The furore about those sexual assaults says more about ‘our’ culture than ‘theirs’.
In the fallout from the New Year’s Eve crime spree in Cologne, when numerous women were allegedly robbed and molested by men recently arrived from Syria and other Arab countries, most of the political focus and media fury have been aimed at ‘their culture’. At the problem of Muslim men’s allegedly ingrained disrespect for women. At the fundamental conflict between their Koran-derived way of thinking and Europe’s women-friendly, gay-friendly, largely liberal outlook. As one observer put it, Cologne shows that the culture of these men is simply ‘not compatible with European norms’.
All this handwringing over ‘their culture’ is strange. Not because we shouldn’t criticise other cultures — I’m all in favour of that — or because we shouldn’t chastise and punish the men accused of committing crimes in Cologne. No, it’s weird because what the Cologne fallout most graphically exposes is the rot and disarray and dishonesty of our culture. Of 21st-century Europe. Of nations, like Germany, which claim to be liberal and enlightened but which in fact now exist under a creed of sheepish, silencing multiculturalism which puts more store by lies that might help to pacify mass society than by truths that might open up real and, yes, difficult debate.