A year ago, after the Charlie Hebdo bloodbath, Angela Merkel was walking directly alongside President Hollande in that hideous memorial parade at which the world's leaders proclaimed that no such bloody acts of violence would ever kill free speech. No, sir, when it comes to killing free speech, leave it to smooth house-trained western politicians.
And so it was that Chancellor Merkel chose to commemorate the first anniversary of the Charlie massacre by clamping down on freedom of expression for her own benighted subjects. As The Washington Post put it:
Germany springs to action over hate speech against migrants
Who doesn't love Germans springing? Isn't that in The Producers? Spring time for thought-crime in Germany... [UPDATE! Scaramouche completes the thought.]
The German state is apparently incapable of springing to action over organized mass sexual assault in at least five cities on a rape-out-the-old New Year's Eve (oh, and Finland, too), but you've gotta be able to prioritize, right? Post reporter Anthony Faiola's snide opening is a classic of the genre:
BERLIN — Donald Trump may be testing the boundaries of tolerance on the U.S. campaign trail. But here in Germany, the government is effectively enforcing civility, taking aim at a surge of hate speech against refugees and Muslims.
There's actually nothing very "civil" about "enforcing civility". Indeed, if civility (which derives from "civis" - citizen) has to be enforced, it is by definition no longer civility at all. Nevertheless:
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.
I said yesterday that "without free speech, there are only the official lies". The first week of the New Year in Germany has provided a grim example of that: In one of the most famous public places in Germany a mass sexual assault took place ...and every organ of the state colluded in covering it up. The initial press release from the Cologne police read:
POL-K: 160101-1-K/LEV Ausgelassene Stimmung - Feiern weitgehend friedlich
"A mood of exuberance - largely peaceful celebrations." That's what they told the citizenry. What they told each other was quite different:
The outbreak of violence was also far more serious than previously thought, and at one point senior police officers feared "there could have been fatalities".
Two publications have released what they claim is an internal report by a senior officer who was at the scene.
Which is full of stuff they didn't have room for in their night-of-exuberant-celebrations press release:
"We came to the conclusion that the situation threatened chaos or serious injury, if it didn't lead to fatalities."
Police decided to clear the area but met with resistance and were "repeatedly bombarded with fireworks and pelted with bottles..."
"Many women came to officers shocked and crying and reported sex assaults. Police forces were unable to respond to all the events, assaults and offences. There were just too many at the same time."
Because all the other coppers were back at the police station investigating mean-spirited Tweets?
Fortunately, none of this unpleasantness made the news:
Following a barrage of complaints on social media that the New Year's Eve events were deliberately under-reported amid fears they would encourage anti-immigrant sentiment, Germany's public broadcaster, ZDF, was forced to apologise for its decision not to report on the attacks until Tuesday, four days after they had occurred.
"The news situation was clear enough," the show's deputy chief editor, Elmar Thevessen, wrote on the Heute (Today) programme's Facebook page. "It was a mistake of the 7pm Heute show not to at least report the incidents."
But, if you have to report it a week later, blame the victims. Cologne Mayor and "refugee activist" Henriette Reker told the hundred-plus sexually assaulted women of her city that the easiest way to solve the problem is to keep men at "arm's length". This may work for Mayor Reker traveling around her fiefdom with a car and security detail, but, alas, out on the streets, men often have longer arms than women, and, when there are more than one of them, you can easily wind up out-armed: "Ich hatte Finger an allen Körperöffnungen," as one young lady put it. "I had fingers on every orifice."
And so the Arab Spring has come to Europe - or at least the Tahrir Square part of it.
But don't even think of saying things like that because that makes you just as bad as the gang-rapists. Just ask Ralf Jaeger, the Interior Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia:
Mr Jaeger also warned that anti-immigrant groups were trying to use the attacks to stir up hatred against refugees.
"What happens on the right-wing platforms and in chatrooms is at least as awful as the acts of those assaulting the women," he said. "This is poisoning the climate of our society."
So, in the multiculti utopia, chatrooms are "at least as awful" as gang rape. Maybe his cabinet colleagues might usefully stick some fingers in Herr Jaeger's orifices, starting with his mouth.
But, in Frau Merkel's Germany, he's not wrong. Consider this passage from that Washington Post piece:
Proponents are hailing the government effort as a way to foment respect while also controlling the most savage voices in society.
So "the most savage" voices in society who need to be forced to "respect" others are not the thousands of men participating in a group sexual assault of female infidels, but the Tweeters and Facebookers who point out that these guys come from a very particular segment of the population. It's revealing that Anthony Faiola could even write that sentence and not be aware of its insulting absurdity. I have written for years about western feminists' acceptance of the "two-tier sisterhood" - one life for them, and another quite different one for women born into certain other, ah, cultural traditions. Given mass Muslim immigration, it was never likely that this division would be more than an interim phase, and, as German women are now learning, in the hierarchy of identity politics Islam trumps feminism.
This line from the Telegraph report is also striking:
It is not clear why the suspects were released but police officers have said they were overwhelmed on the night.
So the state lacks sufficient manpower to be able to detain those whom they arrest in the commission of a crime ...but they have sufficient manpower to be able to prosecute you for pointing that out.
Anthony Faiola says the German government needs to do this because, what with the country's dark past, a sinister totalitarian streak is never far below the surface. But, when you import a million-man army into your country and then tell your citizens they can't discuss the subject, you're the totalitarian. The events of the last week make plain that the institutions of the German state are as corrupted by this century's official ideology (multiculturalism) as they were by last century's (you know what). The only reason we have even a glimpse of what really happened on New Year's Eve is because a multitude of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube accounts revealed what the German police, political class and media would not. So now Angela Merkel has determined to bring them into line, too.
Oddly enough, there's nothing new about what Chancellor Merkel is doing. Germany was the intellectual and cultural colossus of the world in the 19th and early 20th century. Since then, not so much. Why would that be? Well, for all the tumultuous changes this last 90 years - from Weimar to Nazis to Commies to social democracy to demographic suicide - the German state in its various iterations has been no friend of free speech. As I write in my book Lights Out (personally autographed copies of which are exclusively available, etc, etc):
Isn't it obvious that in the case of Adolf Hitler, "hateful words" led to "unspeakable crimes"? This argument is offered routinely: if only there'd been "reasonable limits on the expression of hatred" 70 years ago, the Holocaust might have been prevented.
There's just one teensy-weensy problem with it: pre-Nazi Germany had such "reasonable limits." Indeed, the Weimar Republic was a veritable proto-Trudeaupia. As Alan Borovoy, Canada's leading civil libertarian, put it:
"Remarkably, pre-Hitler Germany had laws very much like the Canadian anti-hate law. Moreover, those laws were enforced with some vigour. During the 15 years before Hitler came to power, there were more than 200 prosecutions based on anti-Semitic speech. And, in the opinion of the leading Jewish organization of that era, no more than 10 per cent of the cases were mishandled by the authorities. As subsequent history so painfully testifies, this type of legislation proved ineffectual on the one occasion when there was a real argument for it."
Inevitably, the Nazi party exploited the restrictions on "free speech" in order to boost its appeal. In 1925, the state of Bavaria issued an order banning Adolf Hitler from making any public speeches. The Nazis responded by distributing a drawing of their leader with his mouth gagged and the caption, "Of 2,000 million people in the world, one alone is forbidden to speak in Germany."
How'd that work out?
Angela Merkel is the worst Chancellor of Germany since ...well, I don't want to go all Godwin's Law in the final paragraph, but since Goebbels' tenure as Reichskanzler in the brief interregnum between Hitler's suicide and his own. But that she's inflicting more damage on her nation than all seven of her post-war predecessors ever contemplated is beyond dispute. On Frau Merkel's current demographic arithmetic, there will be twice as many Muslims as native Germans within two generations. As I wrote last year:
Herr Brandl calls this "a demographic shift of epic proportions, one that will change the face of Germany forever". But that's understating it: it will obliterate the face of Germany forever. Frau Merkel will have achieved what Bomber Harris and the Red Army couldn't: she will have wiped Germany off the map.
This is such an historic achievement surely the least she could do is let Germans talk about it. But apparently not. So what can you say in a land where real crime isn't policed but thought-crime is? Let's leave the last word to one of those young men detained but then released on New Year's Eve:
One of those involved in attacks told officers: "I am Syrian. You have to treat me kindly. Mrs Merkel invited me."
That guy understands his rare privilege in today's Germany: He can say whatever the hell he wants, and you can't say anything back.
~I'll be talking about free speech with John Stossel, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and others on Fox Business, tonight, Friday, at 8pm Eastern/5pm Pacific.