Even the tolerant Dutch are concerned.
People have moved around the globe forever. In the last five thousand years, many settled where they were. They went on to defend their lands from ‘others.’ The modern nation-state began about seven hundred years ago.
Newcomers settled the U.S. coast to coast in the 19th century. Migration all over the world sped up in the last century.
The key to the success of the U.S. as a home for immigrants is one word. The word is assimilation. It refers to the process by which newcomers adopt the ways of the people in their new country.
There is another word that has become popular. That word is identity. It means taking pride in the culture from which you come. To some extent, it also means trying to get your new country to accept you on your terms, as you are.
Identity is popular. It is now under attack. There are two big reasons. First, is the loss of jobs. The second is mass migration. Millions of migrants have left zones of violence and poverty. They are seeking new places to call home.
Great Britain voted to leave the European Union. Many say it was the result of the feeling that migrants were taking the jobs of British workers. The victory of Donald Trump was partly due to his negative views of immigrants and Muslims.
The Prime Minister of the Netherlands has joined the crowd. He said there was “something wrong with our country.” He went on to say “the silent majority” would no longer tolerate migrants.” He meant those who “abuse our freedom.” He spoke of “antisocial behavior” such as littering and spitting. He is against migrants who do not respect women or gay rights.
He did not talk about the danger of terrorism. He talked about the need for migrants to become part of the culture.
The Netherlands Prime Minister is up for election in March 2017. Leaders in Germany and France also face elections.
They all face a populist uprising. There is a question. Can moderate leaders stay in power without doing something for populists?
The Netherlands is a tolerant nation. The tone of the Prime Minister’s statement surprised many. It is a sign of our times. Politicians need votes.
In the U.S., populism means “America First.” President Trump showed populist positions could win.
Source: The New York Times January 24, 2017