On New Year’s Eve, something happened that I don’t really want to talk about. It happened not to me but to about 100 women in Cologne and other German cities, some of whom probably didn’t want to talk about it either; it often takes a while for victims to report sexual assault to the police.
But that’s not quite why it has taken nearly a week to piece together the story of a spate of muggings and sexual attacks carried out that night by seemingly organised gangs of young men. Many Germans are asking why politicians, police and broadcasters seem so reluctant to discuss what happened under cover of the crowds (the state broadcaster EZF apologised for not covering the attacks until Tuesday), and whether it’s because the attackers are widely described as looking Arab or north African. Which is why, of course, liberals like me are reluctant to talk about it.
For xenophobes and racists, or merely anyone opposed to immigration, this story is Christmas come a week late. Rightwing politicians are salivating at this juicy new angle of attack on Angela Merkel’s “open door” refugee policy – although German authorities say the perpetrators’ origins are unknown and there’s no evidence linking recently arrived refugees to the attacks. Just watch the misogynistic dinosaurs defending young women’s right to party, now that it’s a legitimate way of attacking immigration. How long before Nigel Farage, recently reduced to grabbing headlines by suggesting someone might have murderously sabotaged his Volvo, takes up a story that seems tailor-made for the year of a likely EU referendum?
British newspapers were yesterday warning of an immigrant “demographic timebomb”, on the grounds that migrants are disproportionately young men and young men are disproportionately responsible for violent crime.
You’d never know that until now the demographic timebomb everyone feared was an ageing Europe, devoid of fit young working people to fund their pensions.
So no wonder liberals would do anything to avoid fanning these flames, since we see in all this righteous indignation a blatantly racist old trope about barbarians at the gates. We bend over backwards to report it responsibly, to moderate the frothing rage bubbling up below the line. Quite rightly, we argue that punishing millions of refugees for the actions of a few criminals of unknown origin makes no more sense than branding all white men paedophiles because of Jimmy Savile. Or we say there have always been muggers and gropers, they’re only global news when they’re not white.
But by trying not to give succour to racists, the risk is that we end up miserably self-censoring, giving the “why can’t we talk about immigration?” brigade ammunition for their conspiracy theories. Journalism isn’t really journalism when it avoids stories for fear of how some might react. The parallels between German politicians’ discomfort over Cologne and Britain’s response to predominantly Asian gangs grooming girls in Rotherham for sexual exploitation aren’t exact, but there are lessons to be learned.
Pour lire l'article au complet : http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jan/08/cologne-attacks-hard-questions-new-years-eve