Murat Altuglu, Gastautor / 11.05.2015 / 10:55 / 0 / Seite ausdrucken

Frau Kohlenberg falls apart

Murat Altuglu

Yesterday, looking at Germany’s “premier” weekly paper, the Zeit, I saw a surprising headline: USA: Amerikas Gesellschaft zerfällt; translating into, USA: America’s society falling apart. As someone who lives in this society, I was perturbed that the society I am in is falling apart, and, presumably Kerstin Kohlenberg, a German top-journalist, knows more than me about this deplorable situation that I do not even notice.

http://www.zeit.de/2015/19/usa-rassismus-armut-baltimore-ferguson-new-york

Lucky me, reading the article it becomes clear that Kohlenberg does not know what she is writing about. Except for bromides and the typical lefty phraseology, her desultory article is devoid of facts and a point. So no worries, American society is not falling apart.

What is falling apart, for once, is the English translation of Kerstin Kohlenberg’s article. And what is not just falling apart but is missing, is diligence towards the truth and fully informing the reader about the relevant facts.

Frau Kohlenberg wants to make a point – how bad America is. I get it. Her propagandistic narrative is that of a racist white America, discriminating blacks. White policemen killing black men. But to do so, she is fudging the facts a bit too much. http://www.zeit.de/2014/51/polizeigewalt-usa-ferguson

So Kohlenberg states that Michael Brown was shot unarmed and that he was black. She might actually believe herself her own demagoguery that white policemen are racists, out to get blacks.

But it would have been more useful for the reader if Kohlenberg supplied the information that Brown also attacked the police officer, tried to get his weapon, led to the firearm being discharged inside the police cruiser, and according to witnesses and forensic evidence was charging at the police officer when the fatal shots were fired. These facts are more relevant than the vile and unfair insinuations of racism.

In a similar vein, she hides (or does not know?) from the reader that Cameron Tillman was black, but was shot by another black police officer, and that Akai Gurley was black, but that he was shot by a police officer who himself is an Asian immigrant, and that the shooting was an accident.

One can legitimately debate the habits of the police here in the States. And in comparison to Germany, this is done rigorously here. And Kohlenberg is free to join in the debate – this is a free country after all. But to do so, she has to be more diligent in researching facts and providing the full story.

But what Kohlenberg attempts here, as said earlier, is to force into the German readers mind the narrative that white American policemen are out there to kill young black males, and in more general terms, that America is run by racist whites, who oppress the poor blacks.

In doing so, Kohlenberg’s demagogic article is exemplary for reporting (the term propaganda would be more apposite) on the States in the German media. Just type in “Trayvon,” “Ferguson,” and now “Baltimore” in the search box in one of the major German newspapers and one will be surprised at the excessive and prejudiced reporting on the States, in the same vein as depicted here.

From a psychological perspective, it would be interesting to analyze why the leftist German chattering class is so obsessed with the States, and what mental satisfaction it derives from slagging at the United States.

Returning to Kohlenberg’s article, one can already identify the intellectual reasoning processes that go on in these types of writings. The mode of operation is to arrive at a crude conclusion while displaying the utmost ignorance of cause and effect on the issue under scrutiny. To give just a few examples from Kohlenberg’s writing:

Kohlenberg bemoans the practice of payday loans, and the high interest and fees that are incurred with them in comparison to loans from a bank. As a qualified journalist she should have known that the default rate, and thereby the risk on these loans is far greater than in the case of bank loans. With high risk and small sums, fees tend to be higher. This is basic economics.

Furthermore, people with small incomes depend on these payday loans when they run out of money. In all her demagoguery, Kohlenberg forgets that unlike her, who gets an impressive salary deposited to her account every month (and I don’t know to what extent she shares this money with the poor), low-income people might occasionally be in the need for fast cash if they have no money left to pay for food or their rent. Consequently, the practice Kohlenberg loathes and does not understand, is a crucial aspect of financial security for low-income people.

Another irresponsible remark by Kohlenberg is her naïve detection that supermarkets are absent in low-income urban areas and that food prices are higher there. Again, she is failing to inform the reader that insurance rates are higher in these areas, as well as crime (shoplifting, rioting, etc.). This necessarily decreases profit margins and leads supermarket chains to avoid these areas. Smaller shops, with smaller inventory and less turnover take their place, with the described results. This is not due to some nefarious racism but simple economics.

But all this information would not serve the narrative of poor blacks vs. rich whites, which is apparently what the readership of the Zeit demands, and “journalists” like Kohlenberg eagerly deliver. Fortunately, the truth is, Frau Kohlenberg, that the American society is not falling apart, and that minorities from all over the world (even those minorities in Germany) can make it here, and can become a functional part of this vibrant American society.

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