‘Die Zeit’ Interviews an “Expert” About Police Tactics Without Telling the Readers He’s a Convicted Criminal

Tumblr_o8iexsMOcJ1qav5oho1_500[New Yorker cartoon by Kim Warp]

UPDATE (17:45 PM): Sabine Rückert, an editor at the printed version of Die Zeit, responded to a tweet in which I pointed out the facts contained in this piece:

 

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"That is true. The person involved is Wüppesahl. I have informed my colleagues at ZON." (Zeit Online, the online presence of the printed newspaper Die Zeit, which is technically an independent organization.)

And now, the original piece:

Yesterday, the German broadsheet weekly Die Zeit published an interview (g) in which a so-called "police expert" harshly criticized the tactics of German police during the G20 Summit, comparing them to the Turkish police. As I pointed out in a tweet just after reading the article, the man, Thomas Wüppesahl is not an "expert", he is an activist, founder of a group called Critical Police Officers.

Shortly thereafter, in response either to my Tweet or to some of the 600+ comments (many harshly critical) to the original interview, Die Zeit changed the online article. Wüppesahl was now identified as a "critic" of the police, not an "expert". Further, a line was added to his biography indicating that his views were "highly controversial" (sehr umstritten).*

I pointed out the changes in a blog post yesterday. Yet a comment to that post (thanks, Björn!) altered me to a much more astounding fact than the changes to the article.

The "expert" on police tactics to whom Die Zeit gave a long interview is a convicted criminal. He was convicted of attempted robbery and murder in 2005. Because Wüppesahl is a former member of the German Bundestag and a prominent activist (a decision of the German Federal Constitutional Court even bears his name (g)), his trial was covered at great length in the German media. 

Let me quote my translation (footnotes removed) of the relevant portion of the German Wikipedia entry (g) on Thomas Wüppesahl**:

On 25 October 2004, Wüppesahl was arrested on suspicious of preparing to commit a crime. The informant and main prosecution witness was a former policeman and colleague of Wüppesahl's, who was also a member of the Critical Police group [which Wüppesahl had founded]. This person brought a non-functional pistol and a knife from police storage to the meeting with Wüppesahl. These were to be used to rob a money transport van. Wüppesahl was arrested in the colleague's apartment just after the colleague gave Wüppesahl the pistol and knife. 

The trial began on 4 March 2005. Wüppesahl's defense was that the plan which the prosecution claimed he had developed could not have worked in real life. He participated in the preparations only as a maneuver to uncover his former colleague as a police spy, and the action against him as revenge by the Hamburg justice authorities for his criticism of them [as an activist]…. The Hamburg Regional Court sentenced Wüppesahl on 7 July 2005 for preparing and attempting to conduct murder in the course of robbery and violations of weapons laws. He was sentenced to four and a half years in prison. After Wüppesahl's appeal was dismissed, the conviction became legally binding….

With an eye to rehabilitating his reputation, Wüppesahl filed a complaint against his conviction with the European Court of Human Rights on 27 December 2006. After four years of review, the complaint was denied as inadmissible in December 2010.

A Spiegel article about his conviction stated (g): "According to the prosecutor, Wüppesahl planned to confront a money courier in Berlin, shoot him, and hack his hand off with a meat cleaver in order to escape with the suitcase full of money handcuffed to the man's hand."

Ladies and gentleman, this is the police "expert" who was interviewed at some length by one of Germany's leading newspapers. Insert joke here about interviewing a vegan about his favorite veal recipes, a neo-Nazi about Yiddish poetry, etc.

I suppose it's just possible to imagine that it might be appropriate to print an interview with a convicted criminal about police tactics.

But printing the interview without telling the reader the man is a criminal? That is journalistic malpractice. This information was one short Google-search away.

Die Zeit (or at least Zeit Online) owes its readers an apology. 

* It would have been better to alert online readers that the article had been changed. However, this does not appear to be a breach of journalistic ethics, since the German Press Council requires changes to be clearly indicated (g) only as to matters of fact, not to value judgments.

** Wüppesahl has a long and colorful history of political activism, including representing the Green Party in Parliament, protesting nuclear weapons, and suing and criticizing German police. As you might expect, he maintains his innocence of these charges, and has a website (html code era: mid-2000s) in which he has posed hundreds of pages of what he considers to be relevant documents about his trial (g).

German Joys Gets Results Again

OK, the headline may be a bit self-aggrandizing. But here are the facts: In the early afternoon, I read an interview with Thomas Wüppesahl, a German activist, about the police tactics used during the "Welcome to Hell" demonstration.

Wüppesahl was harshly critical of the German police, claiming they provoked the demonstrators unnecessarily and used excessive force. The title of the article is "That is just like Turkey!". In the sub-heading of the article, Wüppesahl is described as a "police expert".

Here is a snapshot of the original description of Wüppesahl's qualifications as of 12:30 PM today courtesy of the Wayback Machine:

Wuepopesahl 1

 

"Thomas Wüppesahl is a former policeman and and was a Green Party Bundestag delegate from 1987 to 1990. He founded the Working Group of Critical Policewomen and Policemen, which advocates for civil rights."

I found this description to be another example of the overuse of the word "expert" by German journalists. German journalists routinely refer to activists as "experts". This is two journalistic sins at once. First, it gives the activist an undeserved veneer of objectivity. Second, it preempts the reader's judgment.

So I tweeted this:

 

 

Including a link to the former version of the piece, I tweeted "Sigh. No, he's not an expert, he's an activist."

Later, a Facebook friend asked me why I had been so critical of Die Zeit. After all, they had warned readers that Wüppesahl's views were "extremely controversial."

Wait, what? No they didn't! I called up the page again, and sure enough, everything had been changed. The introduction to the piece now identified Wüppesahle not as a police expert, but as a police critic. The graf about his background now (as of 8 pm) reads as follows:

Wup2

The added sentence, highlighted, reads: "Wüppesahl is highly controversial as a police expert."

I don't know whether my tweet prompted this change, but it's for the better. It might be a good idea for Die Zeit to let its readers know about the change, no?

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Welcome the Skilled Workers of…Tomorrow? 2025? Never?

Via Steve Sailer, excerpts of a Financial Times articles entitled 'Most refugees to be jobless for years, German minister warns': 

Up to three quarters of Germany’s refugees will still be unemployed in five years’ time, according to a government minister, in a stark admission of the challenges the country faces in integrating its huge migrant population.

Aydan Özoğuz, commissioner for immigration, refugees and integration, told the Financial Times that only a quarter to a third of the newcomers would enter the labour market over the next five years, and “for many others we will need up to 10”.

…Initially, the influx of so many working-age, highly-motivated immigrants spurred optimism that they would mitigate Germany’s acute skills shortage and solve the demographic crisis posed by its dangerously low birth rate. Dieter Zetsche, chief executive of carmaker Daimler, said the refugees could lay the foundation for the “next German economic miracle”.

But those hopes have faded as a new realism about the migrants’ lack of qualifications and language skills sinks in. “There has been a shift in perceptions,” Ms Özoğuz told the FT. Many of the first Syrian refugees to arrive in Germany were doctors and engineers, but they were succeeded by “many, many more who lacked skills”.

Or, to put it another way, 'German minister finally abandons airbrushing propaganda'. Anyone with reasonable experience of the world could immediately see, in real time, that most of the 2015 arrivals weren't going integrate into Germany. All you had to do was use common sense and knowledge of the world, two aspects of the human condition which were declared to be verboten in Germany from August 2015 to January 1, 2016. 

Those of us who clung to them immediately saw that most of these young males were going to have a hard time integrating, based on the following evidence:

First, most of the new arrivals didn't look very smart or conscientious. Studies show (pdf) that complete strangers can make judgments about someone based only on a photograph with better-than-random accuracy. And of course, we do this all the time, every day, for very good reasons. If I showed you a photograph of people leaving a monster truck rally, and people leaving a classical music concert — showing only their faces — you'd be able to tell which was which. We make these sorts of judgments every time we leave the house, and they're generally pretty reliable. If they weren't, we'd soon notice.

Second, When they were interviewed, all but a few of the migrants showed complete ignorance of the countries they were bound for, which were invariably Germany or Sweden. They knew not a single word of either of those languages, and were ignorant of the history, climate, food, culture, or even size of these countries. When asked why they wanted to go to Sweden or Germany, they always responded because there is money, jobs, work there and Merkel invited us and they need workers and they're building houses for us (g). Occasionally, some would say they had 'relatives' in some German or Swedish city or another. What you almost never heard was "I have an affinity for German culture", or "I believe I can contribute", or "I studied German for five years in school", or "I heard Firm X needs 800 welders, and I have 10 years experience in exactly that kind of welding".

Three, Some of the new arrivals said they were fleeing war or persecution in their home countries. But for every one who said that, there were at least 5 who said they had left their home countries because there were "no opportunities" (keine Perspektiven) for them there. Since most of these interviews were conducted by notoriously gullible German journalists, no follow-up questions were asked. The average German journalist has only a liberal-arts education in which things such as demand curves, marginal cost v. sunk cost, economies of scale, amortization, etc. never come up.

Their only understanding of how national economies work comes from moralizing discussions by leftist sociologists and philosophers, who themselves are usually ignorant of basic economic principles. The journalists therefore graduate knowing as much about how the economy works as a theology student knows about quantum mechanics. The problem is that a theologian can do his job perfectly well without knowing quantum mechanics, but a journalist cannot do his without at least some basic understanding of economic principles. To most German journalists, the "economy" is just a mysterious black box designed by those in power, whether intentionally or not, to exploit the poor. Really, what more is there to know?

So when the "refugee" said they had no prospects at home, the German journalist just shook his head in commiseration at the injustice of the world, thinking of some suitable Brecht poem about how the working class are eternally screwed no matter where they live. While the sensible viewer at home said: Why don't you ask him why he couldn't find a job? After all, even in poor countries, most able-bodied males are able to find work. Why can't this guy? Perhaps because he has no skills? Perhaps because he can't read? Perhaps because he stole from his last employer? Perhaps because he's a drug-dealing murderer like Hamza?

But no, the typical German journalist will never ask these things (even though he would consider them very relevant for someone of his social class) because the poor are to be regarded as a fungible mass, not as individuals with agency just like him.

In any event, German is now stuck with these people. My personal 20-60-20 prediction hasn't changed much since 2015: The brightest 20% (mostly those who already have an education or job skills) will probably make a successful transition, learning fluent German, getting jobs, and living independently. The bottom 20% will never learn anything but a few crude phrases, and will drift off into the underworld of black-market labor, organized crime, prostitution, and/or drug dealing. The middle 60% will learn a functional form of pidgin German relevant to whatever work they find, which will be intermittent, low-paid labor on construction sites or in warehouses or in government-subsidized job programs. They will never master German grammar or general vocabulary, and will always speak their native language at home. Perhaps a few will find stable work which will actually get them off the welfare rolls, but most won't.

If only German politicians had accepted these obvious facts when they were evident to most people, we could have had a much more honest debate.

The ‘New Statesman’ on the German Opinion Corridor

The Swedish term for the Overton Window is the "opinion corridor" (åsiktskorridor). Germany has one too, well-described by this piece in the New Statesman from a year ago:

What is interesting about the AfD is what it tells us about the changes afoot in Germany. Its rise is a product of the constrained and elitist nature of German politics, in which – after the experience of Nazism – many subjects are declared to be outside the realm of political competition. All the mainstream parties are in favour of EU membership, the euro and the Atlantic alliance, and against war, inflation and nationalism.

What this leaves is a restricted political sphere where politicians have often been able to act against public opinion without fear of challenge – as in the decision to replace the popular Deutschmark with the strikingly unpopular euro in 1999. But those who dare to cross the threshold of political correctness tap in to a vast reservoir of pent-up popular frustration. And because the establishment cartel turns them into outcasts rather than arguing with their views, this reservoir continues to grow. A CSU minister recently told me that the German debate on refugees reminded him of the old East Germany, where there was a fundamental disconnection between what people thought and what they thought was acceptable to say in public. According to a recent poll, nearly half of all Germans are afraid to voice their opinion about the refugee crisis.

Leonard is not a right-winger, and the New Statesman is not a right-wing publication. But even Leonard finds German taboos childish and counter-productive. For an informed German-language critique, see this fine piece by Heribert Seifert in the NZZ.

I am tempted to say Leonard's comments show the typical divide between German and Anglo-American ideas about speech, but that's not quite right. America and England also have their taboos, they're just difference from the ones in Germany, or for that matter France.

The main difference, I think, is the structure of the press landscape. The line between topics that are considered proper for "tabloids" and the "respectable" broadsheet newspapers is enforced much more firmly in Germany. The same goes for tone. Every self-respecting English Bobo (f) obediently professes to despise — despise!! — the Daily Mail, whose lively, detail-rich, copiously-illustrated reporting should be a model for journalists everywhere. Yet you will often see the same topics covered by both the Daily Mail and the Guardian — often in the form of the Guardian noticing and attacking something the Daily Mail wrote.

German respectable broadsheets, by contrast, simply pretend that German tabloids (and their readers) don't exist. They never mention them except to use their names as an insult, and scrupulously avoid topics (such as celebrity gossip, onerous EU regulations, or crimes by foreigners) which are associated with the tabloids. When they do address "tabloidy" topics they consciously choose a vague, euphemism-clogged manner of reporting which seems intended to put the reader to sleep.

Then, often as not, they quote some professor, all of whom understand the Bobo party line, and many of whom helped create it. The professor will then duly recite more euphemisms about "context", a "nuanced perspective" and "not jumping to conclusions". Often, what the prof says contains minor or even major distortions and distractions, but the reporter (even assuming he knows) doesn't care, since the point of the interview is not to spark a debate but rather to instruct right-thinking people which opinion they are expected to hold.

I call it Respectable Waffle, and Leonard's phrase "constrained and elitist" is a pretty good way of characterizing it.

This is why, in my experience, it is incredibly easy to flummox German Bobos who get their news only from the Respectable papers — they are simply unaware of anything which isn't considered worth knowing by Die Zeit or the FAZ. They have never been exposed to thoughtful, informed challenges to the party line which Leonard describes, and therefore have no way to defend their views.

America: Politically Correct, and Politically Free

FT_16.10.15_Freedom-of-Expression

Pew research looks at the level of support for free speech across the globe and finds that it's highest (according to their measure) in the U.S.:

Enshrined in the Bill of Rights, free expression is a bedrock American principle, and Americans tend to express stronger support for free expression than many others around the world. A 38-nation Pew Research Center survey conducted in 2015 found that Americans were among the most supportive of free speech, freedom of the press and the right to use the internet without government censorship.

Moreover, Americans are much more tolerant of offensive speech than people in other nations. For instance, 77% in the U.S. support the right of others to make statements that are offensive to their own religious beliefs, the highest percentage among the nations in the study. Fully 67% think people should be allowed to make public statements that are offensive to minority groups, again the highest percentage in the poll. And the U.S. was one of only three nations where at least half endorse the right to sexually explicit speech. Americans don’t necessarily like offensive speech more than others, but they are much less inclined to outlaw it.

To get a summary measure of support for free expression around the world, we built an index based on five survey questions about free speech and three about free media. Using this measure, Americans emerge as the biggest supporters of free expression among the 38 nations studied. And unlike so many other issues in the U.S., wide open, free-ranging public debate has an appeal across party lines. There are relatively few differences between Democrats, Republicans and independents when it comes to free expression.

However, there are some important generational differences on this issue. For instance, 40% of U.S. Millennials think the government should be able to prevent people from making statements that are offensive to minority groups, compared with 27% of those in Generation X, 24% of Baby Boomers, and just 12% of Silent Generation Americans. Nonwhite respondents (38%) are also more likely to hold this view than whites (23%).

Apart from debates over whether offensive language should be legal, most Americans believe people are just too easily offended nowadays. In a 2016 Pew Research Center survey, 59% agreed with the statement “Too many people are easily offended these days over the language that others use,” while only 39% said “people need to be more careful about the language they use to avoid offending people with different backgrounds.”

Yet another stereotype of American society down the drain. Germans consider America to be the homeland of political correctness, the dastardly censorship of controversial views which is spreading like a virus into German society. This impression, like so many others, is created by selective German news coverage. Most Germans still unthinkingly rely on the mainstream media to decide what it's important to know about the United States.

Which they do, according to their own narrow, nearly-identical criteria, determined by the tastes and preferences of educated urban haute-bourgeois Germans. And they have decided, for reasons which would be interesting to know, that Americans are afflicted by the worst case of political correctness on the globe. Journos pounce on every story showing the excesses of politically-correct scolding in the United States. 

Yet what Pew shows us is that Americans likely have the highest tolerance for offensive speech of anyone in the world.

The problem here is one of definition. Political correctness as a tendency of private persons in civil society to denounce someone's remarks, or Halloween costume, or state flag as offensive. There is a lot of that sort of thing in the United States. And there is certainly some chilling effect on college campuses, which are full of people whose job is essentially to have opinions.

Yet in another way, America is much more free than all other nations on earth. The Constitution and American culture prevent the government from punishing offensive speech to a greater degree than anywhere else. In America, the government cannot pre-emptively stop a newspaper from printing offensive speech, or stolen secret documents. Publications generally cannot be seized after they're printed. Ordinary citizens may advocate violence, deny the Holocaust, use ethnic slurs, and espouse racism without fear of government intervention. (As long as these are words alone — you can still be punished for actions such as workplace discrimination or bias-motivated hate crimes). You can neither be punished by the government nor sued for money by a private citizen for an insult, not matter how vicious or crude it is. You can protest at the funeral of a soldier with signs which insult "fags" and say "Thank God for Dead Soldiers".

God-hates-fags

In almost all other countries on earth, any one of these actions or statements could expose you to criminal prosecution by the government or an order to compensate victims with money damages in civil court. Not in the U.S. And, as the Pew survey shows, the majority of Americans approve of this state of affairs. Even millennials, the most PC group of them all, are not clamoring for restrictions on free speech.

So in the United States, if you say something quite rude and non-PC, you may be castigated on Twitter and denounced by your audience.

If you say the same thing in many other countries, you could be hit with a government-imposed fine or civil damages verdict. Perhaps even a prison sentence.

The amount of politically-correct scolding in a country has no relation to the level of genuine freedom of expression. After all, politically-correct scolding is freedom of expression. The U.S. is a hotbed both of political correctness and of free speech.

“Substantial” Genetic Influence on Choice of A-Levels

Your genes play a key role in deciding whether you decide to take A-levels and which subjects you decide to take them in:

We have previously shown that individual differences in educational achievement are highly heritable throughout compulsory education. After completing compulsory education at age 16, students in England can choose to continue to study for two years (A-levels) in preparation for applying to university and they can freely choose which subjects to study. Here, for the first time, we show that choosing to do A-levels and the choice of subjects show substantial genetic influence, as does performance after two years studying the chosen subjects. Using a UK-representative sample of 6584 twin pairs, heritability estimates were 44% for choosing to do A-levels and 52–80% for choice of subject. Achievement after two years was also highly heritable (35–76%). The findings that DNA differences substantially affect differences in appetites as well as aptitudes suggest a genetic way of thinking about education in which individuals actively create their own educational experiences in part based on their genetic propensities.

This result would surprise and probably alarm many Germans, but they won't hear about it. One of the problems with the insular clique of German mainstream journalists is the blinders they wear. The majority studied sociology, German literature, comparative literature, political theory, history, philosophy, or some other liberal-arts subject. There, they learned plenty about Kant and Mann, but nothing about economics, the military, or hard science.

I think this explains why German journalism on these areas is often terrible. Conditioned by their highly moralized culture and the ideological slant of liberal-arts education, they immediately seek out the underlying moral 'lesson' to be drawn from nuclear research, or the Higgs boson, or gene therapy, etc. They may spend a few paragraphs actually explaining what is going on from a scientific perspective (often getting key things wrong), but before they're even done with that, they start reciting their tired old platitudes (this is what mankind gets for trying to play God, nature's way is always the best, human dignity is the prime directive, etc.) and canned Lessons of History™.

And that goes triple for genetics. If they did learn anything about genetics in their seminars, it was usually accompanied by stern, moralizing lectures about how the Nazis used genetic pseudo-science to justify genocide. The result is a nearly-unshakable belief in the discredited 'blank slate' theory of human variation (i.e., that it's all caused by nurture, not nature). Anyone who points to the ever-growing mountain of evidence that genes play a crucially important role in human personality, achievement, and behavior is automatically assumed to be a crypto-eugenicist until proven otherwise.

I don't have a solution to this problem, but I suppose scholarships and training programs for aspiring science journalists might be something to think about.

A Fine Article About Justice in Texas

I’ve been hard on many German journalists who report on the USA. Sometimes tough love, sometimes tough hate! The cardinal sin of German reporters is not getting facts straight and not correcting mistakes even after I or someone else points them out.

The venial sin – by no means limited to coverage of the USA – is telling us what they think about everything they report. I know you have a lot of profoundly civilized feelings about guns or prisons or the death penalty or racism, Maximilian or Felicitas, but they don't interest me. I neither know nor care very much who you are. Tell us what you saw and heard, not what you think about it, and certainly not what you think we should think about it.

That’s why it’s a pleasure to recommend this fine in-depth piece (g) by Andreas Ross about a ‘drug court’ in Dallas, Texas. The point is to single out those criminals whose basic problem is drug addiction, and to divert them into an alternative program designed to keep them straight and out of jail. It’s still pretty strict – participants have to pass constant random drug tests and can be summarily thrown in jail if they mess up – but it’s been effective. And keeps people out of Texas prisons, which have a deservedly awful reputation. The author drills down into the subject, lets people speak for themselves, and stays in the background, where you always find the best reporters.

Well done!

All German Newspapers Need Corrections Columns

As I've pointed out on this blog before, German newspapers have a decidedly mixed record on correcting the mistakes in stories they publish. One of the worst offenders is Die Zeit: I've pointed out several factual errors to them, and the results have been mixed. Sometimes they never bothered to correct the mistake (as with this howler-filled piece which appeared on the front page), other times they corrected it, but only by updating the online version of the article, without noting the fact that the error had been corrected.

However, I don't want to single out Die Zeit — I can't think of a single German newspaper that has a regular 'corrections' feature as you might see in U.S. or British newspapers. The closest you might come is to see a court-mandated 'opposing viewpoint' (Gegendarstellung (g))  when a newspaper is successfully sued. If a court finds an article inaccurate, it will require the newspaper to publish a correction written by the affected party in at least as prominent a location as the original story. But a correction that you have to win a lawsuit to enforce is hardly sufficient. And the opposing viewpoint only applies to errors that affect the reputation of individuals, a tiny subset of all the mistakes that get printed in the German press each day.

So this recent article (g) by Georg Mascolo, former editor-in-chief of Der Spiegel, could hardly be more timely. He points out that German press outlets constantly make mistakes, yet have no institution like the 'corrections' column in American or British newspapers. He calls for a 'culture of mistakes' (my translation): 

America is, by the way, far ahead in so-called "media accountability". Reading the corrections column in the New York Times is often a pleasure. There are long descriptions on topics such as exactly how Obama's attitude towards same-sex marriage has developed. What the actual policy of United Airlines on free beer and wine is. If the context is wrong or incomplete, it will be expanded and corrected. In the American magazine Rolling Stone, a story about an invented campus rape made headlines. The magazine's editors allowed the well-regarded Columbia School of Journalism to minutely examine the magazine's failure. Many American newspapers have editorial ombudspersons. I've met some of htem. Excellent journalists who investigate mistakes in their own newspapers just as thoroughly as journalists do to politicians or business leaders. The motto of the ombudspersons is: "We require journalists to take responsibility for their conduct just as journalists do for all other people".

The New York Times hired its first ombudsman in 2003, after a journalistic debacle. Its reporter Jayson Blair had engaged in plagiarism and invented facts. Almost twenty years earlier, Stern had published the Hitler Diaries. 

The idea for ombudspersons could actually have come from Germany.

Jörg Albrecht’s Drive-By Insult of Charles Murray

If Germans often have peculiar ideas about the rest of the world, you can often chalk it up to the journalists on whom they rely for information.

Case in point: I open up German's leading broadsheet, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, and there's a long article (g) by the German science journalist Jörg Albrecht.* Much of it is a detailed discussion about Nicholas Wade's recent book A Troubled Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History. Albrecht prefaces the discussion thus (my translation):

Since the book has been on the market, there has been a reprise of the discussion triggered twenty years ago by the psychologists Richard Herrnstein and the political scientist Charles Murray. Their message, put forward in an 800-page doorstep called 'The Bell Curve', was, to abbreviate slightly, that negroes (Neger) are on average dumber than whites, that this is true from birth onward, and that therefore there's not much reason to invest in their education.

Wade's book is not quite this coarse (grobschlächtig).

There is no higher responsibility for a translator or someone writing about a book in a foreign language than to give a reasonably fair representation to his or her readers. I read The Bell Curve shortly after it was published to see what all the fuss was about, and I can say Albrecht's characterization is, as it was intended to be, nothing but a drive-by insult. Like so much German journalism, his description of The Bell Curve is not meant to enlighten readers, but to condescendingly warn them away from ideas the journalist disagrees with. 

Also, importantly, the word Neger, which I translated as 'Negro', is a racial insult. In context, in German, it's not as explosive as 'nigger' in English, but it's regarded as intentionally insulting and is never used in polite conversation. Blacks are never referred to by racial insults in The Bell Curve, except in quotations from other works. Whatever you think of Charles Murray's ideas, he never uses racially insulting language.

I think I'll tweet this to Charles Murray in case he might wish to pursue matters.

* Like most online articles in Germany, this one does not identify 'Jörg Albrecht' or give us any background information which might indicate why we should pay attention to his views. There are plenty of Jörg Albrechts in Germany, I presume this one is the science journalist.

Werner Patzelt on the Immigration Crisis

It's long, it's in German, it's good. TU Dresden political scientist Werner J. Patzelt on the migration crisis, the concerns of 'ordinary citizens', elites, and representative democracy. Perhaps I'll post an English summary when I have a moment. For now, here's the link for the German-powered. 

How to Handle Migrants on the Housing Market

Der-koelner-maik-stolze-vor-seinem-mini-eigenheim-

[source]

In Germany, if your initial paperwork is approved and you are granted refugee status (and in certain other circumstances), you are eligible to move into an apartment that you find and rent yourself. The state gives you a voucher for the rental costs, but it's small. This means, in the coming months, hundreds of thousands of migrants will flood into the market for low-income housing in Germany. There is already a shortage of affordable housing so severe that many German cities have imposed rent controls.

And no, even if the refugees are placed in rural East Germany, they will not stay there. They will all flood into major population centers where they already have relatives and there is an existing Arabic-speaking community. The federal government can't stop this flight into the cities. The German state will never be willing to take the coercive measures necessary to actually force 400 Syrians located in a small East German town where there are no jobs and the locals distrust them. 

So all those migrants are going to flock to Berlin, Dortmund, Cologne, Bremen, Hamburg, etc. In many of these cities, there are already serious shortages of affordable housing. And now come foreign newcomers without jobs who don't speak any German to compete with German citizens for an affordable, decent place to live. And the foreigners, unlike the Germans, are clutching a piece of paper from the government that gives them free rent.

I can see the interviews now: Cindy, A German (or if you prefer Cansu, a long-settled Turkish-German) discount-store cashier, holding her 2 children, says: "I know it was good to take the refugees in and I don't blame them, but what about us German citizens who are already here and are working hard and paying our taxes? Where are our free rent checks? Where are our decent, affordable apartments?"

Of course, Green-party voting journalists will mock Cindy for implicitly comparing her hardship with those fleeing war. (They'll remain uncomfortably silent about Cansu.). Other journalists will produce long, statistics-laden pieces about why the affordable housing crisis really isn't quite as dramatic as you might think. The Bild tabloid will actually print the interview with both Cindy and Cansu, and will be attacked for the 455,003th time for "irresponsibly" inciting xenophobia.

And many working- and lower-middle class Germans will take a fresh look at anti-immigrant political parties.

To ignore this obvious crisis barreling down the road toward us would require a level of foolishness and shortsightedness that nobody expected to see from Germany. Until this summer.

So the Andrew Hammel Tough-But-Fair Think-Tank puts forward this White Paper:

  1. Social and political scientists accept that government benefits which are seen as only going to the poor or foreigners quickly become unpopular and get cancelled. This is a universal constant of human nature that cannot be changed, and any policy which ignores it is doomed. 
  2. Germany's going to need for the migrants alone 500,000 new affordable apartments not in rural East Germany, but in the cities where all the migrants will quickly move to.
  3. Therefore, the German Interior Ministry should announce the 50/50 plan: an ambitious new subsidized housing plan that will build or refurbish one new decent, rent-controlled apartment for low-income Germans for every new apartment built for migrants.
  4. The German Interior Ministry should announce this program right now, not after months of negative press coverage and mounting rage. Also, the federal government will announce that it will provide all the money, so there's no squabbles about which level of government will have to pay.
  5. This ambitious new housing program will be paid for by canceling existing tax cuts and raising the top marginal income tax on the rich by 3%. Also, a 30% inheritance tax on estates over €1 million. In Germany, about €250 billion (g) is passed generation to generation every year in Germany. Little Carlo-Alexander can give up €800 of his monthly €4000 trust-fund allowance to help desperate refugees, can't he?

At this point, my plan looks like a crazy dream. But I wouldn't be surprised to see something like it in, say, mid-2016.

Email to Albanian Embassy to Germany

A couple of days ago, I identified an error in an article on the front page of the most recent edition of Die Zeit, which was delivered to my home as a subscriber. The article has not yet appeared on the Zeit Online website. The author claimed that domestic violence was not a crime in Albania until 2012, which, as I pointed out, was clearly wrong. I sent a tweet with a link to my blog entry to Jochen Wegner and Sabine Rückert of Die Zeit informing them of the error.

 

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Since then, I haven't heard from them. So I decided to let the Albanian government know about the error. Here is the email I sent them:

To the Albanian Embassy to Germany,

I am a resident of Germany whose native language is English. I am also fluent in German. I write to inform you that a leading German weekly newspaper, 'Die Zeit', has printed incorrect information about the Albanian government's efforts to combat domestic violence.

On the front page of the 13 August 2015 issue of 'Die Zeit' is an article entitled 'Bitte Umdenken' by Elisabeth Raether which criticizes many aspects of Albanian government policy. In particular, the article accuses the Albanian government of not doing enough to combat domestic violence in your country. The author states that 'Die Kanun prägt sogar die heutige Rechtssprechung. Erst seit dre Jahren ist häusliche Gewalt eine Straftat.' Translation: ‚The Kanun influences current jurispridence. Domestic violence was made a crime only three years ago.‘ I have attached a photograph of this article to this email to permit you to verify the accuracy of my quotation and translation.

As you surely know, the statement that domestic violence was legal in Albania until 2012 is false. Albania passed a law specifically addressing domestic violence in 2007, and even before that time, acts of domestic violence could be punished under ordinary criminal-code provisions dealing with assault.

I pointed out this error on my blog on Saturday, 15 August: [link]. I also sent a tweet to several editors of ‘Die Zeit’ at that time informing them of the error. As of this time I have not received a reply.

Since this factual error on the title page of a newspaper with a weekly circulation of over 500,000 misrepresents the Albanian government’s policy on domestic violence, I thought you might wish to establish contact with ‘Die Zeit’ and request a formal correction. If you would like more information, please let me know.

Sincerely,

Andrew Hammel

Düsseldorf

I'll let you know if I get a response from any of the interested parties.