The point can't be made often enough: Germany's immigration policy is extreme and irresponsible.
Letting hundreds of thousands of able-bodied young males from the world's most violent and unstable areas into your country is extreme and irresponsible.
Not subjecting them to background or security checks is extreme and irresponsible.
Allowing thousands people with obviously fraudulent passports (g) to enter your country is extreme and irresponsible. Over 2200 people entered Germany with fraudulent passports. Although this is a crime with a sentence of up to 5 years in Germany and presumptively disqualifies you from claiming asylum, nothing was done.
And now for a look at a non-extreme policy. Here's an excerpt from the second US Presidential debate in which Hillary Clinton explains her proposal to permit 65,000 refugees from the Syrian civil war to relocate to the US:
Well, first of all I will not let anyone into our country that I think poses a risk to us. But there are a lot of refugees - women and children - think of that picture we also that four-year-old boy with the blood on his forehead because he'd been bombed by the Russian and Syrian air forces. There are children suffering in this catastrophic war, largely I believe, because of Russian aggression. And we need to do our part. We by no means are carrying anywhere near the load that Europe and others are.
But we will have vetting that is as tough as it needs to be from our professionals, our intelligence experts, and others.
The point is not whether you agree with this plan, or whether you think Clinton will do it right. The point is that this is the center-left position on refugee relocation -- women and children first, and strict security checks. A policy that balances humanitarian refuge with the legitimate interest in protecting domestic security.
The German government, by contrast, followed (and is still somewhat following) a kind of extreme left, open-borders, masochistic policy. It has intentionally refused to balance security with humanitarian imperatives, instead deciding to allow hundreds of thousands of random strangers into its country with no background checks at all, despite blatant evidence of fraud and concealment. The recent revelation that a 22-year-old Syrian male "refugee" was an ISIS operative who planned to bomb a German airport is only the latest evidence of how this policy has increased risks for ordinary Germans.
This is the necessary context to understanding why support for Merkel's party is dropping and the right-wing AfD party is increasing. Merkel, for reasons historians will speculate about forever, abandoned the sensible center-left consensus on this issue embodied by Clinton and instead chose an extreme-left policy which no other nation on earth thinks is responsible.
Much debate in Germany revolves around the question of whether foreigners commit more crimes than Germans. Whenever this subject comes in mainstream German television talk shows, the responses fall into four predictable categories:
Those on the center-left (and everyone to the left of them) get up on their hind legs and immediately start lobbing rhetorical smoke-bombs about "over-generalizations" and "stoking prejudice" and "doing a disservice to the millions of hard-working...", etc.
Those on the far right consider all immigrants potential criminals, but hardly care, since they would oppose even the most law-abiding immigrants because they want to keep Germany Deutsch. However, their views don't really matter, since people this far right are never given a chance to air their views on mass media.
Those on the center-right do occasionally mention statistics, but are too afraid of being labeled xenophobic to say anything specific. They quickly revert to waffle about "criminal structures", "inadequate integration", "challenging and supporting", etc.
Those on the right (including the AfD, which contrary to common belief does not (g, pdf) oppose all immigration) say what the numbers show: that foreigners are over-represented in crime statistics. Representatives of this political tendency were almost never invited onto German talk shows until the rise of the AfD made this inevitable. Aside from the AfD, the only other talk-show guests who mention this are are representatives of the Hungarian or Polish or Czech governments who are invited to be the ceremonial punching bag of everyone else on the show, including the moderator.
These programmed responses and euphemisms make informed debate on this issue nearly impossible. One by-product is that most Germans have no idea that foreigners are vastly over-represented in German crime statistics. Dozens of times, I pointed this fact out in class, only to be challenged by students who didn't believe the numbers, some accusing me of "peddling right-wing propaganda". Needless to say, all of the students were keenly aware that blacks are over-represented in American prisons relative to their numbers in the population. Yet they had no idea the same thing was happening in their own country.
So now, in the service of just plain information, a story that appeared in the Hamburger Abendblatt newspaper a few weeks ago, then quickly fell down the memory hole. The report was based on a confidential police report leaked to the newspaper. The story appears to be pay-walled, but a confidential source furnished me with the paper originals at a 4 AM meeting in an abandoned parking garage, in return for guarantees of confidentiality and a substantial cash payment. I can now reveal the following statistics:
In the first half of 2106, Hamburg police investigated 38,000 criminal suspects.
Of these, 16,600, or 43%, did not have German nationality.
3882 suspects, or 9.5% of the total, were "refugees" (that is, recent migrants)
These numbers do not reflect offenses merely against immigration laws, those were removed from the calculation to avoid distortion.
In all of 2015, Hamburg authorities investigated 68,868 criminal suspects, of which 28,400 (41 percent) were foreigners.
The crimes most often committed by refugees were assault (1014 cases). Refugees were also responsible for 30.6% of all thefts and 27.5% of all drug smuggling and distribution offenses.
Refugees also committed 18.2% of all cases of "sexual insult" and 18.9% of all more serious sexual offenses. A majority of these cases resulted from New Years' Eve in Hamburg.
There are currently about 25,000 refugees in Hamburg, out of a population of 1,814,597 (g) million. So refugees are 1.37% of the population. But it sure looks like they are committing crimes way out of proportion to the raw numbers.
We can't say exactly how over-represented refugees are among criminals in Hamburg, since it's entirely possible a single refugee enriched the crime stats with 7 pickpocketings, 3 simple assaults, and one sexual assault. This is known to police and criminologists as the 80/20 rule of thumb: 80 percent of all crimes are committed by 20% of the people; 80% of all police calls are to the most unruly 20% of the city, etc.
Without a detailed breakdown of the identity of the offenders, we can't know for certain just how disproportionate the rate of crime among refugees is. And of course cops and politicians will use this gap in the knowledge -- which they themselves created -- to constantly muddle the issue: "This doesn't necessarily mean refugees are more criminal, because it just might be a small number of refugees committing most of these crimes." Kind of like the boy who killed his parents and threw himself on the mercy of the court as an orphan. This also raises the question of why Germany imported these one-man crime waves and allows them to stay, but those are questions for another post.
It should also be remembered that there is some unknown number of people who have German citizenship, and are thus accounted for as German nationals, but were not born in Germany. German authorities intentionally fail to keep records on these numbers, but they're probably at least another 15-20% of criminals.
So, to sum up, here are a few : Most immigrants aren't criminals, but most criminals are immigrants, or were not born in Germany. Most immigrants are law-abiding, but immigrants as a whole commit crimes at a much higher rate than Germans.
If there is one thing the world has enough of, it's "why can't we all be like Iceland?" articles. Here's the latest:
I wanted to know about the kind of society Iceland had cultivated and- what its outlooks were. How did women and men see each other and themselves? What was their character like compared to other countries I had lived in? Were women more confident, men more open-minded, children better cared for? Was life there, in any way, more balanced?
I suspected I would find enlightened ideas that benefit society, not just business, although I found that the two weren’t mutually exclusive. I spoke to innovators across genders in education, health, industry, science and the arts whose ideas exceeded my imagination.
And guess what? The author's gee-whiz tour of Iceland finds all sorts of wonderfully progressive policies. Paid family leave for daddies! Mandatory quotas for women! The world's first openly gay female head of state! Great schools filled with sensitive, caring social-pedagogues! And so on, and so on.
Many will remember probably the most stomach-turning piece of virtue-signaling the world has ever seen -- the Facebook campaign in which 11,000 Icelanders volunteered their homes to Syrian refugees, under the founder's motto: "They are our future spouses, best friends, the next soul mate, a drummer for our children's band, the next colleague, Miss Iceland in 2022, the carpenter who finally finishes the bathroom, the cook in the cafeteria, a fireman, a television host. People of whom we'll never be able to say in the future: 'Your life is worth less than my life.'"
But guess what? None of those 11,000 virtue-signalers ever had to make good on their promise, and of course they knew that full well, since the government has a cap of a whopping 500 refugees a year.
Whoops! Did I just write 500? Sorry, the actual number is 50. Fifty. Per year.
But the empty promises of all those smug Icelanders earned Iceland yet another round of fawning publicity. The article continues the typical litany of the nauseatingly goody-two-shoes oh-so-gentle progressive paradise:
Icelandic society is proactively striving for gender equality, which sits at the centre of progress, and there are policies in place to promote gender equality in all spheres of society. Many stepping stones have led to the current gender equality legislation, including the use of gender quotas. As proven by the need for affirmative action policies in the USA, we are not yet evolved enough to choose fairly of our own volition.
After this rather sinister aside, the author does point to some of the more gloomy facts about Iceland, including this: "Iceland recently outranked the US in adult obesity (67.1 percent of Icelandic adults are overweight or obese compared to 66.3 percent of US adults)." Ha! Take that, Icelandic self-image!
You know what Iceland is? Iceland is a rich American suburb. (Or a German suburb, for that matter.) The population of Iceland is a laughably miniscule 330,000 people. And Iceland is 93% Icelandic, and 98% Northern European. Further, Iceland's median national IQ is 101, placing it 6th in the world. If you go to any large well-off suburb of the United States, you will see Icelandic living conditions: orderly homes, quiet evenings, honest officials, clean schools, smart students, modern gender roles, almost no violence, nice people, organic food, wooden toys, recycling, wine importers, futuristic espresso machines, tasteful earth-toned natural-fiber clothing, clean-lined architecture, yoga studios, women earning more than men, soccer, the whole nine yards. The one difference will be that the American suburb, although majority white, will still be more ethnically diverse than the Nordic purist's fantasy of Iceland.
Iceland is a fine place. I plan to visit one day, and I'm sure I'll be as enchanted as everyone else seems to be. But the world should stop looking at Iceland for lessons, because Iceland is a suburb, not a model society than can be replicated at will anywhere else.
Attacks on German train personnel (g) have risen 28% over last year, with 1100 such incidents reported in the first six months of 2016. Both Deutsche Bahn and the train conductors' union are now reviewing plans to equip conductors with pepper spray and give them self-defense training. Security personnel will be provided with police dogs.
Does this mean that German pensioners are turning violent in their old age? Or that middle-class commuters have decided to save their Excel spreadsheets, close their laptops, and go in for a spot of ultra-violence?
If you're one of the dwindling band of belligerently naive Germans, you will insist this must somehow be the case. If, on the other hand, you're a sentient homo sapiens capable of Noticing Things, you will understand that this increase in violence against authority figures may have something to do with the influx of over 700,000 uneducated foreign males from the most chaotic countries on earth. A lot of them fit into most of the categories below:
speak neither English nor German
have mental problems
have no means of private transportation
no money to buy train tickets
no understanding of how to buy train tickets
no understanding of train etiquette in a modern society
no respect for authority figures
In fact, a lot of them fit into all of the above categories. I personally have witnessed more detentions and shouting matches on German trains (4) in the past year or so than I had in the previous decade. And yes, with heavy heart and bowed head, I am constrained to report that every one featured a young male migrant.
So now there will be pepper spray and police attack dogs on German trains. I can't wait to see the fun that ensues the first time a conductor uses pepper spray in a sealed train compartment traveling 300 km/hr.
This is why we can't have nice things.
To be more precise, one of the Nice Things we are losing in Northwestern Europe is the existence of very safe and orderly public spaces in which members of all social classes can mingle freely with minimal risk of a threat, disagreeable spectacle, or bodily injury. Parks, public swimming pools, trains, plazas, outdoor festivals, sidewalks, etc.
They're still safe, of course -- stories about Germany descending into general chaos are silly hyperbole. However, the probability of encountering a weird, disagreeable, or dangerous situation on any random long train ride or long walk in the park has increased. Everyone senses this, and lots of people are talking about it. Lots of people. And definitely not just ethnic Germans. Experience and studies show that it takes only a small increase in perceived danger and lawlessness to drive large changes in individuals' risk-perception and behavior.
If nothing's done to intervene, what will happen is the creeping privatization of German life. Your neighborhood park will become too nasty, so you'll chip in with your middle-class neighbors to create a private one, or just get a Schrebergarten. After seeing your Xth unsettling confrontation in a German train, you'll finally say "screw this" and get a car. Certain neighborhoods will go from being the kind of place where you might not want to live to the kind of place you definitely would never want to live, increasing residential segregation to Parisian or Chicagoan levels.
It'll all happen gradually to us frogs in the warming water. But before long, Germans will start prizing (and paying for) insulation from the lower orders just as much as Americans do. An they'll know whom to thank.
That faint popping sound is heads exploding all over Germany, as Bayer -- known to Germans as that Solid, Responsible, Traditional German Company Which Practices Soft, Gentle, Humane Rhineland Capitalism™ -- buys Monsanto, known to Germans as the Soulless American Hyper-Capitalist Death-Juggernaut Which Drives Indian Farmers to Suicide, Forces Frankenfoods Down Our Throats, and Poisons our Children's Ice Cream, Mandrake™.
At a conference in Vienna, I made a statement that might well turn out to be bullshit, as is often the case with me. What I said was:
"In all her years as Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel has never made a public statement in which she has (1) called for reform of the German criminal justice system or (2) criticized its unfair treatment of ethnic minorities."
I certainly can't remember her ever doing such a thing. In fact, I can't remember her ever saying anything at all about the German criminal justice system, except for platitudes congratulating judges and cops for their selfless service, etc.
The point was to contrast her with Obama, who has made countless such statements. And to make the point, which I do over and over on this blog: Europeans who obsess on the flaws, real or imagined, of the U.S. criminal justice system generally have no idea how their own system works, and blissfully presume it works just fine.
We all love the Internet, and not just platonically, but it does have its unsavory corners. No, I'm not talking about Pornhub, I'm talking about those videos offering us Moral Improvement™ in the form of 90 seconds of manipulative piffle.
Let's take this example, showing a somewhat dusky-complected 6-year-old child actor on the streets of Tbilisi.
First, she's dressed in shabby clothing. Everyone ignores her. Then, they dress her up in nice clothes, and people intervene to ask where her mother is, if she needs help, etc. They totally ignore a precious, beautiful, pure, innocent, doe-eyed six-year-old girl angel as if she didn't exist, based solely on the fact that she's not dressed nicely.
Conclusion: people -- in this case Georgians -- are monsters.
Damn you, Georgians! Damn you all to hell!
Black-hearted hell-hound that I am, though, I cannot seem to take the moral message to heart, even though it's so superficial simple. Twin demons of Skepticism and Worldly Experience bar the way.
For those readers who don't live in large European cities, let me explain. Everywhere large numbers of people gather -- tourist attractions, train stations, outdoor events, etc. -- you will see many children looking exactly like the one in the video. Dusky complexions, shabby clothes, the whole nine yards. And yes, people will generally avoid and ignore them.
This is because these are gypsy child beggars. And many aren't just beggars, they're thieves as well. How do I know this? Because I personally have been robbed by them twice. Once in Cologne, once in Piraeus.
In fact, I actually wasn't robbed by them in Piraeus, but that's only because I literally kept swatting them away. I was waiting in line for a ferry which had a one-hour delay. A group of 4-5 Roma beggar children were moving up and down the line, snaking in and out between groups of passengers. Some were begging, some were staging diversions, and some were trying to snake their little hands into travelers' bags. People with hard-sided suitcases were relatively safe, but backpacks were much more tempting targets. Two children surrounded my backpack, constantly probing the sides for hard objects, trying unzip pockets and reach under flaps.
They literally paid no attention to me. I shoved them away, and they simply came right back. This lasted for 15 minutes. Only when I began shouting at them, which drew attention, did they finally move on to the next guy. Eventually, a police officer appeared, and they drew back somewhat. He immediately divined what I was shouting about. The guy spoke some English. I asked him why they didn't do something about them. "Eh," he said, "we'd like to, but there are just so many of them, and we don't have enough manpower. Same thing is happening at all the docks. If you make eye contact, they beg. If you have a soft bag, they try to get inside it. Either way, they just keep trying until they get something. They have nothing else to do, and if they don't come back with enough at the end of the day, their boss beats them. Sometimes their boss is their parents. My advice -- get a hard-sided suitcase."
Deciding to play the naive American, I asked whether they shouldn't be in school. "Sure they should, but we have no idea where these ones live. They always run away from us, and even if we catch them, they don't speak Greek or English. They're gypsies, that's what makes a gypsy a gypsy. Their parents are all illiterate, they don't care about school, they just want quick money. They've been living like this for hundreds of years. There are some gypsies who are decent people, but there's lots of them who live from sending their children out begging, and there's nothing we can do about it. Sometimes we raid the camps and register the children, but if we try to force them to enroll in school, almost all of them just move on. A couple stay, though, so there's some progress."
The guy seemed eager to practice his English, and both myself and the rest of the people in line wanted to keep him nearby, since the ferry was nowhere in sight, and he was keeping the Dickensian urchins at bay. I asked him whether they could be taken away from their parents if their parents were proven to be involved in sending them out begging and keeping them out of school. "Nope. We usually can't even determine who the parents are. They often don't have any documents they're willing to show us, they're usually illiterate, and often there's nobody in the entire family who speaks Greek or English, and definitely nobody who's willing to speak it with a cop.
"You can't terminate parental rights if you can't prove who the parents even are. And even then, you're not supposed to take Roma kids away from their culture. Although frankly, if you ask me, if this is Roma culture I say it's not worth saving. There are plenty of Greek families who can't have kids or who have room for one more. These kids could be learning Greek, learning to read, eating properly, going to school, going to the doctor, learning to play sports and finally getting a job and supporting themselves. I'm not going to say they could be going to Church because I'm a Communist. But still, this is no life for anybody."
So I bet if you asked the people in the UNICEF video above, they would say: "I asked them to remove the girl from the restaurant because we have a lot of Roma beggar children here who do exactly what she was doing, snaking between the tables, stealing anything they can find. They are a terrible nuisance we deal with every day. I feel sorry for the children, but they do not want and will not accept assistance, that's not why they're here. Giving to them supports criminal gangs who exploit children. I give to charities that provide meaningful help."
And as much as that 120-second video wants me to think otherwise, I think that's a perfectly fair, rational, and humane response.
This is a young German guy who, by his own information, studies computer science. Let's call him Udo. When huge numbers of migrants began arriving in 2015, he decided to volunteer to help some of them learn German and navigate German society. After negative experiences with the first two migrants he was assigned to help, he was then assigned to a young Syrian man in his early 20s. Let's call the Syrian guy Halil.
Udo's task was to spend time one-on-one with Halil, teaching him about Germany, helping him with bureaucratic stuff, and generally hanging out. Udo went to restaurants and the movies with Halil, helped him with German, and talked to him for hours about his legal case and his background.
In the video, starting at abour 12:00, Udo describes the experiences with Halil that left him fully disillusioned and led him to stop volunteer work. Here's my summary of the main points in English.
Halil was first registered as a refugee in Italy, and was supposed to be deported back there under existing EU law. Halil hired a lawyer, who won the case and got him a permit to stay in Germany. He then sent Halil a bill for €600. Halil was "outraged" that he was expected to pay for the lawyers' services, because after all, he had won the case.
When Udo told Halil that he, Udo, was an atheist, Halil was stunned, and his reaction was somewhat menacing. He said of course there was only one God, Allah, and everyone should believe in him. Halil thought it was a miracle Udo was "still alive" because God would not protect atheists. Halil drinks and smokes.
Halil said he believes nobody in Germany has to work, they get free money from the government. He said this is a common belief in Syria, and that is why many people are coming. When Udo explained this is not the case, Halil refused to believe him. Udo found it remarkable that in the age of the Internet, Halili had never bothered to try to find out whether this bizarre rumor was true or not.
Back in Syria, Halil was was the 'ass' of the family, his father bossed him around and forced him to run errands. They sent him to get the free money in Germany because he didn't seem to have much of a promising life ahead of him. When asked directly by Udo, Halil said his family had no problems in Syria, and that they were not going to try to follow him because "they're doing OK" there.
Halil claimed that he had studied, computer science. Udo was thrilled to hear this, and said "That's great news! Germany needs people like you, with skills. You could have a great future here." But when Udo, who studies computer science himself, actually questioned Halil, it turned out he was completely ignorant on the subject. Either standards in Syria are incredibly low, Udo decided, or Halil had simply told him a bare-faced lie ("knallhart gelogen"). Udo tends to think the latter.
Halil said there was drug dealing in the migrant shelter every night. Nobody has ever been arrested for it, and Halil assumed it was either not against the law, or tolerated. When Udo told him it was against the law, Halil became frightened of being arrested. The migrant shelter is right next to a middle school. Udo said it made him angry to learn that there was an active drug market in the migrant shelter right next to a middle school, and that the police were had done nothing. Udo thought the "rumors" about migrant selling drugs were "right-wing propaganda", but no longer believes this.
The straw that broke the camel's back, according to Udo, was when Halil reacted with rage to an official letter saying that he should begin looking for an apartment, which would be funded by the state, but that he should limit himself to under 50 square meters (538 square feet). He protested: "How can I live in a place that small?" Udo, being a student, lives in a 23-square-meter apartment, and must pay for it himself. Udo said he fould Halil's demanding attitude so frustrating that he called up the volunteer service and withdrew from the program.
Udo concludes by noting that he continues to be sympathetic to refugees and to treat each case on its own merits. However, the media "have not shown" many of the less-appealing sides of the issue. From his own personal experience, he now believes many of the things that he used to consider right-wing lies and propaganda are true.
On his YouTube page Udo has turned off comments, because there was so much nastiness from all sides. I have to say I think what he did takes courage, and I appreciate it. Udo mockery will not be tolerated in the comments here, either.
I have one comment about Halil being the "ass" of the family. I get the strong impression that this is extremely common among migrants. The stories of migrants who appear to have mental problems (low cognitive ability and non-existent impulse control) are legion. Some have burned down their own shelters, many commit crimes on impulse and don't even bother to flee, they get blind drunk on alcohol and engage in all sorts of antisocial behavior. And this doesn't even count the tens of thousands of career petty criminals. There are, by now, thousands, of reports of sexual assaults by migrants. The same goes for migrants on trains or buses who begin staring at a female, then expose their penises and masturbate.
In a crowded train car.
That sort of behavior is not normal anywhere. Which leads me to believe that when families are deciding which young male to send off at to get a job -- or free money -- in Germany, they are likely to send the young men who are "touched in the head". After all, if you have four sons, and three of them are gainfully employed or already fathers, but one has never fit in and causes you constant trouble, who are you going to send off to the West to cast an anchor on the shores of paradise? You send off the Halils. After all, there are no special education classes or government programs for the mentally challenged in most Arab countries. If Halil leaves, your family gets rid of a troublemaker who costs money and constantly threatens the family honor, and in return you get a chance to relocate to Germany. From their perspective, it's win-win.
In the New Republic, Omer Aziz takes up a theme I've posted about before many, many times:
Growing up, I attended Koran classes in Toronto every day between the age of 6 and 16. I have traveled around the world and discussed Islam in Geneva, Jordan, Jerusalem, Iraq, and Turkey. I harbor no resentments towards Islam, and despite my current agnosticism, I still call myself a Muslim because the world of Islam has been an integral part of my identity for my entire life. I confess that when discussing Islam with white people, the writer in me tussles with the spokesman who seems to overtake the wheel of my mind, responsibly steering the conversation away from moral gray areas. The offer to become an informant on one’s culture will be familiar to any minority writer, as well as the guilt that comes with confirming a white person’s presumptions that a non-white culture may be inferior. The native informant trap is all too real for any non-white writer and must be avoided; it is doubly real for Muslims who can easily cash in by criticizing their own kind.
With all of that being said, the Orlando killer was a Muslim, and so it is worth stating this in the clearest possible terms: A large swath of the Muslim-majority world has a serious problem with gays. No, Islam does not have a monopoly on homophobia. Countries like Jamaica, Honduras, Uganda, Russia, and China have all passed anti-gay legislation. In America, Lawrence v. Texas, the pivotal Supreme Court Case that struck down the ban on homosexual sex, was decided just 13 years ago, in a 6-3 vote. Both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton opposed same-sex marriage in 2008. During the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, gays were evicted from their houses, fired from their jobs, and turned away from hospitals. Even after they had left this earth, their dead bodies were rejected by funeral homes. The great Martin Luther King thought homosexuality was a mental illness, which is probably why the great James Baldwin never spoke at the March on Washington.
Still, there is no getting around the truth that homophobia is rampant in the Muslim world. It is clerically justified and socially defended. Fifty-one states constitute the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and ten of them punish homosexual activity with the death penalty, including Afghanistan, where the Orlando killer traced his roots. Nearly all the others have criminalized homosexuality with sentences ranging from one month to life in prison. Gays and lesbians are viewed as demonically inverting nature, as sinners, freaks, deviants, corrupters, insurrectionists, miscreants. Their sexual orientation shames whole families into denouncing them. They live in perpetual fear and perpetual hiding....
Even among far too many Muslims in the West—especially young Muslim males—homophobia takes on either a passive, silent form or an aggressive, vociferous one. In all those years in Koran classes, there was no end to the round-bellied mullahs opining on the Jews or the gays as we children unthinkingly nodded along. The word “faggot” was used as a routine epithet in our vocabulary, a stand-in insult for anything—what did it matter what the Koran said about swearing? Even as an adult, I have found myself time and again in conversations with young Pakistani or Indian or Afghan or Iraqi or Somali men (women tend to be more open-minded), and have heard such grotesquely homophobic comments in such casual tones that it was clear that homophobia was encoded in their—our—brains. I recall one such conversation from a few summers ago when a young Muslim man my age justified the stoning of gays because he said it was in the Koran. When I pressed him on whether he would stone gays himself, he said no, because the Koran stipulated four witnesses to the act and so corporal punishment for gays would never be a concern. (The Koran actually says nothing about stoning gays.) If you are a Muslim and think I am exaggerating about Muslim attitudes towards gays, walk into your local mosque this Friday and inform the imam that you are gay and watch his response. A shield of white liberal guilt protects socially conservative minorities from having their positions challenged, and this shield is harmful—it turns the intellectual space into a cultural ghetto where stale ideas become barriers impermeable to dissent and diversity....
Sexual repression breeds maniacal obsessions. The old men who spend all their waking moments trying to veil women are themselves responding to the self-hatred that comes from self-abnegation. The young men who are tormented by the thought that two gay people might be in love somewhere are, in fact, bedeviled by the belief deep in their hearts that others are free but they themselves are chained to an antiquated morality. Something has gone terribly wrong in the mental and sexual life of a culture—once rich in diversity—when it is hijacked by a conservative puritanism that is autocratically enforced by repressed men.
Laws that are both impossible to follow and impossible not to break create a terrorizing bipolarity in the minds of individuals and the societies they inhabit. Such customs are passed on from generation to generation, abetted by an elaborate facade of traditional purity. These facades are exposed the moment they are challenged, but challenging them comes with consequences, often fatal. Thus, many Muslim families in the West still practice first-cousin marriage despite the many health risks this carries. In what twisted morality is dating bad but borderline incest ok? Homosexuality sinful but grandfathers marrying teenage girls virtuous?...
The fact that a gay bar was attacked by a Muslim man is not to be brushed aside or understated—it is the unconscionable but predictable consequence of a deep-seated homophobia. Which brings me back to the alleged homosexuality of the Orlando killer. His sexual orientation is not a laughing matter, nor is the Muslim-majority world’s attitudes towards gays “irrelevant,” as Yasir Qadhi said. Mateem’s sexual orientation and what Islamic culture says about homosexuality are central to this massacre. The killer’s unrelenting homophobia was a lethal synthesis of what he knew was true about himself and what he knew his fellow Muslims thought of gays. He appears to have been rejecting his own homosexual impulses, which are as natural as heterosexual impulses. His father was himself ruthlessly homophobic. Mateem was afraid of his god, of what his family would say, of how his culture would condemn him, and so his visceral shame became visceral hatred.
Muslim leaders have repeatedly been silent on the sufferings of LGBTQ individuals. They have treated them as though they were unworthy of god’s love. But in debasing gays, Islam’s homophobes have only debased themselves. The battle for civil rights and for dignity will never be won, peace in the Muslim-majority world will never be won, freedom of thought and conscience will never be won, until and unless a sexual revolution accompanies an intellectual one.
One of the reasons to oppose the uncontrolled mass migration of hundreds of thousands of young uneducated Muslim males (all of those adjectives are important -- let's abbreviate them as the suspiciously gay-sounding YUMMs) to Europe is because it will be bad for gays here. I know plenty of gay people, and I appreciate the fact that Germany is one of the most tolerant places in the world. Mass immigration of YUMMs will impair, and possibly destroy that. There are already hundreds of reports of gay or effeminate migrants being threatened, harassed, and beaten in German migrant shelters.
Pro-immigration groups have responded in three ways to this urgent problem.
The first is to denounce anyone who refers to it as xenophobic and racist. However, this strategy quickly ran into a buzz-saw of enraged opposition, and has shown rapidly-diminishing returns. If you spend enough time denouncing reasonable people as xenophobes and racists, the tables quickly turn and you begin to look like the screeching fanatic.
The second is to point out that there are anti-gay people and groups in Germany, as well. While this is certainly true, it's easily countered by two observations. First, while some Germans privately disapprove of homosexuality, it is quite rare for them to openly insult or attack people merely because they are gay. Germany is without doubt one of the most tolerant societies for homosexuals in the world today, and anyone who disputes this has lost touch with reality. Second, the observation that there are Germans with backward views is hardly an argument to import more people with backward views. If you're in a hole, stop digging.
The third response is to call for 'integration' courses in which a pony-tailed social worker explains why it's wrong to insult, beat, or kill gays. This course, it is assumed, will magically cause hundreds of thousands of people to abandon their most deeply-held convictions. This assumption is, of course, a fantasy. No self-respecting European urban liberal would ever agree to despise homosexuals simply because they relocated to a country in which that attitude is common. They may say they believe YUMMs will do the converse, but they probably don't. The question of what happens if the YUMMs don't change their mind is never addressed by pro-immigration groups.
Anyone who wishes to immigrate to Germany for any reason should be grilled extensively on their attitudes toward homosexuals. They don't need to agree to dance in a Christopher Street Day parade in crotchless chaps, but they must endorse complete tolerance toward gays and a categorical rejection of any form of persecution of them. If they show any deep-seated antagonism toward gays, they should be put on a permanent blacklist. Period.
Does this policy hold immigrants to a higher standard than Germans? Yes, and that's a feature, not a bug. As noted above: if in hole, stop digging.
Would this policy result in the exclusion of genuine refugees because they hate gays? Yes, and that's a feature, not a bug. If their hatred of gays is so important to them, let them seek refuge in a country in which that attitude is common. Providing asylum is a humanitarian duty, but it is not absolute. It can and should be balanced against the host country's legitimate needs.
Does this policy privilege gay citizens and residents of Germany above foreigners? Yes, and that's a feature, not a bug. The needs of people already in your country who have rights should always take precedence over the needs of outsiders seeking to make use of the mere privilege of immigration.
Will this policy privilege worldly, educated, tolerant Muslim immigrants over YUMMs? Yes, and that's a feature, not a bug.
The father of the Orlando shooter, an Afghan immigrant who came to the USA sometime in the 1980s, hates homosexuals just as much as his son did, but thinks we should leave it to God to punish them. Plus, he makes long, rambling, controversial YouTube videos about obscure ethnic conflicts which have nothing to do with the US. This case raises the same questions as the Tsarnaev case: Why is the US welcoming and granting citizenship to crackpots with medieval views from the most unstable parts of the world? The question is also obviously relevant to contemporary Germany.
Being permitted to live in another country is not a right, it's a privilege -- I should know, I'm doing it now. A country's constitutional guarantees only apply with full force to nationals of that country who are within its borders. The USA, like any other country, is permitted to discriminate on any basis it chooses when it comes to deciding who should be permitted to relocate permanently to within its borders. This is why Donald Trump's proposal to ban Muslim immigration is quite possibly constitutional, as long as it's not applied to US citizens. It may be a bad idea, it may be bigoted, but it's not against the law.
Many people have some vague idea that countries are not allowed to engage in ethnic and religious discrimination when it comes to immigrants. There must be some international treaty or something that says this is not allowed, right? The answer is no: There never has been, and there never will be. Countries may voluntarily bind themselves to non-discrimination in immigration, but no international law can force them to do so. It's the privilege of any nation to choose whom it wishes to let in and keep out. Germany grants privileged access to Russian-Germans and Jews over all other ethnic groups, and this was and is legal and proper under international law.
This means that people from culturally remote, conflict-torn regions where backward views and noxious superstitions are commonplace (such as Afghanistan) can and should have to face high hurdles and extensive, days-long background questioning. Sure, we'll let Afghans in, but only if they have worldly, tolerant views comparable to the mainstream of the developed Western country they wish to relocate to (let's say the US).
Allah hates gays? Permanent blacklist. Wife-beating's alright? Permanent blacklist. Any trace, no matter how remote, of sympathy for extremists? Permanent blacklist. Anything but 100%, full-throated, unequivocal support for Western-style representative democracy, with all its attendant flaws? Permanent blacklist. As a practical matter, this will mean the majority of Afghans who are given the right to permanently resettle in the US will be members of the educated urban elite.
This is a feature, not a bug.
In the next line over, Norwegians of Norwegian ancestry who want to enter the USA are whisked through with just a few superficial questions. Why? Because it's statistically likely that the majority of Norwegians hold views which will enable them to successfully adapt to American society. The chances of finding a Norwegian who prefers God's law to democracy or passionately hates homosexuals is so small, it can be ignored as a heuristic matter.
A typical counter-argument is that there are plenty of American crackpots with extremist views, so why should America get to exclude Afghan crackpots? The answer is: Because they're our crackpots. They are our problem. The fact that we have problems in our society doesn't mean we should import additional problems from other societies. Especially societies we don't understand, whose problems mean nothing to us.
And even if this argument doesn't strike you as rational, it doesn't have to. If you are allowed to discriminate, that means you can discriminate for good reasons, bad reasons, or no reasons at all. If Germany wanted to, it could pass a law saying that only people with green eyes can immigrate to Germany. If some international tribunal asked Germany why, Germany would not even have to give an answer.
Countries like the USA and Germany have enormous leverage: they are (comparatively) safe, prosperous, well-run societies to which millions of people would like to relocate. They should leverage their desirability to attract only the most adaptable and talented immigrants. Anything less is a disservice to their people.
Why so many mainstream German (and some American) politicians cannot seem to grasp these obvious principles has the world scratching its head.