Patterico's Pontifications


In Shameful Glory: Mayor Of Cologne Shows What Denial Looks Like

Filed under: General — Dana @ 1:04 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Cologne Mayor Henriette Reker, who, on the heels of the New Year’s Eve horrible sexual assault of more than 100 women by Muslim asylum seekers, reacted by telling women to quit wearing short skirts and asking for it, sat down for an interview with Der Spiegel.

Throughout the interview, we see the mayor’s astounding levels of denial, ignorance, and intellectual dishonesty. She is unable to point to any commonly shared belief system influencing the Muslim assailants; she is unable to identify them as refugees in spite of the police report and statements from officers on the scene; and, she is bizarrely unaware of the high levels of sexual assaults perpetrated against women at the hands of Muslim refugees throughout Europe – a number which has increased dramatically with the recent wave of asylum seekers.

After reading the interview, it’s easy to see that as long as elected officials share the same myopic, politically correct, and dangerous views as that of Mayor Reker, women in the region, and elsewhere, will remain vulnerable and at risk. And no amount of “keeping at an arm’s length from strangers” will help.

In part:

SPIEGEL: The newspapers are reporting that a “sex mob” attacked women in Cologne. What’s your analysis?

Reker: Women were sexually harassed in a massive way. I always thought these were the kinds of dangers people faced in very distant countries. It’s not something I could have imagined in Germany. We cannot accept it. It threatens the balance in our country.

SPIEGEL: The equality minister in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia (where Cologne is located) has spoken of the “tip of a very dire iceberg.” What does this iceberg look like?

Reker: I haven’t seen it yet. I clearly live — at least when it comes to this — in a protected environment. These days it’s no longer even obvious what it is that you need to protect yourself against. That applies here in Cologne as well. But until now, I had been of the belief that the generation of advanced men rejected such inhuman practices.

SPIEGEL: Please excuse us. What is it that you mean by “advanced men”?

Reker: *I’m not fond of referring to enlightened men. I’m referring to new generations of men who consider equality to be self-evident.

SPIEGEL: What role does the ethnicity of the perpetrators play?

Reker: **You can only surmise in that regard. I’ve heard speculation that alcohol played a major role. It appears that the men come from a cultural environment in which alcohol cannot be consumed very often in public. But that’s no reason for us to impose a ban on drinking alcohol for North African men. That’s nonsense. It’s imperative that we ensure safety in such squares and in the entire city during the Carnival festivities (in February) and throughout the entire year.

SPIEGEL: Does Germany have a refugee problem?

Reker: We are facing the challenge of integrating the people who are coming here into our society. That also includes drawing them closer to our culture.

SPIEGEL: You have advised women to keep at least an arm’s distance from men at major events.

Reker: And I have been subjected to a ton of ridicule and criticism for it.

SPIEGEL: On social media, your advice has been illustrated with a Heil Hitler salute. The New York Times even reported prominently about it.

Reker: During a one and a half hour press conference, I was asked what preventative advice includes. I then gave this example in one sentence. Perhaps it was a bit helpless, but it also shows how helpless our society is when it comes to dealing with such incidents. Ultimately, it depends on the police doing their work and keeping such occurrences from happening in the first place…

A helpless Germany? More like a suicidal Germany…

Reker: I’m sorry that some women have understood this to mean that I am holding them responsible for the violence. But I don’t have to apologize for stating an example that is officially referred to by the City of Cologne. Besides, as you may have noticed, nobody is offering any constructive suggestions. I haven’t read anyone writing anywhere that the arm’s length proposals is nonsense, instead this or that would be better.

Could this unenlightened mayor possibly be any more insulting to the women of Cologne, especially those who were victimized?

It’s interesting that the mayor claims she has not seen any suggestions to help women more effectively protect themselves, or measures that can be taken to prevent further “incidents” like this from happening. Of course, if you are unwilling to acknowledge what is painfully obvious, it’s going to be a tough go. However, there may be another explanation for the silence:

As Western Europe’s most populous nation grapples with a historic wave of mostly-Muslim migrants, politicians and activists are decrying a rash of incendiary speech bubbling to the surface of German society. In a country whose Nazi past led to some of the strictest laws in the West protecting minorities from people inciting hatred, prosecutors are launching investigations into inflammatory comments as judges dole out fines, even probation time, to the worst offenders.

German authorities, meanwhile, have reached a deal with Facebook, Google and Twitter to get tougher on offensive content, with the outlets agreeing to apply domestic laws, rather than their own corporate policies, to reviews of posts.

Last September, German authorities worried by the increase in hate speech against refugees contacted major social media outlets, forming a new task force including the government, companies, industry associations and activists to tackle the problem. On Dec. 15, the task force announced an agreement for tougher monitoring.

Facebook officials now say they are reviewing posts more stringently and using legal opinions and language experts to determine whether users’ comments are infringing on German law. Sometimes, they say, it means parsing whether posts containing common insults are framed in a way that could be potentially illegal as opposed to genuine political expression.

It’s a frightening thing when an “incident” of mass sexual assault takes place, and officials believe the way to fight back (in spite of their “helplessness”) is to hold the victims responsible, squelch the free speech of its citizenry, punish those who both criticize the governmental policy that opened the door to this sort of calamity, as well as criticizing the belief system commonly held by the perpetrators.

*It’s unfortunate the interviewer didn’t press Reker further and ask her what she thought it was that prevented this particular group of males from being part of the “new generations of men who consider equality to be self-evident”? Mayor Reker, what could have possibly prevented this particular group from being enlightened “advanced” like males in the West?

** It’s also unfortunate that the interviewer did not press Reker further with the following: If you are willing to blame the heinous behavior of these males on abusing the tenets of their “cultural environment”, then why wouldn’t the opposite be true: that the same “cultural environment” from which they came had already influenced their views of women, thus sexually assaulting them was seen as their right?

No wonder officials attempted to whitewash the “incident”.


The System Itself Is the Problem

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:19 am

You learn something new every day. Yesterday, while beginning Part 1 of Murray Rothbard’s history of economic thought, I learned the origin of the phrase “paradigm shift.” It’s a phrase I have used many times in my life without knowing its origin. I think it has some relevance to how we ought to think about politics, and I’d like to discuss it here.

The concept of a “paradigm shift” was brought into public parlance by Thomas Kuhn, a historian of science who published a radical book in 1962 titled The Structure of Scientific Revolution. In the book, Kuhn challenged the prevailing assumption that science had always proceeded in a linear fashion, in which the state of human knowledge always improved as great scientists added to a growing body of knowledge. By contrast, Kuhn argued, scientists typically settle upon a “paradigm” to describe their observations. Any observations that do not fit the current paradigm are considered anomalies that will some day be explained within the paradigm, as soon as someone can figure out how to do so.

Except that, every so often, a radical thinker comes along and challenges the entire paradigm, suggesting that the anomalies are not mere unsolved puzzles that will one day be explained by the current conception. Instead, these radicals suggest that the entire paradigm is flawed, and a new paradigm is needed. The new paradigm, being new, will also have anomalies, since every new paradigm does. But if the new paradigm better explains known anomalies, then ultimately there is a “paradigm shift” — and everyone starts viewing the world through the prism of a new paradigm.

The, um, paradigmatic example of this is the Copernican view of the solar system. It left plenty of things unexplained — but Kepler and Newton later came along to fill in the gaps. The thing is, even though Copernicus could not explain everything, there was no moderate, restrained way to move from a geocentric model of the solar system to a heliocentric model.

The previous way of looking at things was fundamentally broken, and a paradigm shift was needed.

I think there is a parallel here to our politics.

Many Burkean conservatives are wedded to the notion that we must improve things within the system. Gradual improvement is all we can hope for: building upon the past to improve the future, one election at a time.

But many other people are waking up to the idea that it doesn’t seem to matter whether Republicans or Democrats are in control. Government gets bigger either way. The debt increases either way. New entitlements are passed either way. Our children’s future is crippled either way.

It is a natural reaction to this distressing scenario to blame either the policies of the government . . . or, increasingly, the people involved in the system. To conclude that the problem is the character of the people in the system. That we need to replace those people with Better People. This is the central message of the giant buffoon currently leading Republican polls. To the extent that there is a coherent complaint articulated by a minority of his mostly uninformed and vacuous supporters, that complaint can be summed up in one phrase: we need to get competent people in government.

I would like to propose that you consider the possibility — not necessarily accept it as true, but just consider the possibility — that the problem is not the people in the system.

The problem is the system itself.

I suggest that what we need is a paradigm shift in the way we look at politics. We need to understand that the individual actors in the system — businesses engaged in rent-seeking; politicians bestowing favors as a thinly disguised quid pro the quo of campaign donations; voters who elevate their lofty intentions over reality because there is no reason to educate themselves on the consequences of their preferred policies — all these people are acting rationally, within a flawed system that actually encourages all this socially destructive behavior.

The only solution is to pass as much responsibility as humanly possible from our flawed system into the one thing that can replace it: the free market. Whenever we look at the possible social benefits of entrusting the government with control of an area of our lives — look how it improves schools! health care! the economy and employment! — we need to understand that the same system inevitably is exploited by rational actors whose actions, in the aggregate, harm society badly.

You can’t understand the solar system by thinking the Earth is the center of the universe. And you can’t fix society by thinking that we need better ways for government to fix society, or better people in government.

We need a paradigm shift.

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