But that's for another day. What I'm concerned about is how my fellow pinko pro-immigrant liberals have responded. Not by a genuine concern about how the response to the Syrian (and other) refugee crises and especially Angela Merkel's 'let 'em all in' strategy might be part of the problem but rather by either attempting to deny that the events had anything to do with migrants or else by attacking anyone who suggested that there might be a link as 'racist', 'islamaphobic' or 'bigoted'.
This sense of denial has led to all sorts of lunatic contortions up to and including suggestions that the whole thing might have been orchestrated by sinister anti-immigrant forces looking to get the German government to close the borders. Or even by ISIS. This sort of conspiracy theorising is where the duck comes in:
If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.
If nearly every report - from those assaulted, from witnesses and onlookers, from the police and from German government sources - says that nearly all those involved in the rape, sexual attacks and robbery were North African or Middle Eastern men, then we should accept that this is the case. This isn't a gross slur on immigrants. Germany registered 964,574 new asylum seekers in the first 11 months of last year - even the worst descriptions of the mayhem in Cologne put the numbers at no more than a thousand. But if a minority of that million are, by these acts of sexual violence and robbery, making it harder for asylum seekers who just want to get on with a quiet decent life then that minority need to be dealt with. Not in the interests of the 'host' community but in the interests of the majority of decent immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees.
This brings us to the second response from my fellow pinko immigration fans. Best typified by this quotation from Gaby Hinsliff in the Guardian:
Young German women thankfully enjoy historically unprecedented economic and sexual freedom, with their expensive smartphones and their right to celebrate New Year’s Eve however they want. The same isn’t always true of young male migrants exchanging life under repressive regimes, where they may at least have enjoyed superiority over women, for scraping by at the bottom of Europe’s social and economic food chain. It is not madness to ask if this has anything to do with attacks that render confident, seemingly lucky young women humiliated and powerless.
Many of us will remember the reclaim the night campaigns - now rebadged and more in-your-face as slut walks - that told us that what a woman wore, how she spoke and where she went was never under any circumstances an excuse for rape or sexual violence. And this viewpoint is quite rightly reinforced again and again as people remind us that one of the rights women fought for was a right to walk safely everywhere, to be able to go about their business without the need for a man to protect them. So when Ms Hinsliff suggests that somehow those German women with their "expensive smartphones and their right to celebrate New Year's Eve however they want" were partly to blame for their sexual assaults, she denies all of those efforts to liberate women by suggesting that their nice clothes, nice phone and fancy handbag invited an assault.
This is the worst sort of equalities top trumps - the inability to criticise immigration policy or the behaviour of a group of immigrants because that might be racism or islamaphobia trumps the properly shocked response to violent sexual assaults on women in a public square at the heart of a West European city.
“When we came out of the station, we were very surprised by the group we met, which was made up only of foreign men … We walked through the group of men, there was a tunnel through them, we walked through … I was groped everywhere. It was a nightmare. Although we shouted and hit them, the men didn’t stop. I was horrified and I think I was touched around 100 times over the 200 metres.”
We know to our cost - from places like Rotherham as well as from what happened in Cologne - that if we pretend that something isn't the case when it is, for fear of 'equalities', the result is more damaging to society and more damaging to the community from where the problem emanates. Do you really think that young Syrian men in Germany who aren't - and wouldn't consider - raping or sexually assaulting anyone wouldn't want the rapists from their community dealt with? Yet kind, caring and usually thoughtful people tiptoe round the truth as if it can't be touched. And because something has to be said and done, these same kind, caring and usually thoughtful people either come up with ridiculous conspiracy theories or else say things that sound like victim-blaming.
For my part, what we've seen challenges my support for more open immigration policies. I still believe this to be right but what we've seen in Cologne - and it's suggested in other places too - perhaps means people like me need to pause for thought and consider whether our gung ho 'let 'em all in' view is in the interests of both the communities of Europe and the immigrants themselves. If the consequence of such a huge and sudden influx is more events like those in Cologne leading to more division, more mistrust, more racism and more bad government then perhaps we need to listen more to those decent folk who say be careful what you wish for when you invite immigration.