Anti-Immigrant feelings sweep Europe
May 15, 2002 3:09 PM   Subscribe

Anti-Immigrant feelings sweep Europe As economies tighten, populations build, hostility to "outsiders" seems to happen everywhere, but as E.O. Wilson noted a few years back, there is bound to be people from third-world nations seeking better lives by moving to nations perceived as better off. We are told that inexpensive labor is a boon. But is this all that matters?
posted by Postroad (23 comments total)
No, obviously it isn't all that matters.

Is inexpensive labor a boon?
Doesn't it tend to lead to a vicious cycle of:
"We can't automate, we need jobs for these people!"
"We have all these jobs! We need cheap labor for them!"

Plus, the cheap labor becomes a good feeding ground for rabble-rousing politicians and agitators seeking a power base.

Eh, I'd rather do without and have a bit more space for everyone. People are more pleasant when less crowded. A fault at arm's length is far less glaring than a fault at the tip of one's nose.

Eh, I'm conservative, but not religious right. Seems to me so much misery in the third world could be ended if the typical right-wing objections over providing birth control [in any form] would be waived. I refuse to pay to support a growing population that can't feed itself... I refuse to accept the entry of its overflow into my country, where crowding is already going too far, and too much land is being lost for the foreseeable future as a viable part of the ecosystem... I would gladly aid that population in trimming its size to fit its resources, rather than overflowing its geographic boundaries.

Why should we reward cultures that can't control their growth with extra space for expansion at the expense of those that can control their growth? Height of stupidity.
posted by dissent at 3:26 PM on May 15, 2002

Paging fold_and_mutilate. fold_and_mutilate to the white courtesy phone, please.

Over-population happens. Deal and move on.
posted by Wulfgar! at 3:38 PM on May 15, 2002

Perhaps the problem lies not with the immigrants *working*, but with the immigrants insisting on retaining elements of the "old country" culture that are repugnant to the people in their new land.
For example, female circumcision. Does it impinge on their human rights to insist that they discontinue this practice in their new nation?
How about their right to teach their children to hate? Or to fight with their old enemies who also live in the new land? Or to blatantly discriminate against everyone else, though demanding complete access themselves?
And what about language? Must their host make allowances for them, since they are unable to master a new tongue?

And last, but far from least: is the reaction against LEGAL or ILLEGAL aliens? In the latter case, is it any different from how European-ancestried Americans treat hispanics from south of the US border?
posted by kablam at 3:38 PM on May 15, 2002

Over-population happens. Deal and move on.

You are just hoping someone will call you elitist aren't you?

Shuflle first, then deal and move on.
posted by srboisvert at 3:50 PM on May 15, 2002

Over-population happens. Deal and move on.

The obvious method of dealing with it is killing those you don't want around, thus reducing the population. That's a bit brutal for my taste.

Yes, I *will* move on... but not by mildly accepting the overflow from those who can't "deal" themselves.
posted by dissent at 3:50 PM on May 15, 2002

Hmm this is kind of weird. I'm for immigration to the US, I mean it's what makes our country what it is, blah blah blah. The same cannot be said the same for Europe.

Each one of Europe's cultures are unique and have a long history. Even an immigration among Europeans can be seen as dissolving their cultures until everything becomes an America II.

I think kablam also makes good point with immigrants to Europe not totally absorbing. With modern technology it becomes harder and harder to just let go of the old country. While it's good to hold onto your heritage, it's not good to become insular to the culture you've entered.

Oh, and Europe is horribly overcrowded as it is. Remember all those wars they fought over there... all because of land? Finally populations in Europe are stabilizing and now there's an outside variable.
posted by geoff. at 3:55 PM on May 15, 2002

I think the ideas behind what someone like Fortuyn was talking about are sound: there is a reason why Holland or England or whoever have been successful, and they would like to keep it that way.

However the idea of just deporting people, locking them up, or putting them in transit camps is not appealing. The best way to achieve the balance between accepting immigration and retaining the heart of the national character seems to me to be education. Of the children, of course, but of the adults as well. You need to explain yourself, why Dutch are Dutch or French are French, what is expected of immigrants, what they need to learn in order to be accepted, etc. If you do not provide these services it is a bit rich to complain that people don't understand enough about their new land.
posted by cell divide at 4:00 PM on May 15, 2002

There's a nice long essay being written, right now, explaing the rise of the anti-immigration politics as strictly a reaction to globalization.

People don't see job loss and mass movements as an effect of globalization because that's not what's written about in the papers. People do see an influx of 2nd and 3rd world job seekers and react to that. Globalization, as a adveritised in the papers is too abstract a topic to have anything to do with a muslim family from Turkey moving to Hamburg.
posted by raaka at 4:23 PM on May 15, 2002

Apparently cheap labor is good only so long as it stays at home.
posted by Mo Nickels at 4:27 PM on May 15, 2002

I would favor zero immigration. It works for the Swiss, why not other european countries, or the US for that matter? Afterall, it is kind of odd that someone in country X would think they have a right to live in country Y just because they want to, especially if they aren't willing to embrace the language and customs.

When I lived in Switzerland, my boss had to sign some paper swearing that I possessed skills that no Swiss person could do. Even then, I was only allowed to be there two years. The "seasonal" (dark-skinned immigrant) workforce there gets a special 6-mo visa that can only be issued during certain months. There are also special apartment leases for these people and all foreigners are closely watched by the "foreigner-police" who will think nothing of putting you on the next train to France the day your visa expires.
posted by plaino at 4:52 PM on May 15, 2002

Right. Shall we change the base of the Statue of Liberty to read "Go away!"?

raaka - do you think that globalization increases or decreases the number of second and third world job seekers? It seems to me that it should decrease it, but perhaps I'm confused.
posted by jaek at 5:19 PM on May 15, 2002

It would be interesting to see how many Americans/Europeans are living outside of their birth country. Does anyone know where one can find statistics on such things?
posted by cell divide at 5:22 PM on May 15, 2002

“do you think that globalization increases or decreases the number of second and third world job seekers?”

It increases it—corporate globalization is designed to increase it. Consquently, it vastly increases rural to urban mass migration.
posted by raaka at 8:10 PM on May 15, 2002

The more a society chooses to reject its immigrants the more they will turn to crime. This is hardly a surprising choice since immigrants are not accepted, are relegated to the bottom of the social ladder, and often lack even the most basic of political rights (the vote). The solution is not to ban immigration but rather to change people's attitudes towards immigrants so they (or at least their children) have a chance to join mainstream society.
posted by dydecker at 8:44 PM on May 15, 2002

Economics is only one piece of the puzzle. Another non-negligible piece is the growth in the popularity of fundamentalist teachings in Muslim communities. Sure, not everything revolves around the collective memory of 9/11, but idea that your next-door neighbor might be part of some sleeper terrorist cell is frankly unsettling.

Combine this with the fact that these terrorist cells are deliberately blending themselves into long-established Muslim communities, and soon enough you pretty much have to expect a backlash of this type to occur, especially given those communities' perceived unwillingness to take significant action against the extremist elements in their midst. Whether or not this unwillingness truly exists is very hard to determine, but many people's opinions will be at least partly formed by the growth of Islamic fundamentalism in the "old countries", and news articles like the Egyptian piece about Bush being dumb and suicidal murder being "the most exalted state" a human can achieve.

Frankly I find the lack of negative reaction to this sort of thing from Muslim communities pretty damn frightening. Is it because they feel that it's nonsense not even worth addressing, or is it because many in their ranks believe that suicide bombing is good and fine? Faced with silence, the "indigenous" population must make up its own mind, and many in Europe are choosing to err on what they feel is the side of caution and self-preservation.
posted by clevershark at 10:03 PM on May 15, 2002

raaka -- actually the increasing concentration of population in cities makes little sense if it is to be seen as a result of globalization. Nice as it would be to blame all problems on evil nasty corporations -- and don't feel bad, many do -- the fact is that locating in large cities adds a lot to the overhead of a company. Things like building-related fees (be they rent or maintenance fees) are much higher, and you have to pay your workers a good deal more in large urban areas, sometimes two or three times what you'd pay someone in a smaller community.

The fact is that corporations follow the movement of the educated workforce. And in most cases educated people tend to migrate towards cities, which best cater to people who want to live at least part of their lives in an environment which offers them many lifestyle options which they would simply not have in smaller communities, and are willing to make the tradeoffs involved in city living. Immigrant populations also favor cities in huge numbers, because that is where they are most likely to find people of similar background.

Corporations merely take advantage of that. They do not cause it.
posted by clevershark at 10:15 PM on May 15, 2002

raaka - the urban to rural migration isn't an effect of globalization, it's an effect of industrialization. It happens everywhere. It happened during the industrial revolution in the UK when there were no global corporations. It happened in the Soviet Union when there weren't any corporations at all.

And surely a Mexican worker (for example) is less likely to leave his family and go work in the US for a couple of years if he can find paying work at home.
posted by jaek at 11:25 PM on May 15, 2002

Paging fold_and_mutilate. fold_and_mutilate to the white courtesy phone, please.

Seein' my ol' good-lookin' MeFi handle in a thread I hain't even posted in reminds me of this here story I wanna tell y'all about overpopulatin' and immigratin'. At least I think it's about overpopulatin' and immigratin'. That's what this here thread's about ain't it.

Down South them good ol' boys'll each have 'emselves a pack a' hounds, and back in the deepest hills my ol' buddy Jeb had the biggest pack in four counties. He warn't no slouch at huntin' birds with 'em neither, and did he take a pride in his hounds.

At least some of 'em.

"Ya see", Jeb said, surrounded by more dogs than I'd seen this side of a Ko-rean steakhouse, "it's a funny thing, but this here pack gettin big...gettin inbred, and some of the pups ain't no damn good. They grow up worthless as hell. Here, watch this..."

Jeb whistled for a redbone cur name-a Lobo, or some such. The dog thumped his tail real feeble-like, then slunk over and lay at Jeb's feet.

Real sudden and lookin' some like Charlton Moses-hisself Heston, Jeb raised both hands like he was a fixin' ta shoot a scattergun at the sky. Lobo took one look, let out a wailin' howl, and skeedaddled as fast as his big paws'd get purchase in that red mud.

Jeb shook his head slow. "Hound's gun shy", he said, "howls before ya even pull the trigger. Too much inbreedin', maybe...or mebbe jus' too many past blasts jus' too damn close."
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 11:44 PM on May 15, 2002

jaek, yes industrilization is spurring the migration, but you have to ask yourself, what is spurring this specific industrilization? It's not New Deal style development where the government makes massive public outlays. Most developing countries, especially those that have taken IMF loans, cut public spending. Foreign capital is driving second and third world industrilization.

“[A] Mexican worker ... is less likely to leave his family and go work in the US for a couple of years if he can find paying work at home.”

It's a good example. Without agrarian reform this Mexican worker wouldn't have much of a reason to leave his rural home in the first place. Chances are, though, that he’d not head straight for Mexico City, as he would if Mexican industrilization was like that seen in the US, Russia and England. Most likely, he'd hop a bus for the maquildoras along the border with the US. Rural emigration to NAFTA factories is on course to double by 2020—far outpacing any other region in Mexico. This is not your (great grand)father's Industrial Revolution.
posted by raaka at 1:07 AM on May 16, 2002

Woo Hoo!!!

Thanks for explainin' this issue in terms I 'kin unnerstan' fold_and_mutilate. Heck, we jus' mite be cousins! I thank I know that there Jeb. I believe I bought a sorry no-good biscuit eatin' hound frum him! Got a chaw?
posted by nofundy at 6:05 AM on May 16, 2002

One last idea about acceptance or rejection: the ability of a community to *condemn* members of the community that break the law, that violate others inside and outside of the community, determines how outsiders view them.

If the community sees legitimate grievances against *their* criminals as "prejudice", "bigotry" or "persecution", then that community will remain outside of society at large.

And this is one fact of life that a minority cannot whine its way out of, that A PEOPLE ARE JUDGED NOT BY THEIR BEST AND BRIGHTEST, BUT BY THEIR WORST AND STUPIDEST.
posted by kablam at 8:01 AM on May 16, 2002

And this is one fact of life that a minority cannot whine its way out of, that A PEOPLE ARE JUDGED NOT BY THEIR BEST AND BRIGHTEST, BUT BY THEIR WORST AND STUPIDEST.

Is that a personal statement or are you going to back it up?
posted by niceness at 8:49 AM on May 16, 2002

Don't forget, folks! Mocking an ethnic group's stereotypical speech patterns is racist, unless they're white Southerners! Then it's comedy gold! Hyuck, hyuck, hyuck.
posted by darukaru at 11:24 AM on May 16, 2002

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