Thursday, January 7, 2016

Podcast about the refugee crisis

If you're interested in politics, you might also be interested in the podcast I did with Marcus Roberts, who was served on the Supreme Court here twice now. We talk about the refugee crisis in general and the assaults at the Cologne train station of New Year's Eve in particular.

Marcus Roberts is Director of International Projects at the polling company YouGov. Previously he worked in progressive politics for parties and think tanks in Britain, Europe and America. He tweets as @marcusaroberts.



  1. Super interesting topic - good, important conversation - Thank you! This issue is driving me insane, and I already almost feel a little exhausted...

    I think I agree with you almost 100%, but I did notice both differences in opinion and a little tension in his voice, almost as if he was personally angry. I noticed this kind of anger in a lot of people both in Germany, the rest of Europe and the US in the last couple of months, maybe already years, but I must say that I personally don't really understand it.

    The idea that Angela Merkel, who I agree was hiding behind Dublin II for a very long time, who said the ideology of pacifism costs lives and said that specifically at the dawn of Iraq II, followed by the line that opposing this war in particular is "a failure of humanity". So this Angela Merkel, her conservative party, her Bavarian appendix and her government in collaboration with the police of cologne, the state police of Nordrhein-Westfalen and the federal police is systematically holding back information for what exactly? protecting asylum seekers? why? out of the goodness of her heart? The press of course is unilaterally in cahoots with those people to lie to the German and international public? Sorry, but if you believe that and start laughing like a maniac when you hear that there was no sign that refugees were involved in the beginning (no one ever actually said "it had nothing to do with refugees"), like you wanted to say "of course they're hiding it" there is something wrong with you...

    I also don't think the left has to reinvent itself, just being consequent and consistent. First of all, I wanna know: Who and where is this regressive left? Who and where are the left that justifies/apologizes rape, honor killings, FGM etc? Who are the representatives of this movement? What statements in particular of those people were in the public debate about this phenomenon? Sorry, but I believe that both the idea of this left that apologizes bad behavior because the perpetrators are Muslim and the idea of the establishment in Germany hiding their crimes are conspiracy theories on the level of "Obama wants to secretly take away all of Americans weapons to establish Marshall law". I'm sure that a lot of people "deeply believe" all 3 of those things, or only 1 or 2 out of it, but literally thousands of people also deeply believe that the holocaust was an hoax or that America never reached the moon...

    I want to get the NYE's perpetrators, I want them processed according to law and dealt with it by the criminal justice system - regardless what status, nationality, ethnicity or religion they have. What all of that has to do with the rest of the 1.1 million people who entered the country last year? I have no fucking clue...

    At the beginning of the episode you mentioned who is now speaking up against those attacks - his answer was "so Germany went more progressive", you said "only on the surface". I read an article yesterday from a woman who works for 20 years in health care for women. She was asked if it's a good sign that so many women are now coming out and openly talk about the assaults and searching for justice, finding the support and people who listen instead of victim blaming? Her response was, that she's not sure that if women are coming out next year at the Oktoberfest for example and tell the same tale, but with the perpetrators being white, German/Bavarian guys - the support in the German population would've be the same. I think that's a perfectly justified question and my hunch is: No, they wouldn't get the same support unfortunately. She also recalled the debate surrounding the #Aufschrei 1 1/2 years ago and said she's surprised, who is now so concerned about those issues - she could've sworn that some of those people called her "Feminazi" before...

  2. I like the idea of contributions, but I do think it is all about the framing. If you have a pathway to citizenship and you have the possibility to say "hey if you do this and that and play by X rules you're in" you should do it, and that's positive and visionary. I can say -more or less- the same thing framing it like "we cannot give handouts to all kinds of people - you wanna be our guest? Then fucking start to do something". The same with the cultural leaflets. Are they framed like "I know all those rules that Germany has are strange and foreign to you, but it's really helpful to abide by them, Germans take them very seriously" or do they sound like "now we are telling you backward peasants how to behave in a civilized society". I believe that the ones you mentioned are definitely positive and necessary. I never had to "earn" me belonging in (btw also German) society, my citizenship. That's not the issue, I was born and raised here, in this culture, but it does show that not everyone has to "earn" his rights and I'm not better or worse than anyone who has to proof himself, because he was able to reach Germany as a refugee.

    Which brings me to my last point - what in 7 hells is wrong with people these days? How bad can the situation for the white middle class/working class in Europe be that we're no longer privileged compared to Syrian refugees? People seem to forget that those people don't come here to experience an exiting new adventure in a foreign country, but they're fleeing for their lives, they're fleeing from the same terror that we're already so afraid of, if it's hundreds and thousands of miles away, they have nothing else to loose. By the way, the decline of the British middle class, the downfall of the working class is as real as in America. But by my estimation the percentage of responsibility of that by refugees seems to be ~0%, while frankly the responsibility of the politics and policies of the European socialists, the Labour party, the SPD, Toni Blair and Gerhard Schroeder seems to be a little higher than that. I don't wanna give easy answers either and it is of course much more than one factor, but the Liberalization of those years must've had an effect. The policies of the oh so critical Cameron regarding immigration and the EU in general (making London the finance market place No. 1 with endless Liberalization and get rid of a lot of regulations), will again have negative consequences for the poor - much more so than any of the negative consequences of immigration, I assume...

    Sorry, I don't wanna be unfair, maybe I'm wrong, but whenever he said it comes down to "they're afraid of immigration" and warning that UKIP and others might win people, I can't help myself but hear at least to a certain degree "I(!) am afraid". Which in and of itself is not a problem, but you have to acknowledge that it's an irrational fear, that even including the NYE attacks, there is no significant difference in the rise of criminal behavior b/n immigrants and the grander German population... And let's not forget all the (in the meantime more than 1200) violent attacks ON immigrants in 2015 alone, including molotow cocktails, also sexual assaults (security guys in refugee shelter), throwing stones etc, which btw I call terrorism even then, let alone when they attack politicians and/or media people, because they support liberal policies towards refugees or immigrants in general, without the public discourse calling it what it is...

  3. Now I've almost written a novel and could still go for hours - sufficient to say, I'm pretty pissed. I feel like we bring debates back that I thought we already settled 20 years ago - the statement "the foreigners take away our jobs" is neither new nor extraordinary creative by the way... So I've no idea where this situation is going and I'm shocked how many people that I just couple of years ago thought of as pretty smart people buy into absolutely irrational propaganda that doesn't hold when you fact check it. I also see a trend to "single issue argumentation" - people who I'd usually agree with 95% of the time are not treating this as a "normal" disagreement, but subsidizing every other issue under this one - and usually I don't even know what "this one" is. We can debate about cultures, religions, ethnicity, Misogynie etc. but if people want me to say that not racism, not sexism, nor economics etc have anything to do with the issues we're facing, but it all comes down to Islam and "the Muslims"? You won't here it from me! Somehow there only seems to be the possibility in peoples heads to either say "we are hearing your worries and taking care of it" or "ignore them" - no one seems to see the possibility to speak with those "worried" people, but say them that their fears are irrational, that the situation is XYZ (using facts) and that our strategy and tactics to deal with the situation are ABC (also using facts, analysis and logic to come up with). The right is not winning, because the left is too extreme or in a counterproductive way withholding criticism - the right is winning, because the left seems to be non-existent, because the left seems like a right-wing light at times and doesn't really fight the ideological battle at hand - and frankly a lot of people seem to have subscribed at least in part to right-wing propaganda.

    I can't help myself, one last point :-) Last summer the US military released a report questioning the success of the drone strikes in Syria - 2 days after the Paris attacks, France joined this war. Do we suspect them having developed a successful strategy in just those 2 days? Or was the strategy ready and developed just coincidentally at the same weekend? Oh wait, France never claimed that, they said they attack "to send a political signal". How many days did it take till the number of innocent, civilian casualties of the french attacks surpassed the number of people killed by the Paris attacks? They died for a political signal, for french domestic politics - somehow Syrian lives don't seem all as precious than European/American lives. Policies like that are not really able to limit the number of refugees out of that region, I fear... And don't get me started about Angela Merkel's attempt to win Turkey to hold the refugees there (Erdogan is not necessarily the most reliable ally), or Steinmeier's idea to let the "moderate" rebels (mainly al-Quaeda, al-Nusra etc - Sunni jihadist groups) fight ISIS (another Sunni jihadist gropup) side by side with Assad (a Shia/Alevite dictator whom they fight till the death for almost 3 years now).

    I have to stop a "comment" at some pint, I guess :-)

  4. Hey, I'm not angry. Sorry if it sounded that way.

    I think you're running in open doors here. I'm not arguing the conservative line here, I'm just noting that both sides are framing the incident in their respective narratives. Sorry if I polarized a bit there. The same goes for the "progressivism on the surface": this was specifically aimed at those conservatives who are now posing as defenders of women's rights when in the past they've condoned the #Aufschrei. One shouldn't mistake this for a sudden lurch into progressivism, but of course, Germany became MUCH more progressive in the past decade.

    Of course it's about framing. You need to offer something to the right, if only because together with the Moderates they're the majority. That's how it works. And I genuinely believe that such contributions could help the acceptance. We see the same thing with the welfare programs all the time. One shouldn't dismiss framing out of mind; it's important how people think about stuff.

    I'm not afraid of the refugees. I'm afraid that the right-wingers will take over my country, just as they did in Poland and Hungary.

    For much of the other stuff you said - I agree. As stated, you're running in open doors here. Do you follow my German politics blog?

  5. I was actually more talking about the other guy, I do agree 100% with you basically!

    Not yet :-)

    1. Sorry, got that mixed up. It was a bit confusing because you only use pronouns :D, but be aware it's a multi-author-blog so not every article is from me or represents my opinions.