Ralf Jaeger, German interior minister for North Rhine-Westphalia, has said that “what happens on the right-wing platforms and in chat rooms is at least as awful as the acts of those assaulting the women.”
Jaeger was distressed that the multiple sex attacks on German women by men of “Arab or North African” appearance in Cologne on New Year’s Eve might bolster the arguments of anti-immigration campaigners. “This is poisoning the climate of our society,” he said.
It’s not known which websites Jaeger was criticising, but free speech platforms such as 4chan are routinely branded “misogynistic” and “racist” by progressive campaigners and left-wing politicians because they are some of the only remaining places online where citizens can express their frustration with government policy free of censorship.
Even on reddit, stories about Cologne were being heavily moderated and in some cases banned yesterday by touchy liberal moderators.
Frustrated German citizens were expressing horror on Twitter today that one of their elected officials would compare words on the screen to a series of attacks that includes two alleged rapes and dozens of reported molestations.
Germany continues to struggle with its legacy on racism, which, some say, has led to Angela Merkel’s disastrous refugee decisions and produces such outrageous remarks from earnest but out-of-touch politicians.
Earlier this month the German government teamed up with Facebook to aggressively police what it called “hate speech,” but which German citizens say amounted to little more than criticism of government policy and anguish at the social effects of mass Muslim immigration.
Earlier this week, Cologne mayor Henriette Reker prompted a firestorm of ridicule and criticism when she suggested that women should obey a “code of conduct” to avoid being sexually assaulted in the street.
This, said critics, flew in the face of decades of feminist activism on so-called “victim-blaming” and illustrated a double standard when it came to assailants with brown skin.