Dress shoes and a crisp, blue blazer – it’s not what many would expect a person trekking 400 miles across Germany to wear, but William Toel did.
The Honors Program professor wore the exact same outfit Tuesday as he spoke in the Cullom-Davis Library about his experiences in Germany during the height of the recent immigration crisis.
“This jacket and these pants and these shoes, which are very worn, are the same ones I wore every day for a month in October and November of 2015 when I walked all five eastern states of Germany,” Toel said.
Toel spoke about several issues that have arisen during the immigration crisis, including false reporting.
“The total number [of immigrants] was underestimated; the gender makeup was distorted; ethnicity of the refugees was misreported,” Toel said. “If you asked [authority figures], they were Syrians fleeing from Russia, but … what I found was only 30 percent were Syrians.”
Press manipulation was also common, according to Toel.
“This gentleman was at a major rally I attended … and I actually saw him right in front of me fall down for no reason other than it was part of the script,” Toel said. “His cameraman got over the top of him and shook the camera, and this was live on national news, and he got up and claimed he had been beaten over the head by right-wing supremacists. There was no one who touched him.”
After visiting Germany at least twice a year for the last 20 years, Toel said the immigration crisis brought major change to the country.
“From the peace and laughter that characterized Germany and made it a major tourist center, now public pools, public playgrounds, public schools and even cemeteries are under armed guards,” Toel said. “The carefree German is no more.”
Toel said the crisis has parallels to this year’s U.S. presidential election.
“We too in America have had a one-sided press; we too in America have used political correctness to shove off debate and to ignore legitimate thresholds; we too in the Trump and Clinton race have a situation where no one is excited about who they’re voting for, but it’s almost like they are voting against someone,” Toel said.
Toel said most Americans have been shocked by this election, and “this is not the America of Jefferson, Washingon and Adams.”
“I propose to you that it is the same simmering undercurrent that comes when normal people in normal houses can not get answers to their questions and common sense is not prevalent in their deals,” Toel said. “When fairness and justice and balanced truth are absent, dramatic social upheaval is natural.”
Professor gives first-hand account of German immigration crisis
BY TORI MOSES ON NOVEMBER 4, 2016