Europe Begins to Take Immigration Seriously, Counter Jihad, November 22, 2016
The victory of Donald Trump cements the fear among European elites that was first stoked by Brexit. Can they change quickly enough for their voters?
The Prime Minister of France says that both his nation and Germany are in danger, and the European Union may fall apart. The hazard? Governments refusing to listen to their people’s concerns about immigration and Islamist terror.
Immigration was one of the main drivers of Britons’ vote to leave the EU, and Valls said the bloc, which more than a million migrants entered last year, had to regain control of its borders.
He said the Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s election victory showed how important it was to listen to angry citizens, and that politicians scared of making decisions were opening the door to populists and demagogues.
Valls is worried chiefly about France’s National Front party, which has a number of similarities to the forces that recently won stunning come-from-behind victories in the United Kingdom and the United States. In the United States, the election of Donald Trump came in large part because of his frequently repeated promises to get tough on immigration. In the United Kingdom, the so-called “Brexit” campaign struck a blow for Merry England. Though there are significant security challenges associated with Brexit, in all the results have so far been reassuring to those who backed the Leave campaign. Voters in that nation reasserted control over their national destiny and character, with the result that in the wake of this election concerns about immigration fell to a recent low among English citizens. Though immigration concerns remain the single largest issue for Britons, it has in the wake of Brexit fallen to the level of an ordinary political concern — only a few more citizens are very worried about it than are very worried about poverty, for example.
In Germany, however, concerns about immigration are still sky high.
On the other side of the scale are nations like Germany, where a grand total of 15 per cent of residents are immigrants and 38 per cent express concern, and Sweden where 14 per cent are immigrants and 36 per cent are worried.
Also high among German concerns is worries about crime and extremism. Thirty-five per cent of Germans told interviewers they were worried about terror, 28 per cent about extremism, and 36 per cent about crime and violence.
The result has been the repeated success of political movements in Germany at the local levels. Even Angela Merkel has begun to take notice. During her recent trip to Niger, the German leader cautioned refugees not to come to Germany. Ostensibly she is worried about the rate of drownings associated with refugee ships crossing the Mediterranean sea. However, like Valls, she has to be feeling the pressure of the electoral wave.
Merkel’s shift puts her in good company. Self-described “liberal” politicians in Germany are also now demanding a new crackdown on immigrants, especially those who — as these politicians phrase it — “reject our state and act against our social order.” It is pretty clear to what that coded language intends to refer. However, if anyone doubts that the issue is radical Islam, they need only look to the proposed policy solution: “an expansion of faith-led Islamic classes, which they say should be taught under state supervision in German, by teachers with full training.” (Emphasis added.)
That move to take direct government control of how Islam is taught represents a solution far too radical for Americans, whose First Amendment protects the church from any such government intervention. Nevertheless, that such solutions are even under discussion should go a long way to demonstrating that the public’s patience with governing elites is largely gone. A political community is not just a market, as Aristotle said, but a group bound by shared values and common beliefs. That basic idea, as old as ancient Greece, is being restored to its central role in public life by another Greek idea: democracy.