Whenever I blog about crimes by migrants, most of my German readers shift uncomfortably in their seats. They maintain utter silence about the issue, never commenting one way or the other, and privately wonder if I've finally drunk das Kool-Aid of neo-Nazism. The reason for this is a simple cultural misunderstanding: most educated Germans perceive a strong taboo against discussing migrant crime, but I don't.
Nor does the New York Times. An article about the influence of violent crimes on today's election in Austria begins with this picture of the bruises inflicted on a grandmother when she was raped by a young Afghan male:
By any measure, the string of crimes has been terrible. A grandmother of three, walking her dog, raped along a riverbank. A 10-year-old boy sexually assaulted at a public swimming pool. A 21-year-old student gang raped near the giant Ferris wheel at Vienna’s famed Prater park. A 54-year-old woman beaten to death on the street.
The fact that the crimes were committed by recent migrants from war zones and an immigrant who had lived illegally in the country for years added an especially volatile element to the political climate ahead of the presidential election on Sunday, when Austria could become the first European country to elect a far-right candidate as head of state since the end of Nazism.
Ms. Bubits is also the daughter of the woman, now 72, who was raped while walking her dog on Sept. 1. Since the attack, Ms. Bubits said, her mother has gone from being healthy to ridden with anxiety and requiring close attention.
“It goes up and down,” Ms. Bubits said, but “it’s basically as if she was suddenly 90.”
On a visit to her home on Friday, her mother could barely shuffle a few steps without assistance. Ms. Bubits said she and her mother wanted to speak out about what had happened to emphasize that despite the problems many Austrians want to help refugees and make a place for them in their country.
According to court documents, her mother was walking her 13-year-old dog by the Schwechat, a river where refugees and residents often bathe. A young man helped her up a slope, but then, the documents said, “exploited her physical weakness,” threw her to the ground, “held her mouth shut, ripped her clothes and forced her to engage” in sex.
“It is all getting whipped up politically,” said Martin Mahrer, a lawyer who is defending one of three young Afghans who have confessed to raping a female Turkish student in a park on April 22. “People now want offenders to be really severely punished.”
Mr. Mahrer said some of these young migrants had arrived from war zones, with completely un-Western views about women.
“They do not respect the same things we do,” Mr. Mahrer said. But, he asked, are foreign offenders less equal before the law than Austrians?
If this article had appeared in German newspapers which consider themselves comparable to the New York Times — well, actually, it wouldn't have in the first place. Respectable broadsheets don't publish photos of bruises caused by vicious rapists. Only tabloids would stoop so low. Respectable broadsheets don't let victims of crimes by ethnic minorities tell their stories — that privilege is reserved for victims of right-wing attacks. If respectable broadsheets mention violent crime at all, it is only to tell their readers what things are permissible to think and say about the issue.
In other words, respectable broadsheets are ignoring a problem that's obvious to everyone living in Western Europe. Serious crime by migrants is a vitally important public-policy issue in Europe today. It is literally changing the political face of Western Europe. Statistics are one thing, but anyone who underestimates the potential explosive impact of random violence against strangers in public places is a fool. And respectable broadsheets are full of these fools, which is why they are so surprised by the rightward lurch in European national politics.