Of course it doesn't immediately make you a far-right agitator or a Nazi to criticize the asylum policy of the federal government or the European Union. But, as so often, it's not about whether you criticize, but how you do it.
Current refugee numbers are making an ever-larger part of the German population utterly afraid. This fear is mostly vague and only rarely really justified – but we should not and must not ignore these concerns.
We have to confront these fears realistically and in terms of their content. To form your own opinion, you need transparent and neutral information. This is where the various media outlets play a decisive role.
But some are doing less and less to live up to this role, reporting in a one-sided, skewed way. It's becoming difficult for consumers to extract the real informational content. At the same time, untruths are being purposefully spread by the far-right, which spread quickly thanks to social media.
Crime happens in the best families
It's also unhelpful when police union representatives adopt the mantle of "speaking the truth", starting political fires by "finally saying out loud what the lying press is keeping from us."
Asylum seekers commit crimes too? What a surprise. This phenomenon is called ubiquity, and it happens in the best families. There are fights between different groups? How astonishing!
Refugee accommodation in the former Tempelhof airport in Berlin. Photo: DPA
If you were to squeeze 1,500 Franconians and 1,500 Upper Bavarians – i.e., two foreign cultures – into an empty hardware store without any kind of privacy and consign them to doing nothing for weeks, then within a very short time there would be tensions and fisticuffs.
There are some cases of sexual assaults? How surprising, if you pen up 80 women and girls together with 2,500 mostly young men in very tight quarters. That makes every trip to the shower a run through the gauntlet.
When does one become a criminal?
These questions are straight from the first semester of criminology: When does a person become a criminal? What are the causes of deviant behaviour? Anyone who works in the police should know the answers to these questions.
Police watch over the Reeperbahn party district in Hamburg in early January after reports of sexual assaults by foreigners there. Photo: DPA
So are some of these self-appointed police representatives really speaking the truth, or are they speaking ignorance? Or – even worse – speaking out of premeditated malice, because they themselves have already formed a judgement on the matter?
At the moment, there is an increase in crimes, especially of property crimes committed by asylum seekers, which is serious and which can't be rationalized away.
Criminals are all individual cases
But even here we must always deal with the individual cases. Most of the perpetrators are people from north and west Africa, from the Caucasus and the Balkans.
These people have not really fled from war, nor are they persecuted in any way. They've used the opportunity now to travel into Germany and commit crimes.
It's the job of detectives to investigate these perpetrators and to deliver the appropriate punishment with the help of the justice system. For that, we need sufficient personnel and material resources.
There are already enough blithering idiots who claim to be speaking the truth but are in fact pouring oil on the fire of the far right and giving a leg-up to the Alternative for Germany (AfD), National Democratic Party (NPD), Pegida and so on – because they haven't thought things through.
They aren't helping us make a single inch of progress as a society. They aren't part of the solution, but part of the problem.
André Schulz has been President of the Federation of German Detectives (BDK) since 2011.
He is a detective chief superintendent in Hamburg and teaches at the BDK's Detective Academy on subjects including cybercrime, organized crime, terrorism, extremism, and drugs policy.
This article originally appeared in German in Die Welt.