Readers of my blog (dianawest.net) know that over this past week, as a maelstrom of buffeting economic crises has sucked the air out of the news atmosphere, I have been all-but-transfixed by events unfolding in the German city of Cologne. With the unabashed fascination of the rubbernecker, I have watched in horror, combing online foreign press reports and a few favorite blogs (Brussels Journal, Gates of Vienna, Atlas Shrugs), as local authorities yielded their charge of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly -- indeed, yielded civic space and civic peace -- to a lawless band of violent leftists, who, in their weekend stint of mob rule, successfully prevented a political rally against the Islamization of Europe from taking place.
What's more, these same authorities, including the mayor of this fourth-largest German city (about 1 million people), yielded to the mob happily and with much self-congratulation. Indeed, Cologne Mayor Fritz Schramma called the episode "a victory for the city of Cologne and a victory by the democratic forces of the city."
Schramma may well count squelching peaceful political discourse with a violent mob as a victory for his city, but there is nothing "democratic" about it, or about the "forces" responsible. This twisting, weasel-use of language, however, is only one example of the campaign of disinformation waged against reality in Cologne this past weekend.
In brief, elected officials from several different countries (Austria, Belgium, Germany, Italy), politicians who campaign and win elections on the politically incorrect issue of resistance to the spread of Islamic law (Sharia), were invited to speak in Cologne.
Why Cologne? After a long and contentious battle, the city council last month narrowly approved the construction of a giant mosque complex funded by a group called the Turkish-Islamic Union to serve some portion of the city's 120,000 Muslims. While the American take on any house of worship going up is generally one of approval based on a straightforward belief in freedom of religion, in Europe, given the heavy influx of Islamic populations, there is a political and legal dimension to such mosque construction that we just don't recognize here. For example, Germany's Muslim population is largely Turkish; and it is Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan who is infamous for having said in 1998, "The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers." Such a declaration of, well, religious war from someone who is now a head of state adds the threat of conquest to any serious mosque debate.And that's not all. Earlier this year in Cologne, Erdogan declared before 20,000 cheering Turkish expatriates that "assimilation is a crime against humanity." On that same trip to Germany, the Turkish leader also proposed the German formation of Turkish-language schools. What's going on here? If Turkish assimilation is out, is Turkish colonization in? Isn't it the duty of politicians to debate these and other transformational questions within the political process? As a crossroads of Islam and Europe, as a frontline in the colonization of Europe, Cologne becomes the logical meeting-place for such a debate.
But it wasn't to be, not in "democratic" Cologne. As some 1,500 Europeans prepared to assemble to listen to the political opponents of Islamization make speeches last weekend, many more thousands of counter-demonstrators converged on the city specifically to deny rally supporters their right to assemble, and the politicians' right to speak. And yes, by whatever means necessary.
The thugs among the counter-demonstrators mounted a rock-and-bottle attack that shattered windows on a river boat plying the Rhine where the politicians attempted to hold a pre-rally meeting. They blocked urban trains in order to keep rally participants away. They ringed the city center with barricades (tolerated by German police), hurled paint bombs, lit fires and launched violent attacks on some of the participants who managed to draw near the rally location. One would-be rally participant, a Jewish man, sent in an account of his ordeal to Gates of Vienna, writing: "I was wearing my kippah and readily identifiable as a Jew; however, they (the leftist counter-demonstrators) screamed at me 'Nazi Raus.'" He reported they also shoved him, spit on him, and called him a fascist pig. "I was pummeled in the head several times and then shoved to the ground where I was beaten and kicked with steel toe boots in plain sight of police who did nothing." He later discovered he had a broken rib.
Such lies and distortions are probably what help convince our own media to ignore such events altogether as just so much marginal "extremism" going on somewhere in Europe. Anyway, how does it affect us? Nothing like that is happening here, right?
Yes and no. As in Europe, huge mosque complexes are opening across the States -- one very recently in Boston and another in Atlanta. Do they portend the extension and entrenchment of Islamic law in the United States? One difference between the United States and Europe is that we don't have street thugs enforcing a code of silence on the subject. That's because of the other difference: We don't have any political parties willing, or even able to discuss it.