• Germany’s Post-Cologne Hysteria - The New York Times

    The attacks — along with similar incidents in Hamburg — come at a critical time for Germany, and they raise tough questions about where Germany is headed: not just whether it will remain open to more refugees, but whether it can peacefully integrate those already here.

    Rarely in recent memory has a single event captured the German conversation quite like the Cologne attacks. Long before any facts were in, commentators were already drawing conclusions.

    Alice Schwarzer, a well-known German feminist, wrote on her blog on Tuesday that the events were a “product of misguided tolerance.” Frauke Petry, head of the far-right Alternative für Deutschland party, said the events were a “result of uncontrolled migration.”

    And Julia Klöckner, the top Christian Democratic candidate in the coming state election in Rhineland-Palatinate, called for an “open debate” on whether foreigners, including asylum seekers, could be kicked out for committing crimes — a proposal that even Chancellor Angela Merkel cautiously endorsed, though such laws already exist.

    But as quick as the right was to use the attacks as a wedge against refugees, the left moved just as fast to deflect the blame. Heiko Maas, the minister of justice and a member of the Social Democrats, said on Tuesday that “organized crime” was behind the attacks, though no evidence exists for such a connection (he has since threatened to deport foreigners found guilty in the attacks).

    In other words, precisely when the country needs a coolheaded conversation about the impact of Germany’s new refugee population, we’re playing musical chairs: Everybody runs for a seat to the left and to the right, afraid to remain in the middle, apparently undecided.