Fearfulness is linked to reduced interaction with novel cultures for both immigrants and non-immigrants

Interesting and relevant study:

People who believe there are more dangers lurking in the social world are less likely to engage with cultures other than their own, according to new research published in Evolutionary Psychological Science. The new study indicates that this is the case for both minority groups and majority ingroup members.

“There was some existing work suggesting that different forms of threat play a role in prejudices towards outgroups, but these studies had often only looked at mainstream populations and their attitudes to stigmatized minorities, and had generally focused on people’s feelings towards individuals,” explained study author Nicholas Kerry, a PhD student at Tulane University.

“We wanted to look at this in a broader way which focused on social interactions and cultural practices. In other words, we were interested in things like how much time people spent with people of other cultures, how likely they would be to date someone of that culture, and how much they reported interacting with cultural practices other than the ones they grew up with.”

“So, for example, how much people enjoy the TV, movies, and jokes of another culture, and how much they believe in its cultural values. We were also especially interested in testing this in an immigrant sample, as well as a mainstream one, to see whether threat-perception was also related to their acculturation, i.e. their interaction with the mainstream culture.”

In the study, 171 immigrant Americans completed a measure of acculturation, which assessed their preference for the culture of their heritage versus mainstream American culture. A separate sample of 964 naturally-born Americans completed a similar measure, which assessed their interest in foreign cultures versus mainstream American culture. Both samples then completed surveys regarding their belief in a dangerous world, perceived vulnerability to disease, and their romantic partners.

The researchers found that belief in a dangerous world was associated with cultural neophobia. In other words, participants who agreed with statements such as “There are many dangerous people in our society who will attack someone out of pure meanness” displayed a stronger preference for their own cultural practices, regardless of whether they were immigrants or not.

Belief in a dangerous world also predicted whether participants had romantic partners of the same ethnicity.

“The central finding of this study is that people who perceive themselves to be at greater risk of physical threats tend to be less likely to interact with other cultures. One possible implication would be that if people wish to encourage integration between cultures, a good starting point might be to ameliorate conditions which make people feel threatened,” Kerry told PsyPost.

Concerns about disease, however, were unrelated to cultural preferences. The finding is somewhat surprising, given that past research has found it is a predictor of xenophobic attitudes. But Kerry and his colleagues noted that the previous studies “examined attitudes towards individuals, not cultural practices.”

“It should be noted that this study is entirely correlational, which means that we do not have direct evidence of the direction of any causal relationship. So future work could address this by looking at changes in individuals across time, to see whether it really is the case that fearfulness leads to less interaction with novel cultures,” Kerry added.

“It could also be interesting for future research to examine whether environmental conditions that serve as cues of threat (such as actual violent crime, or how much it is reported in the media) can influence regional levels of acculturation.”

The study, “Cultures of Fear: Individual Differences in Perception of Physical (but Not Disease) Threats Predict Cultural Neophobia in both Immigrant and Mainstream Americans“, was authored by Nicholas Kerry, Zachary Airington, and Damian R. Murray.

Source: Fearfulness is linked to reduced interaction with novel cultures for both immigrants and non-immigrants

John Ivison: Scheer’s lame response to fringe Tory intolerance proves his lack of leadership again

One almost has the impression that Ivison uses his condemnation of Scheer’s non-response to Derek Sloan’s xenophobia and accusations of dual loyalty with respect to Theresa Tam as a backhand way to criticize Theresa Tam’s actual performance (which is legitimate unlike Sloah’s comments):

It’s not so much the bigotry as the hypocrisy that is so exasperating.

Derek Sloan’s comments on Theresa Tam were clearly xenophobic, drawing immediate approval of renowned white “nationalists” like Paul Fromm.

The Ontario MP and Conservative leadership candidate asked in an online post and in an email to potential supporters whether Canada’s chief medical officer “works for Canada or China?”

The coded Canada-first language was a thinly disguised appeal for support from the intolerant fringe of the Conservative Party (Tam was born in Hong Kong).

But Sloan has no hope of winning the party’s leadership. He is currently confounding the maxim that there is no such thing as bad publicity and very soon he will fade into foot-notoriety.

My vexation is with the Conservative party establishment.

Even though leader Andrew Scheer is a lame duck, he is still responsible for the credibility of a venerable political party that professes to represent all Canadians.

In a multi-ethnic country where visible minorities make up a quarter of the population, no party tainted by racism can win power.

Yet when Scheer was asked to denounce Sloan’s statement, he turtled, saying he did not want to comment on the behaviour of a leadership candidate. That didn’t stop then interim Conservative Rona Ambrose dumping on Kellie Leitch’s bogus “Canadian values” test in the last leadership go-round.

If Scheer doesn’t see the need to decry comments from a sitting member of caucus that tars all Conservative MPs and the party with the brush of intolerance, he should go now.

In truth, his tone-deaf response is entirely in keeping with the deficiencies that saw him ousted in the first place: an apparent inability to articulate a contemporary conservatism that might appeal to the tesserae that make up the modern Canadian mosaic.

Sloan’s prejudice was calculated to appeal to an element that engages in a collective judgment of races and faiths.

In doing so, he succeeded in obscuring legitimate criticism of Tam, the World Health Organization and the Communist Party of China.

Tam’s performance has been controversial — and not just in hindsight.

In late January, she told Canadians there was no reason to be “overly concerned” about COVID-19.

She was part of a WHO emergency committee that concluded it was too early to declare a “public health emergency of international concern” on January 23.

After Canada had confirmed its first case, Tam’s concern seemed to be more focused on stigma being directed at people of Chinese and Asian descent.

At the end of January, she was reassuring Canadians that the health risks were low and that asymptomatic people arriving in Canada did not need to be quarantined.

At a health committee meeting, she was asked by a Liberal MP and physician, Marcus Powlowski, about reports the disease is communicable during the incubation period, to which she replied “people with mild symptoms don’t transmit very readily”.

She subsequently resisted the mandatory quarantining of incoming travellers, the closing of borders and the use of face-masks — all public policies that were later reversed.

“It’s going to be rare but we are expecting cases,” she told the health committee, the day before the WHO finally declared a global health emergency.

Tam can be accused of complacency. She can be denounced for blindly following Tedros Adhonam Ghebreyesus, who finds himself in disrepute for failing to alert the world earlier about COVID-19’s virulence. The WHO’s director general is accused of subordinating his responsibility to protecting China from scrutiny, ignoring warnings about human-to-human transmission and even applauding Chinese president Xi Jinping for “timely and effective measures in dealing with the epidemic”.

But Sloan didn’t just question Tam’s competence, he queried her loyalty. He did it for leadership votes from conspiracy theorists and survivalists, who fear gun bans, internment and a UN invasion.

His leader should have insisted on an apology or a resignation from caucus. Instead it was left to two rookie Conservative MPs, Eric Melillo and Eric Duncan to make clear that questioning Tam’s allegiance crossed a line.

Sloan’s comment offered “a platform to extreme theories and does not represent our party,” said Melillo.

“I may have questions and constructive concerns at times about Dr. Tam and (her) team during these evolving and challenging times. But I will never question her loyalty to Canada and to the best interests of Canadians,” said Duncan.

Many Conservatives will be grateful to two of the party’s newest MPs for offering a beacon of hope and decency.

Source: John Ivison: Scheer’s lame response to fringe Tory intolerance proves his lack of leadership again

‘They see my blue eyes then jump back’ – China sees a new wave of xenophobia

Of note:

Over the past few weeks, as Chinese health officials reported new “imported” coronavirus cases almost every day, foreigners living in the country have noticed a change. They have been turned away from restaurants, shops, gyms and hotels, subjected to further screening, yelled at by locals and avoided in public spaces.

“I’m walking past someone, then they see my blue eyes and jump a foot back,” said Andrew Hoban, 33, who is originally from Ireland and lives in Shanghai.

Experiences range from socially awkward to xenophobic. An American walking with a group of foreigners in a park in Beijing saw a woman grab her child and run the other way. Others have described being called “foreign trash”. A recent online article, under an image of ship stacked with refuse being pushed away from China’s coast, was headlined: “Beware of a second outbreak started by foreign garbage.”

China’s Proposed Immigration Changes Spark Xenophobic Backlash Online

Of note, not to mention Chinese government repression of minorities such as the Yuighurs:

While China is struggling with the coronavirus pandemic, the country’s Ministry of Justice has sparked another controversy over some proposed changes in China’s immigration policy. The policy proposed by Chinese officials has been slammed by Chinese internet users on the country’s social media outlets WeChat and Weibo since the ministry began seeking public consultations through departmental websites and social media in late February.According to the proposed clauses listed by the Chinese Ministry Of Justice, the new legislation aims to attract high-income foreign nationals to permanently live in China. In order to qualify, applicants need to have made major contributions to China’s science, technologies, sports, or cultural sectors. Experts in specific subjects may also qualify for permanent residence status in China. Foreign nationals whose incomes are six times higher than local residents can also apply after working in China for four consecutive years, or eight consecutive years if their incomes are less than six times but more than three times the average income of local residents.

The latest proposed changes to China’s immigration system are designed to attract a limited number of experts, specialists, and high-income individuals who can contribute significantly to China. Yet Chinese internet users are not showing any signs of support. There were more than 70,000 comments under the original Ministry of Justice Weibo post, which later got censored because of the backlash. The ministry closed down comments on the post announcing the legislative proposal for granting permanent resident status to foreign nationals. According to reports from the Beijing News, the topic generated billions of reads on the Chinese social media platform Weibo.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regime is attempting to win back some support on this issue from the public through its state media outlets. Following the online anger, China Daily issued an op-ed about the importance of attracting foreign talents to develop the country’s economy and technology. CGTN, another English-language state media outlet, also published an op-ed calling for “a more open and inclusive society.” However, the overwhelming voices of dissent are dominating the spotlight.

Immigration has always been a challenging issue in Chinese society. The CCP’s past policies and records are making it difficult for the Chinese government to argue in favor of immigration, even for the purpose of attracting elite talents from other countries. According to an Initium News report, the majority of people in Chinese society believe that foreign nationals have been granted privileges and special status that they do not deserve. Some critics point out the unequal treatment between local Chinese and foreign nationals, accusing the Chinese government of opening up immigration while still having population planning policies to restrict the number of children Chinese nationals can have.

It is also important to note the prevalence of hatred and racism among the voices speaking against China’s plan to attract foreign talents. From questioning the loyalties of individuals from a different race to propagating stereotypes about other ethnic groups, many internet users seem to be opposing the Chinese government’s immigration proposals not because of the potential impacts of the policies, but rather because of racial biases and prejudices. Such attitudes are all too common. In 2017, a Chinese legislator attempted to bring up a proposal to conduct stringent and swift measures to eliminate the black communities in China’s Guangdong province. Pan Qinglin, a member of China’s Political Consultative Conference, claimed that “Africans have a high rate of AIDS and the Ebola virus.” Pan further suggested that China will change from a “yellow country” to a “yellow and black country” if black communities continue to exist in China.

While some argue that those reactions are rooted in the country’s closed cultural background, it is obvious that China’s propaganda strategy has also played a huge part in fueling nationalism and anti-foreign sentiments. In 2016, Chinese President Xi Jinping added the importance of promoting “cultural confidence” as a major propaganda theme. The cultural confidence portion began to advocate for stronger recognition of China’s cultural strength and traditional values. Adding to the propaganda efforts promoting the country’s political system, the CCP’s messages have been actively instigating nationalism that shows little respect for other cultures around the world.

In 2018, a short program show on China’s CCTV Chinese Spring Festival Gala had an actress dressed in blackface. Ironically designed to demonstrate China’s positive influence in Africa, the skit featured several disturbing scenes that sparked controversies. In addition to having a Chinese actress in blackface and wearing fake buttocks, the program also made cast members of African descent dress in animal costumes to perform “African dances.”

China Central Television, also known as CCTV, is one of the most important propaganda outlets in China. Its annual Spring Festival Gala is recognized as an essential channel to set out the country’s core propaganda messages of the year.

This was not the only occasion where the Chinese government found its representations to be endorsing racism. In July 2019, Chinese diplomat Zhao Lijian made inappropriate comments about black and Hispanic communities in the United States on Twitter: “If you’re in Washington, D.C., you know the white never go” to certain a part of the city “because it’s an area for the black & Latin.” Zhao later deleted the tweet after getting called out for his racist remarks. Instead of getting fired or receiving any kind of disciplinary measures, Zhao was later promoted by China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and now serves as the ministry’s new spokesperson.

From greenlighting a show that featured blackface and enhanced biases on national state media to promoting a diplomatic official who openly propagates hatred against other ethnic groups, it is evident that the Chinese government is fueling the country’s propaganda message with a narrow-minded nationalism at the cost of respecting equality and justice. It should not be a surprise, then, that many Chinese are outraged at the idea of allowing foreigners of different races and ethnicities to become permanent residents in China.

Through years of promoting nationalism and unity, Chinese propaganda has in fact put up a significant barrier for its government to implement effective immigration policies to attract foreign talents to reside and work in the country. While China often praises its own political system for being efficient and effective, its propaganda strategies are now, ironically, impeding the government’s own legislative agenda.

Source: China’s Proposed Immigration Changes Spark Xenophobic Backlash Online

Far-Right Politicians Are Using Coronavirus To Push Anti-Immigration Xenophobia

Sigh….

The spread of the coronavirus has health officials worried about a potential global pandemic. But while governments and international organizations are rushing to stop the virus, far-right politicians in Europe have been eager to exploit it.

Radical right populists like Italy’s Matteo Salvini and France’s Marine Le Pen are using fear and uncertainty surrounding the virus, believed to have originated in China, to advocate for closed borders and anti-immigration policies ― misleading and panicked messages that health officials warn can hinder efforts to combat the virus.

In Italy, there are hundreds of cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, as well as multiple towns under quarantine and 17 people dead. Salvini, leader of the far-right Lega Party, has repeatedly attacked the government for its handling of the crisis. He has groundlessly linked Italy’s outbreak to the arrival of migrants from Africa, called for “armor plated borders” and accused Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte of failing to “defend Italy.”

There is no proof for Salvini’s claims: Africa has only three confirmed cases of coronavirus, according to monitoring data from John Hopkins University. But his inflammatory statements are a prime example of the longtime far-right trope of associating migrants with disease ― derogatory rhetoric that has been a prominent feature of Europe’s migrant crisis.

These and other attacks, coming as officials struggle to contain the virus, have put additional stress on the European Union’s ideal of border-free travel. Salvini is calling for Italy to suspend the Schengen Agreement, which allows travel between EU nations without border checks, even though health experts doubt the measures would be effective.

Austria’s Freedom Party echoed Salvini’s calls for immigration controls and suggested that the government had failed to prevent the outbreak, while the Swiss People’s Party wants “strict border control immediately.” (Austria’s health minister countered with the assessment of World Health Organization and EU experts that closing borders “makes no sense.”)

In France, Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Rally, has called for border controls and falsely accused the EU of remaining silent on COVID-19. (EU officials have repeatedly issued statements on the virus and announcedhundreds of millions of euros in health funding.) Le Pen also clashed with Italy’s Prime Minister Conte when she suggested that Italian soccer fans should be barred from entering the country. Spain’s far-right Vox party leader Santiago Abascal similarly blamed open borders for the virus.

Far-right parties tend to thrive in opposition, where their lack of governing experience and extreme policies aren’t tested, allowing them to snipe from the sidelines to gain support. They also feed on periods of unrest and uncertainty, as seen in their fearmongering around events of recent years such as the migrant crisis and ISIS-related extremist attacks. The COVID-19 outbreak gives these parties a chance to both frame governments as ineffective and advocate for the anti-immigration policies they view as a panacea to every societal problem.

Meanwhile, countries with far-right governments in power have taken a slightly different tack, largely downplaying the virus and maintaining that everything is under control.

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban claimed that although the virus has garnered the world’s attention, people should not forget that the real threat is from migration. In the United States, President Donald Trump has contradicted health officials and gave a dismissive press conference filled with false information, while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday refused to say that the coronavirus wasn’t a hoax.

Source: Far-Right Politicians Are Using Coronavirus To Push Anti-Immigration Xenophobia

Hier les italophones, aujourd’hui les musulmans

On the politics of anti-immigration sentiment and a reminder that earlier waves also were affected:

Avec la marginalisation du Parti québécois et le remplacement du Parti libéral par la CAQ, nous assistons à un cycle politique caractérisé par l’alternance sans réelle alternative, en conformité avec l’ordre néolibéral. Ce gouvernement nationaliste de droite élu par 25 % de l’électorat, si l’on tient compte des abstentions, a recours à une recette éprouvée pour, à la fois, consolider et légitimer son pouvoir : détermination d’un problème réel ou imaginaire (la laïcité), élaboration d’une rhétorique alarmiste (retour du religieux) et désignation des responsables du problème (les musulmans). Les stratèges de François Legault n’ont rien inventé. Il y a une cinquantaine d’années, le mouvement nationaliste de l’époque s’est servi de la même recette mais avec d’autres ingrédients : la langue française, l’anglicisation et les italophones.

Il a fallu près d’une décennie pour que le psychodrame linguistique, se déroulant aux dépens des Québécois d’origine italienne, se dénoue enfin par l’adoption de la loi 101. Les relations entre ces derniers et les francophones se détériorèrent à tel point, et pendant si longtemps, que la méfiance et le ressentiment eurent raison de Giuseppe Sciortino, candidat péquiste dans Mercier, lors de l’élection précédant le dernier référendum. Il fut obligé, in extremis, de céder la place à un francophone d’ascendance canadienne-française à la suite de manoeuvres douteuses. Récemment, Michel David, chroniqueur au Devoir, écrivait que la présence de Sciortino, avocat éminemment ministrable au sein du futur gouvernement Parizeau, aurait probablement apporté au camp souverainiste les 45 000 voix qui lui manquaient pour remporter le référendum de 1995. Le nationalisme mesquin et revanchard est parfois suicidaire.

Aujourd’hui, ce sont les musulmans, en particulier les musulmanes, qui ont le mauvais rôle. Pourtant, il y a une vingtaine d’années, près des deux tiers des Québécois étaient contre l’interdiction du voile islamique. Selon un sondage récent, ils sont maintenant au moins autant à vouloir l’interdire. Pourquoi ce revirement ? Nul besoin d’être un exégète de Gramsci pour savoir que l’adhésion à un projet politique ou de société (ou perçu comme tel) est précédée par une longue période de propagation des idées et d’imprégnation des esprits auxquelles contribuent, consciemment ou non, de nombreux acteurs sociaux. En France (source d’inspiration pour certains Québécois) comme ici, politiques, chroniqueurs et essayistes se sont employés avec autant de ferveur que de constance à élaborer une rhétorique hostile à l’immigration et à la diversité culturelle — assimilée au multiculturalisme trudeauiste pour mieux la dénoncer — tout en souscrivant au mythe du choc des civilisations : une idéologie servant, entre autres, à dénigrer l’islam. Partout en Occident, l’islam est devenu l’ennemi à abattre. Le Québec ne fait pas exception. Il faut être d’une grande naïveté pour croire que le projet de loi 21 existerait sans la présence des musulmans.

Nationalistes conservateurs

Ce discours n’aurait pas eu autant de succès sans la contribution, depuis le tournant du millénaire, de nationalistes conservateurs, défenseurs d’une nation ethnoculturelle qui, craignant sans raison valable « la tyrannie des minorités » et « le reniement de soi », poursuivent, tout en le niant, la chimère d’un Québec assimilationniste et homogène. Il y a de cela aussi dans l’interdiction du port du foulard musulman. Ces hérauts d’un temps révolu, aux accents groulciens, doivent nous expliquer pourquoi l’assimilation que les francophones d’Amérique ont combattue avec autant de détermination serait souhaitable pour les immigrants.

Mais pourquoi la laïcité est-elle devenue la priorité de ce gouvernement, auquel on a dû rappeler l’importance de l’environnement, alors que deux millions et demi de Québécois ont un revenu inférieur à 25 000 $, que le système scolaire est le plus inégalitaire au Canada en raison de sa double ségrégation sociale et ethnique, et que les Québécois francophones sont sous-scolarisés par rapport aux immigrants (21 % contre 39 % de diplômés universitaires) et aux anglophones ? L’hégémonie néolibérale est telle, en Occident, que les partis de gouvernement, et non pas les formations politiques marginales, ne se distinguent presque plus sur les questions fondamentales et cherchent à tout prix à se différencier sur des questions secondaires ou fallacieuses, comme la laïcité ici ou l’islamisation et d’autres mythes ailleurs. C’est l’alternance sans véritable alternative. Ceux qui doutent de l’emprise, sur ce gouvernement, de cette rationalité mortifère, fondée principalement sur la concurrence généralisée, n’ont qu’à penser à la mise en concurrence de l’industrie du taxi avec Uber, aux immigrants réguliers avec les travailleurs temporaires et aux maternelles quatre ans avec les CPE.

Mais, au-delà de ce qui précède, il y a une réponse très simple à cette question : la laïcité est devenue une priorité parce que s’en prendre aux immigrants est politiquement rentable, comme partout en Occident. Le psychodrame d’il y a cinquante ans nous a peut-être coûté la souveraineté. Quel prix paierons-nous pour celui qui se déroule maintenant aux dépens des musulmans ?

Immigration has been good for Britain. It’s time to bust the myths

Revealing media and other analysis underlying the opinions:

Cut the niceties. Skip the jargon. Let us speak the plain truth, however ugly. What is driving this country headlong into a chaotic and punishing Brexit is a blind desire to cut immigration. That’s why people voted to leave the EU, politicians and pundits tell us. That’s what makes a Norway-style deal impossible, since it would almost certainly allow freedom of movement with mainland Europe – and any prime minister accepting that would be strung up by the press for treachery.

As long as Brexit is a synonym for keeping out foreigners, there can be no hope for meaningful compromise with the rest of the EU. The Lords can inflict endless defeats on Theresa May. An entire dinosaur gallery of has-been politicians can clamber on rice sacks to issue grave warnings. All will be drowned out by this one guttural roar.

Yet the anti-migrant arguments are a toxic alloy of barefaced lies and naked bigotry. None are new. But they were feverishly circulated in the days before the 2016 referendum. This time, crucially, migrants were made scapegoats for the misery caused by the government’s own drastic spending cuts – for a buckling NHS, a cash-starved school system and falling wages.

The definitive guide to how that happened is a study from King’s College London, which analyses almost 15,000 articles published online during the Brexit campaign by 20 news outlets, including the BBC and all the national papers. Despite its thoroughness, the media has barely covered it – perhaps unsurprisingly given what it implies about the state of our press.

Researchers found immigration to be the most prominent issue in the 10 weeks running up to the vote, leading 99 front pages. Of those, more than three-quarters were from the four most virulently leave newspapers: the Sun, the Mail, the Express and the Telegraph. Brexiteers fed their papers’ scare stories about immigration – no matter how scurrilous. Recall how Penny Mordaunt and the Vote Leave campaign claimed that Turkish murderers and terrorists were queueing up to come to the UK. Never mind that David Cameron immediately decried the lie. Never mind that this is the same country for whose tyrant leader Mordaunt, Theresa May and the rest rolled out the red carpet this week. Anything to fling some mud and get a headline.

“When not associated with rape, murder or violence, migrants were often characterised as job stealers or benefit tourists,” observes the academics’ report. So grab-handedly abhorrent were these newcomers that they were simultaneously taking our jobs and stealing our dole money. Or else they were jostling British mothers out of maternity wards and cramming their kids into British classrooms.

Such poisonous stories were happily ventriloquised by Boris Johnson, Liam Fox, Chris Grayling and Michael Gove. Their reward for helping to generate the hatred that will scar this country for years was, naturally, a big job in government. Their targets, on the other hand, have to live in a society in which racial prejudice is not just normalised but tacitly encouraged by cabinet ministers.

Yet time and time again, the politicians’ claims were false. The men and women who have come here from Budapest or Prague are like previous generations of arrivals: young, educated at someone else’s expense and here to work. They aren’t low-skilled labour but what former government economist Jonathan Portes describes as “ordinary, productive, middle income, middle-skilled – the sort of people our economy actually needs”. Study after study has failed to find any evidence of significant undercutting of wages. Far from jumping the queue, analysis published by the Institute for Fiscal Studies shows they are much less likely to be on benefits or in social housing than their UK-born counterparts.

Migrants from eastern Europe pay billions more in taxes to Britain than they take out in public spending. Far from squeezing hospitals and schools, they subsidise and even staff them. Rather than take jobs, they help create them. What has drained money from our public services and held down our wages is the banking crash, and the Tories’ spending cuts. As former Bank of England rate-setter David Blanchflower concludes in a forthcoming book on Brexit and Trump: “Government-imposed austerity has meant their money [migrants’ taxes] has not been used to finance the services they are entitled to, hence the overcrowding.” In one of the most breathtakingly cynical moves of our time, the very same ministers making the cuts looked at the fallout they created – and blamed migrants.

The Tories haven’t created this climate alone, of course. From Tony Blair to Ed Miliband, Labour leaders have marched alongside, muttering about “legitimate concerns” and handing out anti-immigration mugs. Forget about the evidence or leadership or having a backbone. Never mind the surveys showing that however much people dislike immigration in the abstract, they appreciate migrants.

Imagine Labour repealing gay marriage to placate misguided voters, or restricting women from working in order to boost wages for men. You cannot. But torching non-British workers in order to score political points is still deemed acceptable.

As shadow home secretary Diane Abbott observed , the point about pandering to racism – or whatever euphemistic camouflage you want to stick on it – is that it’s a beast whose appetite is never satisfied. One day the target is immigrants without documents; the next it’s a “swarm” of Poles and 100 Indian doctors blocked from taking up their hospital jobs; and by the end of the week it’s 63 of the Windrush generation deported, and countless more plunged into poverty and homelessness.

Having spoken up for migrants during the referendum, Jeremy Corbynthankfully does not share this same soft racism. But neither is he doing enough to challenge it. Among the six tests Labour’s Keir Starmer has set for Brexit is the familiar dog-whistle about “fair management of migration”.

Labour frontbenchers evidently believe they have to promise a Brexit that is sufficiently racist for the press and the hard right. In the old Blairite days, we’d have called this triangulation – take minority-ethnic support for granted, while wooing leave voters. Whatever it’s called, it’s a tawdry tactic that soon gets rumbled.

The point about opinions is that they can be shifted. Just see what Corbyn’s team has achieved on austerity in two years. What was once an economic orthodoxy is now recognised as a failure – because Labour stood up for both the evidence and its own better instincts. There are plenty of parallels here: a policy dreamed up by the Tory right, to which the left shamefacedly paid lip service; a mounting body of evidence that it was wrong; and at ground level a lasting legacy of stunted and broken lives. Austerity was urgent in 2010, essential in 2015 and is a relic in 2018. Much of the credit for that should go to Corbyn’s party. Now it should do the same with immigration.

Or else, as one Corbynite frontbencher admits: “You can’t keep telling West Yorkshire one thing, and Islington another.” And you won’t avert a hard Brexit until you face down the intolerance that is driving it.

Source: Immigration has been good for Britain. It’s time to bust the myths

Europe’s ageing societies require immigration to survive – and that means anti-immigration politics is here to stay

An interesting analysis of the correlation between increased immigration and xenophobia in Europe. Not encouraging:

The era after WWII was mostly devoid of populist party influence. Instead, Europe was on the mend, and integration at the forefront of European if not global policy agendas. Integration ensured peace. The postwar-prosperity was phenomenal, productivity and social welfare programmes expanded rapidly. Given the changes in the past decades, in particular after the latest European expansion and Eurozone crisis, a new era is upon us.

Beginning in the 1970s in Western Europe, populism has risen yet again amidst the waves of immigration that began in the 1960s. The new populist parties are often unidimensional with explicit xenophobic, anti-immigrant positions. Their messages scapegoat non-white, non-native born persons; often with a diametric opposition to Muslims or Islamic culture. In Western European countries, anti-immigrant populist parties – sometimes labelled the ‘populist radical right’ or ‘neo-nationalists’ – expanded from below 5% of the national vote share in 1962 up to 13% by 2017, on average.

Figure 1: Immigrants and observed/predicted future support for anti-immigration parties in Western Europe (1962-2035)

Note: This chart is based on 17 countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK. Data from OECD, Global Bilateral Migration and ParlGov.

The vote share and percentage of foreign-born members of the population observed from 1962-2017 reveals a pattern. They rise in tandem. This is not a paradox of pooling Western European data. In each country on its own, the stock of foreign-born persons explains 50 to 97% of the variance in anti-immigrant party vote share (i.e., the range of correlation coefficients in 17 countries). This does not mean immigration causes anti-immigrant voting; however, social and political research explains why it is part of the causal process.

Immigration appears to be the only stable component of new populist parties and their limited policy victories. Thus far, new populist parties have successfully ushered in policies banning or criticising inter-ethnic marriage, the construction of Mosques, immigration flows and the human right to asylum (to name a few). Meanwhile, the UK voted to leave the EU; the Social Democrats in Sweden, after bleeding votes to the Sweden Democrats, introduced bureaucratic regulations against immigration; and perhaps most dramatically, 12.7% of German voters voted for the AfD, which is now Germany’s third largest party.

This marks a new era. The post-war spring season of growth has turned to autumn, with a fall in votes for mainstream parties, falling GDP growth and a potential decline in human rights. Anti-immigration views and aggressive displays of national pride, which might once have been confined to private dinner table conversations, have now moved into the public sphere, on the streets, in the media, and in political debates. The 2014 launch of PEGIDA and the sudden growth of the AfD are evidence of this public sphere change in Germany, the last place on earth one expects to find populism. At least 5 million Germans lost their lives under populist leadership last time around, not to mention those from other countries. Once out in the open, history suggests that nationalism reproduces itself because individuals see the public sphere as a safe space for them to express, if not grow their dissatisfaction with society and politics.

This is particularly acute when rates of immigration are increasing. Immigration provides a tangible basis to support narratives among the media and social networks that then shape the perceptions and experiences of natives. This leads to an increased salience of group boundaries. The native population may feel threatened by immigrants geographically and economically, challenging both group and national identities. These feelings magnify when native populations face increasing risks to their social and material security, a situation that lower income workers have had to confront since the 1980s due to a combination of economic crises, stagnant wages and welfare state retrenchments. Thus, redrawing or redoubling group boundaries is an active response, a defence mechanism built on the belief that the group will prosper if other groups are marginalised. This belief then fuses with the rhetoric of anti-immigration parties. As Figure 1 shows, this effect is likely a function of the number of immigrants in wider society.

Figure 2: Ageing population figures and observed/predicted GDP growth in Western Europe (1962-2035)

Note: Observed and predicted data from the OECD for Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.

And immigration must continue to increase. The ageing population in Western Europe demands services and resources that the native working-age population cannot provide. Figure 2 demonstrates conservative estimates of both population ageing and GDP growth stagnation until 2035 from the OECD. Today a country is lucky to have 3% growth on average. Using predictive multilevel modelling and these statistics, we can tentatively predict that anti-immigration populist parties will increase their vote share.

The most conservative prediction suggests that the vote share for such parties will cross 15% by 2035, as shown by the solid red line in Figure 1. However, the development of this support follows distinct phases. After an anti-immigration party enters the political arena and acquires support, the average time before it gains 5% of the national vote is 3.2 years (albeit with a large variance). After this 5% threshold is met, anti-immigration parties follow a trajectory of swift gains in the early phase (within 10 years of crossing the 5% mark), stability if not turbulence in the middle phase (up to 15 years) and then ultimately more gains in the mature phase (up to 30 years) as sown in Figure 3.

Figure 3: Trajectory of national vote share for anti-immigration parties after crossing the 5% threshold

Note: The three country phases include the following countries: Phase (a) includes Austria, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Norway, Denmark, Italy, Sweden, the UK, Greece, Germany and the Netherlands. Phase (b) includes Austria, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Norway, Denmark and Italy. Phase (c) includes Austria, Switzerland, France, Belgium and Norway.

Using these phases as an alternative augmentation to statistical prediction, suddenly 15% turns into a 20% vote share by 2035, shown by the dotted red line in Figure 1 after 2017. In most if not all countries, 20% of the national vote would put an anti-immigration party in second place and make it a serious contender as a coalition partner, as seen in Austria’s recent election.

Even with UKIP gaining much lower levels of support than this, the UK opted for a drastic undermining of European integration with its vote for Brexit. Meanwhile in other countries, support of between 5 and 25% of the vote for anti-immigration parties has coincided with more restrictive asylum rules or bureaucratic practices being put in place in Austria, Sweden, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands and Switzerland in recent years. A 20% vote share for anti-immigration parties would equate to a roughly 5-10% increase in the overall level of support for these parties in Western Europe. Moreover, if nationalist policies undermine international actors such as the EU or international frameworks such as the Geneva Convention, supranational arbitration will become increasingly difficult as states come into competition with one another.

How likely are these estimates? Nothing is certain and exogenous shocks are commonplace. Yet demographic science suggests that increased labour force participation, higher contributions from workers and employers, and lower benefits provided to retirees would be inevitable without an increase in immigration. In hyper-ageing societies such as Germany, the necessary increase would equate to a population where as many as 60% or more of citizens are foreign-born. Using these drastic estimates, the models outlined above also predict a 20% foreign-born population by 2035. Either way, the suggestion that support for anti-immigration parties will reach 15% on average by 2035 is potentially conservative, and 20% support is entirely possible.

Populism rises and falls in its myriad variants, but the explicitly anti-immigration version is likely here to stay. This carries additional baggage, as anti-immigration parties take aim at European integration while sometimes allying themselves with neoliberalism as both are in opposition to ‘the establishment’. These parties are not normally anti-democracy, but their authoritarian tendencies, their lack of coherent economic or educational policy and their willingness to foster division are all symptoms of the new season Europe is now entering: a European fall.

Source: Europe’s ageing societies require immigration to survive – and that means anti-immigration politics is here to stay

Europe Organizes, Rationalizes, and Industrializes Hate (Again) – The Daily Beast

Maajid Nawaz on Europe’s challenges:

Between xenophobia and xenophilia, a solution to Europe’s cultural wars lies in facing up to a few uncomfortable home truths first. Some of the right’s critique of immigration is correct. Some of the left’s concern with hosting refugees is correct. Some of the Muslim concern with racism and bigotry is correct. But the old world models of Populism, multiculturalism and Islamism—of divisive identity politics—are not the answer. They cannot be the answer. They are tearing us apart.

Candor, consistency, leadership and integrity are the only ways to cut a liberal, secular and humane path through this polarized political mosaic. As the left-of -center columnist Nick Cohen has noted, making a distinction between economic migrants and genuine refugees would be a start. But the debate must go further.

The mass sex attacks in Cologne over New Year highlighted that even after striking a middle ground on a sensible migration policy, once refugees are in Europe there is little excuse for neglecting a policy that focuses on integration and language skills. New arrivals must adapt to the liberal culture they have sought to make their own.

The Populist Right, Islamists, and the Regressive Left share a bigotry: they insist that Muslims, Islam and Islamism are one and the same. They either attack, or defend all three as one and the same thing. Simple minds require a simple world. Simple right-wingers need Islam to be the only evil. Simple Muslims need Islam to be the only true faith. Simple left-wingers need Muslims to be the only victims.

In between these simplifications, intelligent debate is lost. Liberalism provides freedom of religion and from religion. Free speech allows for the advocacy of ideas like Islamist theocracy, but it also means that others can advocate their own ideas, in the form of cartoons. Bigotry can exist against minorities and also by minorities.

Human rights is a double-edged sword of justice. It works both for and against people, including for and against minorities. We should be able to hold two thoughts at the same time. And to those vested in dividing our communities along narrow identity lines, a plague on all your houses.

Source: Europe Organizes, Rationalizes, and Industrializes Hate (Again) – The Daily Beast

Racist violence reveals Sweden’s xenophobic underbelly

Not much new in this account, which highlights Sweden’s integration challenges:

For thousands of refugees fleeing to Europe there is only one goal — to get to Sweden, a country known for its acceptance and tolerance of those escaping war and persecution.

But Sweden may not be as welcoming as they had hoped. A recent stabbing at a school in the small industrial city of Trollhattan, which killed a 20-year-old teacher and a 17-year-old student from Somalia, was described by police as an attack against “people with immigrant backgrounds.” There have also been 20 fires at refugee asylum centres.

The Scandinavian country has an underbelly of racism and xenophobia that could make life difficult for newcomers, says Daniel Poohl, managing director of Expo Foundation, an organization designed to shed light on racist ideas and organizations in Sweden.

Known for its civility and social cohesion, Sweden has seen an influx of immigrants, from the Balkans in the 1990s and more recently from Iraq and Afghanistan. But the latest wave of Syrian refugees — 190,000 are expected this year alone — has triggered an “agonizing” debate both politically and culturally, says Marie Demker, a professor of political science at the University of Gothenburg.

One outspoken anti-refugee and anti-immigrant group is the Swedish Democrats — a right-wing party that won 13 per cent of the vote in the September 2014 election. Now the third most powerful party in parliament, it is calling for a referendum on whether Sweden should close its borders to refugees and immigrants.

“Sweden is a country that is divided by the idea of us being a multicultural society,” says Poohl. Those who oppose the acceptance of refugees and immigrants are mobilizing and making their voices heard, he says.

Sweden is “very schizophrenic” when it comes to attitudes about racism and xenophobia, he says. “If you look at the majority of Swedes and their attitudes, Sweden stands out as an open and accepting country and people.” But, he adds, it is also clear people with “another skin colour” do not have the same opportunities.

“We’re very good at opening the first door for people, but very good at closing the next doors.”

According to a recent UN report, the rising level of racist violence and “Afrophobic” hate crimes is triggering “an extensive social problem” in Sweden, where 16 per cent of the population is foreign-born.

“There continues to be a general Swedish self-perception of being a tolerant and humane society, which makes it difficult to accept that there could be structural and institutional racism faced by people of African descent,” the report says.

Source: Racist violence reveals Sweden’s xenophobic underbelly | Toronto Star