Lesson 4: Stabbing People is Wrong

“The Judges’ Association of Lower Saxony demanded more integration programs for young refugees. The justice system can only intervene when a crime has already been committed…. More intensive efforts at integration are necessary until all refugees have learned that in Germany one does not, for example, just start stabbing people (mit dem Messer aufeinander losgehen).”

This delectable example of dry German humor can be found at the end of this article (g), which brings us the welcome news that the 24-year-old woman who was stabbed by a 17-year-old Syrian last weekend in Burgwedel, Germany has awakened from the artificial coma she was put in to save her life.

The crime is just one of a Germany-wide spate of knifings (g) last weekend — which, in turn, was just the latest of many Germany-wide spates of knifings (g). But it was notable for two reasons. First Burgwedel is a prosperous liberal hamlet of 20,000 near Hannover which had been celebrated for its “exemplary” efforts to accommodate refugees. Second, the alleged attacker, a 17-year-old Syrian, had arrived in Germany with his entire family in 2013. Many commentators have suggested that the crime increase caused by young male migrants might be countered by letting their entire families in, since the families, presumably, would exercise a moderating and civilizing influence on their hotheaded teenage members.

It doesn’t seem to have worked in this case. And the reason is telling: According to police reports, the stabbing came after a confrontation in a local supermarket between the victim and the 13-year-old cousin and the 14-year-old brother of the suspect. Presumably, they texted their older brother that their honor had been violated by some German woman, and he unsheathed his knife and sprang into action against a random unarmed woman.

That’s the thing about honor cultures: the more members of your family there are, the more people there are whose honor you might have to defend: “[H]onor is a central source of status, which largely explains the apparently trivial causes of many violent conflicts: the issue is not really the taking of a few cents of change but whether one can person disrespect another publicly and get away with it. Honor cultures too are typically antipathetic to law and legal officials: a man must stand up for himself and not rely on others to do so.” Apparently German policymakers have never encountered this concept.

But, as the judges note, all that’s needed is yet another integration course. After the mass groping event in Cologne on New Years’ Eve 2015-2016, various German integration experts called for classes to explain to young male migrants that it’s not ok to grope, beat, and rape women. These classes were, of course, entirely successful, and the problem vanished entirely. All that’s necessary is to create a new course unit called, I don’t know, “Stabbing People is Wrong”, and this problem will also vanish.

Or you could screen the people you let into the country, but what would be the point of that?

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