Germany: After New Year’s Eve assaults, the deluge…of stupidity and racism

More raw footage of the New Year’s Eve goings-on in Köln, Germany. A voice off-camera asks the guy recording it if he’s ever seen anything like this before, and he replies that he can’t say; he’s waiting to see what 2016 brings (at around the 1:20 mark). You can clearly see a lot of unsafe handling of fireworks in a very crowded public square, and explosions going off perilously close to the glass front of the train station, as well as the face of the landmark cathedral across the way. You can also see that the crowd is mostly male, and very loose-knit, in groups of maybe half a dozen or so just milling about. (Seems that young men have a higher tolerance for this kind of jackassery than just about anyone else.) At around the 3:30 mark, an off-camera voice says “Schweinerei in Köln” — piggery in Köln. Meanwhile, a police cruiser slowly circles but doesn’t pick anyone up. More fireworks, more shots of cop cars and paddywagons; then, around the 4:45 mark, a brief snatch of a male voice speaking Arabic. It’s followed by a blurry shot of some little kids lighting Roman candles. Lots more bangs, booms and flashes follow; it’s hard to make out what’s going on. Most of the people, in the foreground anyway, appear to be moving. In the back, some knots of others — mostly male — are just hanging around. Around the 6:30 mark, the camera zooms in on a backpack lying unattended on the ground while some police in bulletproof vests (but with helmets off) cluster nearby, then inspect it, possibly for explosives. When a paddywagon starts circling the area, some of the revelers start walking — slowly. But in the background, you can still hear lots of fireworks going off. One thing you can’t see is anyone groping anyone, let alone who’s doing it to whom. Maybe the angle was all wrong? In any case, police are using videos like these to try to identify possible perpetrators, and are asking for the public’s help.

Meanwhile, what’s being done to prevent further criminality and brawling sounds neither adequate nor reassuring, particularly since it manages to come off both sexist AND racist:

With a catalogue of rules of conduct and a new rule that even major celebrations without an official organizer must have security measures in place, the police and the mayor of Köln, Henriette Reker, want to prevent assaults like those of New Year’s Eve from becoming regular occurrences.

“It is important to prevent such cases from ever happening again,” said Reker on Tuesday after a crisis meeting with investigators. “In the meantime, we have heard that it’s happened in other cities, too. Naturally, that doesn’t comfort us,” Reker added. Among others, Hamburg has had to deal with similar excesses.

In future, large events must be regarded differently, the crisis committee said. For that, they want to take preventive measures that are to take effect in the coming Carnival festivities. Among them, “rules of conduct” for young women and girls, “so that such things don’t happen to them,” says Reker, referring to the sexual assaults on New Year’s Eve. There is already a code of conduct, which will now be published and soon downloadable online.

Among the rules will be to keep an arm’s length between oneself and strangers, to stay in one’s own group, and not become separated from it, to ask for help from bystanders in case of emergency, and to become involved as a witness, or to inform police.

There will also be rules for carnival-goers “from other cultural circles”, “so that no one will get mixed up as to what is festive behavior in Köln and what has nothing to do with openness, in particular sexual openness.” Whether such incidents can be ruled out through such regulations is a big question, however, they said.

Translation mine.

“From other cultural circles” has got to be the cutest no-I’m-not-racist-but-really-I-am bit of euphemistic sophistry I’ve seen in a while. And how about that arm’s-length rule for the ladies? Yeah, I’m sure they’ll have no trouble enforcing that! After all, hasn’t it been our feminine duty to police the sexual (mis)conduct of males since forever? And hey, it saves the cops having to step in and uncomfortably set aside their own sexist training and upbringing, too!

The article goes on to note that video surveillance is also on the agenda, which I guess is what’s meant by that vague talk about a “security concept” for unorganized large-scale celebrations. On the surface of it, that doesn’t sound so bad. Look for it to be promptly abused when legitimate and peaceful protests go down, though.

Meanwhile, no word from the police chief, Wolfgang Albers, as to the identities of any of the perpetrators. My hunch is that they can’t possibly ALL be Middle Eastern, or refugees. White men, and Germans are no exception, are every bit as capable of violence and opportunism when there’s a big, disorderly crowd to give them cover. Throw a little alcohol and some ill-aimed fireworks into the mix, and you’ve got sexual terror just waiting to happen. The timidity of the police in the face of it all has got to be pretty damn emboldening, too.

Meanwhile, a German blogger has a useful reality check for media and authorities alike:

1. When, in Köln, of a group of around a thousand men, about 100 men commit crimes, the correct headline is not “Köln: Thousand men attack women”.

2. When the police tell the local prosecutor, “All signs to date clearly indicate repeat offenders known to police, and they have nothing to do with refugees”, then the word “refugees” also doesn’t belong in a correct headline.

3. Really it doesn’t.

4. Even when headlines in which such words as “a thousand men”, “refugees”, and “molested women” come up promise to get a lot of clicks.

5. Journalism has nothing to do with clicks, but with facts.

6. Pro-tip: Facts are whatever is firmly proven.

7. There is no correct headline with false facts.

8. So cut that out.

9. We don’t like to say it, but wrong headlines like those of the 1000 refugees, who molested the women of Köln, make us not very inclined to care about rescuing journalism.

10. Once spread, headlines can’t be unwritten. The impression that 1000 refugees in Köln molested women is what remains. Forever, no matter how many explanatory articles are being pushed after it now.

11. Can’t you just hear PEGIDA, the AFD, and so on and so forth, laughing at how nicely the lie-press does their business for them?

12. We Princess Reporters, the last bastion against the hordes of Darkness, will be spending today sighing.

Translation, again, mine.

So yeah. Sensationalism in the media, as well as incompetence and stupidity on the part of authorities? Not a good look. And fascists like those of the AFD and PEGIDA are the only ones whom it will benefit in the long run.

Also, the antifascist site, Netz Gegen Nazis, has its own theory as to the criminal motivations of these “repeat offenders known to police” — and it happens to coincide with something the police also said (which I translated in my previous entry):

On New Year’s Eve in Köln, according to current reports, it came to various sexual assaults with the goal of robbing women, who were on their way around the main train station. In the first press reports there was talk about 1,000 men, some of whom perpetrated crimes — but it was just a big New Year’s Eve bash in front of the Cathedral. In the meantime, the police are looking at several hundred suspects, who were acting on motives of thievery and went about it in a targeted and strategic manner, as the police reported:

“The victims happened to be around the Cathedral during the New Year’s celebrations, and in front of the train station, when several men surrounded them. The size of the perpetrator-groups varied from two or three to up to 20 persons, of North African appearance according to eyewitnesses. The suspects used targeted groping of women to distract from the actual crime: Theft of valuables. Particularly wallets and mobile phones were taken. In some cases the men just kept going and touched women, most of them coming in from elsewhere, inappropriately.”

This criminal method is called the “dancing up trick”.

Unlike what early press reports suggested, it has nothing to do with “disinhibited” men, or refugees, or Muslims, but to repeat offenders, known to police, with clear criminal motivations that also extended to massive sexual assaults. After New Year’s Eve, around 30 crimes had been denounced. Meanwhile, there are now around 90, among them 15 sexual assaults and one rape.

Again, translation mine.

A few paragraphs later, they go on to cite a pertinent tweet by Anne Roth: “People who only care about protecting women when we get attacked by foreigners are racists. Whether in Köln or Kabul.”

Exactly. You cannot fight sexism with racism. Both tend to crop up in the same people, and both stem from the same slimy place. Both have to be tackled together, or nothing of worth gets accomplished. Bear that in mind the next time you hear right-wing bullshit about refugees, okay?

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