On New Year’s Eve, there were mass attacks on women in Cologne, Germany. More than a thousand young men, many of them with an apparent migration background, congregated next to the famous cathedral of Cologne where they assaulted, groped and even raped women passing by. Local police, far outnumbered, did not intervene in the mayhem. In the days to follow, police, press and government tried to downplay the disaster, in order to avoid controversy about migrants, of which Germany admitted more than one million in 2015, with many more to come.
Since then, statements by police who had been ordered to stand down, by eye witnesses and by social media, have emboldened the victims to file more than 625 criminal complaints with 40% of them related to sexual assault. Many of the alleged attackers are Arab or North African, which has led to severe discontent with the government and its migration policy. There have been a series of protests, particularly in eastern Germany, blaming Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government and her open-door refugee policies.
Beyond the very serious criminal charges which are for the police and judiciary to resolve there additional serious questions. First, are European countries such as Germany ready to accept so many refugees both mentally and physically? Second, given the huge number of migrants still in motion, who will provide them with a domicile? Third, and most importantly, the desire for temporary tranquility has invalidated the fight for the equality of women, shod the aversion of violence against women, and done so at a dangerous cost to societal transparency and progress.
For decades, even centuries, western countries have been trading partners with authoritarian regimes in the Middle East, selling weapons, automobiles and other lucrative products. But the encouragement of an Arab Spring has led mainly to an Arab Fall. Yet, a large financial overhang, mainly resulting from international business, has not led to an assimilation of values and behavior. Instead many funds are used to help the distribution of fierce rhetoric, giving rise to Osama bin Laden and many other extremists. These developments are paired with an asymmetry of political correctness in the Western World, leading to new rope which the victim sells to its miscreant.
With decreasing demands for mutual integration, concurrently rising migration and outdistanced procreation, there are fewer viable landing strips for students, women and willing economic participants.
Right now, many of the migrants seek out primarily Germany and Sweden as asylum territories, which is understandable in light of the accommodations and benefits offered. But there are also important cultural milestones and preferences of governments and citizens who receive the human wave. Integration means that hosts learn more about their visitors, but also requires the new arrivals to accept key standards and expectations of their hosts. Though large immigration is likely to dilute rigid norms, it also must lead to asymptotic movement towards established standards.
The EU, taking on a leadership role consistent with the Treaty of Lisbon, should pr0otect the human rights of asylum seekers, but also has right to determine where this protection should take place. For example, the Middle East and Africa have many locations where refugees can be housed, fed and clothed, and protected. Countries such as China and India could develop entire settlement policies for the resolution of a global problem. These are not meant to create new colonies, but rather endorse the establishment of pop-up protectorates, to temporarily provide succor, shelter and peace to refugees.
Third, and perhaps most chillingly because it can set the future rails for disaster, is the failure of the public media to distribute honest information rapidly. An almost week-long delay of media reports was broken only when too many other sources broke the mantra of keeping bad news about migrants out of the public spotlight. This is wrong! Silence is a blow to the victims of violence, and lets them be hunted like game. Women deserve better.
The violent, brutal and sexist treatment of women must be combated radically.The event in Cologne reveals a major flaw societal shortcoming which cannot be tolerated. Germany is an internationalized country due to the composition of its population and its dependence on foreign trade. If it wishes to continue with its international leadership role, Germany must recognize that such role is one of immersion into the world which must result in simultaneous juridical, social and economic leadership. Female equality is a crucial entitlement for more than half of the population. To declare otherwise is wrong for the native locals as well for the wave of newly arriving migrants. The events in Cologne must not become the opening act for continued misery and disrepute.
The attempt to muffle the powerless laments of the victims with the blanket of public silence is most treacherous. One should not cry ‘fire’ in a cinema, but doing so is encouraged when the flames are in the roof. The suggestors, the targets of the suggestions as well as the self-motivated absconders with truthful information must recognize how their behavior has fertilized the ground for future misinformation and knowledge abuse. Effective steps must be taken to truly make a difference. It is time for such action with specific details clearly spelled out by democratic transparency. As was already promulgated by St. John:” And you will know the truth and the truth will make you free.”
Professor Czinkota presents international marketing at Georgetown University in Washington D.C.