Poway Synagogue Shooting: Why Conservatives Keep Getting Anti-Semitism Wrong

Good column:

What motivates someone to burst into a Southern California synagogue and shoot unarmed worshipers, there to recite the memorial prayer for the dead?

Depends who you ask: progressives say nationalist, racist ideology, while conservatives say hate. The difference may seem slight, but in fact, it’s why right and left talk past one another—and seem to be moving farther apart.

Progressives, and most scholars, regard the kind of anti-Semitism that motivated the Poway shooting as part of the xenophobic, ultra-nationalistic constellations of hatreds and “otherings” that also, in our day, include Islamophobia, racism, and anti-immigrant animus. Jews are the “enemy within,” facilitating the evils of immigration and multiculturalism to destroy the motherland.

This is borne out by what Poway, Pittsburgh, Christchurch, and other white terrorists all said in their manifestos and other online comments. Like thousands of others of ultra-nationalists in Europe and America, they see their white, European cultures being overrun by foreigners. And they believe that Jews are making it happen.

In the words of the Charlottesville white supremacists, “you will not replace us,” a taunt aimed at non-whites, is easily changed to “Jews will not replace us.” That is a political statement—filled with ignorance and hate, of course, but also ideology.

On the right, however, anti-Semitism is regarded as hate, not ideology.

Despite reams and reams of ideological-political writing, from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion forgery to Mein Kampf to the paranoid manifesto of the Poway shooter that allege in precise terms the ways in which Jews destroy the national homeland, conservatives insist that anti-Semitism is simply pure, irrational, timeless, and ahistorical hatred that has nothing to do with any politics whatsoever. It’s the same whether it comes from Pharaoh in Egypt, a Tsarist pogrom, or a Hamas terrorist.

“We forcefully condemn the evil of anti-Semitism and hate, which must be defeated,” President Donald Trump said in response to the Poway shooting.

This definition of anti-Semitism is extraordinarily wrong. It is at odds with what anti-Semites themselves have said since the term was popularized in 1879. It mashes together religious animus, true nationalist anti-Semitism, and resistance to right-wing Zionism. And it is particularly helpful to the very people who exacerbate it, today’s nationalists, for three reasons.

“If anti-Semitism is defined simply as anytime someone hates Jews for any reason, then it is a free-floating hatred that finds a home in Palestinian activism, fringe black nationalism, and among Muslim Americans.”

First, of course, it absolves them of any responsibility. To most rational observers, it seems obvious that when Trump spreads lies about the dangers of immigrant crime and Muslim terrorism, he stokes the fires of populist nationalism. In response to that incitement, some will merely wave a flag and don a red hat. But others will take matters into their own hands, striking back at Jews or Muslims or Mexicans.

Some, like Poway shooter John Earnest and Pittsburgh shooterRobert Bowers, may even believe that Trump himself has not gone far enough. They are extending Trump’s logic, not defying it.

Yet if anti-Semitism is merely a pathological hatred and has nothing to do with any ideology, all of this is coincidence. Why did anti-Semitic incidents rise 60 percent in the first year of Trump’s presidency? Well, anti-Semitism is an age-old hatred; no one can explain its pathology, the right says.

Once again, such a denial of causality and reality seems facially absurd, and yet, it is what the likes of Trump, Stephen Miller, Steve Bannon, and their ilk would have us believe. Moreover, since hardly any “mainstream” Republicans have spoken out about Trump’s incitement of hatred, either they believe this delusion as well, or, by refusing to speak, are implicated in the violence that Trump has incited.

Hatred of Jews goes back thousands of years, but the anti-Semitism of John Earnest is a specific, nationalist phenomenon with specific roots and specific myths.

The unmooring of anti-Semitism from ideology has a second benefit for nationalists, which is that it reinforces their own nationalism. In Israel, of course, this is most obvious: everyone hates the Jews, the thinking goes, therefore Jews must be strong and dominant. Force is all the Arabs understand, I remember being taught in Hebrew school, so we have to be stronger than they are.

But even for nationalist parties like those governing Brazil, the United States, and Hungary, anti-Semitism is a convenient reminder that violence and hatred are endemic to the human condition, and strong ethno-nationalism is the only way to fight it.

“We have no choice,” as Trump has said many times.

This is how Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can find common cause with barely reconstructed anti-Semites like Hungary’s Viktor Orban. It suits Netanyahu fine for Orban to demonize George Soros and other Jews—after all, Netanyahu hates Soros, too. But more broadly, both men are also engaged in the same anti-democratic activities: attacking human rights organizations, enforcing patriotic speech, undermining the independent judiciary and, most importantly, demonizing “foreigners.”

To nationalists, the solution to anti-Semitism is not, as progressives would have it, stamping out bigotry, ultra-nationalism, and scapegoating of the “other,” but rather a strong ethno-nationalist state (Jewish or otherwise). The presence of anti-Semitism serves to reinforce this view. It simply means that we must all be even stronger and more nationalistic.

The third and final function of the uncoupling of anti-Semitism from ideology is perhaps its most important: it enables “anti-Semitism” to be a scourge of left and right alike, rather than a feature of right-wing nationalism. If anti-Semitism is defined simply as anytime someone hates Jews for any reason, then it is a free-floating hatred that finds a home in Palestinian activism, fringe black nationalism, and among Muslim Americans like Rep. Ilhan Omar.

Now, we are told, including by centrists who should know better, that an “ancient hatred” has reappeared on the right and left alike—as if it is campus BDS supporters who are shooting up synagogues and chanting “Jews will not replace us.”

Of course, there are indeed instances of anti-Semitism on the far left, including conspiracy theories involving Jews and slavery, Palestinian propaganda depicting Israelis as drinking blood, and anti-capitalist screeds that call out Jewish financiers in particular (which, of course, a Trump campaign ad also did).

But in the United States, the quality and quantity of these incidents pale in comparison by those found on the right.

Most importantly, there are no left-wing equivalents for the incitement coming from the nationalist right. There is no left-wing equivalent of Trump seeking to ban all Muslims from entering the United States. There is no left-wing equivalent of “Make America Great Again” with its harkening back to a whiter and less equal past. There is no left-wing equivalent of the lies about Mexicans bringing crime, drugs, and rape to America. A single remark that congressional support for Israel is “all about the Benjamins”—a claim applied every day to the NRA, Big Pharma, or the fossil fuel industry—is nothing compared to these violent, constant, and powerful incitements to ultra-nationalist frenzy.

To the right, the Poway shooter has more in common with Ilhan Omar than with the massacre at a Christchurch mosque.

But to the Poway shooter himself, Christchurch was his inspiration. Contrary to the false and exculpatory claims of the right, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism are arms of the same murderous monster, together with ultra-nationalism, hatred of the other, and racism.

And when you agitate one part of that monster, the whole beast rises.

Source: Poway Synagogue Shooting: Why Conservatives Keep Getting Anti-Semitism Wrong

Canadian views on immigrants, refugees hold steady, despite increasing political rhetoric: poll

The latest Focus Canada survey (I particularly like the long-time series, close to 30 years, and the consistency of questions, as a benchmark):

Canadians’ views on immigrants and refugees have held steady over the past six months despite increasing political rhetoric about asylum seekers, a new survey shows.

A poll by the Environics Institute for Survey Research, provided exclusively to The Globe and Mail, shows the question of whether immigration levels are too high continues to produce a large gap along political lines. Seventy-five per cent of Liberal supporters and 70 per cent of NDP respondents said they disagree with the notion that immigration levels are too high, compared with 44 per cent of Conservatives. On the other hand, 49 per cent of Tory respondents said they agree that immigration levels are too high, with Liberals at 20 per cent and NDP voters at 27 per cent.

The immigration debate among the federal political parties – particularly the governing Liberals and Opposition Conservatives – has intensified ahead of the election scheduled for this fall. Environics has consistently asked Canadians the same questions and found they are not any more concerned about immigration than they were six months ago. The political divide has only changed by a couple of percentage points since October, 2018, except for a 4-per-cent decrease in Conservatives who agree immigration levels are too high.

“I don’t think that anything has happened in the country that has been significant enough to shift the underlying attitudes that people have [toward immigration],” said Keith Neuman, executive director of Environics.

Canada has become a more welcoming country for immigrants and refugees over the past few decades, according to polling. Survey data dating back to the 1990s shows a decline in anti-immigration views on numerous measures, including the economic impact of immigration and support for immigration levels.

With more than 42,000 asylum seekers having entered Canada through unofficial points of entry since U.S. President Donald Trump launched his crackdown on illegal immigration two years ago, immigration has been at the forefront of political debates. The Liberal government is working with U.S. officials to revamp a border agreement on asylum seekers so Canada can turn away more refugee claimants at the land border, but the Conservatives say Ottawa must act immediately to stop them from entering the country.

The Environics poll shows 44 per cent of Canadians think immigration makes the country a better place, while 15 per cent says it makes Canada a worse place, 34 per cent believe it has made no difference and 7 per cent have no opinion. Directly comparable numbers from 2018 indicate Canadians’ views remain stable, with responses about the impact of immigration varying by only a few percentage points. Asked if immigration levels are too high, most people – 59 per cent – disagreed, compared with 58 per cent last October; the number of respondents who agreed remained steady at 35 per cent over the same period.

Mr. Neuman said polling data shows immigration is not a major concern for Canadians. Only 3 per cent of respondents said immigration and refugees are the most important problems facing Canada today, compared with the economy – the leading concern – at 22 per cent, climate change and poor government leadership at 14 per cent and health care at 8 per cent. Unemployment, taxes, education and social issues also ranked ahead of immigration.

Mr. Neuman said political parties are aware of the voter divide and will build an election platform based on it. He predicted the Liberals will appeal to their base and continue to promote immigration, while the Conservatives will strike more of a “balancing act.”

“The Conservatives have a much more challenging position because they can see that their base is much less positive [about immigration] but they do need to reach out to others who may not have voted Conservative the last time,” he said.

The Environics poll is based on phone interviews with 2,000 Canadians between April 1 and 10 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Other polling has shown a trend of increasing negativity toward immigration. An Angus Reid Institute survey from last July identified an increase in the number of people who think there should be fewer immigrants coming to Canada, up to 49 per cent in 2018 from 36 per cent in 2014. Shachi Kurl, executive director of the institute, said the finding was a notable change in public opinion.

“It was the first time … in a long time that Canadians were more likely to say that they wanted to see fewer immigrants,” Ms. Kurl said.

An EKOS Research Associates poll, conducted earlier this month, showed about 40 per cent of Canadians think there are too many visible minorities among immigrants coming to Canada. The poll surveyed 1,045 Canadians from April 3 to 11 and has a margin of error plus or minus 3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The change in opinion about visible minority immigrants only varied by a few percentage points in previous years, meaning that with the margin of error, it is difficult to identify an increase in Canadians’ belief that there are too many non-white immigrants coming to the country.

Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-canadian-views-on-immigrants-refugees-hold-steady-despite-increasing/

Australia High Court to Decide if Aboriginals Without Citizenship Can Be Deported

Odd case for the Australian government to be defending:

Australia, a country taken over by white colonizers after the Black indigenous population had lived there for 65,000 years, will now determine if Aboriginal people without Australian citizenship are aliens who are subject to deportation.

There is a case before the High Court of Australia that will establish whether an indigenous person can be considered an alien under the nation’s constitution. Two men, Daniel Love and Brendan Thoms, have filed a lawsuit in which the court will determine whether an Aboriginal Australian with at least one Australian parent — one who was born in another country, came to Australia as a young child and has only left the country briefly — and is not an Australian citizen is an alien under section 51 (xix) of the Australian Constitution. That section allows the Parliament to enact laws concerning “naturalization and aliens.”

The answer the plaintiffs have gotten is no. “For descendants of Australia’s first peoples, an indelible part of the Australian community, to be ‘aliens’ for the purposes of Australia’s Constitution, is antithetical to their indigeneity and to the social, democratic and political values which underpin and are protected by the Constitution The concept of Aboriginality is inconsistent with the concept of alienage,” the men say in their filing with the court.

Under a 2014 federal immigration law, known as a “bad character” law, deportation is mandated for people living in Australia with visas who are sentenced to at least 12 months of imprisonment. The Australian government wants to make their immigration laws even more draconian by broadening the government’s power to revoke visas of people with criminal records. The policy has increased the deportation of people who have lived in Australia most of their lives to countries such as New Zealand, Papua New Guinea or other islands in the Pacific, even when those people have no ties to the country to which they are returned. One third of the 1,300 people in immigration detention are there based on bad character, and in New Zealand, where the Australian deportation plan has been criticized, 600 people were returned in 2017.

Daniel Love, 39, is a member of the Kamilaroi people who was born in Papua New Guinea to an Aboriginal Australian father and a Papua New Guinean mother. Love is also a common law holder of native title —traditional land rights claimed by Aboriginal Australian people under the original ownership of the land.  He has been a permanent resident of Australia since the age of 6, but his parents did not complete the necessary paperwork to obtain his Australian citizenship.  Last year, Love was sentenced to 12 months in prison on an assault charge. The government canceled his visa and Love was placed in immigration detention. After spending seven weeks in detention, Love was released and the government revoked the cancellation of his visa.

Love sued the government for AU$200,000 (US$142,920) in compensation for false imprisonment, claiming the government illegally detained him and that he has suffered loss of appetite, sleep deprivation and anxiety. He was unable to see his five children, all of whom are Australian citizens, and feared for his safety with the prospect of being sent to a country with which he has no family connections.

Similarly, Brendan Thoms, 31, is a Gunggari man born in New Zealand to an Aboriginal Australian mother and a New Zealander father. Thoms was entitled to Australian citizenship by birth but has not acquired it, and has lived in Australia since the age of 6. He was sentenced to imprisonment of 18 months for assault causing bodily harm, and his visa was canceled because he was deemed an “unlawful non-citizen.” Thoms, who has one Australian child, remains in detention.

In its own court filings, the Commonwealth of Australia claims that whether Love or Thoms is an Aboriginal person or is a common law holder of native title is irrelevant in determining if they are aliens. Rather, the government argues that what is important is the men are not citizens and they owe allegiance to a foreign country, and that having an Australian parent or deep ties to the country is irrelevant. “Accordingly, as persons who are not Australian citizens, the Plaintiffs are, and always have been, aliens,” the government argues, adding “it was recognised that the effect of Australia’s emergence as a fully independent sovereign nation with its own distinct citizenship … that the word ‘alien’ in s 5 l(xix) of the Constitution had become synonymous with ‘non-citizen’.”

The state also claims that “Aboriginality does not prevent a person from being an alien,” particularly when that person is a citizen of a foreign country. The citizens of Papua New Guinea, the commonwealth claims, may have traditional and cultural associations with the Torres Strait Islands of Australia — which lie between Papua New Guinea and Australia — yet they are still regarded as aliens.

This case comes in a country that granted citizenship to indigenous people only relatively recently, with a 1967 referendum to include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the national census for the first time. Prior to that time, Black people were rendered invisible and treated like animals, supposedly “discovered” by the British in 1788, although they had lived on the land for millennia. Now there is cruel irony in the fact that indigenous Black people would be regarded as aliens on land stolen from them.

Source: Australia High Court to Decide if Aboriginals Without Citizenship Can Be Deported

Laïcité: plusieurs Canadiens appuient le projet de loi du Québec, dit un sondage

On-line, thus less reliable than other surveys, but nevertheless captures regional differences:

Le Québec a eu bien mauvaise presse au Canada anglais depuis le dépôt du projet de loi qui interdit le port de signes religieux à certains employés de l’État. Mais voilà qu’un sondage révèle qu’ils sont nombreux dans le reste du pays à partager l’opinion de la majorité des Québécois en faveur du projet de loi 21 du gouvernement Legault.

Le sondage Léger effectué pour La Presse canadienne a interrogé un échantillon non probabiliste de 1522 Canadiens. L’exercice s’est fait en ligne du 18 au 22 avril.

Ils seraient donc 46 % au Canada – en tenant compte des réponses des Québécois – à appuyer le projet de loi et 42 % seraient contre.

À la question « Êtes-vous en faveur ou opposé au fait de bannir le port des signes religieux visibles pour les employés du secteur public en position d’autorité (policiers, juges et enseignants du primaire et du secondaire) dans votre province ? », ils étaient 66 % au Québec à être « plutôt en faveur » ou « totalement en faveur ».

Ailleurs au Canada, ils sont toujours plus nombreux à s’opposer à l’idée mais, à part en Alberta, l’écart entre les pour et les contre n’est pas très remarquable.

Ainsi, en Ontario, 42 % appuieraient l’interdiction, 47 % s’y opposeraient. Dans les Prairies, ils seraient 41 % pour, 44 % contre. En Colombie-Britannique, le sondage a relevé 41 % en faveur de l’interdiction à comparer aux 45 % qui s’y opposeraient. Et puis dans les provinces atlantiques, ils seraient 41 % prêts à appuyer pareil projet de loi et 50 % qui n’en voudraient pas.

L’Alberta sort donc du lot avec un plus grand écart entre les pour et les contre : 34 à comparer à 53.

« Il serait faux de prétendre que tous les Québécois sont racistes parce qu’ils sont en faveur et que tous les autres sont très vertueux parce qu’ils seraient tous contre », en conclut Christian Bourque, vice-président exécutif et associé de Léger.

M. Bourque, se fiant à la couverture médiatique du projet de loi 21 s’attendait à des résultats plus « blanc et noir ». « On pense que tous les Québécois sont en faveur et on pense que tous les autres Canadiens seraient contre. Et ce n’est pas […] ce qu’on voit dans le sondage », constate-t-il.

« On est plus dans les nuances de gris », ajoute-t-il.

La différence à noter entre le Québec et les autres provinces, cependant, c’est qu’il y a une « majorité suffisante » au Québec – 66 contre 25 – qui appuie l’interdiction alors qu’ailleurs, on est beaucoup plus divisé sur la question.

Cette division se reflète aussi dans l’arène politique fédérale. Quelques élus conservateurs ont appuyé publiquement le projet de loi 21 tandis que leur chef Andrew Scheer exprime son opposition du bout des lèvres.

Chez les libéraux de Justin Trudeau, on condamne le projet de loi d’une seule voix, mais on refuse encore de dire comment on entend y répondre.

Pas si chiâleux que ça, les Québécois

Autre correction dans le sondage, ce ne sont pas les Québécois qui se plaignent le plus du gouvernement fédéral.

« La grogne est essentiellement dans les provinces atlantiques, dans les provinces des Prairies et en Alberta où de fortes majorités disent: “non, je n’obtiens pas ma juste part d’Ottawa” », note M. Bourque en analysant une autre question du sondage.

À cette question sur la « juste part », il n’y a que les Ontariens qui sont plus satisfaits d’Ottawa que les Québécois.

Ainsi, ils ont été 68 % en Alberta à répondre « non », 64 % dans les prairies, 58 % dans les provinces atlantiques, 49 % en Colombie-Britannique, 42 % au Québec et 37 % en Ontario.

« On semble vraiment être dans un cycle “western alienation” (sentiment d’aliénation présent dans l’ouest du Canada) », estime M. Bourque.

Source: Laïcité: plusieurs Canadiens appuient le projet de loi du Québec, dit un sondage

Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelenskiy offers Russians citizenship

Counter offer on citizenship to Putin offers Russian citizenship to Ukrainians in separatist-held areas:

President-elect Volodymyr Zelenskiy has offered Ukrainian citizenship to Russians, but combined the proposal with criticism of the Kremlin.

“We will provide Ukrainian citizenship to representatives of all peoples who suffer from authoritarian and corrupt regimes. In the first place — the Russians, who today suffer probably the most,” Zelenskiy wrote on Facebook on Sunday.

Zelenskiy’s offer came in response to a Kremlin decree last week that would fast-track Russian passports for residents of eastern Ukraine, with Russian President Vladimir Putin even saying on Saturday he was considering giving all Ukrainians easier access to Russian citizenship if they wanted it.

Moscow’s move condemned

Zelenskiy said Putin should not expect many Ukrainians to take up the offer, saying they had “freedom of speech in our country, free media and internet,” in contrast with Russia.

Moscow’s move has angered many politicians in Kyiv, which has been at war with Russian-backed separatists in the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine since 2014. The conflict, which began after the ouster of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych, has so far killed 13,000 people.

Ukraine: Displaced and disadvantaged

Outgoing President Petro Poroshenko on Wednesday accused Moscow of crossing a “red line” with the passport offer, saying Moscow wanted to create a Russian enclave in Ukraine.

The European Union also condemned the move, with European Commission spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic describing it as “another attack on Ukraine’s sovereignty by Russia.”

‘New conditions’ for living together

Zelenskiy, who won the second round of presidential elections a week ago, on Sunday also expressed a willingness to discuss the conflict in eastern Ukraine with Moscow. But he warned the Kremlin not to use “the language of threats [and] military and economic pressure.”

“This is not the best path to ceasefire and unblocking the Minsk process,” he said, referring to a peace deal sealed in the Belarusian capital in 2015 that has so far failed to bring about an end to the conflict.

“We are prepared to discuss the new conditions for how Ukraine and Russia can live together,” he said, but stressed that normalizing ties depended on Russia ceasing its occupation of both Donbass and the Crimean Peninsula, which it annexed in 2014.

Zelenskiy, who is likely to be inaugurated in early June, is a newcomer to politics, having previously only played a president in a comedy on television.

Source: Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelenskiy offers Russians citizenship

It’s not just you: The world is becoming an angrier place

Some interesting polling differences:

Many of us experience the world from inside bubbles that tend to get rather heated when they’re exposed to the outside world – or to social media.

Twitter users, for instance, may wake up to @russianbot3526′s insults in the morning and go to bed after reading a blog post confirming their view that the world is going downhill.

Meanwhile, on Facebook, French President Macron’s warning that Europe is returning to the 1930s could at any given moment be competing for attention with stories on the perhaps “world’s worst famine in 100 years,” a colony of 40,000 innocent penguins facing extinction in Antarctica and, well, Pamela Anderson storming out of a fundraiser, in protest against the world’s focus on Notre Dame instead of other pressing issues that are threatening humanity.

Or maybe you are just reading about how your neighbours are preparing for the apocalypse (or Brexit) by stockpiling cans of tuna.

Sometimes, when the “happy mood” playlist you put on abruptly ends, that poses the question: Is it just me, or is the world around me really getting angrier?

Rest assured: It’s not just you.

Last year, 22 percent of respondents across 142 countries polled by Gallup globally said they felt angry, which was two percentage points higher than in 2017 and set a new record since the first such survey was conducted in 2006.

Globally, 39 percent of respondents said they faced “a lot of worry” – up one percentage point – and 31 percent even stated they “experienced a lot of physical pain.” Stress levels, however, slightly dropped from 37 percent two years ago to 35 percent last year, which is why the world stayed at its record-high level on the “World Negative Experience Index,” instead of getting even worse. The index is based on five measured negative emotions: anger, worry, sadness, stress and physical pain, with Chad being at the very bottom of the list and Taiwan having the least negative sentiments.

As it is almost always the case with global polls, there are some limitations of this survey, including different perceptions of emotions that may be due to cultural differences. Especially in developed nations, respondents may rate their situation to be bad, even though they would be considered lucky elsewhere.

Estonia, for instance, had some of the world’s lowest negative experiences, whereas fellow Baltic nation Lithuania ranked at the very top of negative experiences, next to Yemen and Afghanistan. Lithuania is part of the European Union and has been in the headlines for its “remarkable recovery” after the financial crisis, rather than the devastating wars plaguing Afghanistan or Yemen. Those figures suggest that anger, sadness and worries are defined very differently around the world.

When the U.N. examined the Gallup polls for 2013, 2014 and 2015 about three years ago, they found that – regardless of those definitions – there were six key indicators that explained why some countries were happier than others. Per capita domestic product certainly played a role, but wealth was in some cases trumped by other factors, such as healthy years of life expectancy, freedom, trust in business and government, but also by things that are hard to measure and thus often ignored by politicians: generosity, for instance, and having someone who has your back in times of crisis.

That latter aspect – social support – was in fact among the three most important criteria, besides income and healthy life expectancy.

The fact that happiness and positive experiences aren’t only tied to financial rewards has convinced some Western governments, including New Zealand, to launch programs to boost social support and well-being as part of government budgets.

Those initiatives still lag far behind the seemingly effortless happiness of parts of Latin America, according to the latest Gallup poll, where financial resources might be scarce -but so are negative sentiments, on average.

“Latin Americans may not always rate their lives the best (like the Nordic countries), but they laugh, smile and experience enjoyment like no one else in the world,” wrote Jon Clifton, global managing partner at Gallup.

Of course, you wouldn’t think so by scrolling your news feed and reading the comments beneath stories on the “migrant caravan,” the “unique kind of financial crisis” that’ll haunt Brazil or Peru’s “health emergency.”

Source: It’s not just you: The world is becoming an angrier place

Migrants and the media: what shapes the narratives on immigration in different countries – The Conversation

Interesting comparisons:

If you want to spoil a movie for yourself, wait for a nice dramatic moment and then imagine what it was like to shoot it: the cameras, sound and lighting crews all around; the portable toilets round the back; the half-finished bowl of crisps on the catering table. If a film is to succeed, it needs us to suspend our disbelief and not think about the process.

But when we consume news media, we need to do the opposite – and think carefully about how and why these products were made. When it comes to reporting on polarising and contentious issues such as migration, what happens behind the scenes in media organisations can affect not only how we think about the issue, but even policy itself.

Our team of researchers from the University of Oxford’s Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS), the Budapest Business School and the European Journalism Centre based at Maastricht in the Netherlands, has been working to turn the camera around on news production in Europe. Our objective was to understand why different themes and narratives about migration have taken hold in different countries – and what factors contributed to the people creating these stories operating so differently.

We interviewed more than 200 journalists and key media sources (such as government migration spokespeople, NGOs and think tanks) in nine EU countries, looking at their personal reasons for working the way they did and the institutional, social and political norms that shaped their outputs.

For example – compare this Swedish newspaper reporter who is very positive about the role of journalism: “I enjoy great respect. People listen to what I say and want to hear my opinion”, with this UK newspaper journalist: “Even my own friends hate the fact that I work here and think I’m a disgrace, but I’ve just learned to ignore it and I just get on with my work.”

The same two journalists articulate very different ways of reporting migration. The Swedish journalist describes their approach to reporting on non-EU migrants who are not fleeing persecution or seeking asylum:

Globalisation is a positive force. We rarely write something negative. Labour force migration is positive.

Contrast with this the UK journalist’s explanation of how they would use the term “migrant”, in general:

To be brutally honest, it’s more likely to be people who are a burden on society than those who are a benefit to society, because there is more newsworthiness in a foreign criminal or a teenager who’s being looked after by the council than, say, a brilliant academic who’s come here to further their career … so from our perspective it’s more newsworthy if people are abusing the system or exploiting loopholes or abusing the hospitality being extended to them by British society … because that triggers a reaction in readers.

Both reporters work for newspapers and both cover the issue of migration, but they describe very differently both the place they occupy in society, and the subject they report on.

Matter of perception

Reporting is a fundamentally human process – ideas, data, and anecdotes all pass through reporters, whose perceptions of the world, areas of interest and biases are all affected by various national, social, institutional and political factors. Some are obvious and affect their immediate working experience – such as what they imagine their proprietor or editor might want to read or see. Others are more abstract – such as their sense of responsibility to help people, or to “tell it like it is, warts and all”. This can have a big impact on the reporting of a sensitive issue such as immigration.

These sometimes competing pressures affect everything from what a reporter perceives will actually constitute a valid story, to the words they will use to tell that story. For example, here is a Hungarian broadcast journalist talking about the importance of terminology to the immigration debate:

We prefer to use the term ‘refugee’, as the word ‘migrant’ might sound correct in English, but in Hungarian a ‘migrant’ is an enemy who will kill us. Therefore, we call them ‘refugees’ … We could use the term ‘migrant’, but it is a delicate one as it is widely used by pro-government propaganda.

This national context is critical. Different media traditions are contingent on national history: experiences of migration differ from country to country and even norms of the role of journalism can be fundamentally different.

In Spain and Italy we found it common for reporters to highlight the expectation that they should make an emotional connection with the reader. In Germany and Sweden there was more focus on technical reporting. In some states with a recent history of autocratic government – such as Hungary – there was a more obvious effort by governments to try to influence reporting than in more established democracies.

But government influence was also felt in more nebulous and indirect ways in some countries where the ideal of press freedom was highly prized. Personal connections between politicians and powerful individuals within media organisations are known and understood by reporters, who consider this when they choose how to report issues. One UK newspaper journalist said the owner of the paper was always in their mind when reporting on a story: “There is an awareness of the owner’s circle of friends – he knows lots of influential people – and [awareness of] his enemies.”

Perhaps the most important takeaway is that journalists both shape – and are shaped by – their national policy discourse on migration. Reporters consider, of course, the factual question of “what has happened?”, but other variables also shape the world in which they operate: including what their audiences expect, how the story has been reported by other media, what may get the reporter into trouble, what the editor thinks of the issue and what sells.

Press culture

The way different national media report migration both emerges from cultural practices within media organisations, but also reinforces them. This can have profound impacts on policy outcomes. For example, the culture within UK media – particularly within newspapers – is particularly focused on winning political victories. Would the Brexit referendum result have been the same if it was more moderate?

German journalists, on the other hand, were particularly focused on moderation and social justice. The country may have reacted differently to receiving a million asylum seekers if the nation’s media had been less homogenous in this approach.

Finally, Hungary has developed a “patron and client” model of government relations with media. Would the administration of Victor Orban, the prime minister, have been able to implement its radical anti-immigration policies if the media were less dependent on government and had a greater degree of editorial freedom?

These questions are hypothetical, of course. But by drawing attention to the process of media production, rather than just content, we highlight the need for thoughtful scrutiny of media practices, that may, in turn help lead to better understanding of media and its role within policy-making in the future.

Source: Migrants and the media: what shapes the narratives on immigration in different countries – The Conversation

Don’t make election about immigration, corporate Canada tells political leaders

Not surprising. Focus on the economic case (and economic class of immigrants) is where support for immigration is strongest:

Big business leaders worried about Canada’s aging demographics have been urging political parties to avoid inflaming the immigration debate ahead of this fall’s federal election.

The head of the lobby group representing chief executives of Canada’s largest corporations said he’s already raised the issue with political leaders who are shifting into campaign mode for the October vote.

With signs of public concern about immigration, Business Council of Canada president and CEO Goldy Hyder said he’s promoted the economic case in favour of opening the country’s doors to more people.

“We are 10 years away from a true demographic pressure point,” Hyder said during a meeting with reporters Thursday in Ottawa. “What I’ve said to the leaders of the political parties on this issue is, ‘Please, please do all you can to resist making this election about immigration.’ That’s as bluntly as I can say it to them.”

The message from corporate Canada comes at a time when public and political debate has focused on immigration, refugees and border security, to the point it could emerge as a key election issue, tempting parties fighting hard for votes.

A poll released this month by Ekos Research Associates suggested that the share of people who think there are too many visible minorities in Canada is up “significantly,” even though overall opposition to immigration has been largely unchanged in recent years and remains lower than it was in the 1990s.

Canada has been ratcheting up its immigration numbers and it plans to welcome more. The Immigration Department set targets of bringing in nearly 331,000 newcomers this year, 341,000 in 2020 and 350,000 in 2021, according to its 2018 report to Parliament.

As the baby-boomer generation ages, experts say Canada — like other western countries — will need a steady influx of workers to fill jobs and to fund social programs, like public health care, through taxes.

Thanks to the stronger economy, Canadian companies have already been dealing with labour shortages. Healthy employment growth has tightened job markets, making it more difficult for firms to find workers.

“Every job that sits empty is a person not paying taxes … We have job shortages across the country and they’re just not at the high end,” said Hyder, who added his members are well aware that immigration has become a tricky political issue.

“We’re worried about that in the sense that the public can very easily go to a xenophobic place.”

Hyder also brought up Quebec Premier Francois Legault’s election promise last year to cut annual immigration levels in his province by 20 per cent. Legault won the election after making the vow, even though Quebec faces significant demographic challenges.

Earlier this week, the Bank of Canada noted the economic importance of immigration in its monetary policy report. Carolyn Wilkins, the central bank’s senior deputy governor, said without immigration, Canada’s labour force would cease adding workers within five years.

“The fact we’ve got people that are buying things, that are using services, that are going to stores, that need houses — well, that creates a little bit of a boost to the economy,” Wilkins told a news conference in Ottawa when asked about the subject. “Certainly, immigration is a big part of the story in terms of potential growth, which will feed itself into actual growth.”

Hyder said he’s personally part of a group called the Century Initiative, which would like to see Canada, a country of about 37 million, grow to 100 million people by 2100.

The group was co-founded by Hyder and several others, including two members of the Trudeau government’s influential economic advisory council — Dominic Barton, global managing director of consulting firm McKinsey & Co., and Mark Wiseman, a senior managing director for investment management giant BlackRock Inc. Hyder was a business consultant before joining the business council and was once a top aide to federal Progressive Conservative leader Joe Clark.

The Century Initiative wants Canada to responsibly expand its population as a way to help drive its economic potential.

“Demographics are not going to be relying on just making babies, we’re going to need immigration,” Hyder said. “We have to be able to communicate that from an economic perspective, but cognizant of the social concerns that people have.”

Source: Don’t make election about immigration, corporate Canada tells political leaders

Les députés libéraux déchirés autour du compromis Bouchard-Taylor

Ongoing tensions:

Dominique Anglade aimerait que le PLQ révise sa position traditionnelle

C’est fait : la ligne de fracture est apparue, clairement, au sein du caucus libéral. Deux camps se sont affrontés ouvertement : d’une part, les tenants du compromis proposé par la commission Bouchard-Taylor ; de l’autre, les partisans de la position traditionnelle du PLQ, le respect absolu des libertés fondamentales.

Le ton a monté rapidement à la « réunion de travail » qu’ont tenue les députés libéraux jeudi matin, à l’hôtel Alt de Montréal. Une série de sujets étaient à l’ordre du jour, mais la position du parti sur le projet de loi sur la laïcité, qui sera inscrit début mai au menu des travaux de l’Assemblée nationale, a monopolisé les discussions.

Pour la première fois, la probable candidate à la succession de Philippe Couillard, Dominique Anglade, a pris position sur cette question délicate – elle s’en était gardée jusqu’ici, même derrière les portes closes du caucus. Pour l’ex-ministre de l’Économie, le PLQ devrait adopter la position du compromis Bouchard-Taylor dans le débat sur la laïcité. Pas question pour autant d’approuver le projet de loi 21, qui propose d’ajouter les enseignants à la liste des employés de l’État qui n’ont pas le droit d’arborer de signes religieux.

Environ le tiers des députés – la plupart des 29 élus étaient présents – partageaient ce choix. Le ton « était respectueux, mais vigoureux, ces questions sont émotives », a confié un élu sous le couvert de l’anonymat.

Sébastien Proulx et Gaétan Barrette s’étaient déjà dits publiquement favorables à l’ouverture sur le compromis Bouchard-Taylor. La porte-parole du PLQ dans ce dossier, Hélène David, était dans le même camp, tout comme Isabelle Melançon, Saul Polo et Moncef Derraji. « Il y a un groupe qui pense que, si l’on doit terminer le débat sur le projet de loi 21, on ne peut rester sur notre position, ne pas être en conversation avec la majorité francophone du Québec », explique un élu.

Respect absolu

Dans l’autre camp, l’autre députée qui envisage de prendre part à la course à la direction du PLQ, Marwah Rizqy, est montée au créneau. Comme la majorité des députés, la députée de Saint-Laurent prône le respect absolu des libertés fondamentales – personne ne devrait être empêché d’afficher sa confession. Dans le même groupe, on retrouve Paule Robitaille, Lise Thériault, Marc Tanguay, Christine St-Pierre, Frantz Benjamin et Marise Gaudreault. Les anglophones Gregory Kelley et David Birbaum sont aussi favorables à ce que le PLQ garde la même position, tout comme Carlos Leitãao, toutefois plus ouvert à la discussion. Enrico Ciccone était absent, tout comme André Fortin.

Mmes Robitaille et St-Pierre ont confirmé être favorables à la position actuelle du PLQ dans le débat sur la laïcité, mais ont souligné que les délibérations des élus devaient rester confidentielles.

Devant le bras de fer, le chef du parti, Pierre Arcand, est resté neutre ; Filomena Rotiroti, comme présidente du caucus, n’a pas davantage pris position. À la blague, un élu libéral a comparé le caucus à « des colocs entre qui il y a une tension francophone-anglophone ».

L’un des défis du PLQ « est de rester connecté à la base francophone ; si on n’est pas capables de dialoguer avec les régions du Québec, cela ne fait pas des militants, des députés, un parti bien fort », de confier un autre élu.

Pas question pour le PLQ d’approuver le projet de loi de Simon Jolin-Barrette, mais il faut prévoir que l’opposition n’allongera pas la sauce, ne fera pas perdurer ce débat à l’Assemblée nationale.

Les libéraux souligneront que, de toute façon, le gouvernement avait annoncé qu’il allait utiliser le bâillon pour arracher de force, s’il le fallait, l’adoption de son projet de loi. Chez les députés, on convient que le PLQ n’a rien à gagner d’une longue et pénible agonie en public en adoptant une position qui n’emporte pas l’adhésion de la majorité francophone. « Le mot “filibuster” [faire de l’obstruction parlementaire] n’a même pas été prononcé », résume-t-on.

Source: Les députés libéraux déchirés autour du compromis Bouchard-Taylor

Immigration consultant regulator to turn into new body under budget bill

Not convinced that this will address all the problems with the previous body:

The head of Canada’s current regulator for immigration consultants says his organization is set to reform as a new, industry-managed oversight body now being proposed by the Liberal government.

“That’s our intention,” John Murray, president and CEO of the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC), told iPolitics. “Our preliminary view at this point is, of course, we would.”

The decision to transition will have to come up for a vote among ICCRC’s members. Murray said anecdotally, he’s heard licensed immigration consultants would be in favour of the new college.

As a way to crack down on unscrupulous immigration consultants, the Liberals proposed in its budget bill tabled on April 8 to create the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants, which will bring regulation of the practice in similar line with other professions including accountants.

The ICCRC, which has long been criticized as ineffective in tackling unethical consultants that exploit new immigrants, will be able to transition to the college under the new rules. The bill also states if that doesn’t occur, the proposed college will be established as a new corporation.

The legislative changes will also provide the college injunction power to go after unlicensed practitioners, often known as “ghost” consultants, for violations. The new rules will also require licensees to comply with a code of professional conduct established by the federal immigration minister.

Murray said he supports the Liberal government’s move for statutory authority to regulate immigration consultants, which he believes will be able to resolve some of the problems that have long plagued his organization.

“Right now, our bylaws give us authority to investigate our members and compel them to appear before tribunals,” he said. “But we don’t have the authority to bring in witnesses who are not members or obtain documents and other information from third parties who are not members.”

He said the proposed powers would allow for more authority to compel violators to pay fines.

“It’s one thing to make a decision that involves a financial penalty. It’s quite another to try to collect that when they’re no longer a member,” he said.

But critics say regulation should be handled directly by the government given the precarious status of many victims of bad consultants.

NDP immigration critic Jenny Kwan told iPolitics earlier this month that the new college amounted to little more than a name change, and lacked provisions effectively protecting victims who risk being deported if they come forward with a complaint.

“They need some sort of protection for them to speak out and that the process won’t be turned around and used against them when seeking permanent resident status,” she said.

Murray said an issue right now is when ghost consultants are identified by ICCRC, they are referred to the Canadian Border Services Agency, the body tasked with deporting people without status.

But he said since the new regulatory body will be able to investigate unlicensed consultants, the process would not have to involve the CBSA.

Murray said ICCRC will have to work with the government going ahead to hammer out the details of what new regulations would look like.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada spokesperson Shannon Ker said Ottawa will be working closely with ICCRC on transition plans while limiting disruption to licensed consultants and their clients.

She said whether ICCRC transitions into the new college, existing members will become members of the new regulatory body. She noted transitional provisions are found in the budget bill, including the continuance of the disciplinary committee.

“For both scenarios, there are provisions to ensure that the regulation of the profession is as seamless as possible,” Ker wrote by email.

She also said the $52 million found in the budget to increase protection of immigration won’t go to the new college, which will be self-funded through membership fees.

Murray said he hopes the budget bill can be tweaked to allow the new college power to take over abandoned or closed down consultancy practices, as well as to allow its own disciplinary committee to set its own fines.

Source: Immigration consultant regulator to turn into new body under budget bill