The appalling sexual attacks in Cologne followed by Hamburg, Stuttgart, Kalmar, and Stockholm have become one of the critical points in the politics of the Europe, the outcome of which would act as a breakthrough for the extreme right and racists or the socialist left. The middle of the road politics does not have a solution.
Initially, the mere fact of most perpetrators being refugees and immigrants created a false polarization of rights: asylum rights vs. women’s rights. The reactions to it ranged from hysteria to deception. It appeared that all of a sudden, the German establishment, which was known for its recent advocacy for refugees and hosted over a million of them, along with the recent pro-refugee movement and many on the Left, including feminists, found themselves caught in the middle of a predicament: Should they side with women’s rights or refugee rights?
Acting from a big brother mentality, the German establishment including police and media covered up the event for a few days before they publicized it. Even after the news was widely spread, the state continued to cover up the identity of the perpetrators for fear of losing it to ultra rights. I elaborate on this shortly.
Most of those on the Left deemed racism as the ‘main danger’. This Left, which I often refer to as pro-Islamic Left, undermined the sexual attacks and got busy with their conspiracy theories for which the German establishment provided the best fodder, the initial cover up. They blamed imperialism and German government for plotting the event in order to deport the very refugees that the German government had voluntarily admitted! This Left fell short of claiming that racists disguised in tanned skin on New Year’s Eve to conspire a plot against refugees!
Feminists initially took a more reasonable position. They came out with 'anti-sexism, anti-racism' banner, however, they ended up with misandry (sugar-coded as ‘patriarchy’) as the root cause of the attacks. The feminists claim that violence against women is the outcome of universal patriarchy; it has to do with the gender of perpetrator irrespective of his place of origin and religion. While patriarchy might be universal, feminism falls short to explain why violence against women is more common in Islamic stricken society.
After all, patriarchy is not a genetic phenomenon but it is a social phenomena. It is the result of an unequal social relation. Whatever its history, patriarchy is currently reproduced by the inequality of capitalism. However, thanks to Equal Rights movement rooted in the equality seeking socialism, patriarchy has been minimized in some countries. Sweden is a prime example. Meanwhile Islamic ruled societies have maximized patriarchy and consequently the violence against women is rampant in those countries. There is a substantial difference in violence against women when she is stoned to death for adultery in Iran and a woman whose husband imposes sex upon her for which he could be criminally charged in Sweden. Misogyny and patriarchy are inherent in Islam and it is practiced by all Islamic ruled societies and/or movements. The feminist explanation is at best irrelevant but more likely deceptive.
The above justifications hardly make any sense to any right minded person. We can sum up the above justifications as evaders, conspiracy theories and irrelevant or deceptive. These reactions clearly indicate that claimers are in shock. The shock is real. It originates form the collapse of an underlying ground on which all the above stood on for the past two and half decades. That ground is called multiculturalism. Although the above entities –ie rulers, pro-Islamic Left and feminists- who supported multiculturalism had different motivations for their support, they all shared this practiced concept. The multiculturalism ground - which was already shaken by the fact the IS recruited from within Europe- collapsed as soon as the news from New Year’s Eve in Cologne started to circulate. One of the pillars of multiculturalism is identity politics. The assignment of a religious identity to Middle Eastern and North African population is probably the most significant practice within the framework of multiculturalism. This practice dominated the West in the past two and a half decades. What initially appeared to be a false polarization of rights turned out to be an resolvable conflict within multiculturalism.
Assigning of a religious identity, Islam in this case, to the M.E and North African immigrants and refugees was not only reductive, it benefited both organized Islamic forces and racists. The Islamic organizations would use the religious id assigned by the states to claim they represent the ‘Muslims’. They would then demand Islamic schools, Islamic ‘cultural’ centers, misogynist sharia law, financial support, etc. A policy that has thus far segregated a section of the population in the West. As far as the German state was concerned, the segregation was supposed to safeguard Germany from ‘radical Islam’. However, the segregation only encouraged a backward society within Western societies. It created isolated communities where misogyny is highest against the female residents of the segregated communities. This policy has been partially responsible for recruitment of Islamists from the Western born and raised population. Racists too would benefit from the identity policy. They would now scapegoat ‘muslims’ for the apparent backward actions of Islamists.
In a nutshell, if we consider multiculturalism policy as a middle of the road resolution, the thuggish, mass sexual assaults in Cologne has proven its failure. Multiculturalism is therefore the problem, not a solution.
The ultra right and racists
The right did not need to sweat in order to take a stand. On the contrary, the racists found themselves awarded with a gift from heaven. They received a blank cheque from ‘nowhere’, the payee of which was their favorite: refugees and immigrants. In recent years, the ultra right parties in Europe were able to move from the margin of politics to mainstream. They managed to get considerable seats in the European Parliament and also in Finland, Sweden, and Denmark. In France, UK, and now Germany they are moving in that direction, that is, to be established parliamentary parties. The recent mass sexual assaults would only serve the right to secure its position within Western establishment, if the radical left is kept out of the picture. The establishment's failure in multicultural poicy coupled with the blackout of radical Left from the conversation would only let racism to grow. It's the main reason behind German as well as Swedish cover up for the mass sexual assaults.
The radical left
A small few on the radical Left initially -and for good reasons- suspected a political motivation behind the attacks in Cologne, that is, an organized attempt from Islamists to discredit refugees. While this is a plausible scenario but despite some evidence and witnesses that suggested it to be true, it has not yet been proven. This Left has consistently criticized political Islam and the West for flirting with Islamists. However, both the West and pro-Islamic Left have been hostile towards the socialist Left while they have no problem endorsing mosques and Islamic schools. The radical Left often suffers from media blackout whenever the conversation pertains to Islamists.
I too consider myself a member of this Left. The following is an outline of what I believe to be the root cause of the events in Cologne and elsewhere in Europe:
First, the bitter truth is that the attacks in Cologne and other cities were committed mainly by young, single male immigrants and refugees. This bunch of thugs makes up a small part of the total immigrants and refugees.
Second, refugees are victims of injustice, inequality and wars imposed upon them; however, the ‘refugee’ title is not synonymous with justice and equality, nor this label means Equal Rights. As a general rule, human is a product of his social conditions within a historical context. Political power, the means of controlling society, is the key element in human society and the structure of its social relation. It subsequently determines the level of violence against women. There is a difference between Swedish power structure and that of Iran. The former is a social democracy and the latter is a brutal theocracy. Swedish state lawfully maintains a great degree of women's rights policies while the theocracy in Iran lawfully maintains gender apartheid. It perfectly makes sense to conclude that a state run, systematic misogyny would create an extreme patriarchal society and encourages violence against women. However, state is not the only factor in how society treats women. Depending on the presence and strength of equality seeking movement, the treatment of oppressed, including women, can be significantly minimized.
Third, violence against women, especially sexual abuse, is not specific to Islamic stricken countries. It exists everywhere. However, misogyny and patriarchy has reached maximum capacity in the Islamic stricken countries where gender apartheid is imposed by state. The ordinary people have nothing to do with the imposed misogyny although they would be affected by it. Women in Islam-stricken countries, such as refugee women in Europe are immediate victims of Islamic misogyny.
Forth, the link between the misogyny in the M.E. and that in the West lies in the fact that the West provides organized Islamists with resources through which they practice their misogynist policies. This is accomplished through multiculturalism.
Fifth, a long-term solution to counter misogyny includes integration of refugees. We can now see the impact of applying religious identity to refugee. Islamists construct religious institutions on top of an Islamic id, that is, mosques, Islamic schools, Islamic cultural centers and similar. These institutions would then lead a portion of society into isolation. It creates Islamic run communities that often are hotbeds for Islamic misogyny. These communities pass on misogynist behavior, spanning to the second and the consequent generations of immigrants. Cultural relativism is responsible for the considerably higher rate of misogyny among immigrants isolated from the rest of society. We can only blame the Western establishment for it.
Sixth, the vast majority of asylum seekers are forward looking, equality seeking people. They fled from the rule of political Islam and its wars, Islamic laws, Islamic schools and mosques. The long term problem is not geared towards refugees at all. As discussed above, the second and the third generations of immigrants in the West are currently recruited by the Islamic State. The problem is highly rooted in society and needs to be treated as such without finger pointing at refugees.
Dealing with mobs and hooligans of any sort -be it Islamic or racist- is not that difficult. They have to lawfully pay for the consequences of their actions. What additional measures do we have to take in defense and expansion of both women and refugee rights without encouraging racism or Islamism? Whatever we might consider as the best approach, we need to first define a political framework because the issue is political at its heart. I think it is reasonable to claim that an effective, democratic framework to deal with sexism and racism in long run would have the following characteristics: secular, pro universal rights and equality seeking.
What could be done?
I believe that any serious attempt to tackle sexism and racism needs to be political and practical. It requires participation of a) refugees and immigrants, b) workers as well as the Left and progressive organizations and/or individuals, c) the Western states. Furthermore, it needs to be addressed in different levels: immediate, mid and long terms.
On a mid and long term level, the refugee’s best option is to get organized. They need to rely on themselves and align with workers and progressive organizations. Their organization could best serve them in dealing with the complex issues of daily life and help them to integrate in the host societies. An ideal refugee organization would rely on equal rights of its member – irrespective of gender, skin color, belief, thoughts, etc of the refugees - while advocates for universal rights (as opposed to ‘cultural relativity’). This form of organization would be immune from Islamists who claim to represent them while it is one of the best tools against racism. The long term solution would include the West ending its assigning of a religious identity to the immigrants. This measure eases the integration of refugees without being segregated and isolated based on a religious criteria.
The immediate response to the horrible misogynist, sexual assaults can only be an all-out condemnation of misogyny and racism relied on universal human rights, secularism and equality of all. The one and a half million asylum seekers in Europe need to join the workers organizations, the socialist Left, and Equal Rights organizations to defeat the mutual interests of racists, Islamists, and the pro-Islamic establishment. The anti-Islamic, socialist, radical Left -- which unfortunately constitute an absolute minority of the Left in the West -- plays a key role; it is the link between the workers, women's Equal Rights movement and refugees.
Born in Iran, Abbas Goya is a Marxist and political activist. His activism includes campaigns for worker's rights, children’s and women’s rights, freedom of expression, students’ rights, refugee rights, against capital punishment and stoning, against fascism, racism and political Islam.
Jan. 16, 2016