Western Europe’s trend for stringent anti-immigration sentiments have come back to the forefront of people’s concerns, following Monday’s shooting at a Jewish school in Toulouse, France.
This shooting is the third brutal attack in the area by what authorities think is the same man, according to the New York Times. Theories suggest that motivation for these vicious killings might come from the strong anti-immigrant viewpoints that seem to still persist in Europe. Residents of France characterized immigrants, particularly Muslim immigrants, as being “not French” and called for welfare regulations excluding those of immigrant background. France is also dealing with the controversy of banning religious paraphernalia in public spaces.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been playing to the right wing parties this election year by aligning himself with their anti-immigration policies. What exactly could these laws mean for the European states? For one thing, more turmoil.
Just last year, German Chancellor Angela Merkel publicly said multiculturalism has “utterly failed.” Merkel has called for an end to Turkish and Arabic immigration into Germany.
Last Saturday was St. Patrick’s Day for Americans, and while everyone was busy putting down pints and singing folk songs, it was not too long ago that this country viewed the Irish with contempt and hate. Just like with France and its Muslim immigrants, Protestant Americans feared the non-assimilation of its Catholic Irish.
However, times change and fast forward a hundred years or so we all get along and call ourselves “Americans;” but it is what we fast forward over that is important. In order for this country to have reached its current stance on immigrants it took years of turmoil. Riots, killings, gangs, crime, more riots, all happened regularly in the past, simply over immigration. Even today, we have not quite rid ourselves of these problems as states, starting with Arizona, began to pass stringent anti-immigration laws.
Europe, however, has more to lose from not learning from America’s mistakes. It does not take a genius to figure out that extremism and fanaticism are dangerous. Additionally, for a union of countries in the middle of an economic crisis, limiting or expelling citizens won’t help. It does not take much to misconstrue political claims of anti-immigration into something bigger and nastier. If these shootings are motivated by ethnic or racial hatred, then they do not bode well for the future.
Not very many things are colored in shades of black and white, especially topics like immigration. Striking the balance of assimilation, and maintaining tradition is different for everyone. It is important to approach the situation with empathy and to avoid dogmatism.