When Pieties Collide
Feminism and multiculturalism in Western Europe
Feminists incessantly harp about a phantom “rape culture” in the United States and other Western countries. On New Year’s Eve 2016, Northern European cities experienced an outbreak of the real thing—and the opponents of patriarchy went silent. It turns out that a more powerful force exists on the left than feminist victimology: multiculturalism.
As revelers gathered in the central square of Cologne, Germany, for the traditional New Year’s Silvesternacht celebrations, thousands of North African and Middle Eastern males started throwing firecrackers into the crowd and attacking passersby. They pickpocketed and robbed males and females, but they directed most of their violence against women: grabbing their breasts and buttocks, inserting their fingers into the women’s vaginas, and, in a few instances, raping them, while shouting sexual insults. A total of 653 victims filed reports with the police.
Similar attacks were reported in Munich, Berlin, Nuremberg, Bremen, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Düsseldorf, and Bielefeld, among other cities across 12 German states, though not on the same scale. Outbreaks of sexual violence also occurred in France, Greece, Sweden, Switzerland, Finland, and Turkey. The assaults appeared to have been planned and coordinated through social media, Germany’s justice minister Heiko Maas later said. In Cologne, some of the suspects had notes in their pockets with scribbled German translations for female body parts. This mass sexual harassment of females recalled similar incidents during the occupation of Cairo’s Tahrir Square from 2012 to 2014.
German police and political leaders covered up the violence for days. A Cologne police-force press release originally reported that the Silvesternacht celebrations had been peaceful, though officers had witnessed the attacks. Police employees are “afraid of talking about these things in the context of the immigration debate today,” a Stockholm police spokesman told the Guardian, in reference to Sweden’s experience with Muslim sexual attacks on New Year’s Eve and at a music festival in 2014.
Eventually, however, news of the assaults leaked out, and the most surprising cover-up of all began. Leading feminists across the continent and in Great Britain either ignored the incidents entirely or distorted their significance beyond recognition. Silence was justified on the grounds that acknowledging the attacks would encourage opposition to the mass Muslim immigration that had engulfed Europe over the previous year. (German chancellor Angela Merkel accelerated that migration by declaring in August 2015 that her country would accept all Syrian asylum-seekers who made it in to her country.) Feminists were “finding it difficult to speak up about the event because of concerns it might be used to encourage aggression against refugees,” explained British journalist Jessica Abrahams. When feminists were cornered into addressing the violence, they tied themselves into knots trying to change the subject back to their favorite topic: Western white-male patriarchy. “The problem of sexualized violence has already existed here for some time and can’t simply be ‘deported,’” said German feminist Anne Wizorek to Der Spiegel. “It cannot be allowed to become the standard in gender debates that only male migrants are considered to be those responsible [for sexual violence].” In other words, the New Year’s assaults were continuous with the routine terror inflicted by German men on German women.
Actually, there was no precedent in Germany or the rest of Europe for mass peacetime sexual assaults, much less ones where the police merely look on. “I have never experienced such a thing in any German city,” a victim told the New York Times. But people who did name the attacks for what they were—a manifestation of Muslim misogyny and an alarm bell regarding mass immigration—were vilified as racists. An old-school German feminist, Alice Schwarzer, denounced the New Year’s assaults as a “gang bang” designed to terrorize women; she found herself condemned by other feminists and “antiracists.” Victims refused to give their names to reporters for fear of being pilloried on social media for xenophobia. Specious moral equivalencies poured forth: not only were the attacks a mere subset of everyday Western antifemale violence, but also ordinary citizens connecting those attacks to the out-of-control migrant situation were no different from the attackers themselves. Ralf Jäger, minister of the interior for the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, announced: “What happens on right-wing platforms and in chat rooms is at least as awful as the acts of those assaulting the women.”
The most dazzling eruption of moral blindness came from a British feminist currently on a fellowship at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. The political and press silence after the New Year’s attacks was a product of Western sexism and indifference to rape, alleged Laurie Penny in The New Statesman. This was, of course, preposterous. Had thousands of white males committed the attacks, a worldwide furor would have immediately broken out. The effort to look the other way was patently the result of cringing political correctness. But Penny was equally critical of the “right-wing press” for condemning the mass violence, since it only did so out of “unbridled racism.” “It’d be great if we could take rape, sexual assault and structural misogyny as seriously every day as we do when migrants and Muslims are involved as perpetrators,” she wrote. Penny did not provide any examples of daily mass sexual assaults committed by Westerners. Then, in a paroxysm of hysteria induced by the conflicting pressures of feminism and multicultural relativism, Penny accused those “right-wing” critics of not just racism but sexual perversion: “I’ll be blunt. I think some people out there are very excited by their conception of ‘Islamic’ violence against women. It allows them to enjoy the spectacle of women being brutalized and savaged whilst convincing themselves that it’s only foreign, savage men who do these things.” This is lunatic fantasy. Moreover, the “conception of ‘Islamic’ violence against women” is not just some “right-wing” construct—it is a fact.
The feminist apologists did issue grudging, boilerplate repudiations of the violence but only en route to conflating it with Western patriarchy. In an understatement of colossal proportions, Penny acknowledged that the “experience of women in the West is [not] exactly the same as the experience of women in Middle Eastern dictatorships and war zones.” Let’s rephrase that, shall we? To live in a society where women’s magazines, pop culture, and advertising incessantly celebrate female sexuality and promiscuity, where every elite profession desperately seeks to hire and promote as many women as it can, and where women enjoy every freedom and right that men do, is not just “not exactly the same” as living in a culture where female rape victims are murdered to preserve their family’s honor and where women who don’t wear the veil or burka face public shaming or worse; there is no similarity whatsoever between those two experiences.
To acknowledge the abyss that separates the experience of Western women from those in Arab and North African countries, though, would risk walking down a slippery slope that might end up with the recognition that Western women do not, in fact, live in a “rape culture.” But even more dangerous than such a debunking of feminist propaganda would be the possibility of confronting the potential threat that large-scale Muslim and Third World immigration poses for Western liberalism and individualism. The New York Times provided a stunning example of the inevitable “defining sexism down” that will be necessary to accommodate such immigration. The problem on New Year’s Eve, it reported, was that migrants from war-torn countries were “unfamiliar with German culture.” Translation: the norm that you don’t jam your fingers up women’s vaginas in public is just a quaint German custom, akin to wearing lederhosen. This, from a paper that routinely covers phony college rape allegations with outraged alarm. Making matters worse in Cologne, according to the Times, the police were working from “outdated expectations.” Had the police been up to date, they would have planned for mass sexual assaults. “This was new terrain for all,” the Times concluded.
But it won’t be “new terrain” for long. A public pool in the Bavarian town of Bornheim posted cartoon warnings against the fondling of women’s bikini-clad bottoms, before banning male asylum seekers entirely in January 2016, due to the rash of harassment complaints. Women in Berlin report being called “slut” on the street. As for gay rights, try staging a gay pride parade in one of Europe’s Muslim enclaves, and see how far you get.
The New Year’s assaults should have been a wake-up call about the worsening civilizational clash brought on by mass immigration. The official cover-up of organized child sexual abuse committed by Pakistani-British men in Rotherham, England, foreshadowed the New Year’s suppression of truth by political correctness. But Merkel still refuses to set an upper limit on refugees, and Germany’s powerful feminists have not demanded one. In neighboring Austria, meanwhile, the Green Party called for a lawmaker to resign after he said that refugees “have a worldview like Neanderthals, which tramples the rights of women underfoot . . . and which we have extirpated among ourselves, thank God.” He declared it a “catastrophe” that the Greens, who ordinarily hold women’s rights in high esteem, are standing up for the refugees instead. The Greens have called him a racist, even though the “Neanderthal” epithet, favored by women’s libbers circa 1975, can still be used today with impunity against “chauvinist” white males.
The hierarchy of left-wing pieties thus seems clear: narcissistic feminism may be important, but it’s even more important to inundate the West with Third World peoples. If that means that the Left’s favorite pastimes, such as the denunciation of “rape culture,” are increasingly confined to shrinking enclaves of self-flagellating Westerners, so be it.
Photo by Jens Schlueter/Getty Images
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