Karela Fry

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Europe’s politicians are tallking of cutting their countries off from all possibility of change exactly as the world around them is becoming more complex. Telegraph reports:

“We have been too concerned about the identity of the person who was arriving and not enough about the identity of the country that was receiving him,” he said in a television interview in which he declared the concept a “failure”.

Prime Minister David Cameron last month pronounced his country’s long-standing policy of multiculturalism a failure, calling for better integration of young Muslims to combat home-grown extremism.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Australia’s former prime minister John Howard and former Spanish prime minister Jose Maria Aznar have also in recent months said multicultural policies have not successfully integrated immigrants.

Sarkozy’s statement followed Marine Le Pen’s praise of Cameron, as reported by the Guardian Guardian:

The leader of France’s National Front has praised David Cameron for what she says is an endorsement of her party’s far-right views on multiculturalism and immigration.

Marine Le Pen was elected to lead the National Front last month. She claimed the prime minister’s speech on the failures of multiculturalism showed he was taking Britain’s Conservatives towards her stance on the issue. “It is exactly this type of statement that has barred us from public life [in France] for 30 years,” she told the Financial Times. “I sense an evolution at European level, even in classic governments. I can only congratulate him.”

Marine Le Pen is daughter of the former National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen. She told the FT it was “indisputable” Cameron was moving the Conservatives closer to the traditional positions held by her party. A Conservative spokesman said she had “clearly failed to understand the prime minister’s speech”.

Cameron told the Munich Security Conference, attended by world leaders, that state multiculturalism had failed in this country and pledged to cut funding for Muslim groups that failed to respect basic British values.

“Far-right” is a very tepid description of a party that looks at neo-Nazis off behind its left shoulder.

Actually Marine Le Pen is right. Parties which were once a little right of center are losing the faith of the center-right population. There are many reasons for this, but a major contributor is a long-trending economic slowdown as other parts of the world become more productive. The result is that these parties entrenched in power try to retain electoral power by taking up positions once held to be bizarre. It seems that Europe has no leaders at the moment who can lead the greying, beleaguered continent out of the very slow decline it has embarked on. The so-called failure of multiculturalism is a bogeyman, raised by politicians unable to deal with the more complex multi-polar world of this century. The view from the ground is often quite different.

In Britain there were protests. One example was this letter in the Guardian:

We believe David Cameron’s statement that multiculturalism has failed was a dangerous declaration of intent (Blaming the victims, Editorial, 7 February). His speech was reminiscent of Margaret Thatcher’s infamous 1978 statement that Britain was “being swamped by alien cultures”. He has branded Britain’s Muslims as the new “enemy within” in the same way as Thatcher attacked the miners and trade unions.

David Cameron is attempting to drive a wedge between different communities by linking Britain’s multicultural society with terrorism and national security. His speech was made on the same day as the English Defence League brought its bigotry and violence to the streets of Luton.

In Germany the reaction to Merkel’s speech has been hostile. The Spiegel quotes Financial Times Deutchland:

CSU leader Seehofer and CDU leader Merkel think that they can win back support by using slogans from the 1980s like ‘Multikulti’ and ‘Leitkultur’. Seehofer has positioned himself against uncontrolled immigration. But in reality, immigration has long been limited: Far more Turkish people are leaving Germany than arriving. Meanwhile, Merkel announces that ‘multiculturalism has failed’ — although even the Greens have long stopped calling for multiculturalism. But she remains silent on urgent and controversial issues like how immigration is to be regulated.

The use of such rhetoric can be explained — but it cannot be excused. Seehofer and Merkel are both in government and they both know better — and they should make that clear.

The talk about ‘Leitkultur’ within the conservative leadership could be dismissed as inner-party wrangling if it did not have such a devastating effect. Indian technological specialists, Japanese engineers, and Kuwaiti investors are unlikely to move to a country where those in power fight against immigration. But Seehofer and Merkel do not think that far ahead. They are only thinking about how their comments will go down in the local bar.


Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

February 11, 2011 at 3:13 am

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