Heinz Buschkowsky, mayor of the Berlin problem-district Neukölln (41% immigrants), has written a book that will unleash a lot of discussion. Bild [a leading German tabloid] has published exclusive excerpts:
At this point my case is more about the daily powerlessness in a world where shoppers walk through the supermarket, collect products, pass the cashier without paying, and make clear to the cashier what will happen to her when she calls the police.
There, where five persons walk abreast over the sidewalk and all others should make way. There, where possibly everyone is gazing into nothingness before the traffic light to avoid trouble with the streetfighters in the car next to you and being asked: “Do you have a problem? We can resolve it here and now!”
There, where small children are asked for a ‘road tribute’ or a ‘consumption tax’ for the use of the playground. Where young women are being asked if they wish to have a ‘fertilisation process’. Where people throw their softdrink over the head of the bus driver when he asks for your bus ticket. This simply puts you in a bad mood, just by reading it.
As long as we pursue a policy of all-understanding and all-forgiving and make clear to the people that we are not thinking about changing these conditions, because this neglect of manners belong to ‘cultural identity’ and ‘openness to the world,’ we will only find lukewarm partners for a genuine successful integration policy.
Usually it is the elderly who suffer under this territorial behavior, or the very young who find out who has the final say on the streets.
There is a demonstrative neglect of manners such as courtesy or consideration—the simplest rules for how to behave toward others in the public. That is the issue which makes people think: Where am I at the moment? Is this still my town, my homeland?
That’s why at some point many come to the conclusion: I don’t like these people. If they don’t want to live together with me, I also don’t want to live together with them.
These are not excessive incidents, but the goal of the “top dogs” is all about demonstarting that the Germans have nothing to say; they don’t care about the rules at all. They are not completely without success.
For example, in the Sonnenallee of Neukölln cars are often parked three abreast. The first car is on the sidewalk, the second in the normal parking spot, the third on the street, i.e., in the first driving lane.When the drivers are unlucky, a car stops in the second lane and the driver loudly starts talking with the people who are drinking thea or coffee in front of the cafe. Don’t make the mistake of honking or getting out of your car. You might end up in an uncomfortable situation.
Any problem that you might have can be ‘solved’ directly [i.e., by confrontation]; or when you think that you have something to say about manners as a German, they will show you that you can lick their boots. The police patrols don’t have a different experience.
Police officers are careful not to come within arms’ length of a person. It could happen that suddenly a cap or other things will be taken. Loud talking starts, which is unintelligible for anybody, but nobody knows whose car it is and the police should just proceed and don’t bother them.
All this is happening with an agressive posture and with an agressive tone. If the situation gets out of control, the police have to call for reinforcements and really must restore the situation, there may well be physical violence.
Afterwards it can happen that the police officers are questioned by their team leader—asked if they have ever heard about the ground rule of proportionate conduct. Asked if they were aware that resistance was to be expected. Asked whether they are aware of how such conduct will be judged by the judicial system.
These judicial procedures usually end up with the acquittal of the traffic ruffian, in which case the police officers should be happy that they have not been convicted. Many judges are not even inclined to let the police do their government-assigned work of regulating traffic; they are not inclined to support them by applying the law.
The aggression and other difficulties in enforcing the law that police officers have to endure while doing their duty do not trouble these “do-gooder judges” with no firsthand experience.
Gaertner, the police commissar who was active in Neukölln for decades recently told me that he could not recall ever reading a report of a handbag theft or a robbery by an immigrant youngster on a woman with a headscarf [i.e., a non-German].
The enemy are the hated Germans; they are the target of their agression, and they have nothing to counter the flashmobs: via cell-phones numerous people appear in mere minutes who directly start to behave threatingly. Germans are considered easy targets.
It can happen to anybody on a normal day. It can happen to you that you experience a suprise at a normal traffic accident, particularly when the person you collided with is easily recognisable as an immigrant.
In that case you and the other driver are quickly surrounded by numerous “witnesses,” who happen to have it seen very clearly. The man behind rearended your car, but they will swear that you have callously driven your car backwards into his car.
When in doubt, the ground rule is to help the ethnic sisters and brothers. What is true or not has no value in the case of a “disbeliever” [i.e., those in outgroups have no moral standing—an case of moral particularism]. These are some of the small experiences that makes the people here so “happy.”
We Germans educate our children to be non-violent. We reject violence in encounters and teach that to our offspring. Others teach their children to be strong, brave and ready to fight. The ground rules basics are simply different from the beginning.
Heinz Buschkowsky’s book Neukölln ist überall [Neukölln is everywhere] appeared on Septemebr 21st at Ullstein Verlag.
Translated by Peter Stuyvesant.