Sunday 10 January 2016

Paddy on Angela Merkel's "great message of peace and hope"

It would only be fair to set that heavily narrative-driven report by Hugh Sykes in the context of the ensuing discussion of the Cologne attacks on Broadcasting House which took place between two journalists - Imke Henkel of Die Zeit and Thomas Kielinger of Die Welt (and Dateline London), here representing, perhaps, the centre-left and centre-right German viewpoint.

Both of them, however, approved of and supported Angela Merkel's decision to open the doors (as Thomas Kielinger himself said at one point), so that might have led to more consensus that those left-right labels implied...

...except for the fact that Thomas Kielinger took what he described as a more "realistic" approach to  what I'd describe as Imke Henkel's more idealistic, straightforwardly left-liberal line.

Imke Henkel defended the media, attacked the knee jerk" blaming of immigrants, and slammed a "problematic" paper instead for showing a "racist" and "sexist"cartoon of a "naked white woman touched by black hands". Thomas Kielinger, in contrast, described what happened in Cologne as Germany's "Rotherham moment", said that "political correctness" had got in the way there, and rejected Imke's "knee jerk" phrase. saying that the fact that "elements" among the newly-arrived migrants/refugees were responsible for the attacks shouldn't be "hushed up".

So it turned out to be an interesting and pretty balanced discussion after all.

And what of Paddy O'Connell?

Most of his questions pursued a single point - the point about whether Germany had been "prepared" for what happened in Cologne (and elsewhere), or "prepared" for the influx of migrants? "Clearly not", Paddy kept adding (quite reasonably, I think).

This question, however, struck me as going well beyond 'devil's advocacy' - especially as it was put to two people who themselves admired Frau Merkel's decision to open the doors:
Can I ask you both if you still see the great gain of this gamble by Angela Merkel? It's a humanitarian gesture made by the heart of Europe. It's extraordinary what she's trying to do. Do you, Imke Henkel, still believe she can do this? That the country can achieve it with the great message of peace and hope that it will send if she can achieve it? Do you think she can still do it?
(And he pronounced 'heart' as if he was calling her "the Heart of Europe" - as Imke Henkel took it that he meant too).

That's an extraordinarily positive presentation of Mrs Merkel's decision, isn't it?


  1. I mentioned before that I didn't find Paddy O'Connell neutral on such matters!

    It is an absurd question - it's a kind of wish fulfilment question. It presupposes that allowing millions of undocumented young men of fighting age, nearly all ostensibly (at least)followers of a violent ideology that despises all we hold dear (democracy, equality of women, the arts, and tolerance) into the heart of Europe could have ended otherwise than badly.

    1. I take your point on P O'C over this question. Neutral it certainly wasn't!


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