Monday, October 26, 2015
Some good news for press freedom in Britain, but...
... it’s still bad enough — and would be worse under Corbyn’s Labour
These are generally not the best of times for supporters of press freedom in the UK. The past four years have brought a sustained attempt to tame and sanitise Britain’s unruly, troublemaking media. So it has made a change to have two good news stories to report over the past week. First, Old Bailey jurors acquitted the last two tabloid journalists charged with paying public officials for stories. Then a Tory government minister suspended plans to impose punitive costs on publications that refuse to bow to state-backed regulation.
To recall the background. The panic that followed the 2011 phone-hacking scandal led first to Lord Justice Leveson’s official showtrial of the tabloids, and then to the politicians passing sentence. Leaders of all the political parties did a deal with the press-bashing lobby Hacked Off in 2013 to set up Britain’s first system of state-backed regulation since the end of Crown licensing of the press in 1695. They used the medieval instrument of a Royal Charter to empower the official regulator, and passed a new law threatening punitive fines and costs for publications which refused to bend the knee (which is all of them, so far).
Meanwhile the Metropolitan Police and the Crown Prosecution Service launched Britain’s biggest-ever policing operation — not against suspected jihadists, but journalists, more than 60 of whom were arrested, often in dawn raids, railroaded into court or left hanging for years on police bail.
Last week, however, that police/prosecutors’ witch-hunt suffered another major setback, when a jury issued not guilty verdicts in the trial of the last two Sun journalists charged with breaking the law by paying public officials for information, as part of the Met’s multimillion-pound Operation Elveden. The acquittal of reporter Jamie Pyatt and former news editor Chris Pharo means that, of the 34 tabloid journalists arrested and 29 charged under Operation Elveden, just two stand convicted. Only one reporter, Anthony France, has been found guilty by a jury, and he is likely to walk free on appeal (the other one pleaded guilty as part of a deal with prosecutors). The final score of Elveden trials should be Journalists 28, Witch-hunters Nil.
Jurors have refused to find reporters guilty of anything more than being journalists, for unearthing true stories which the secrecy-obsessed state wanted kept hidden. As a defence lawyer put it after last week’s not guilty verdicts, ‘They call it a crime, we call it democracy’.
Yet amid the celebrations of the imminent end of Elveden, things are still not looking great for the future of investigative journalism. Reporters’ and editors’ lives have been wasted and careers wrecked by the witch-hunt. Many of the sources of their stories have been jailed. The 2010 Bribery Act has now made it illegal to pay whistleblowers for stories. And Leveson’s proposals to tighten the restrictions of journalists’ contacts with police and use of data threaten to make matters worse. There is much more to be done if we hope to break through what one editor has called an ‘ice age’ of investigative journalism and get at the truths the authorities don’t want the public to hear.
The other good news came on Monday at the London conference of the Society of Editors. Giving the keynote address, the Conservative culture secretary, John Whittingdale, announced that he was presently ‘not minded’ to introduce the punitive system of costs against newspapers that refuse to sign up to a regulator backed by the Royal Charter. Cue much relief among the press corps, and consternation among the anti-press crusaders.
Under the Crime and Courts Act 2013, publications which join a press regulator recognised by the politicians’ Royal Charter will be offered an arbitration service and some protection against being sued by complainants. Those which fail to sign up to the state-backed regulator, however, would face the prospect of having to pay the costs for both sides in any civil court case, even if they won! As we argued on spiked from the first, if this was supposed to be ‘carrot’ to newspapers, it was one shaped like a baseball bat with a nail banged through the end. The threat of crippling costs for dissenters could effectively make membership compulsory for many, especially hard-pressed local news outlets.
With the recognition of a regulator under the Royal Charter drawing closer, it had seemed the new regime of punitive costs would soon start to bite. However, secretary of state Whittingdale has now said he feels it would be wrong to sign the new rules into effect. That threat at least appears to have been lifted for now.
This is welcome news. But it does not go nearly far enough. The culture secretary has indicated that he is still willing to accept the new law’s other potentially punitive measures against dissident publishers, that of ‘exemplary damages’ in libel and other civil cases. The bar for imposing such million-pound damages appears to have been set quite high – publications would have to show ‘deliberate or reckless disregard of an outrageous nature for claimant’s rights’. But it would still be up to m’lud to decide, and as Press Gazette editor Dominic Ponsford observed, ‘what a judge considers outrageous could well be fairly mild by the standards of a tabloid editor’.
In the same speech, Whittingdale also made it ‘very clear’ that the government still supports a state-backed regulator, and wants ‘to see the press bring themselves within the Royal Charter’s scheme of recognition’. Yet, with or without punitive costs and fines, the prospect of state involvement in the regulation of the press casts a long shadow over press freedom in the UK.
(Most major press groups are currently regulated by the Independent Press Standards Organisation – IPSO – which refuses to sign up to the Royal Charter. Others, including the Guardian, Independent and Financial Times, are effectively regulating themselves.)
Days before Whittingdale made his announcement, a new report, Leveson’s Illiberal Legacy, produced by the group 89up and sponsored by major news publishers, put a strong case against the acceptance of state-backed regulation. It begins by noting that, in January 2014, the World Association of Newspapers felt moved to make its first inspection visit to the UK in its history.
More used to investigating the lack of press freedom in undemocratic states, the WAN delegates were ‘plainly appalled’ by what they now saw happening in the historic heartland of press freedom. Their damning report described the Royal Charter as ‘a fundamental shift… from the principle of zero involvement of politicians in press regulation’. That principle will be in ruins so long as the Royal Charter or any other legal intrusion remains.
Even now, the non-state regulator IPSO appears far too close to Leveson’s idea of a strict policeman determined to prevent the press from running ‘too free’. I have described it as looking more like the Independent Press Sanitisation Outfit.
But however qualified the recent good news might be, we can be sure things would be far worse were the Labour Party now in power. Labour went into the 2015 General Election pledging to impose Leveson’s constraints on press freedom in full if they won. That was rejected by voters, along with the rest of Ed Miliband’s manifesto. Now there is an apparent wave of radical enthusiasm for the new Labour leadership of Jeremy Corbyn. Yet Corbyn, the veteran state socialist, is one of the most implacable enemies of a free press in UK politics, without a freedom-loving hair in his beard, who has lost no time in trying to blame the media for many of Labour’s and Britain’s problems.
As Professor Tim Luckhurst points out in his foreword to Leveson’s Illiberal Legacy, the moving forces in Hacked Off (behind the human shields of phone-hacking victims) include longstanding anti-free-press lobbies such as the Media Reform Coalition, ‘which proudly proclaims the support of Jeremy Corbyn’. These groups produced its Manifesto for Media Reform in run up to the May General Election.
As my book Trigger Warning points out, their manifesto’s ‘ostensible aim is to make the media “more accountable and more responsive to the public they serve”. Yet the only way these media activists can envisage that is through more state intervention and control… Never mind that freedom nonsense, they demand that “communications should be organised and regulated in the public interest”. The question such committee-speak always raises is: who is going to do the organising and regulating, and who will decide what we mean by the public interest? And the answer is: not the public.’
Instead the illiberal left wants more powers for Ofcom, the government’s regulatory quango, and demands that ‘the nations of the UK through their elected assemblies should be granted greater powers over the regulation of the media’. This, Trigger Warning concludes, is ‘basically a coded way of calling for greater political control, something that defenders of freedom of speech and of the press have fought against for 500-odd years’.
Despite the recent good news, defenders of press freedom have plenty of battles still to fight; but we also have reason to be pleased that Corbyn’s Labour has its hands nowhere near the levers of state power.
Parents! make the right kind of friends – or else
Reducing poverty is not just about people having more money’, says Ryan Shorthouse, director of Bright Blue, the ‘pressure group for liberal conservatism’. But can the solution really be giving people less money, and, instead, forcing them to make more friends?
Shorthouse’s new report, with the catchy title Reducing Poverty by Promoting More Diverse Social Networks for Disadvantaged People from Ethnic Minority Groups, has hit the headlines because of its proposal to remove child benefit from parents who fail to enrol their children in ‘quality pre-school education’.
‘All parents should know that formal childcare, as delivered through the Early Years Free Entitlement, is primarily an educational rather than a childcare service’, intones Shorthouse. ‘Even if parents are, admirably, caring for their young children at home, they should be expected to enrol their children in quality pre-school education for the free hours they are entitled to from the age of three, and from the age of two for the most deprived parents.’
Don’t be distracted by the word ‘admirably’. What it means, in this context, is ‘stupidly’, ‘irresponsibly’ or ‘anti-socially’. Shorthouse insists that, in order to reduce poverty, parents need to be forced to use a ‘relationship-based approach’ to solve the problem of having no money. This means having a relationship with the state (via pre-school education), and other people (via their encounters with ‘diverse social networks’). Furthermore, institutions such as nurseries, Sure Start children’s centres and primary schools should be monitored by the education regulator Ofsted, to ‘ensure these institutions attract families from wider socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds’.
As Shorthouse’s think-tank is so unapologetically called Bright Blue, there might be a temptation to pass this off as yet another nasty Tory policy, designed to penalise and stigmatise poor parents because they are poor. But what is interesting is how closely the report is modelled on the ideas behind Sure Start, the flagship childcare initiative pushed through by the Labour government of 1997-2010. These ideas can be boiled down to three central assertions:
1) That the problem is not poverty, but ‘social exclusion’;
2) That the solution is not money, but ‘social capital’;
3) That being middle class is a set of behaviours that can be ‘passed on’ like an infection, if only people are forced into a relationship with one another.
Ten years ago, I wrote that the aim of Sure Start was not to solve the problem of child poverty, but to broker a new relationship between the therapeutic state and the vulnerable, dependent family, whose privacy and autonomy are quietly eroded under the banner of ‘supporting parents as parents’. On this front, the project was hugely successful. By promoting the idea that the problem facing children from low-income families was primarily a parenting deficit, emanating from ‘chaotic’ home environments, the solution was conceptualised as the need to promote ‘warmer’ parenting styles that could be learned from contact with the professionals running Sure Start centres and absorbed from middle-class parents who might come along for some tea and sympathy.
This idea has galloped ahead under the Conservative government, which has promoted aggressive ‘early intervention’ policies, focusing on pre-school education as a way of getting children away from the wrong kind of influences (their parents) and into contact with the ‘right’ ways of thinking. Early intervention aims to ‘forestall many persistent social problems and end their transmission from one generation to the next’, stated the influential 2011 Allen report, Early Intervention: Smart Investment, Massive Savings.
The report covered ‘a range of tried and tested policies for the first three years of children’s lives to give them the essential social and emotional security they need for the rest of their lives’. Making sure to cover all grounds, the report included policies for when children are older, to help them meet ‘the challenge of becoming good parents to their own children’.
In this reconceptualisation of poverty as a problem of parenting behaviour, social disadvantage became ‘social exclusion’ – a psychological state that could be remedied by contact with official channels and approved social networks. The Centre for Social Justice, set up by the government’s work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith, developed this idea further, through promoting the concept of the five ‘pathways to poverty’ – family breakdown, educational failure, economic dependence, indebtedness and addiction.
Meanwhile, the idea of poverty as social exclusion forms the centrepiece of Shorthouse’s report – only this time it is couched in the language of ‘social capital’. Initiatives designed to promote ‘social capital’ were also beloved of the previous Labour government, because they provided a new vocabulary for social engineering. The idea being that people who have the right kind of networks will be more inclined to behave in the right kind of way, and will therefore be able to become like a middle-class person (even if they have no money). Shorthouse’s report spells out what this means.
Noting that it has been found that ‘[h]aving two or more close friends is associated with lower likelihood of being in poverty’, the report argues that ‘strong social networks’ are ‘especially important for people in poverty’, as they might not be able to afford childcare, for example, but can ask a mate to help out.
But, the report argues, if poor people are only friends with other poor people, this isn’t good either. What poor people need are ‘diverse’ social networks that, for example, ‘provide essential motivation and contacts for those starting a new business’ – as well as being able to help with overcoming language problems, avoiding debt, or increasing ‘knowledge of healthy practices’. This is particularly the case for ‘disadvantaged people from ethnic minority backgrounds’.
In this way, friendships and other informal networks are stripped to an instrumental core. The role of friends and acquaintances is presented as teaching poor people how to behave like better-off people, and the role of public services is to monitor and, where possible, enforce this engagement with ‘diverse networks’.
Shorthouse grudgingly acknowledges that ‘the formation of relationships depends on individuals’. But the fact that he is even calling on the government to find ‘policies to strengthen and, in particular, diversify people’s relationships’ indicates that he doesn’t see individuals as having very much say in the matter at all.
Is the Australian Liberty Alliance an indication that multiculturalism is now under threat?
THE launch of an anti-Islam party in Australia has raised concerns about whether multiculturalism actually works.
Far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders launched the Australian Liberty Alliance in Perth this week, promising to stop the Islamisation of Australia, as extremist groups like Islamic State stoke fears of terrorism and distrust within the community.
It’s not a unique development with Mr Wilders noting that “like-minded parties” were enjoying great success in Austria, Sweden, France and Switzerland.
Even in Germany, where many were recently pictured welcoming an influx of refugees from places like Syria and Iraq, there were fears of a far right resurgence in response.
Chancellor Angela Merkel has seen her approval rating drop to its lowest level since 2011 and there have been attacks on places housing refugees. A recent anti-immigration rally in the country attracted up to 20,000 people.
Earlier this year a headline in Germany’s weekly newspaper Der Spiegel asked the question: “Is the ugly German back?”
Australians could be asking the same question of themselves as anti-Islamic sentiment sees the re-emergence of divisive figures like Pauline Hanson. A recent Facebook post from the One Nation leader opposing “mosques, Sharia law, halal certification and Muslim refugees” was shared more than 25,000 times in just two days.
But despite the apparent growing public backlash, experts believe organisations like ALA will continue to appeal to just a small number of people, and that multiculturalism still enjoys wide support, especially in Australia.
“There will always be a segment of the community that is not happy with change,” Professor Andrew Markus told news.com.au
“We shouldn’t be surprised that there is a group in Australia opposed to cultural diversity and immigration but what makes Australia different is that the size of that minority is very small.”
Prof Markus of Monash University has been tracking changes in Australian attitudes towards immigrants and asylum seekers since 2007 as part of the Scanlon Foundation’s Mapping Social Cohesion Project. He said the last two surveys showed strong support for multiculturalism.
When asked whether multiculturalism was good for Australia, 84 per cent of Australians surveyed in 2013 agreed that it was, and 85 per cent agreed in 2014.
“It’s quite an amazing number and was consistent across Australia, it was hard to find anywhere in Australia, including those in rural areas, where support dropped much below 75 per cent,” Prof Markus said.
But the situation in Europe or even America was very different.
Prof Markus said a British study found 75 per cent its population wanted immigration reduced in 2014 but a comparable study in Australia found only 35 per cent believed immigration was too high.
Prof Markus said Australians saw multiculturalism as being good for the economy and for the integration of immigrants. “I think people understand and accept it’s who we are,” he said, adding that 45 per cent of the population had at least one parent born overseas.
He said he would be surprised ALA got much traction within the community, and this could also be a sign of the times.
“This country has undergone very significant change over the course of a generation,” Prof Markus said. “Young people today have grown up in a world very different to their parents,” and their attitude towards immigration or cultural diversity is likely to be “it’s life, this is it, get on with it”.
While this was not true for everybody, Prof Markus said the issues that were significant for their parents were not as prominent for their children.
Even though groups such as One Nation had managed to gain support in the 1990s, Prof Markus said that was 20 years ago and there had been a lot of water under the bridge since then.
“At its peak it got 22 per cent of the vote in the Queensland state election and since that time (leader) Pauline Hanson has struggled to get even one tenth of that,” he said.
UNSW Associate Professor Geoffrey Brahm Levey, an Australian Research Council Future Fellow in Political Science, agrees that parties like the ALA only appeal to a small number of people, but he acknowledged that the group did reflect genuine concerns.
“There is a genuine problem within the Islamic and Muslim community with radicalisation ... and that naturally provokes anxiety among populations,” Prof Levey said.
“People are right to be concerned when they see members of the public act violently or unacceptably but the problem is a relatively small one.”
He said the overwhelming majority of the 300,000 plus Muslims in Australia had integrated into the community.
Germany: Asylum Seekers Make Demands
Asylum seekers are increasingly using tactics such as hunger strikes, lawsuits and threats of violence in efforts to force German authorities to comply with an ever-growing list of demands.
Many migrants, unhappy with living conditions in German refugee shelters, are demanding that they immediately be given their own homes or apartments. Others are angry that German bureaucrats are taking too long to process their asylum applications. Still others are upset over delays in obtaining social welfare payments.
Although most asylum seekers in Germany have a roof over their head, and receive three hot meals a day, as well as free clothing and healthcare, many are demanding: more money, more comfortable beds, more hot water, more ethnic food, more recreational facilities, more privacy — and, of course, their own homes.
Germany will receive as many as 1.5 million asylum seekers in 2015, including 920,000 in the last quarter of 2015 alone, according to government estimates. This figure is nearly double the previous estimate, from August, which was 800,000 for all of 2015. By comparison, Germany received 202,000 asylum seekers in all of 2014.
With refugee shelters across the country already filled to capacity, and more than 10,000 new migrants entering Germany every day, Germany is straining to care for all the newcomers, many of whom are proving to be ungrateful and impatient guests.
In Berlin, 20 asylum seekers sued the State Agency for Health and Social Welfare (Landesamt für Gesundheit und Soziales, Lageso) in an effort to force local authorities to speed up their welfare payments.
Berlin expects to receive 50,000 asylum seekers in 2015. German taxpayers will spend 600 million euros ($680 million) this year to pay for their upkeep.
Also in Berlin, more than 40 migrants, mostly from Pakistan, seized control over the observation deck of the city's television tower and demanded stays of deportation, jobs, and exemptions from mandatory residence (Residenzpflicht), a legal requirement that asylum seekers reside within certain boundaries defined by local immigration authorities. More than 100 police were deployed to the tower to remove the protesters. After a brief questioning, they were set free. Police said no crime had been committed because the migrants had purchased tickets to the observation deck, some 200 meters (650 feet) above the Berlin.
In the Kreuzberg district of Berlin, more than 400 migrants, mostly from Africa, occupied an abandoned school because they no longer wanted to live in tents in a nearby square. When 900 police arrived to clear the building, some migrants poured gasoline inside the structure and threatened to set themselves on fire, while others threatened to jump off the roof of the building. "We are currently negotiating with local authorities about how to proceed," a Sudanese migrant named Mohammed said. "We will not leave until our demands [amending German asylum laws so they can remain in the country] are met."
In Dortmund, 125 migrants complained about the "catastrophic conditions" at the Brügmann sports facility, which now serves as a refugee shelter. The list of complaints included: bad food, uncomfortable beds and not enough showers.
Just hours after arriving in Fuldatal, 40 asylum seekers from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria complained about conditions at a refugee shelter there and demanded that they be given their own homes. The regional refugee coordinator, Hans-Joachim Ulrich, said that migrants are coming to Germany with unrealistic expectations. "Human traffickers and the media in their home countries are making promises that do not correspond with reality," he said.
In Hamburg, more than 70 asylum seekers went on a hunger strike in an effort to pressure local authorities to provide them with better housing. "We are on a hunger strike," said Syrian refugee Awad Arbaakeat. "The city lied to us. We were shocked when we arrived here." The migrants said they were angry they were being asked to sleep in a huge warehouse rather than in private apartments. Hamburg officials say there are no more vacant apartments in the city, the second-largest in Germany.
Also in Hamburg, more than 100 migrants gathered in front of the city hall to protest the lack of heating in their tent shelters. City officials said they were caught off guard by the early frost and that all tents would have heating before the winter sets in. According to Hamburg Mayor Olaf Scholtz, some 3,600 migrants would be spending the coming winter in tents due to the lack of alternative housing in the city.
According to Hamburg officials, 35,021 migrants arrived in the city during the first nine months of 2015. During this same period, Hamburg police were dispatched to the city's refugee shelters more than 1,000 times, including 81 times to break up mass brawls, 93 times to investigate physical and sexual assaults, and 28 times to prevent migrants from committing suicide.
Meanwhile, a confidential document that was leaked to the German newspaper Bild reveals that the Hamburg transit authority (Hamburger Verkehrsverbund, HVV) has ordered ticket inspectors to "look the other way" whenever they encounter migrants who are using public transportation without a ticket. The move ostensibly aims to protect the HVV against "bad press."
According to the leaked document, ticket inspectors should be lenient with asylum seekers because many migrants are "the victims of professional counterfeit ticket scammers" and many others have "barely comprehensible knowledge" of the HVV's tariff structure.
The CDU's transportation expert, Dennis Thering, said the HVV's policy cannot be left unchallenged. "This 'look-the-other-way' policy must be withdrawn. In Hamburg there is the opportunity to purchase discounted HVV tickets, explicitly also for persons who receive benefits under the Asylum Seekers Benefits Act." Every newly arrived refugee receives 149 euros in pocket money every month. This includes 25.15 euros that have been earmarked for the purchase of transport tickets.
In Halle, four security guards were injured when they tried to stop a mob of asylum seekers from Africa and Syria from entering the city's social welfare office before opening hours. The migrants, who were there to pick up their welfare payments, became angry when it appeared to them as though some migrants cut in front of the line. It later turned out that some migrants were there for other business, and thus were not required to stand in line.
In Munich, 30 migrants went on a hunger strike to protest shared accommodations in refugee shelters. Two of the men were rushed to the hospital after losing consciousness. "A constitutional state cannot allow itself to be blackmailed," Bavarian politician Marcel Huber said. "We have zero tolerance for this action."
In Nürnberg, six migrants from Afghanistan, Ethiopia and Iran went on a hunger strike to protest the rejection of their asylum applications. The men, who are living in a tent in downtown Nürnberg for several months, demanded to speak to local authorities. The asylum applications were rejected six years ago, but the men are still living in Germany.
In Osnabrück, an asylum seeker from Somalia successfully sued the German Agency for Migration and Refugees (Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge, BAMF) for taking too long to process his application. A judge ordered the BAMF to make a decision on his application within three months or provide him with financial compensation.
The man said he had been waiting for 16 months to get an answer from the BAMF. In its defense, the BAMF said it currently has a backlog of 250,000 unprocessed applications, and this number is expected to skyrocket as more asylum seekers arrive in Germany.
A spokesperson for the court said the ruling set a precedent, and that many more asylum seekers likely would file lawsuits against the BAMF in the near future.
Groups of migrants across Germany have been launching hunger strikes, demanding more money, more comfortable beds, more hot water, more ethnic food, more recreational facilities, and their own homes. In Berlin (right), 900 police were needed to remove more than 400 migrants who had occupied an abandoned school.
In Walldorf, a town in the state of Baden-Württemberg, a group of migrants demanded that local authorities immediately provide them with private apartments because they were tired of living in a refugee shelter with 200 other asylum seekers. The leader of the group, a 46-year-old refugee from Syria, said he expected more from Germany. It was high time for Germans to begin to "treat us like human beings," he said.
Following up on the complaints, state and local authorities inspected the shelter and found that conditions there were "absolutely acceptable," with cubicles for privacy and plenty of food and clothing.
In Wetzlar, a city in the state of Hesse, migrants threatened to go on a hunger strike in an effort to force local authorities to move them into permanent housing. Local authorities said they delays were due to a quarantine after several migrants were found to be infected with Hepatitis A.
In Zweibrücken, 50 asylum seekers from Syria went on a hunger strike to protest the slow pace of the application approval process. "We can accept the living conditions in the refugee camp, but we need hope," one of the men said. Local officials said the process has collapsed because of the large number of applicants.
Asylum seekers have also gone on hunger strikes in Birkenfeld, Böhlen, Gelsenkirchen, Hannover, Walheim, and Wittenberg.
Meanwhile, teachers at Gemeinschaftsschule St. Jürgen, a grade school in the northern German city of Lübeck, ordered eighth graders to spend a morning at a local refugee shelter and "actively help" the migrants by making their beds, sorting their clothing and working in the kitchen.
Some parents complained that their children are also being asked to bring gifts and food for the migrants, who are already receiving handouts financed by German taxpayers. A woman wrote: "Sometimes I do not even know how I am going to put food on my own table."
Another woman wrote: "This is going too far. Students are supposed to make beds and do cleaning work at a refugee shelter. My friend's 14-year-old son is being asked to do this!!! I am not an agitator and I am tolerant, but this is going way too far. Is there now a new course in Lübeck schools called: Slavery???
The school's principal, Stefan Pabst, said the negative reaction was a "catastrophe." He said that having the children work in a refugee shelter was the best way for them to "understand social behavior." The German newsmagazine, Stern, complained that the dissenting parents belong to "rightwing circles" and are "spreading their stupid slogans."
In Bad Kreuznach, a family of asylum seekers from Syria made an appointment to view a four-room rental property but refused to see the house because the real estate agent was female. According to real estate agent Aline Kern:
"One of the men, who spoke broken German, said they were not interested in viewing the property because I am a woman, I am blonde, and because I looked the men into their eyes. This was inappropriate. My company should send a man to show the property.
"I was taken aback. You want to help and then are sent away, unwanted in your own country."
In Idar-Oberstein, a town in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate, an imam at a refugee shelter refused to shake the hand of Julia Klöckner, a visiting dignitary, because she is a woman. After Klöckner, the vice-chairwoman of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), shared her experience with the German newsmagazine Focus, she received more than 800 emails from women across the country describing how they, too, have been mistreated by Muslim migrants.
Klöckner is now calling for Germany to pass a new law that requires migrants and refugees to integrate into German society. She said: "We need an integration law. We are a liberal and free country. If we give up the foundations of our liberality, we will wake up in a different country."
Klöckner insists that migrants must be informed about German "rules of the game" from the first day they arrive in the country. "The people who want to stay here must, from the first day, accept and learn that in this country religions coexist peacefully and that we cannot use force to resolve conflicts," she said.
One woman described how Muslim men repeatedly cut in front of her at the supermarket checkout line. "Twice while shopping at a German supermarket I was shown that I am a second-class citizen," she wrote. In one instance, an adult Muslim male with a full shopping cart cut in front of her. In broken German he said: "I man. You woman. I go first." In another instance, a young Muslim male elbowed the woman while cutting in front of her. "When I said that I would let him go ahead of me if he asked me for permission, I was instructed by his sister that boys do not need to ask, they just demand."
A teacher at a vocational school wrote: "The most problematic students are Muslim males, who do not acknowledge the authority of female teachers and who disrupt the classes."
A mother reported that during a visit to her daughter's school, she approached a fully-veiled female refugee and asked her if she could be of help to her. "A man with a fancy suit and a three-day beard, he seemed like out of a Hugo Boss fashion magazine, said: 'My wife does not speak the language of the unclean.' When I asked him who here was unclean, he said I was. I asked him what that means. He said it was nothing against me personally, because all German women are unclean, and that his wife should not speak the language of the unclean, so that she can remain clean."
In Berlin, more than 150 migrant youths from North Africa and Eastern Europe are occupied as full-time purse-snatchers and pick-pockets. Also known as the klau-kids (thief kids), they post their gains (smart phones, laptops, designer sunglasses) on the Internet, presumably to taunt the police. A 16-year-old known as Ismat O. has been detained more than 20 times on suspicion of theft, but each time he has been released. Walid K. has been arrested more than 10 times, and also freed.
According to the director of Berlin's police union, Bodo Pfalzgraf, "it is incomprehensible that such serial offenders do not remain in pre-trial detention." Police say the youths are released because German judges are not prepared to issue arrested warrants for so-called petty crimes such as purse-snatching. Meanwhile, youths can only be deported if they have been sentenced to at least three years in prison.
In Bavaria, the Munich Chamber of Trade (Handwerkskammer München und Oberbayern) reported that 70% of migrants from Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria who have been offered apprenticeships fail to complete them. The normal dropout rate is 25%. According to the director of the chamber, Lothar Semper, many young migrants believe apprenticeships are beneath them. "We have to make a tremendous effort to convince young people that they should even begin an apprenticeship," he said. "Many have the expectation of quickly earning a lot of money in Germany."
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.