Thursday, July 13, 2017

Things That Make Me Think...WTF?!?!

I live in a small village (ca. 2000 inhabitants) connected to a larger (but still small) community (ca. 25,000 when the populations of all the small villages are counted). The Kernstadt (main city of the community) has a population of about 6000. I truly love it here - it's quiet, not much happens, folks are friendly enough, and there are plenty of opportunities to get involved.

This afternoon - just a few hours ago - I learned from the Facebook group "Blaulicht News", which normally informs locals about where Blitzer (speed cameras) have been set up and where accidents have happened and traffic is backed up, that a man had been stabbed to death at the grocery store where I do all my shopping. There had apparently been an altercation between two people inside the store, and one pulled a knife.

Having lived in America for 44 years, this doesn't come across to me as anything terribly unusual. I see the US as a pretty violent place. I've experienced very little violence personally, but it's all around us - we love violent TV shows and movies and violence is not edited out when movies are shown on TV, seemingly every third person has a gun stashed somewhere or displayed in the back window of his pick-up truck (some are carefully locked in gun cabinets), and the more violent the video game, the better kids like it. We read almost daily about shootings in malls, schools, and neighborhoods (a shooting where only one person is killed is hardly newsworthy anymore). Violence is just a part of American culture. Sadly.

This kind of violence is less common here, though, in our small town in southwestern Germany. A similar incident did happen at the other local grocery store a few months ago, but I don't think that victim was killed.

As long as there are humans on this earth, there will be violence. We just have to hope we're not involved, and preferably nowhere near it.

So what made me sit down at my laptop to write this blog post? A discussion on social media about the incident before reliable details were even available.

One person (I'll call him Herr Klugscheißer) wrote a snarky remark: "Yeah, and of course we can't ask about the nationality of the perpetrator!"  [Facepalm. Here we go again.]

Another (Herr Dingsbums) threw some blame at Angela Merkel for her "Wir schaffen das!" and letting many migrants & refugees into Germany. 

Please note, no information about the victim or perpetrator (Täter) was available yet. All that was known was there was one person with a knife and one dead person. And it was reported that the Täter was in custody.

Can someone - anybody - explain to me what difference it makes what the nationality of the Täter is?

Herr Klugscheißer was surely cleverly implying that the Täter was probably a foreigner/migrant/refugee. 'Cuz Germans don't do stuff like that, I guess. [Never mind the 27-year-old German in Altenfeld who stabbed and killed two of his three children last month because his wife said she was leaving him. The third child survived.]

Herr Dingsbums was definitely implying that the Täter had to be a refugee, because "Wir schaffen das" was directly about refugees fleeing from their war-torn homes.

How would the conversation have gone if Herr Klugscheißer had asked his question?

   "What's the killer's nationality?"
   "He's German."

Or maybe:

   "What's the killer's nationality?"
   "He's Syrian."
   "SEE?!?  I told you they're all violent! They should never have been let in!"

Or this:

   "What's the killer's nationality?"
   "He's Turkish."
   "Of course! Damn foreigners! Why are they even here?"

What about this one:

   "What's the killer's nationality?"
   "He's American."
   "Figures. They're all mad as balls. Why can't those nutjobs stay in their own country?!" 

I can assure you it wouldn't have gone anything like this:

   "What's the killer's nationality?"
   "He's Syrian/Turkish."
   "Hm. I know lots of really kind Syrians/Turks. What a tragedy for the victim's family."

Why would someone need to ask about a killer's nationality? The only reason I can come up with is so that the asker can then spout off about his views about all people with that same nationality. Is a murder more acceptable when the killer shares our nationality? Is a crime somehow worse when a "non-native" commits it? What the hell?

If the Täter had not been already apprehended and was at large, then a description of the person is both fair and important! But that was not the case here.

People who ask such questions in a public forum (actually even out loud at all) are not the sort of people I want to know. The question is as ridiculous to me as "Is the Täter overweight?"  "Does the Täter have brown eyes?" Was the Täter drinking a Coke before the attack?"  These questions could all be important if police are searching for him (or her). But otherwise, what the hell?!?

Herr Klugscheißer also seemed to be implying that he will be unfairly deemed racist or anti-immigrant for daring to ask the question. I'm pretty confident in saying that a person who is not racist or anti-foreigner/anti-immigrant would not ask the question like that: "Hrrumpf. Of course we can't ask about the Täter's nationality!!"

How about: "It's terrible that this happened in our community! Do we know anything about the people involved?"  There's nothing inherently anti-others in that question, but many people would probably not ask that either - but just wait for the details to come out in the news rather than participating in the rumor mill.

Asking a question does not make a person racist.
Assuming that a criminal or perpetrator has a certain skin color or comes from a place other than white Germany or white America does.

Relating such a story to someone else and including the [confirmed] detail that the killer is an American/Syrian/Turk/German does not make a person racist or xenophobic.
Adding an editorial comment or snarky remark about Americans/Syrians/Turks/Germans does.

At least in my book.


  1. I totally agree with you! If you feel the need to comment that we're "not allowed" to ask someone's nationality I can guarantee that your reasons for wanting to know are not neutral.

    At the end of Ramadan, a car drove into a group of Muslims in Newcastle. Someone on Facebook posted the article with the comment "This needs to stop!". I read the linked article and saw that a woman (herself a Muslim) had lost control of her car while trying to drive away. It was a tragic accident! Obviously the person had just seen the headline and photo and decided it was obviously a terrorist incident. I wasn't the only one that pointed out that it was an accident. Strangely enough the person who originally posted the article didn't respond to any of us...

  2. I'm so sick of this bullshit! Honestly, my father was a refugee and I take it to heart when people think all refugee men are cowards who ran and will abuse their new country. Awful.