Rotherham And Cologne: A Tale Of Two Cities Betrayed By Political Correctness

High-handed elites with their fear and contempt for ordinary people are the greatest internal threat now facing our society

If Western civilisation does ever collapse in upon itself, it will not be the fault of radical Islam, UKIP, Jeremy Corbyn, Donald Trump or Kim Jong-Un’s home-made H-bomb.

It is becoming increasingly clear to me that the fastest route to national or civilisational decline is for our elites to persist in their policy of signalling their virtue by furiously ignoring inconvenient realities, and having infinitely more fear and contempt for their fellow citizens than any real, external threat to our freedom and security.

Consider the scandal now unfolding in Germany, where city officials and the media stand accused of covering up important news about a spate of sexual attacks in the city of Cologne, for reasons of political correctness and a painful reluctance to highlight a potential link between these attacks on women and the immigrant population.

From the New York Times:

The tensions simmering beneath Germany’s willingness to take in one million migrants blew into the open on Tuesday after reports that scores of young women in Cologne had been groped and robbed on New Year’s Eve by gangs of men described by the authorities as having “a North African or Arabic” appearance.
[..] The assaults initially were not highlighted by the police and were largely ignored by the German news media in the days afterward.
[..] The descriptions of the assailants — by the police and victims quoted in the news media — as young foreign men who spoke neither German nor English immediately stoked the debate over how to integrate such large numbers of migrants and focused new attention on how to deal with the influx of young, mostly Muslim men from more socially conservative cultures where women do not share the same freedoms and protections as men.

Shockingly, this story has only received significant traction over the past couple of days, despite the events taking place a week ago.

One can almost imagine the terrified police officials and news editors in Germany, sitting on this story of unquestionable public interest, yet paralysed into inaction by the all-consuming fear of appearing in any way racist — as though it were not perfectly possible to report the news in a sober and measured way, giving the facts without casting aspersions on an entire ethnic group or community.

But to the minds of many people in authority — not only in Germany, but across Europe — reporting a story which amounted to a question of public safety for the women of Cologne was remarkably not an open-and-shut case, but rather a morally ambiguous grey area fraught with hazard and difficulty.

The reason for this moral and professional failure is twofold. Firstly, there was the ever-present impulse to be seen as virtuous, progressive and in no way racist (as though noting the ethnicity of a criminal suspect is somehow smoking gun evidence of prejudicial thought). One cannot underestimate the corrosive effect that this pressure to be seen not just as tolerant but blindly uncritical of other cultures has on people who hold positions of trust in our society.

But secondly — and even more insidiously — there is the fear of “we the people”, and the nervous contempt with which elements of our political class view their fellow citizens. It is the mindset which whispers in the ear of police chiefs and news editors that they cannot possibly report a story about mass sexual harrasment in a major European city, because the particulars of the case might drive the ordinary “sheeple” into committing a murderous, anti-immigrant pogrom. It holds the people in such low regard that they are seen as mindless automatons liable to do anything suggested by Evil Mass Media.

Both of these noxious ideas are complete nonsense, of course. It is perfectly possible to report a pertinent social or ethnic dimension to an important news story without giving in to base racism or crude stereotyping, and most people are perfectly capable of watching or reading such a story without themselves being motivated to commit criminal acts against people who share the same appearance or ethnicity as the alleged suspects. Yet these are the poisonous ideas influencing people in positions of civic leadership throughout Europe.

In some ways, the scandal emerging out of Cologne resembles the Rotherham sexual abuse scandal in the UK, which finally made news headlines in Britain in 2013. Obviously there is no comparison in terms of the scale of the atrocity committed — in Rotherham, hundreds of girls were systematically abused and raped by gangs of men while the authorities turned a blind eye — but the first response of those in positions of civic authority has been startlingly similar. As in Rotherham, officials in Cologne first chose to bury their heads in the sand and wish the problem away rather than risk the reputational harm (or imagined public disorder) that would have arisen had they sounded the alarm.

As Mick Hume notes in his powerful and timely book “Trigger Warning: Is The Fear Of Being Offensive Killing Free Speech?“:

Why did the local authorities try to close down media reporting and public debate of the child sex scandal? Not because the council and police in Rotherham had some sort of soft spot for sex criminals. It was because they were afraid of being accused of racism, and exacerbating community tensions, by allowing it to be said that Asian men were abusing white girls. They did not want to suppress the story because it was false. They wanted to suppress it because it was true.
[..] In other words they feared the reaction of local people if the media were permitted to report the truth and people were allowed free discussion of the facts. Or to put it more bluntly, they suspected that the Rotherham public were a malleable lynch-mob-in-waiting, a collection of puppets that could be inflamed into race riots by a spark from a Home Office report or a newspaper investigation.
[..] The authorities feared that there might be race riots in Rotherham if locals heard a bad word about child sexual exploitation from the press or right-wing politicians. So interfering in the right of the public to know the facts and judge for themselves became the first instinct of liberal-minded officials and politicians. Rather than have uncomfortable truths in the public domain, they tried to keep the free-speech genie in the bottle.

Inevitably, this “liberal” interference only serves to make matters infinitely worse by allowing problems to fester unresolved.

And yet the consequences of allowing the people to hear or know the uncomfortable truth are never as calamitous as the elites always fear, as Mick Hume points out with respect to Rotherham:

This was not done in the name of restricting free speech of course, but of protecting the innocent and maintaining community cohesion. Whatever they called it, the result of interfering with free speech and limiting debate was, as always, to make matters worse. When the long-suppressed truth finally came out there were no race riots in Rotherham — people are not the mindless automatons that some appear to believe. But the scandal left deep divisions and scars that threatened to sink, never mind rock, the multicultural boat.

If this problem manifested itself only in cases of sexual abuse going unreported and unaddressed it would of course remain a horrendous sickness in our society and a grave failure of the state to protect half of its population. But it would not be an immediate, existential threat to large, modern countries like Britain and Germany.

However, this worrying trend is by no means limited to the sexual abuse of women, or the dereliction of duty by civic leaders in provincial cities. All around Britain — and indeed Europe — we see the same failure to tackle non-integration and non-assimilation with Western norms by recent migrants or their children. Even when the lack of commonly held British values and a shared common identity leads to whole families upping and departing for Syria to fight for ISIS against the country which gave them life and liberty, many of us refuse to face the problem square on.

It’s not just Rotherham. There is a festering crisis of British and Western values, and a determined unwillingness from some quarters — for reasons of political correctness and fear of the masses — to challenge cultures and behaviours which fall short of our hard fought, painstakingly-built commitment to freedom of speech, freedom of (or from) religion, respect for the role of law and equality for women.

But it is not the child rapists or locally-grown terrorists who are even the greatest problem. Evil as those deplorable crimes are, the people who currently present the bigger threat to our society are those in the political elite or positions of civic leadership who seek to make a public virtue out of their tolerance-at-all-costs approach to multiculturalism. Some of these people may mean well. But their misguided dogma threatens our country and our liberties with a slow death by a thousand cuts.

And it is this corrosive attitude — whether expressed in Cologne or Rotherham, London or Brussels — which we must fight against first and foremost.

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Originally published at semipartisansam.com on January 8, 2016.