An NYT op-ed:
Paris and Europe’s Anti-Refugee BacklashSo, Sarkozy’s party are now the “extreme right?”
By Anna Sauerbrey, NOV. 16, 2015
Berlin — IN Europe, it took the right and the extreme right just hours to turn the terrible events of Paris into political fodder: On Saturday afternoon in France, Laurent Wauquiez, secretary general of the Republicans, the conservative party of former president Nicolas Sarkozy, demanded detention camps for some 4,000 people in France considered potential terrorists by the authorities.
And in Germany Markus Söder, the minister of finance in Bavaria and a leader of the Christian Social Union, the sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives and the sharpest critics of her refugee policy, said: “The era of uncontrolled migration and illegal immigration is over. Paris changes everything.”So, the Christian Social Union, the ruling party of Bavaria, is now the extreme right?
At least the second part of his statement is true: Paris will change things.Actually, something that’s overlooked is that the French government’s unenthusiastic response to Merkel’s mania attack last summer was in part due to the French learning rational lessons from the Charlie Hebdo and kosher supermarket slaughters last January.
It feels like the terrorists have flung open a door and burst into a room with a dense, uncomfortable atmosphere, packed with people ready to succumb to hysteria at the slightest trigger. Germany feels attacked, too — and not only because Germany’s foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, was at the Stade de France alongside the French president, François Hollande, on Friday night. An increasing number of Germans have been feeling “attacked” anyway: attacked by an “avalanche” of refugees from a different cultural setting, as the minister of finance, Wolfgang Schäuble, puts it these days.
In Germany and elsewhere, the idea that incoming refugees present a security risk is already an established meme among the anti-immigrant right online; they take it as fact that the attacks in Paris would not have happened had Europe shut its doors months ago. …
Hate speech in social networks is on the rise. …
Politically, the consensus on refugees between the center left and center right in Germany, which has set the tone for much of Europe’s policy over all, has given way to sharp disagreements over the right answer to mass immigration, with conservatives fleeing in droves.
Yet all this is just tinder for the fire that the Paris attacks have lit. For one thing, they will be likely to lead to a further decline in Chancellor Merkel’s already sinking approval rates. The far right has taken the first shot: On a Facebook page belonging to one leading anti-immigrant group, Pegida, someone wrote “Merkel has got blood on her hands.”
So far, the opposition in Germany is populist and disparate. But the attacks open the door for a major, organized run at the electorate by the “Alternative für Deutschland,” a right-wing party founded in 2013. …
Whatever we may learn about the actual lives and origins of the perpetrators, whether one or several of them really came to Europe just recently, hidden among hundreds of thousands of refugees, it doesn’t really matter. In the current climate in Germany, facts are fiction and vice versa. Pegida, Alternative für Deutschland and the rest of the right wing have long made it their mantra that the government and mainstream media are lying to the German population — and many agree.
Germany has grown increasingly anxious and angry for some months. Reason might now decide to leave the room, replaced by the politics of fear. And where Germany goes, the rest of Europe will follow.
Anna Sauerbrey is an editor on the opinion page of the newspaper Der Tagesspiegel and a contributing opinion writer.