Discontent over Migration

The recent populist wave sweeping over continental Europe and America driving the much cherished vibrant democracies of the west to the hands of xenophobic populist demagogues deriding and eroding the very principles of which modern day liberal democracies has been founded upon has a lot to do with the recent refugee crisis which hit Europe at the wake of the Syrian Civil War and decades of immigration. This immigration trend gave the populist right-wing leaders a leeway to get rid of their shortfalls and a reason to blame the dire economic situation and social anarchy many natives faced on the poor refugees making them social outcasts everywhere they went. A lot many Europeans are acting in complete disregard neglecting the fact that they were once part of a million refugees like these when a great war broke out half a century ago.

When an issue like migration is put into retrospect it is very important to examine the cultural, political, psychological and economical impacts migration inflicts at a particular place. It is widely believed and the recent scientific research proves that humans started their very first migration from the Dark Continent of Africa to different corners of the world which makes almost everyone basically migrants in a country which they consider their own. People migrated as refugees and economic migrants. America is traditionally a lucrative destination for all Immigrants. But, when Immigration increased the underlying racial bias became more superficial and vicious.

The Americans recently elected a President who was openly racist and xenophobic and who very often spoke about building a huge wall to block illegal migrants from Mexico and blocking Muslim Immigrants from the Middle East. This new trend showed how dangerously intolerable the present American heterogeneous society has become. It clearly spelled out their protectionist tendencies towards anymore outside influence. It is sad to notice that the nation which proudly boasted that it will welcome the tired, the poor, and the huddled masses of the world during its independence and dwelled on the notion of American exceptionalism now turns its back towards the same people some centuries later. Immigration has been a main point of confrontation and identity for Britain because of which its people voted to leave the European Union. Liberal democracies are now risking turning into illiberal democracies as the effect of Immigration and globalization looms large as a Frankenstein’s monster in the minds of the nativists.

Taking the latest trends and apprehensions regarding migration into consideration, one must admit the fact that all major migration has been taking place in the past with the same vigor as it is now. Almost all the migration from east to the west and from Africa to Europe has been at a steady pattern since the 1960’s.Infact it has dropped in the recent years. Then, why there is a sudden backlash against immigration and globalization now? Why did the same tolerant Americans who elected Barack Obama suddenly after few years became intolerant and elect Mr. Donald Trump who promised to cure the ills of the liberal society?

The answer for this phenomenon is that a strange new type of uncontrollable exodus called the Syrian refugee crisis took place in the wake of the Syrian civil war and it engulfed the world’s attention due to its ferocity and the stories of horror and violence it brought from the war ravaged country. The Europeans especially Germans who felt a moral responsibility to take them accepted them in droves. But, the ‘willkommenskultur’ did not last for long as a handful of refugees and local radicalized Muslims with the support of Islamic State committed crimes in Europe. Inevitably, the sympathy and kindness of local population of Europe gave way to fear, panic and dislike of outsiders. The right wing groups capitalized on this issue making way for illiberal politics all over Western hemisphere. As Carl Bildt rightly said, ”The politics of idealism and hope have been replaced by the politics of identity and fear.” The refugee question made the European Union more fragile and reducing immigration became the rallying slogan for Brexit prompting traditional politicians bend to the public sentiment. The Western rhetoric of liberalism has not always been matched by its generosity towards migrants. It is perhaps strange to notice that many European countries which produced the lion’s share of refugees and migrants over the course of 20th century like Poland, Hungary and Romania would have little compassion for the destitute. This proves the notion that the people accept immigration and tolerance intellectually but still finds it difficult to accept it emotionally. Countries which are generally poor are less likely to accept migrants due to social problems and increasing economic inequalities they endure which will only make that society less tolerant. When immigration increased especially in Europe, the natives started feeling foreigners in their own country as their numbers dwindled and also feared the loss of their much cherished traditional identity and shared values.

When Donald Trump spoke about limiting immigration he was drawing on a deep historical reservoir of anti-immigrant sentiment which existed in countries like US where the number of immigrants was astonishingly high and discontent was brewing. The apartheid which existed there and the occasional brawls between the Whites and Blacks of America is a proof that people still find tolerance for multiculturalism difficult. Rather than seeing racism as a thing of the past, the recognition of its persistence is essential if we are to understand the present upheaval against open borders.

There have been many instances where social integration of migrants has gone wrong like the three million Turks of Germany. During the time of Germany’s economic miracle, they recruited a vast number of mostly uneducated and illiterate Turks from countryside for poorly paid unpopular jobs in German industries. But, sadly no one foresaw the facts that many of the new arrivals could hardly read or write and thus was unable effectively participate in the liberal German society by speaking its language or adopting its practices and general believes. As German industries modernized, the need for specialized workforce increased and the drawbacks of recruiting ‘Black Turks’ as they are called by the elites of Turkey became apparent. The ‘Black Turks’ were viewed generally as unsophisticated, conservative and deeply religious and an immigration policy that intended to be a boon regrettably became a bane a few decades later. Open borders which paves way for uncontrollable immigration will undoubtedly become a failed undertaking especially in homogenous societies as people immigrating from one country to another will have huge differences in culture, education, worldview, religion, opinions etc which will damage the stability and underlying social fabric of that country and can lead to chaos and uprising against the ruling class like what we are witnessing now.

Clash of civilizations, color, religion, culture even cuisine and custom has been the mark of the widely dubbed ‘internet age’ which elites describe as the enlightened age. India which has been the beacon of modern day multiculturalism has now been riddled with endless incidents of communalism. The minorities which has migrated from different parts of the world to India has been increasingly marginalized, suppressed and oppressed by the nationalist Hindu government making even Union Cabinet Ministers openly declare their solidarity with lynching accused and rape convicts only because they raped or lynched a person belonging to another community or religion. In Turkey and the whole of the Middle East, the situation has been no different. It is a well known fact that the multicultural Balkan states has been the cradle of unending political and social tension throughout the 20th century even resulting in great wars. So, countries which embrace controlled immigration with smarter and faster social integration of the immigrants is always economically rich due to the inflow of smart workforce but leaves the natives disillusioned as it will increase the competition between natives and immigrants in every sphere of life and work and risks depression of wages. USA which President Kennedy called “a nation of immigrants” is a glistering proof of that.

Until and unless, the native population comes forward voluntarily and change their general perception of immigrants through a series of observations, experiences and personal analysis and live with increased solidarity, only then can anyone claim that immigration strengthens and not undermines the tolerance of a democracy. As this great ordeal of self introspection, realization and emotional acceptance of the hard fact that ‘all men are born equal in dignity and rights’ is unlikely to happen at least in the near future, given the present circumstances one can only be assured that immigration erodes and not strengthens the tolerance of a country.

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I am a Mechatronics Engineer. I am interested in constructive Politics, Revisionist History, Photography, Technology, Behavioral Economics etc. Bibliophile.

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Jacob Markose

Jacob Markose

I am a Mechatronics Engineer. I am interested in constructive Politics, Revisionist History, Photography, Technology, Behavioral Economics etc. Bibliophile.

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