" to do so linked to the specific circumstances of the crime. The rule further warns journalists that violating the guideline can "stoke prejudices against minorities".
This provision has come under a lot of scrutiny lately, with critics claiming it is a form of politically-correct censorship which patronizes readers. Readers can be trusted not to generalize, these critics say, and deserve a full picture of serious crimes. A few smaller German newspapers, including the Rhein Zeitung (g) and the Sächsische Zeitung (g), declared that they would no longer observe the guideline in their reporting. Most national press outlets have stuck by it, although they stress that they reserve the right to decide for themselves whether a suspect's ethnicity or nationality is relevant.
Yesterday I found out the interesting origins of this provision, thanks to this Deutschlandfunk (g) article. This long article (g) at the German Protestant Church's website gives an even more detailed history of the guideline's origins.
It turns out the provision goes back to a 1971 suggestion by Federation of German-American Clubs. They were dismayed that whenever black American soldiers were arrested for crimes in Germany, they were identified on the basis of their race. The Press Council incorporated the first "anti-discrimination" provision into the Press Code in 1973, and it's been updated several times since.
I found this enlightening and a bit surprising. I don't have all that much to add, except that the original context giving rise to Article 12.1 is hardly relevant anymore. There's a difference between merely identifying the skin color of a criminal suspect who is and will always remain a foreigner and who will certainly leave your country in a few years, and identifying the ethnic background of a person who is either living in your country for the foreseeable future, has its citizenship, or is actively claiming a a legal right to live there indefinitely (by getting asylum).
Tourists and soldiers on 2-year rotations are one thing, but Germans have every right to accurate information about whether people who have been invited to permanently resettle into their country or are seeking the right to do so are adapting well and contributing. And the amount of crime foreigners are responsible for is a legitimate indicator.
Yet even if this distinction doesn't convince you, gentle reader, I still think papers should ignore this guideline. Everyone already knows that certain kinds of crime are much more frequent in majority-black American ghettos and in heavily-immigrant areas of German cities. When flash-mobs pour into the streets of German cities (g) to attack policemen stopping cars or parking cops giving tickets, there is not a German alive who thinks the young men beating the cops have names like Ulf, Karlheinz, Alexander, and Torsten. Merely reporting what everyone is already going to suspect -- or (rarely) surprising them by showing the suspicion was false -- is hardly a breach of ethics.
by Jonas Lund:
Almost every day, something happens which reminds me of an interview (g) the Rheinische Post newspaper did with a Swiss woman, Gaby Zweng, in January of 2016. She has lived in Egypt for 17 years, and has had relationships with both Christian and Muslim men. She stressed that she herself felt safe in Egypt, and that the vast majority of Egyptians condemned the sort of sexual harassment that happened in Cologne.
But she also had a few other things to say:
You have surely heard of the attacks on New Years' Eve in Cologne. Does it surprise you that Muslims did something like that?
Zweng: Let's just say that it doesn't surprise me that men from Arab countries could do something like that.
Zweng: I am constantly aware here that events which are ascribed to Islam by the West happen just as often among Christians as among Muslims. Both religions live here alongside one another, and I think it's more a question of mentality than religion.
So the problem is not Islam but Arabic culture?
Could you imagine that something like what happened in Cologne might also happen in Cairo?
Zweng: Yes, that happened during the revolution in Cairo in Tahrir Square. Women went onto the streets and protested. I think that such things happen so that Arabic people can enjoy the suffering of other people, and that men especially want to raise their profile, especially in a group
Why do you think that Arabs, in particular, enjoy the suffering of others?
Zweng: Arabs love videos in which other people have accidents and suffer misfortunes. They find it funny. This has caught my attention, as well as that of some of my friends.
You mean videos of silly accidents and pratfalls like ones in Germany, or ones in which people are seriously injured?
Zweng: No, these are certainly serious videos. This is probably a result of the fact that here, you teach children what's right and wrong by hitting them, and people as a whole are much more likely to resort to violence than we are. That's how they are raised.
The latest incident that made me think of this interview was the arrest of seven young men -- six from Iraq, one from Libya -- for setting a homeless man on fire in a Berlin subway station.
The date: mid-2015. Here and on my Facebook page, I point out that most of the migrants arriving in Germany come from countries which aren't at war -- Kosovo, Albania, Serbia, the Maghreb states, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran -- and therefore aren't likely to be refugees. I dare to wonder why Germany is letting them into the country without even a background check.
One-world Germans, caught up in the fever dream of Wilkommenskultur, immediately zap over to Google, looking for reasons why it would be unethical, even inhumane, to send them back. And boy, do they find them. These Germans came back with shocking news: Those countries are poor! They have political corruption! They have backward customs that oppress women! (although women aren't coming). They have high unemployment! They have discrimination! They have regional insurgencies! Their education systems are flawed!
For a few months, the German press was filled with articles revealing to an unsuspecting public that many countries in the world apparently have less money than Germany, and flawed institutions to boot.
How could anybody possibly be heartless enough to send back anyone to such apocalyptic hellholes, I was asked repeatedly. What are you, some kind of xenophobic fascist? I'd like to see you go live in Albania!
And then the belligerently naïve delivered the killer argument: Nobody would ever voluntarily uproot themselves from their homeland and undertake a dangerous and expensive trek to Europe unless they were absolutely desperate and in fear for their lives.
After all, nobody ever leaves Germany to go live in other countries in search of a better life. Well, 3.4 million have, but let's not get distracted.
Yet now something strange is happening: Thousands of migrants are returning to these countries. So far in 2016, about 55,000 (g) have voluntarily left Germany, lured by nothing more than free plane ticket and a modest financial incentive ranging from €500 to €1200 per person depending on circumstances.
15,000 back to the smoldering toxic inferno of Albania, 5,000 each back to the desolate, bandit-plagued moonscapes of Serbia, Iraq, and Kosovo, 3200 back to Afghanistan. Amazing, given that there are only 30.5 million people left alive in that unlivable charnel-house.
You could almost be forgiven for thinking these folks were merely economic migrants who just wanted to see if they could live in a richer, more stable country than their own, and found they couldn't, or didn't want to.
One thing none of these newspapers mentioned was the demographic profile of the shooters and victims. There was talk of 'gangs' and 'high-crime neighborhoods', which all Americans can immediately decipher. But in case my foreign readers are wondering, this is what it's all about:
(source). Although the majority of assailants has yet to be identified (it's hard to investigate crimes in black neighborhoods because witnesses distrust police and fear retaliation from the shooters, who are often well-known), nobody is assuming they're white.
Violent crime has always been a disproportionately black / Hispanic affair in the U.S., but it appears to be getting even more extremely concentrated. Not necessarily because black and Hispanic crime rates are going up -- they are, in some cities, but not dramatically overall -- but because U.S. urban whites and Asians are quickly becoming one of the most law-abiding groups in human history.
Thanks to gentrification and rising costs of living, the white populations of major U.S. citizens are becoming quite rich. This means the only groups left in cities who continue to commit any kind of violent crime at all are blacks and Hispanics. Despite a record wave of 750+ homicides in Chicago this year overall, some predominantly white neighborhoods had no homicides at all.
So feel free to visit Chicago, which is a delightful place. The locals will tell you which neighborhoods to avoid. Even if you visited them, you probably won't have a problem, since most of these killings are gang-related, and you're not in a gang. But you could be hit by a stray bullet.
Terrorism analyst Thomas Hegghammer predicts attacks will increase:
This article presents a ten-year forecast for jihadism in Europe. Despite reaching historically high levels in recent years, violent Islamist activity in Europe may increase further over the long term due to four macro-trends: 1) expected growth in the number of economically underperforming Muslim youth, 2) expected growth in the number of available jihadi entrepreneurs, 3) persistent conflict in the Muslim world, and 4) continued operational freedom for clandestine actors on the Internet. Over the next decade, the jihadi attack plot frequency in Europe may follow a fluctuating curve with progressively higher peaks. Many things can undercut the trends and lead to a less ominous outcome, but the scenario is sufficiently likely to merit attention from policymakers....
The last few years have seen historically high levels of jihadi activity in Europe. There has been a negative development on a range of indicators, including:
- Deaths: Between 2014 and 2016, jihadi attacks killed 273 people, more than in all previous years combined (267).
- Attacks: In 2015 and 2016, there were 14 jihadi attacks, about 3.5 times more than the biannual average (6) for the preceding fifteen years.
- Plots: In 2015 and thus far in 2016, there were 29 well-documented attack plots, about 2.5 times more than the biannual average (12).
- Execution rate: In 2015 and 2016 about half of the serious plots reached execution, compared with less than a third in the preceding fifteen years.
- Foreign fighters: Between 2011 and 2016 over 5,000 European Muslims went to fight in Syria; about five times more than the number that went to all previous destinations combined.
- Arrests: Between 2011 and 2015, almost 1,600 people were arrested in jihadism-related investigations in the EU (excluding the UK); an increase of 70% compared with the previous five-year period.
....The first macro-trend is that the main demographic pool from which European jihadis have historically been recruited, namely economically underperforming Muslim youth, seems to be growing. We know that the majority of European jihadis are young Muslim men of immigrant background from the lower half of the socioeconomic ladder. We do not yet know whether or not their economic underperformance has a causal effect on radicalization, but we know that a majority of them are drawn from this demographic. Tens of large-n studies have found European jihadis, as a group, to score worse than national averages on indicators such as education level, employment rate, and criminal conviction rate.
We also know that the size of the European Muslim population is increasing as a result of immigration and relatively high (but declining) fertility rates. According to Pew Research, the Muslim population in Northern, Western and Southern Europe is set to increase with around 50% from 2010 to 2030, from around 25 million to 37 million. The highest relative increase is expected in Northern and Western Europe, with a 98% and 45% increase respectively (3.8 to 7.5 million in Northern Europe, and 11.3 to 16.4 million in Western Europe). The share of the total population is expected to increase from 3.8% to 7% in Northern Europe, from 6% to 8.6% in Western Europe, and from 6.9% to 8.8% in Southern Europe.
Pew also projected the Muslim population in all European countries except the Balkans to have a male surplus in 2030, albeit a slightly smaller one than in 2010. Some countries such as the UK, Norway, Spain and Italy expect sex ratios of over 120 men per 100 women in 2030. The Muslim population is also generally younger than the non-Muslim population, and although the gap is expected to decrease slightly compared with today, the proportion of the European Muslim population under age 30 in 2030 is expected at around 42%, compared with 31% for non-Muslims. The Pew analysis was conducted before the refugee crisis in 2015, which brought around 1 million asylum seekers from Muslim-majority countries to the European Union, over 60% of whom were men under 35.
Most important, we have good reason to expect the European Muslim population to continue to be economically underperforming on average. In most European countries, Muslims are the most economically disadvantaged major religious group. This is likely the result of three factors: first, that many Muslim immigrants arrived with low education; second, that social mobility in the EU is generally mediocre (except in Scandinavia); and third, that there is documented anti-Muslim discrimination in the labour market. Put more simply, many early Muslim immigrants entered the labour market as working class, and their children were not able to climb the social ladder. This situation is likely to persist, because first-generation Muslim immigrants continue to arrive with relatively low education on average, and there is little to suggest social mobility will increase or anti-Muslim discrimination will decrease in the EU in the coming decade. We therefore have good reason to believe that the number of economically disaffected Muslim youth in Europe will be larger in 2030 than today.
It strikes me as highly likely that the hundreds of thousands of young Muslim males who arrived in Germany in 2015 will present an even higher risk of terrorism than Muslims who've been here longer. Young Muslim males in Germany have not carried out successful terror attacks at anywhere near the rate of ones in France and Belgium, despite being "economically underperforming" to a certain degree. Most observers attribute that to the fact that the modal Muslim male in Germany is Turkish, not Arabic. Something about Turkish Muslims seems to make them less susceptible to radicalization in Europe than Muslims from other countries.
But of course the demographic composition of German Muslims has been permanently changed by the 2015 influx. There are now hundreds of thousands of new arrivals from Arabic countries, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Unlike longer-settled Turkish Muslims, these new arrivals don't know and will likely never learn German. They also don't have local families and communities to watch over them and worry about them.
And as we're seeing every single day, they are becoming bitterly disappointed at life in Germany. They "promised" jobs and apartments haven't materialized. Learning German is a hopeless task for most of them, and living without language skills is always a bitter pill. They're young and full of testosterone, but can't find girlfriends. In addition to the fact that they can't speak German and have no jobs or money, there's also the fact that so many new young Muslim males entered Germany in 2015 that they have created a significant gender imbalance in their age group. There are now way too many males 18-34 in Germany chasing the same number of females as there were in 2013.
Add to that the very real possibility that they have a higher than average rate of mental illness.
These hundreds of thousands of disaffected, alienated, frustrated young males in Germany will be easy pickings for Jihadists in the coming years. Unless, that is, the German authorities manage to deport them. I'm not holding my breath.
A Japanese writer on the dominance of English:
When published in 2008, The Fall of Language in the Age of English created a sensation in Japan, winning awards, becoming a bestseller, and igniting a furious online debate between its detractors and defenders. This first book of nonfiction by Minae Mizumura, whose four novels have all won national awards, was published last year in a superbly readable English translation. This powerful, insightful work analyzes the predicament of world languages and literatures in an age when English has become the universal language of science and the default language of the internet. Even for creative writers, it is the virtually inescapable medium for those desiring to be taken seriously in an age of globalized discourse....
The Fall of Language in the Age of English concludes with somber reflections on the internet and the implications for national languages and literatures of hegemonic English, the world’s de facto universal language. But Mizumura also criticizes self-defeating public policies that have impoverished the Japanese language, and Japanese literary works that “often read like rehashes of American literature.” She calls for teaching more Japanese to younger students, and mandating that older ones read the full texts of Japanese modern classics.
She ends her rich, profound meditation on language and literature by encouraging people in English-speaking nations to consider the possibility that the advantage of fluency in our age’s universal language can also be a disadvantage:
If more English native speakers walked through the doors of other languages, they would discover undreamed-of landscapes. Perhaps some of them might then begin to think that the truly blessed are not they themselves, but those who are eternally condemned to reflect on language, eternally condemned to marvel at the richness of the world.