Something outrageous has happened.

 

On New Year’s Eve 2015, dozens of women were sexually molested in the city of Cologne, Germany. Eyewitnesses reported seeing a crowd of 1’000 men who looked like they were North African or Arabs, which had gathered around the Cologne Dome.

In front of the public, the eyes of the police, and hundreds of other celebrators, single women and small groups of women were surrounded by dozens of men. They were groped from all different directions, robbed, and left mortified. Some women were even raped. One woman’s slip and pantyhose were torn. Others reported they had been chased through a tunnel full of men, while dozens of hands groped, fondled, and penetrated all of the orifices of their bodies.

At the end of this torture, many women realized that their mobile phones and wallets had been stolen.

So far, about 100 women reported experiencing this event.

This is outrageous. Something like this has never happened in Germany before.
A collective storm of outrage, and a distinct feeling of helplessness has come over Germany that I have not seen before.

Given all of the legitimate outrage the public is feeling for these cowardly actions, let’s pause for a moment and count to ten.
1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 – 6 – 7 – 8 – 9 – 10.

There is no question that these pitiful actions aren’t approved by anyone.
This was an attack on our values, as well as our self-concept of freedom.
And the people that committed these acts should be treated within this context.

Just like every other country, there is no homogeneous forming of opinions in Germany.
Hate speeches on social media have made us painfully aware of the diversity of opinions in this country. Especially when it comes to how the streams of migrants should be dealt with.

Yes, there are quite a few people among us that do not seem to have space for compassion in their hearts. (More than we’d like to admit). I find it alarming that the threshold of manners has obviously fallen.

The most disgusting thoughts can be found in the comments of every social media platform there is. Once there was a time where these kind of comments were only made from the anonymity of the web. It was a time where these types of people could hide behind their computer screens, writing under a fake name with veiled IPs. But even this has fallen apart.

The thresholds are falling.
Just like the thresholds of these young men have fallen, who took advantage of the darkness of the night, the anonymity of the masses, and attacked the bodies and properties of these women in a moment of surprise.

That’s an interesting parallel, isn’t it?
Fallen thresholds.

There are people that have fallen moral thresholds due to their hateful speeches, done from the anonymity of their computer.
And there are others with fallen moral thresholds that will use the anonymity of a big group, and the darkness of the night to satisfy their physical needs.

The outrage of the general population is huge. And understandably so.
The magnitude of this act has never been heard of before. And still, so it seems, like everybody is talking in sixes and sevens. Nobody seems to know how to begin coming to terms with these events.

And there are still the “forever haters”. Those who have known from the beginning that the “we can make it” motto will not turn out well. Those who denounce every migrant as an invader, and choose to hold on to fear that their prosperity could be limited in some way.

These are the types of people that we are now hearing nagging and bitching from. Most of these people suspect that migrants have done this.

Sure, it’s true. Germany has opened its countries doors to more than a million migrants last year. A big part of this number were young men traveling on their own.
Sure, it’s not that hard to put two and two together. It’s somewhat self-evident that these guys have physical needs which they try to satisfy.

Yes, it is possible that it could have happened this way. But it could also have happened a different way.

At the moment it looks as if the offenders cannot be identified. They were swallowed up by the darkness of the night, and were protected through the anonymity of the large mass of people. The police were aware of this only days after this horrific event happened.

There is a suspicion. But a suspicion is only a suspicion. It is not a certainty.

It’s possible that we will never know who these men were. Eventually some of them may be identified and held accountable. But it is also possible that they won’t find anyone, and the collective outrage about these incidents will keep simmering.

So, what is left for us to do? We can conduct a discussion about how we, as a society, need to start living up to our values. We need to come to terms with this matter, and figure out how we are going to integrate differing opinions into the political debate.

Taking the massive hate speeches into account, there’s obviously a large number of people who perceive themselves as unheard of, and as a result, they feel the need to get their opinions out loudly, and without any manners. As a society, we shouldn’t react by socially excluding them. That would have long-term consequences. The continuous suppression of viewpoints, or ridiculing of positions will only lead to radicalization, which our society will pay a price for.

 

“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum.” — Noam Chomsky