01 March 2016

Leaning to the Right

A couple of months ago, I was on my way home, during the evening, from work. I was about to descend to the metro station platform, in Stadtmitte station. As I was descending the stairs, I saw the people who just got off the station and were exiting, climbing up. At the end of the small parade of people were four people who I thought were peculiar. It consisted of an elderly German couple, negotiating the staircase by climbing slowly and holding on to the handrails. And immediately behind them were two guys, definitely foreign-looking, relatively well-dressed. I initially thought that they were family, and perhaps they were heading to the theater, after all, there are a bunch of theaters and concert halls nearby. However, I immediately saw that something different was happening. The two foreign-looking well-dressed guys in the back were trying to open the elderly man's backpack. They were pickpockets!

At first I couldn't believe what I saw. Maybe I saw wrong. But sure enough, they didn't just attempt it once, they attempted it twice, and I saw it the second time. So I guess I couldn't help but raise my voice and call it to the attention of the elderly couple. I told them what I saw. Then the two foreign-looking guys gave me the finger and ran away.

Should I have called the police? If I did those criminals probably would have already ran away before the police could even arrive. Should I have just shut up? Maybe they would have beaten me up. But I guess the area was too crowded they wouldn't do that. I probably would have shut up if it were later in the night and the place was deserted. In any case, after that small altercation, I proceeded down to the station, and the elderly couple went up.

This made me think, those pickpockets were foreign-looking. And coupled with the news recently that migrants have been attacking women and other segments of society here in Germany, I couldn't help but think that somehow, this influx of refugees isn't really a good thing in the long run.

I used to consider myself very left-wing. But now, I guess, as I age, I am slowly leaning to the right. There are still issues that the left cares about which I support. Diversity, personal freedoms, those things I still wholeheartedly support. But sometimes, I cannot help but think that there are negative aspects with making society too diverse. There is this notion of the "Regressive Left", which basically refers to the idea that the left is too embroiled in being progressive, they accept everyone. But is that really what we're supposed to do?

If there are refugees coming in, sure, they can come in. But they should be made aware that they are guests, and that there are rules they have to obey. Sure they might be fleeing a dangerous society, but this new society which has welcomed them will not tolerate negative behavior. If you decide to move here, you have to leave not only your dangerous homeland, but also your conservative worldviews. Women are not second-class citizens here, for example. If you want to flee here, you have to embrace our values.

I read Ayaan Hirsi Ali's memoir once. When I did I realized why some people think her views are right-wing. And I guess so are mine. Diversity is great, but only to some extent. Multiculturalism is great, but only to a certain degree. Not all behaviors have equal value, so if we want a society that functions well and is well-organized, we have to enhance the behaviors that would contribute to the realization of this society and eradicate the behaviors that would contradict it.


  1. Man, you should see in Paris... I can't remember NOT seeing either pickpockets, either guys with their fly open trying to feel women in the subway. Sometime, both in the same subway trip...! :-D

    1. Zhu,

      Haha, yes. But I think it's different when you see these things in your homebase, so to speak, when you have ample time to compare how things are changing as a function of time. When I travel, of course, I take precautions and almost expect that there are bad elements all over the place, that's part of the equation. But when it is in the city where you live, and you see that last year was better than this year, and the year before last year was better than last year, and when you see that it correlates when you notice the ethnicity of those perpetrators and notice that they belong to a particular sub-group. I am not automatically branding everyone who is not Caucasian as having criminal intent, but somehow I cannot ignore the fact that every time I see a pickpocket, it is someone who is more often than not having a migration background. And that, at least, is disconcerting.