I Am Now a 'German Analyst'

Soeren Kern at the Gatestone Institute quotes the rantings of some obscure crank on his so-called 'weblog':

In an insightful essay, German analyst Andrew Hammel writes:

"Let's do the math. There are currently 16 million Turkish citizens of Kurdish descent in Turkey. There is a long history of discrimination by Turkish governments against this ethnic minority, including torture, forced displacement, and other repressive measures. The current conservative-nationalist Turkish government is fighting an open war against various Kurdish rebel groups, both inside and outside Turkey.

"This means that under German law as it is currently being applied by the ruling coalition in the real world (not German law on the books), there are probably something like 5-8 million Turkish Kurds who might have a plausible claim for asylum or subsidiary protection. That's just a guess, the real number could be higher, but probably not much lower.

"If visa requirements are lifted completely, each of these persons could buy a cheap plane ticket to any German airport, utter the word 'asylum,' and trigger a years-long judicial process with a good chance of ending in a residency permit."

Hammel continues:

"There are already 800,000 Kurds living in Germany. As migration researchers know, existing kin networks in a destination country massively increase the likelihood and scope of migration.... As Turkish Kurds are likely to arrive speaking no German and with limited job skills, just like current migrants, where is the extra 60-70 billion euros/year [10 billion euros/year for every one million migrants] going to come from to provide them all with housing, food, welfare, medical care, education and German courses?

And finally, "the most important, most fundamental, most urgent question of all":

"Why should a peaceful, stable, prosperous country like Germany import from some remote corner of some faraway land a violent ethnic conflict which has nothing whatsoever to do with Germany and which 98% Germans do not understand or care about?"

Turkish-Kurdish violence is now commonplace in Germany, which is home to around three million people of Turkish origin — roughly one in four of whom are Kurds. German intelligence officials estimate that about 14,000 of these Kurds are active supporters of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a militant group that has been fighting for Kurdish independence since 1974.

On April 10, hundreds of Kurds and Turks clashed in Munich and dozens fought in Cologne. Also on April 10, four people were injured when Kurds and Turks fought in Frankfurt. On March 27, nearly 40 people were arrested after Kurds attacked a demonstration of around 600 Turkish protesters in the Bavarian town of Aschaffenburg.

On September 11, 2015, dozens of Kurds and Turks clashed in Bielefeld. On September 10, more than a thousand Kurds and Turks fought in Berlin. Also on September 10, several hundred Kurds and Turks fought in Frankfurt.

On September 3, more than 100 Kurds and Turks clashed in Remscheid. On August 17, Kurds attacked a Turkish mosque in Berlin-Kreuzberg. In October 2014, hundreds of Kurds and Turks clashed at the main train station in Munich.

Just to clarify a few things for newcomers: I am an occasional analyst of events in Germany, but I'm an American citizen who lives here, not German.

I'm also not a neo-conservative, and disagree with many of the positions taken by the Gatestone Institute. But on the subject of European immigration, we see eye-to-eye. I have quoted their reports from time to time on this blog, because they're generally solidly researched and draw attention to aspects of European immigration policy which are most definitely downplayed by the mainstream European media, including state-funded broadcasters.

And I have yet to hear any answers to the obvious questions I posed back in my original blog post on March 1.


This Blog is Now Moving to Facebook Permanently

For those of you already on Facebook, please visit my Facebook page here and sign up.

From now on, I will be posting exclusively to Facebook. There are a couple of reasons for this:

  • Trying to keep up discussions on two different platforms is too much effort for a side-project.
  • On Facebook, I can control who sees these posts, and make sure they're more likely to reach people who, let's say, are likely to understand the spirit in which they're posted. On a blog, they reach everyone. This was tolerable as long as it was the only option available, but now with Facebook, there is an option, so it's long past time to switch.
  • Integrating videos and pictures is much easier.
  • Responses on Facebook are instant, and I can read and post to Facebook from anywhere, including smartphone
  • The commenting and response functions on Facebook are light-years easier to use and more responsive. I can't say how many times I've wanted to 'like' a particularly good comment here, but no go.

I understand that some of you have privacy and other concerns about Facebook, but that doesn't affect my decision. The advantages of Facebook are so overwhelming now that there is no real choice. Blogs are horse-driven carriages, Facebook is a modern luxury air-conditioned bus. Everyone get out of the carriage and on to the bus. You won't regret it. 

Also, anyone can take simple steps to keep themselves anonymous on Facebook. It's quite easy. Create a profile not using your real name or information, and upload a random picture. Bingo, you're done. Nobody will check it, nobody will close your account, and you will be free to read and comment and post on anything as long as I friend you.

All you need to do is create a profile, then visit my Facebook profile here. Request to add me as a friend. Because I limit the number of people I friend (spam friend requests are common on Facebook, don't friend anyone whose name you don't recognize or who's not already friends with someone you know) please let me know you're from the blog. Do this either my adding a message to your friend request, or, if you use a fake name, by making sure your fake name has the word 'joy' somewhere in it. 'Joy Buzzer'. 'Richard Joyington'. 'Mr. Joyboy'. You can also use your real name, as I do. I've been Facebooking for years under my real name, and I've never noticed a single piece of spam mail or any problems.

Alternatively, you can simply 'like' my page and follow my public posts without friending me. It's up to you. I've enjoyed blogging here for the past few years, and I look forward to continuing the debates on Facebook.

I don't want to be too much of a martinet here, but this decision is final and irreversible. I've even shut off comments on this post, since reading complaints about this decision benefits neither me nor anyone else. See you all on Facebook!


Yours Truly in The New York Times

Many thanks to the commenter who suggested I chip in something for the New York Times series on migrants. The Times just published a portion of what I submitted. Severely truncated, of course, but it still gets across a point which I think most outsiders still don't really grasp:

Andrew Hammel, 47, Düsseldorf

What most outsiders don’t realize is that the majority of people entering Germany in 2015 are not refugees. Hundreds of thousands of people took advantage of the open borders to stream in from places such as Albania, Morocco, Mali, Algeria, Tunisia, Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Serbia, Egypt and literally dozens of other countries. Most of them are young males who have no claim to asylum under international or German law. They are not activists, writers or journalists. They are simply people hoping to find a better-paying job.

The other contributions are interesting. I think I'm the only one who comes across as critical of Merkel's policy so far, but it looks like the series will be ongoing, so we'll see how matters develop. They included a link to my Facebook page, so I'd better get rid of all the links to my contributions to Landser and Compact.


The Boston Globe Praises My Book

A little blatant self-promotion here. Katharine Whittemore in the Boston Globe just began a round-up of seven books about capital punishment and life sentences with this punchy, but essentially accurate, abstract of my book's argument:

Why has Europe ended the death penalty, but we’ve still got it? The conventional answer trades on cultural divides: America is an immature cowboy nation, racist and trigger happy, while Europe is more measured, mature, and its societies, chastened by two world wars, are understandably keen to avoid further violence. They’re enlightened; we’re philistine. Germany, in fact, got rid of capital punishment in 1949 and Britain in 1969. Before I read today’s books, I’d vaguely guessed that the Germans acted in revulsion at their Nazi past, and the British embraced the moral revolution of the Sixties. I was flat wrong; in both cases, the people overwhelmingly supported the death penalty. But their leaders coolly, blatantly overruled them.

“Ending the Death Penalty: The European Experience in Global Perspective” (Palgrave MacMillan, 2010) helped me, like no other book, to understand the worldwide evolution of the ultimate punishment. When Andrew Hammel, a professor of American law at the University of Düsseldorf, asked European jurists and pols why they’ve succeeded where we’ve failed, he constantly heard this refrain: Americans are naïve to think public opinion must change before the law changes. That’s because the “desire to see murderers executed is a basic drive of human nature, one which only the most educated are able to overcome.”

So that’s their strategy: an elite fait accompli. There are long roots here, for the earliest calls for diminishing the death penalty came from European philosophers invited by European monarchs to put their ideas into practice. Voltaire was pivotal and so was Italian jurist Cesare Beccaria, whose 1764 landmark treatise, “On Crimes and Punishments” (Beccaria, 2013), remains powerful reading today and had a marked influence on Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. Beccaria found it immoral and illogical to treat brutality with brutality: “Murder, which [judges] would represent to us as a horrible crime, we see practised by them without repugnance or remorse.’’

In our era, when those on death row in the United States are in for heinous crimes only, we forget that the state once killed for far less. In 19th century Britain, you could die for some 200 transgressions, including vagrancy and “theft from the premises of a calico printers.” The march toward abolition was a slow one, steadily scratching offenses off — but it was basically a top-down process. Such condescension is a nonstarter in our more populist, pluralist society where 63 percent of Americans favor the death penalty. Eastern European countries had similar stats but, in order to join the European Union, they had to end the practice. The responsive structure of American politics guarantees, for now, it’s here to stay.


Letter Published in London Review of Books

In the July 17th London Review of Books, Judith Butler reviewed Jacques Derrida's On the Death Penalty, Vol. 1. She noted Derrida's reliance on a key passage in Freud's Civilization and its Discontents:

A brief passage in [Freud's] book proves quite important for Derrida’s argument. Freud is writing about the death penalty: ‘One is irresistibly reminded of an incident in the French Chamber when capital punishment was being debated.’ (I take it that this is the 1790s.) ‘A member had been passionately supporting its abolition and his speech was being received with tumultuous applause, when a voice from the hall called out: “Que messieurs les assassins commencent!”’ It is as if the call to let the assassins begin their work is of a part with the passions aroused by abolitionist discourse itself. Are abolitionists like anti-pornography campaigners who end up exciting their supporters with their graphic descriptions of the porn they would get rid of? Abolitionism has a different problem, since here it isn’t so much desire but the death drive that cloaks itself in moral opposition to its own expressions. Does Derrida’s reading suggest that opposition to the death penalty can quickly be converted into its opposite, unleashing a celebratory affirmation of its destructiveness?

I hadn't read Freud's book in quite a while, and had forgotten that he had discussed the death penalty in it. In any case, I was quite sure Freud's interpretation of this quotation was seriously wrong, since I had encountered the phrase several times in research for my death penalty book. I did a bit of research, and located the quotation. The London Review of Books just published my letter correcting Butler, Derrida, and most importantly Freud, who started the whole journey into erroneousness. Here it is, along with another letter which might be of interest to German readers: 

The Death Penalty

Judith Butler repeats a mistake first made by Freud about the origin and meaning of the phrase ‘Que messieurs les assassins commencent’ (LRB, 17 July). It was not ‘called out’ during a debate in the ‘French Chamber’ in the 1790s in response to arguments against capital punishment. In fact, the French journalist Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr coined the phrase in an 1849 issue of his serial Les Guêpes. Further, the phrase was hardly intended as a cry of encouragement to murderers. The full passage (my translation) reads: ‘The law of the land kills those who have killed. If one wishes to abolish the death penalty in such cases, let the murderers begin – if they do not kill, we will not kill them.’ In Civilisation and Its Discontents, Freud reproduces only the five-word exhortation. He seems to interpret it as a frenzied expression of bloodlust, and follows it with meditations on the violence inherent in human nature. In context, of course, it’s just a snappy retort to death-penalty abolitionists – and sometimes a retort is just a retort.

Andrew Hammel
Heinrich-Heine University, Düsseldorf

Both in Nietzsche Zur Genealogie der Moral and in the translation of Derrida quoted by Judith Butler, the text reads ‘der kategorische Imperativ riecht nach Grausamkeit,’ not ‘reicht von’. ‘Riecht nach’ means ‘reeks of’; ‘reicht von’ means ‘ranges from’. Walter Kaufman and R.J. Hollingdale, as well as the 1994 Cambridge translation by Carol Diethe, give ‘smells of cruelty’, but (as Peggy Kamuf, the translator of The Death Penalty, notes) in the French original Derrida actually uses the English word ‘stinks’ – neither ‘reeks’ nor ‘smells’ – to translate the German.

Michael Robertson

Augsburg


China Rethinking Capital Punishment?

The New York Times notes China's softening stance on the death penalty: 

Last month, China’s Supreme People’s Court overturned the death sentence of a woman who brutally killed and dismembered her husband. The landmark decision to send the high-profile case back to a provincial court was yet another sign that the country’s embrace of the death penalty is loosening.

China is believed to execute more people each year than the rest of the world combined, and 43-year-old Li Yan initially seemed a likely candidate for death row. In 2010, she beat her husband to death with an air gun, chopped him into pieces and boiled his body parts. But police photos and a medical report backed up Ms. Li’s claims that her husband had abused her — stubbing out cigarettes on her body, banging her head against the wall and threatening her with the air gun. The Supreme Court determined, rightly, that these circumstances justified a retrial.

China is putting the brakes on the death penalty. According to Liu Renwen, a legal scholar at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, between 2007 and 2011 the annual number of executions in China fell by half. Many violent offenders are now given so-called suspended death sentences, which are invariably downgraded later to life in prison. Such restraint has drawn broad public support.

 ...

Interviews conducted by criminologists suggest that international criticism has had an impact as well. In 1977, a mere 16 countries had abolished the death penalty; today 140 countries — over two-thirds of the world’s nations — have done so in law or practice. Chinese legal scholars and judges are fully aware of their country’s role as the outlier.

In 2006 a group of reform-minded justices began formally advocating moderation in punishment. Led by Xiao Yang, then the Supreme People’s Court chief justice, they pushed the maxim “kill fewer, kill cautiously.” The following year, the high court began reviewing all capital cases, creating a strong disincentive for lower courts to hand out death sentences. The substitution in many cases of suspended death sentences — which in practice means offenders spend about 25 years in prison — was the result.

The shift met resistance from hard-liners who warned of a spike in crime. But pandemonium did not ensue. Some criminologists now argue that the harsh campaigns of the past in fact sparked violent crime, by making criminals reluctant to leave witnesses behind.

Readers! Your clairvoyant blog host, Me, totally predicted this in my 2010 book (pp. 234-235):

[China]  has one unified national penal code (adopted in 1979 and modified many times since), and a political structure which insulates ruling elites from popular opinion. Were China’s ruling elites to be convinced that abolition was a desirable step, they would be able to implement it without fearing a formal political backlash. Even if Chinese leaders were not swayed by humanitarian concerns, there is a pragmatic case for the move: abolition of capital punishment by China would generate an avalanche of favorable coverage from the international media, and would be a potent weapon against critics of China’s human rights policies. In par- ticular, China could point to the continued use of capital punishment by the United States to parry American denunciations. Given the sensitivity of Chinese officialdom to critiques of its human rights policies, it would seem that abolishing capital punishment would be a low-cost way to project a more sympathetic image on the world stage.

You can buy this masterpiece by clicking on the box to the right. Whatever the price in your local currency, it's a bargain at twice that price!


Upcoming Conference at Harvard

 Next Monday, I will be participating in an international panel discussion at Harvard on capital punishment with a number of other colleagues in the field, sponsored by the Harvard Institute for Global Law and Policy and the Real Colegio Complutense at Harvard.

It's free and open to the public, so drop by if you're in the area and the subject interests you. The full flyer in .pdf format is here

 

 

Harvard Conference Picture_Page_1

 

 


German Piece on Criticism of Religion in the USA

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At the invitation of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, which is associated with the German Free Democratic Party*, I wrote a piece on the laws concerning criticism of religion in the USA. Short version: there pretty much are no enforcable laws against criticizing religion in the US. The longer version is in the book, in German. I tried to keep it relatively non-technical.

There are also entries from many other writers on freedom of opinion concerning religion in other legal orders, including Russia, France, and the Islamic world. I haven't had a chance to read the other articles yet, but they look interesting.

The book has just come out and is available in written form and by download (pdf) from the Foundation's website. If you happen to read my piece, let me know what you think.

Continue reading "German Piece on Criticism of Religion in the USA" »