Not So Fast, Holmes
"Cartoon Rabbits in Nazi Uniforms"

Accountability, Please

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After every new terror attack in Europe, there are a flurry of articles congratulating the residents of Paris, or Stockholm, or Dortmund, or Berlin. They're congratulated on their sensible, low-key reaction to the attack, and their commitment to resuming their lives without interruption, which is said to "deny the terrorists a victory" or some such.

This is the wrong reaction. The reaction to a spectacular crime or mass killing should differ according to the circumstances.

Category 1 of mass killing is something like Winnenden (g), in which a 17-year-old German boy took his father's gun and killed 15 of his classmates before ending his own life. This is the sort of attack in which a measured response is appropriate. These kinds of mass killings can't be prevented in a modern, free society. They will occur at irregular intervals, and nothing can be done to completely prevent them. They are just a tragic but inevitable incident of life in a free society with a lot of social alienation. A calm, measured response is appropriate, because it is foolish to get extremely upset about something that cannot be prevented.

Category 2 of mass killing is a terror attack carried out on European soil by a foreigner. Like the Stockholm truck attack, which was carried out by an Uzbek man, a failed asylum-seeker who had already been denied residency in Sweden. Or the Berlin Christmas market attack, carried out by a known violent criminal and radical Islamist who also was supposed to have been deported from Germany, but who was allowed to stay in the country (g) because of a series of bureaucratic snafus so long, and so buffoonish, that it beggars imagination. As a result, 12 people were killed, and dozens of others grievously mutilated. Or the case of the Afghan man who raped and murdered a medical student in Freiburg in 2016. He had been let into Germany despite having been sentenced to 10 years prison in Greece for attempting to murder a young woman there -- he threw her off a 10-meter cliff (g), severely injuring her.

We shouldn't be responding to Category 2 events calmly. They should never have occurred at all. The only reason they did occur here in Germany, or Sweden, or Paris, is because of the incompetence of politicians and bureaucrats. None of these men had a legal reason to enter Europe. Two of them had already lost their asylum claims and were supposed to be deported. Yet the authorities failed to enforce the laws, and people died and were horribly injured as a result.

What citizens should be saying is not "They can't intimidate us, we're going to go on about our business, we'll show the terrorists how mature we are." That's the right response to a homegrown, under-the-radar crime.

What citizens should be saying is: "It's time to find out exactly who let these homicidal maniacs into our country, and who let them stay. And once these people are found, they should be fired for incompetence -- at the very minimum. And then the laws should be changed so that we can finally stop letting killers into our country."

To meekly accept this incompetence and recklessness from public officials is a sign of failure, resignation, and complacency. They're the signs of a failing democracy in which the public has given up on ever being able to hold their elected officials accountable, even for gross recklessness.

None of this is "right-wing". In a democracy, demanding accountability from elected officials isn't just a right, it's a duty. One that Germans seem to be forgetting lately. 

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