Once again, it's time to play guess the real story. The papers today are full of praise for the police for hindering a planned riot (g) at the Leverkusen bus station. Around 200 people had planned to travel there to engage in some sort of planned gang fight. The police intervened, arrested some people, conducted ID checks, and managed to prevent the worst. They didn't find any firearms, but did find various kinds of knuckle-dusters.
Neither the police nor any of the news outlets have given any details about who these people were or why they were gathering.
Which means one thing to any informed reader of German news: they must have been non-Germans. And indeed, the German tabloid Express gingerly informs us that most of those arrested had "an immigration background".
Now, it's by no means unheard-of for ethnic Germans to get together in planned fights. These are usually fanatical 'ultra' football fans -- young, working-class types. Here's a documentary about them called "Category C" -- after the classification schedule German police use to judge how "violence-ready" different groups of football fans are:
Whenever ethnic Germans get together and beat the crap out of each other, there's invariably detailed reporting, extensive hand-wringing, and musing about What It All Means.
When non-Germans do the same thing, a soft, comforting blanket of euphemisms is spread over the events, obscuring any interesting facts.
So, does anyone know what exactly was going on in Leverkusen? Was it Turks v. Kurds? Or two extended clans? Albanians v. Serbians?
The German newspaper Die Weltreports (g) on the case of a 14-year-old Jewish student from in the Friedenau suburb of Berlin who was harassed and attacked by his fellow students after he revealed he was Jewish. According to him, one of his fellow students told him: “Listen, you are a cool dude but I can’t be friends with you, Jews are all murderers.” He eventually had to leave the school.
A Jewish student being harassed, beaten, and insulted in the capital of Germany? This should be a major scandal, right?
Well, no. It has gotten some press coverage, as the Welt article shows, but not very much. Does this mean Germany really doesn't care about violent anti-Semitism?
Well, yes and no. To explain the response, we need, as always, to ask the question: Who is engaging in anti-Semitism? The Welt article, of course, never tells us. In that story, the young man is being attacked "by other children" or "by his classmates". Male? Female? Older? Younger? Ethnicity? Nope, none of that, thank you very much. All the Welt thinks you need to know about these violent anti-Semites are that they are "students".
They're the Students Without Qualities. Fans of the American sitcom Community might be reminded of the Greendale Community College mascot, the "Greendale Human Being":
Only at the end of the story do we get a brief hint of who might be behind these attacks: "According to Tagesspiegel, 75% of the students at the school do not speak German as a native language, and many come from Turkish and Arab families."
Let's now turn to Tagesspiegel, the Berlin newspaper that first reported on the case in German. There, we come gingerly closer to the truth. After indeed reporting that there were many Turkish and Arab students at the school, the Tagesspiegelstates (g) laconically, almost in passing: "According to the school's principal Uwe Runkel, this is also true of the criminal suspects [in the anti-Semitic harassment]." Blink and you might miss it, but here we finally have the truth: the anti-Semitic harassment did not come from Germans.
Fortunately, in this case we don't have to rely on the cloudy abstractions of the German press. The incident was originally reported in the English-language Jewish Chronicle:
Emma, who is British, said her son, Phillip (not their real names), 14, had been moved to an English language high school in Berlin .
Emma said she and her husband had originally been attracted to the school, Friedenauer Gemeinschaftsschule, which has a large proportion of Arab and Turkish children, by the fact it was so multicultural.
She said it had never occurred to Phillip to deny his Jewishness, and one day he mentioned it to his classmates.
One of them responded: “Listen, you are a cool dude but I can’t be friends with you, Jews are all murderers.”
The verbal abuse escalated to physical violence, until earlier this month, “when he was attacked and almost strangled, and the guy pulled a toy gun on him that looked like a real gun. And the whole crowd of kids laughed. He was completely shaken.”
“It was terrible,” Phillip said, “but I didn’t have time to think what’s happening at the time. Now when I look back, I think, oh my God.”
Emma said she decided then and there that “I am not sending him to this school any more, and that was it.”
The case underscores concerns that educators and parents have expressed for years in Berlin about the antisemitic harassment of Jewish pupils, particularly by Arab and Turkish children.
Berlin’s Jewish high school receives between six and 10 applications a year from parents who want to move their children away from schools where they are being subjected to antisemitic harassment, said Aaron Eckstaedt, principal of the Moses Mendelssohn Jewish High School in Berlin.
The requests generally are “in reaction to antisemitic statements coming overwhelmingly from Arabic or Turkish classmates,” he said, adding that “in most cases, the families complain about the relative lack of response from state schools” to the problem.
Being the target of anti-Semitic attacks seems to motivate people to actually want to know who's behind them. Indeed, the sub-head of the article reads: "Case illustrates long history of antisemitic harassment of Jewish pupils, particularly by Arab and Turkish children."
Now, to be fair, the principal has expressed dismay and regret:
When contacted by the JC, [the principal] Runkel said he regretted the antisemitic bullying of Phillip. He added he had hoped to help the student feel safe and also to make perpetrators face the consequences of their actions, but that obviously “for the parents it wasn’t fast enough”.
He said “a general approach in the school to antisemitism” was clearly needed, and was being developed.
Ahh, the "general approach" -- the Gesamtkonzept! You can't do anything in Germany without one. I am sure the principal actually is disgusted by a Jewish student being insulted and "almost strangled" at his school. But things get quite awkward when the anti-Semites in Germany turn out to be, er, not so German after all.
Although Turks and Arabs are allowed to point out the fact that anti-Semitism is endemic in Turkey and the Arab world, ethnic Germans can't really come right out and do so, for fear of being charged with stoking prejudice against Germans of Turkish and Arab descent. And there are a lot more of those than there are Jewish residents of Germany.
It's delicate, you see. Very, very delicate.
The problem with all this delicacy, though, is that sometimes people need clear information: "Emma said she and her husband had originally been attracted to the school, Friedenauer Gemeinschaftsschule, which has a large proportion of Arab and Turkish children, by the fact it was so multicultural." Apparently, nobody informed these folks that sending a Jewish child to a German school with a large Muslim population might not be such a good idea.
Euphemisms can be dangerous.
In any case, Phillip got the message: "As for Phillip, he would not necessarily recommend that other children reveal their Jewishness to classmates unless it’s 'a nice, quiet school.'"
I've pointed out repeatedly on this blog that I suspect a large portion of the young males who've poured into German in the past few years are not right in the head. Say you live in a place like Kosovo or Tunisia or Afghanistan and you're stuck with a young male child who is borderline mentally retarded or is displaying bizarre and erratic behavior which could affect your family's honor.
He's not exactly marriage material, since your whole extended family (which is where you'd first look for a wife) knows about his problems. You hear that if he can somehow make it to Germany and merely says the word 'asylum' in any language, he will be furnished with an apartment, pocket money, food and clothing, and free education and medical care. He might even be able eventually to get some sort of a job and begin sending money back. And in the best-case scenario, he might be able to import other family members in the name of family reunification. Germans have been incredibly generous with that.
So you scrape up $5000 to bribe a smuggler, and send him off. You now have one less mouth to feed, one less ticking time bomb which could erupt into family shame, criminal liability or litigation at any moment. Plus, you may even get financial remittances from him if everything works out.
As a result, there are now thousands, if not tens of thousands, of reports of very bizarre behavior in Germany coming from young males freshly arrived from the Balkans, Africa, and the Middle East. Probably the least harmful and disturbing signs of mental instability are the countless cases of public masturbation (see above link, if you really must).
But there are other incidents immeasurably more terrifying and bizarre, such as the Syrian asylum seeker who threw his three young children out of a first-floor window onto a concrete parking lot, injuring the two eldest children severely. In November 2016, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison (g) on three counts of attempted murder. Of his own children.
And now comes a 36-year-old Kosovar man, Fatmir H., who yesterday went on an axe-mutilation rampage in the Düsseldorf central train station:
The suspect in an ax attack at a German train station that wounded nine people on Thursday was a mentally disturbed asylum seeker from Kosovo, officials said Friday. They said there was no indication of any political or religious motive for the attack.
German police swarmed the main train station in Düsseldorf around 9 p.m. Thursday after a man on a commuter train began striking exiting passengers with an ax, officials said.
The suspect in the attack was identified in the German news outlet Spiegel Online as 36-year-old Fatmir H. On Friday, police found a doctor’s diagnosis inside the suspect’s apartment, some 20 miles away in the city of Wuppertal, as well as medication indicating that he was paranoid schizophrenic, according to Dietmar Kneib of the North Rhine-Westphalia state criminal police.
The suspect was being treated at a hospital for severe injuries suffered after he jumped off a bridge to try to escape police. Of the nine victims, four suffered serious injuries, though none were in critical condition, officials said....
The suspect, however, was not part of the wave of more than 1 million migrants who have arrived in Germany over the past two years, officials said. He arrived in 2009 and was granted a residence permit on humanitarian grounds
The attack occurred as a commuter train pulled into Düsseldorf central station shortly before 9 p.m. local time. The attacker suddenly started to hit passengers with an ax from behind, officials said. One of the passengers managed to push the attacker off the train, and the conductor closed the door, preventing potential further injuries, officials said....
According to police, the attacker tried to get back into the train by beating and kicking the door. When he was unsuccessful, he began walking up and down the platform and downstairs into the main hall. When police officers approached, the man fled across the tracks. The chase ended with the attacker jumping off a nearby bridge.
The brother of the 36-year-old suspect, who knew about his mental issues and knew that he had recently bought an ax, had reported him missing the day of the attack, authorities said. Police said Friday that they have not been able to question the suspect yet because of his injuries.
Among the victims was a 13-year-old girl who suffered severe arm injuries and two Italian tourists. Besides the girl, the other victims are between 30 and 50 years of age, officials said.
More than 500 officers were involved in the police operation, including special forces.
So Fatmir H. enters Germany in 2009. He is put under treatment for schizophrenia. All of this is happening at the German taxpayer's expense, of course -- I rather doubt Fatmir ever had a legitimate job. The authorities give him a residency permit based on humanitarian grounds, presumably because it would be 'inhumane' to send him back to Kosovo since he has a mental illness.
Of course, this raises many more questions: Does Kosovo have a healthcare system? Why yes, it does. It also has mental hospitals. Certainly not ones that meet German standards, but then again, that's true of most countries. Does every mentally ill person in the world have a right to transfer to Germany, so that they can receive care which meets German standards?
If it is inhumane for Kosovars to be treated in Kosovar mental hospitals, doesn't Germany therefore have an obligation to ship every mentally ill person in Kosovo to Germany to receive better care? Where is the justice in permitting one mentally ill Kosovar to 'escape' to Germany and receive Germany-level care, while leaving all the others to their fate? The only distinction is that this guy happened to make it to Germany. That's why he gets the advantage. Is that rational or just?
I'm sure the judge or bureaucrat who allowed Fatmir to stay in Germany thought they were doing the humane thing by bestowing a priceless benefit on Fatmir (a residency permit, something thousands of educated, skilled, law-abiding Kosovars and Albanians crave) simply because Fatmir happened to have illegally entered Germany. But these individual decisions add up to a deeply irrational policy.
And a few more questions: How would you propose to explain to an ordinary German why it's a good idea to let mentally unstable, potentially dangerous people relocate to Germany to live the rest of their lives on welfare?
How does this policy help the thousands of mentally ill Kosovars who can't smuggle themselves into Germany illegally?
Why should Germans add to the risk and expense created by their own indigenous mentally ill people by needlessly importing yet more mentally ill people from other countries?
What benefit does Germany derive from a policy which lets people like Fatmir stay in Germany, costing the German taxpayer millions of Euros, until they explode into violence and mutilate random strangers?
Oh, and in other news, the German government just announced that for the second year in a row, expenses for caring for migrants were higher than expected, over €20 billion (g) for the year 2016. Regional studies show that only about 5% of the migrants (most of whom are young, healthy males) have found any kind of job (g). And the Green Party and Left Party have used their representation in the German government to block the designation (g) of the Maghreb states as 'safe countries of origin', making it more difficult to deport the tens of thousands of young male criminals who recently flooded into Germany from these peaceful, stable countries.
Germany's immigration policy is not just incoherent, it's masochistic.
The Sächsische Zeitung reports (g) on the nearly-completed renovation of a former military barracks in Döbeln, Germany which has serve for 20 years as a migrant shelter. The walls were painted, fresh linoleum installed, kitchens and bathrooms installed or renovated, and 'culturally appropriate' squat toilets put in place:
The exterior gardening and landscape work is still ongoing. The article doesn't list the total cost, but it surely runs well into the millions. According to the project manager, the entire interior of the building was replaced 'down to the bare walls' to make room for 210 families.
The only problem, though, is that families were only a minority of the migrants streaming across the German border. Therefore, the first inhabitants to move into the shelter are 60 people: "only men, and one child. The asylum-seekers come primarily from Iraq, India, Pakistan, and Morocco."
Raising the question, once again: What are people from Iraq, India, Pakistan, and Morocco still doing here?
Let's just hope the shelter's new inhabitants don't decide to burn the place down. That's been happening an awful lot in Germany lately.
The reaction to Donald Trump's comments on Sweden among American liberals has...developed.
At first, there were the reflexive, snarky "What? Unrest in idyllic Sweden, land of luxury prisons, Pippi Longstocking, and the wholesome musical stylings of Abba? What's Trump been smoking?" tweets. And then, just a few days later, there actually was unrest in an immigrant Stockholm suburb, apparently triggered by police attempts to arrest a drug dealer. As happens in immigrant ghettos all over Europe (actually, all ghettos everywhere), a social media flash-mob of young men appeared out of nowhere to interfere with the police action. Shots were fired.
Many liberals then dropped the snark, perhaps because they got the sense there may be something more to this issue than they first thought, and they didn't want to look too nonchalant.
The issue used to be so clear-cut: Because right-wing news outlets highlight Sweden's immigration problems, they must not exist. Yet, upon closer inspection, they apparently do. As Orwell once said, 'some things are true, even though the Daily Telegraph says they are true.'
And here comes James Traub, editor of Foreign Policy, to (ever so gently) notify American liberals that the reality in Sweden is, indeed, a bit more complex than they might assume:
The Swedes have a word, “asikstkorridor,” which translates as “opinion corridor” and describes all those things considered incorrect not only to say but to think. One of those taboos, as I discovered when I visited Sweden at the height of the refugee crisis in the fall of 2015, is the idea that refugees from conservative Muslim countries, especially poorly educated young men, may not integrate into Swedish society as well as, say, relatively secular and prosperous Iranians or Bosnians.
President Trump’s offhand comment last month about how dreadful things are in Sweden provoked an outraged reaction from Swedes rightly proud of the country’s longstanding commitment to accepting refugees from all over the world. The incident of violence the president appeared to be describing hadn’t happened. But then it did, in the form of a riot in a suburb of Stockholm heavily populated by immigrants. That’s where the opinion corridor can make you look foolish.
It is too early to know whether the net effect of the 2015 wave of largely Middle Eastern refugees on Sweden, Germany and other European countries will be positive or negative. Certainly Mr. Trump’s habit of blaming refugees for terrorism, used to justify his signing a revised executive order banning travel from six predominantly Muslim countries on Monday, flies in the face of the evidence. But so does the reflexive claim that the refugees will fit easily into European society or expand the labor force. Our liberal opinion corridor thus offers the perfect pretext for cynics and xenophobes to parade their prejudice as truth-telling courage.
The answer to xenophobia cannot be xenophilia. For mobile, prosperous, worldly people, the cherishing of diversity is a cardinal virtue; we dote on difference. That’s simply not true for many people who can’t choose where to live, or who prefer the familiar coordinates of their life. That was the bitter lesson that British cosmopolites learned from Brexit. If the answer is to insist that the arrival of vast numbers of new people on our doorstep is an unmixed blessing, and that those who believe otherwise are Neanderthals, then we leave the field wide open to Donald J. Trump and Geert Wilders and Marine Le Pen.
I believe that liberalism can be preserved only if liberals learn to distinguish between what must be protected at all cost and what must be, not discarded, but reconsidered — the unquestioned virtue of cosmopolitanism, for example, or of free trade. If we are to honor the human rights of refugees, we must find a way to do so that commands political majorities. Otherwise we’ll keep electing leaders who couldn’t care less about those rights.
"It is too early to know whether the net effect of the 2015 wave of largely Middle Eastern refugees on Sweden, Germany and other European countries will be positive or negative."
Trump's comments about Sweden have sparked interest in the USA on the subject of just how well Sweden's immigrants are doing. This is unfortunate, since anything related to Trump immediately becomes mired in controversy. But a number of American news outlets, after looking into the matter, have determined, ever so cautiously, that Trump sort of has a point.
The New York Times recently spoke to "Henrik Emilsson, an international immigration researcher at Malmö University." In Germany, "immigration researcher" has basically become shorthand for "open-borders lobbyist". The battle lines are hardened, and many German "immigration researchers" are still unwilling to concede even a single downside to mass low-skilled immigration to Germany, and usually end up arguing some form of "mass immigration into Europe is inevitable, so people who live here might as well just get used to it".
Perhaps because Emilsson teaches in Malmö, which is 40% immigrant, he strikes a somewhat more reality-based tone:
Is there any evidence that recent immigrants are having an impact on crime in Sweden?
Not the recent ones. There is a huge debate in Sweden about immigration and crime. And we know from earlier statistics that the foreign-born commit three times as many crimes on average as native-borns. But these riots and crimes in the suburbs, they are related mostly to drugs and gangs. Those people are born and raised in Sweden. It has nothing to do with the recent immigration. It’s the children of migrants and maybe people that came when they were young.
There has been this issue of sexual harassment. And there is some evidence that the new refugees are somewhat involved in this. But there are no official statistics on it.
What about terrorism?
Not particularly, because the people for example who have gone and fought for ISIS, they are also quite established — they are Swedes that have grown up here.
Have recent immigrants done more poorly in Sweden than people who came in previous decades?
It depends on how far back you look. For example in the civil war in Yugoslavia in the early 90s, it was a catastrophe when they arrived. There was the same panic. It took a long time for them to find jobs. But if you look at that group now, they are very successful. They have like 70 percent employment rate.
We don’t have these low-skilled jobs, so it takes a lot of training and education, and patience. Since 2006, the migrants have been more from failed states like Afghanistan and Somalia and Iraq, so they probably will have a more difficult situation. So in the short term it will be a big cost for society. In the long term maybe if they end up doing as well as Bosnians, it will be an asset.
Do you think that maybe the Bosnian — or, broadly speaking, the Yugoslav — experience is different because they are also European?
It’s mostly that often they were professionals. They didn’t necessarily have very high education, but they were specialists in different crafts. But they were mostly also Muslim, so it has less to do with religion, I think.
Stripped of all the hedging and padding, Emilsson basically says (1) Yeah, foreigners actually do have higher crime rates and are at least part of the reason for the increase in sexual assault; (2) the main problem is with second or third-generation immigrants; (3) it was really hard integrating the people from the former Yugoslavia; and (4) these newcomers are going to be a whole lot harder to integrate than the Yugos, since they have no skills, and (4) this is all going to cost Sweden a lot of money and effort.
The clear implication is this: a disproportionate amount of crime in Sweden is committed by the sons and daughters of former immigrants, and we just imported a huge new wave of immigrants who are likely to do even worse in Swedish society than the last wave. And they'll soon start having sons and daughters, too.
Emilsson then praises Sweden's integration efforts, saying they've done better than Denmark or Norway. But even though he wants to convey an overall positive impression, his interview does pretty much the opposite
A point I've made here a few times is that we can't really judge the effect of the huge migrant influx of 2015-2016 (which is still ongoing on a smaller scale) until all those migrants enter the workforce in Germany and begin competing against Germans.
Of course, they won't be competing against managers, engineers, or journalists. If they find jobs at all, they'll be dumped into the low-skill section of the German economy, to compete against the million of German workers who only have a low-level high school education or vocational training.
The results will be ugly. We know this because this has already been happening in the US for years now. Economists are generally right-wing libertarian open-borders types, and argue in favor of immigration based on what they claim are the positive overall effects on the economy. They rarely pay attention to the effects immigration has on working-class types, because, you know, who cares about those people?
Harvard economist George Borjas, however, has studied this aspect of immigration -- mass immigration by low-skilled workers -- in the US for decades. He describes the results for American workers and the American economy:
Over the past 30 years, a large fraction of immigrants, nearly a third, were high school dropouts, so the incumbent low-skill work force formed the core group of Americans who paid the price for the influx of millions of workers. Their wages fell as much as 6 percent. Those low-skill Americans included many native-born blacks and Hispanics, as well as earlier waves of immigrants.
But somebody’s lower wage is somebody else’s higher profit. The increase in the profitability of many employers enlarged the economic pie accruing to the entire native population by about $50 billion. So, as proponents of more immigration point out, immigration can increase the aggregate wealth of Americans. But they don’t point out the trade-off involved: Workers in jobs sought by immigrants lose out.
They also don’t point out that low-skill immigration has a side effect that reduces that $50 billion increase in wealth. The National Academy of Sciences recently estimated the impact of immigration on government budgets. On a year-to-year basis, immigrant families, mostly because of their relatively low incomes and higher frequency of participating in government programs like subsidized health care, are a fiscal burden. A comparison of taxes paid and government spending on these families showed that immigrants created an annual fiscal shortfall of $43 billion to $299 billion.
Even the most conservative estimate of the fiscal shortfall wipes out much of the $50 billion increase in native wealth. Remarkably, the size of the native economic pie did not change much after immigration increased the number of workers by more than 15 percent. But the split of the pie certainly changed, giving far less to workers and much more to employers.
The immigration debate will also have to address the long-term impact on American society, raising the freighted issue of immigrant assimilation. In recent decades, there has been a noticeable slowdown in the rate at which the economic status of immigrants improves over time. In the 1970s, the typical immigrant could expect a substantial improvement relative to natives over his or her lifetime. Today, the economic progress of the typical immigrant is much more stagnant.
Part of the slowdown is related to the growth of ethnic enclaves. New immigrants who find few ethnic compatriots get value from acquiring skills that allow more social and economic exchanges, such as becoming proficient in English. But new immigrants who find a large and welcoming community of their countrymen have less need to acquire those skills; they already have a large audience that values whatever they brought with them. Put bluntly, mass migration discourages assimilation.
The trade-offs become even more difficult when we think about the long-term integration of the children and grandchildren of today’s immigrants. Many look back at the melting pot in 20th-century America and assume that history will repeat itself. That’s probably wishful thinking. That melting pot operated in a particular economic, social and political context, and it is doubtful that those conditions can be reproduced today.
Europe is already confronting the difficulties produced by the presence of unassimilated populations. If nothing else, the European experience shows that there is no universal law that guarantees integration even after a few generations. We, too, will need to confront the trade-off between short-term economic gains and the long-term costs of a large, unassimilated minority.
Identifying the trade-offs is only a first step toward a more sensible immigration policy. We also need some general principles, combining common sense and compassion.
First and foremost, we must reduce illegal immigration. It has had a corrosive impact, paralyzing discussion on all aspects of immigration reform. A wall along the Mexican border may signal that we are getting serious, but many undocumented immigrants enter the country legally and then overstay their visas. A national electronic system (such as E-Verify) mandating that employers certify new hires, along with fines and criminal penalties for lawbreaking businesses, might go a long way toward stemming the flow.
But what about the 11-million-plus undocumented immigrants already here? A vast majority have led peaceful lives and established deep roots in our communities. Their sudden deportation would not represent the compassionate America that many of us envision.
Perhaps it’s time for some benign neglect. Many will eventually qualify for visas because they have married American citizens or have native-born children. Rather than fight over a politically impossible amnesty, we could accelerate the granting of family-preference visas to that population.
We will also need to decide how many immigrants to admit. Economists seldom confess their ignorance, but we truly have no clue about what that number should be. About one million legal immigrants a year entered the country in the past two decades. The political climate suggests that many Americans view that number as too high. History shows that when voters get fed up with immigration, there is no reluctance to cut off the flow altogether. Back in the 1990s, Barbara Jordan’s immigration commission recommended an annual target of about 550,000 immigrants. Such a cut would be significant, but it may be preferable to the alternative, which, in this political climate, could mean shutting off the flow.
Finally, we need to choose between highly skilled and less-skilled applicants. High-skill immigrants, who pay higher taxes and receive fewer services and can potentially expand the frontier of knowledge, are more profitable for us. But giving an opportunity to the huddled masses is part of what makes our country exceptional.
Many of my colleagues in the academic community — and many of the elite opinion-makers in the news media — recoil when they hear that immigration should serve the interests of Americans. Their reaction is to label such thinking as racist and xenophobic, and to marginalize anyone who agrees.
But those accusations of racism reflect their effort to avoid a serious discussion of the trade-offs. The coming debate would be far more honest and politically transparent if we demanded a simple answer from those who disagree with “America First” proposals: Who are you rooting for?
So, mass low-skilled immigration increases the welfare rolls, drives down the wages of the most vulnerable workers, increases the gap between rich and poor, and fuels social tension. Why does anyone think this is a progressive policy?
Over at the Washington Post, an American and a Swedish professor team up to write an op-ed entitled "No, Sweden isn't Hiding and Immigrant Crime Problem, This is the Real Story". They run through the litany of excuses and explanations (expanded definition of rape laws, a culture which encourages crime reporting) without providing any relevant citations or links which I can see.
But the most remarkable claim is that Sweden provides its citizens with much more information about crime than American does because of Sweden's ideal open-information laws, which go back to the 18th century. Let me provide a few quotations -- not in the original order:
[T]he government of Sweden is a model in making data accessible and actions transparent...
Sweden’s information landscape [is] a model for other countries to emulate...
Citizens in Sweden can use this information to hold their government accountable...
...Swedish police do not collect information on the ethnicity, religion, or race of perpetrators or victims of crime, which means there’s no evidence for claims that Muslim immigrants are committing crimes in record numbers.
Can you tell which of the four statements is not like the others?
Donald Trump seemed to suggest that some terrorist incident happened in Sweden a few days ago. For this he was justly mocked. Then it turned out he was merely commenting on a news report he had seen on Fox about crime in Sweden in general. This is the report he was referring to:
As with most Fox reporting, this is a mixture of exaggeration, anecdote, and legitimate information. Like many reports you'll see anywhere, for that matter. American liberals have jumped quickly to Sweden's defense. But as Kevin Drum points out, some of the defenses are bogus:
You look at what's happening in Germany, you look at what's happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this. Sweden. They took in large numbers. They're having problems like they never thought possible.
Nothing happened in Sweden last night, which has prompted lots of IKEA and ABBA joke memes. However, Zack Beauchamp thinks Trump was probably referring not to something that happened recently, but to the alleged "rape epidemic" in Sweden ever since they started taking in lots of Middle Eastern immigrants. This is apparently a staple of the Breitbart-o-sphere. Unfortunately, Beauchamp then says this:
The problem, though, is that this “rape epidemic” is as fake as the Bowling Green Massacre.
Canadian reporter Doug Saunders rigorously investigated the narrative, and concluded that it “falls apart as soon as you speak to anyone knowledgeable in Sweden.” Official Swedish statistics do indeed show a high rate of rape, but that’s because Swedish law has an extremely expansive definition of what qualifies as rape under the law.
....These panics about immigration, instead, reflect a long history of sexual panics in the West about non-white immigrants. Etc.
Whenever I see writing that carefully avoids providing comparative statistics, my BS detector goes off. Sure enough, Saunders didn't "rigorously" do anything. He linked to an old report that tallies crime rates for the years 1997-2001—which is all but useless in 20171—and then glided quickly past his eventual acknowledgment that the foreign-born have "a higher rate of criminal charges than the native-born." If you're interested, here's the actual data from the report (tables 3 and 6 in the appendix):
These are very big differences. Now, Saunders also links to a study which suggests that "half to three-quarters" of the difference can be accounted for by socioeconomic status. Maybe so. But crime is crime. If you're the victim of assault from a Syrian refugee, you don't really care if it happened because he's Syrian or because he's poorer than average.
There's plenty more to legitimately say about this. If poverty really is a causal factor, maybe it means Sweden needs to be more generous. Other statistics suggest that the children of the foreign-born have much lower crime rates than their parents. And as Beauchamp says, "rape" in Sweden is defined pretty broadly.
Still, if we bring up this subject at all, we have to present the statistics fairly. In the US, immigrants seem to commit crimes at lower rates than native-born Americans. But Sweden is a different country, and the statistics suggest that foreign-born immigrants do indeed commit crimes there in much larger numbers than native Swedes.
UPDATE: I don't know just how interested everyone is in the minutiae of Swedish crime, but here's the crime rate over the past decade:
Some are up, some are down, but the overall trend appears fairly flat despite the large rise in immigrants over this period. On the other hand, preliminary figuresshow that crime against persons was up 7 percent in 2016, including a 13 percent increase in reported rapes and a 14 percent increase in child abuse.
1Apparently this is the most recent report that examines crime rates by area of origin. I don't know why Sweden hasn't done anything more recent.
A few observations:
"These are very big differences."
"If poverty really is a causal factor, maybe it means Sweden needs to be more generous." Sweden already provides some of the most generous social welfare benefits in the entire world, including to asylum-seekers.
"And as Beauchamp says, 'rape' in Sweden is defined pretty broadly." No, it's not:
"I think it is a bit of a myth that the Sexual Crimes Act is so much tougher than in most other countries. The truth is that it is not that different,” Mårten Schultz tells IPS. In 2005, the definition of rape in the Swedish Sexual Crimes Act was broadened to include, for instance, having sex with someone who is asleep, or someone who could be considered to be in a “helpless state”. This applies to situations when someone would not be capable of saying “no”. A typical situation where the law could be applied is if someone who is drunk at a party falls asleep only to wake up and realize that someone is having sex with them. That would constitute rape according to the 2005 law, and not “sexual abuse”, which was the case before the law was amended. In this respect the new law did not criminalize behaviour that previously had been legal, but rather broadened the definition of what constitutes rape to include a larger number of sexual crimes."
The second graph in Drum's post shows steady crime rates. As I've pointed out before, this is what you would expect in a country with an aging native population committing fewer crimes, mixed in with a burgeoning immigrant population committing far more crimes per capita than native residents. If Sweden's immigration policies were different, crime rates would be on a steady downward trajectory.
"Apparently this is the most recent report that examines crime rates by area of origin. I don't know why Sweden hasn't done anything more recent." I do.
And now, the tiresome but necessary caveats.
1. Does this mean all immigrants are criminals? No, the majority of immigrants in Sweden have never and will never commit a violent crime. The statistics show there is a higher crime rate among immigrants. That is all. If the rate of sexual assaults per year is 2 per 100,000 for native Swedes, but 20 per 100,000 for immigrants, this means it is indeed 100% accurate to say that the rate of sexual assault by immigrants is 10 times as high as that of Swedes. However, it is still extremely rare even among immigrants.
2. Does all of this mean that Sweden is collapsing? No, Sweden has imported a raft of complex social problems, but is not going to drown in a sea of flames.
3. Do I think Sweden should stop allowing immigration? No, I think Sweden should stop allowing immigration of too many of the wrong kind of people. Many fewer semi-literate unaccompanied young males with no job skills. Many more women and children refugees (for humanitarian reasons) and well-educated people (for reasons of enlightened self-interest. It's really not that hard, it's how most countries manage things.
You wouldn't know it from watching Tagesschau or reading the German mainstream press, but there's at least one thing Europeans and Trump agree on:
A majority of Europeans want a ban on immigration from Muslim-majority countries, a poll has revealed.
An average of 55 per cent of people across the 10 European countries surveyed wanted to stop all future immigration from mainly Muslim countries.
The Chatham House study, conducted before US President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning immigration to the US from seven predominantly Muslim countries, found majorities in all but two of the ten states opposed immigration from mainly Muslim countries.
Only 20 per cent disagreed, while 25 per cent said they did not know.
A ban was supported by 71 per cent of people in Poland, 65 per cent in Austria, 53 per cent in Germany and 51 per cent in Italy.
In the UK, 47 per cent supported a ban.
In no country did more than 32 per cent disagree with a ban.
I wonder how much coverage this poll will get in Germany. My prediction: almost none, except in "certain" press outlets (you know who you are).