Moustafa Bayoumi writes: The US supreme court has decided that the Trump administration’s Muslim ban can proceed in full, even as legal challenges to the ban continue. What a terrible and portentous decision not only for citizens from the banned countries but also for the very health and future our own nation.
With their short and unsigned orders, the supreme court appears now to be favoring the government’s argument, suggesting the court will rule with Trump when the legal challenges to the ban are finally heard. This may be unsurprising when considering the traditional deference the court has afforded the executive branch in matters of immigration, but it is no less infuriating.
After all, the constitution forbids discriminating on the basis of religion, and the Immigration and Nationality Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of nationality and place of birth. It would be a travesty of justice to enshrine this kind of official bigotry against Muslims due to the separation of powers doctrine.
But the supreme court has made many wrongheaded decisions in the past. In Dred Scott v Sanford (1857), the court ruled that African Americans could not become citizens, further enshrining slavery into the American system.
The case of Plessy v Ferguson (1896) upheld the constitutionality of racial segregation. In Buck v Bell (1927), the court sided with eugenics (yes, eugenics!) by legally upholding the forced sterilization of people with intellectual disabilities. Fred Korematsu challenged the constitutionality of Japanese internment in Korematsu v United States (1944) and lost. Will we soon be adding the Muslim ban cases to this shameful list? [Continue reading…]
The Washington Post reports: The Supreme Court on Monday granted President Trump’s request to fully enforce his revised order banning travel to the United States by residents of six mostly Muslim countries while legal challenges to it proceed in lower courts.
It was a victory for the White House, which has seen the courts trim back various iterations of the travel ban, and it bodes well for the administration if the Supreme Court is called upon to finally decide the merits of the president’s actions.
Two lower courts had imposed restrictions on Trump’s new order, exempting travelers from the six countries who had “bona fide” connections with relatives — such as grandparents, aunts or uncles — or institutions in the United States. Those exemptions to the president’s order, issued in the fall, were along the lines of those imposed by the Supreme Court last summer on a previous version of the travel ban.
But in an unsigned opinion Monday that did not disclose the court’s reasoning, the justices lifted the injunctions, which had been issued by federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland.
Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor noted that they would not have lifted the restrictions. The new ban also bars travelers from North Korea and Venezuela, but they were not affected by the injunctions. [Continue reading…]
The Guardian reports: The Trump administration has pulled out of the United Nations’ ambitious plans to create a more humane global strategy on migration, saying involvement in the process interferes with American sovereignty, and runs counter to US immigration policies.
The US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Hayley, informed the UN secretary general, Antonio Guterres, at the weekend that Donald Trump was not willing to continue with an American commitment to the UN global compact on migration.
The announcement of the US withdrawal from the pact came just hours before the opening of a UN global conference on migration scheduled to begin Monday in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
In 2016, the 193 members of the UN general assembly unanimously adopted a non-binding political declaration, the New York declaration for refugees and migrants, pledging to uphold the rights of refugees, help them resettle and ensure they had access to education and jobs. The initiative had the enthusiastic backing of Barack Obama, and was embraced by Guterres as one of his major challenges for 2018.
The aim is to publish a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration next year in time for adoption by the UN general assembly in September.
Louise Arbour, appointed as the UN’s special representative to oversee the process, regards the global compact as a chance to shift world opinion on the need to address future migration, in the same way that the UN had managed to persuade the world it needed to address climate change. There are currently 60 million people who have been displaced worldwide. [Continue reading…]
The xenophobic, racist, bigot, defiling the Oval Office, tweeted:
A disgraceful verdict in the Kate Steinle case! No wonder the people of our Country are so angry with Illegal Immigration.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 1, 2017
Not having followed this case beyond being aware of the anti-immigrant hysteria that Kate Steinle’s death is being used to fuel, it was with interest that I read the coverage in the conservative outlet, RedState (which I’ve never read before) under the headline shown above.
It turns out, honest reporting is indeed possible, irrespective of the political leanings of the publication, when the journalists and editors have the integrity to respect the facts:
The illegal immigrant who killed Kate Steinle in 2015 was found not guilty of her murder by a San Francisco jury today. Outrageous, right?
Before the killing, Garcia Zarate had been released from a San Francisco jail despite a standing federal deportation order. He had been deported five times before. This made him a very effective villain for Trump’s border security campaign messages — proof that sanctuary city policies kill! — and it’s natural to be sympathetic about Steinle, who died in her father’s arms at the far too young age of 32.
The trouble with a politically-charged case like this is that there are many who seek to benefit from twisting, if not outright lying, about what really happened. And the facts here are far more complicated than any campaign slogans would lead you to believe.
These two facts are undisputed by the prosecution and defense:
- On July 1, 2015, Kate Steinle was fatally struck in the back by a single bullet as she walked on Pier 14 with her father to view the San Francisco Bay.
- Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, a Mexican citizen illegally in the United States, fired the gun that killed Steinle.
The complicated part is pretty much everything else. [Continue reading…]
Thomas Chatterton Williams writes: The Château de Plieux, a fortified castle on a hilltop in the Gascony region of southwestern France, overlooks rolling fields speckled with copses and farmhouses. A tricolor flag snaps above the worn beige stone. The northwest tower, which was built in the fourteenth century, offers an ideal position from which to survey invading hordes. Inside the château’s cavernous second-story study, at a desk heavy with books, the seventy-one-year-old owner of the property, Renaud Camus, sits at an iMac and tweets dire warnings about Europe’s demographic doom.
On the sweltering June afternoon that I visited the castle, Camus—no relation to Albert—wore a tan summer suit and a tie. Several painted self-portraits hung in the study, multiplying his blue-eyed gaze. Camus has spent most of his career as a critic, novelist, diarist, and travel essayist. The only one of his hundred or so books to be translated into English, “Tricks” (1979), announces itself as “a sexual odyssey—man-to-man,” and includes a foreword by Roland Barthes. The book describes polyglot assignations from Milan to the Bronx. Allen Ginsberg said of it, “Camus’s world is completely that of a new urban homosexual; at ease in half a dozen countries.”
In recent years, though, Camus’s name has been associated less with erotica than with a single poignant phrase, le grand remplacement. In 2012, he made this the title of an alarmist book. Native “white” Europeans, he argues, are being reverse-colonized by black and brown immigrants, who are flooding the Continent in what amounts to an extinction-level event. “The great replacement is very simple,” he has said. “You have one people, and in the space of a generation you have a different people.” The specific identity of the replacement population, he suggests, is of less importance than the act of replacement itself. “Individuals, yes, can join a people, integrate with it, assimilate to it,” he writes in the book. “But peoples, civilizations, religions—and especially when these religions are themselves civilizations, types of society, almost States—cannot and cannot even want to . . . blend into other peoples, other civilizations.”
Camus believes that all Western countries are faced with varying degrees of “ethnic and civilizational substitution.” He points to the increasing prevalence of Spanish, and other foreign languages, in the United States as evidence of the same phenomenon. Although his arguments are scarcely available in translation, they have been picked up by right-wing and white-nationalist circles throughout the English-speaking world. In July, Lauren Southern, the Canadian alt-right Internet personality, posted, on YouTube, a video titled “The Great Replacement”; it has received more than a quarter of a million views. On great-replacement.com, a Web site maintained anonymously, the introductory text declares, “The same term can be applied to many other European peoples both in Europe and abroad . . . where the same policy of mass immigration of non-European people poses a demographic threat. Of all the different races of people on this planet, only the European races are facing the possibility of extinction in a relatively near future.” The site announces its mission as “spreading awareness” of Camus’s term, which, the site’s author concludes, is more palatable than a similar concept, “white genocide.” (A search for that phrase on YouTube yields more than fifty thousand videos.)
“I don’t have any genetic conception of races,” Camus told me. “I don’t use the word ‘superior.’ ” He insisted that he would feel equally sad if Japanese culture or “African culture” were to disappear because of immigration. [Continue reading…]
Politico reports: The Department of Homeland Security’s official watchdog is accusing his own agency of slow-walking the public release of a report about confusion that ensued earlier this year after President Donald Trump issued his first travel ban executive order.
The still-unreleased inspector general report found that senior managers at Customs and Border Protection were “caught by surprise” by Trump’s order and that agency officials “violated two court orders” limiting implementation of Trump’s directive to suspend travel to the U.S. by citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries, according to a letter sent to lawmakers Monday and obtained by POLITICO.
The report’s conclusions appear to be sharply in tension with the picture the White House tried to paint of the execution of Trump’s Jan. 27 order, which led to confusion throughout the air travel system, protests at airports and delays at ports of entry to the U.S.
“It really is a massive success story in terms of implementation on every single level,” a senior administration official told reporters two days after Trump ordered the move.
The unusual missive to Congress on Monday from Inspector General John Roth said his 87-page report was sent to DHS leadership Oct. 6, but officials have declined to authorize its release over the past six weeks. [Continue reading…]
The New York Times reports: The Trump administration is ending a humanitarian program that has allowed some 59,000 Haitians to live and work in the United States since an earthquake ravaged their country in 2010, Homeland Security officials said on Monday.
Haitians with what is known as Temporary Protected Status will be expected to leave the United States by July 2019 or face deportation.
The decision set off immediate dismay among Haitian communities in South Florida, New York and beyond, and was a signal to other foreigners with temporary protections that they, too, could soon be asked to leave.
About 320,000 people now benefit from the Temporary Protected Status program, which was signed into law by President George Bush in 1990, and the decision on Monday followed another one last month that ended protections for 2,500 Nicaraguans.
Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, is still struggling to recover from the earthquake and relies heavily on money its expatriates send to relatives back home. The Haitian government had asked the Trump administration to extend the protected status.
“I received a shock right now,” Gerald Michaud, 45, a Haitian who lives in Brooklyn, said when he heard the news. He has been working at La Guardia Airport as a wheelchair attendant, sending money to family and friends back home. He said he feared for his welfare and safety back in Haiti now that his permission to remain in the United States was ending. [Continue reading…]
The New York Times reports: They were the ones who did not make it; the ones who perished seeking a new life in Europe; the ones the people smugglers consigned to frail craft doomed to founder in the Mediterranean Sea.
The German newspaper Der Tagesspiegel has sought to build a monument in print to them, cataloging the 33,293 people who, it said, died between 1993 and 2017 fleeing war, poverty and oppression in their own countries.
But, in the process, The List, as the newspaper called its 48-page tally of the lost, cast a baleful light on a tragedy that runs in parallel to the deaths: Many of them died in anonymity, particularly in recent years.
Sometimes, the industrial-scale numbers are staggering. In September 2016, for instance, 443 unidentified people — “region of origin — Africa” — died in a ship wreck off Egypt.
Then, by contrast, there was the individual pathos of brevity as in the case on Sept. 16, 2017, of a 14-year-old boy named R. Oryakhal, “struck by a car near Calais when he fell from the truck he had climbed on to try to reach Great Britain.”
The newspaper printed 100,000 copies of The List. It was distributed with the newspaper’s edition of Nov. 9 and the rest are being given away during a series of artistic and performance presentations in Berlin. The list can also be downloaded in the form of a 48-page document.
Der Tagesspiegel said the asylum-seekers, refugees and migrants on its list had died “as a result of the restrictive policies of Fortress Europe,” both at the continent’s outer borders or after arriving in Europe itself. [Continue reading…]
By Tina Moffat and Charlene Mohammed
Fatima,* a refugee from Somalia who is a newcomer to Canada, has been having trouble in her local supermarket. Back home, she was accustomed to milk fresh from the cow. “In Canada I don’t even know if it’s real milk or fake milk,” she said. “I don’t know the difference. Is there milk that has pork-related ingredients in it?”
Life for new immigrants is hard in many ways. But one thing that is rarely recognized is the dramatic shift for newcomers in what they eat. People who are used to eating freshly killed chickens and seasonal vegetables—and drinking milk from their cows—are suddenly faced with an unfamiliar selection of produce, a range of processed foods, and a plethora of nonperishable goods from the food bank (if they need them) that are in some cases so odd that they are perceived as “poison.”
Food is at the heart of culture: It is at the center of gatherings ranging from weddings to funerals, and it’s a critical part of everyday life. Not only are ingredients and recipes important but so are people’s foodways and customs. In many countries, it is common to cook a large pot of food in anticipation of uninvited guests; those who have extra food share it, and they expect to have food shared in return. Such social arrangements can increase food security in the community.
Some immigrants and refugees who settle in Western urban centers find that they do not have enough resources to meet their food needs. As defined by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), “food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.” Many officials, however, approach this problem as one of “hunger” with a limited understanding of food insecurity that focuses on providing sufficient food for survival—and nothing more. Our research shows that newcomers’ experiences with food insecurity—based on the stories they share—are about much more than satisfying their physical needs; food consumption has many social and cultural dimensions as well.
The Washington Post reports: A federal judge in Maryland early Wednesday issued a second halt on the latest version of President Trump’s travel ban, asserting that the president’s own comments on the campaign trail and on Twitter convinced him that the directive was akin to an unconstitutional Muslim ban.
U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang issued a somewhat less complete halt on the ban than his counterpart in Hawaii did a day earlier, blocking the administration from enforcing the directive only on those who lacked a “bona fide” relationship with a person or entity in the United States, such as family members or some type of professional or other engagement in the United States.
But in some ways, Chuang’s ruling was more personally cutting to Trump, as he said the president’s own words cast his latest attempt to impose a travel blockade as the “inextricable re-animation of the twice-enjoined Muslim ban.” [Continue reading…]
Susan B Glasser writes: Ai Weiwei is making a strong case for himself as America’s leading dissident of the Trump era.
Never mind that he’s Chinese, or that he lives in Berlin in de facto exile these days.
The legendary artist, who has long embraced political themes in his work, has gone full-out activist in a new feature-length documentary film about the global refugee crisis, called Human Flow and released in theaters across the U.S. Friday, and in a new, New York City-wide public art exhibit of 300 works in dozens of locations called “Good Walls Make Good Neighbors.”
Both are explicit rebuttals of the nationalistic, America-First-fueled policies espoused by Donald Trump, from his proposed Mexican border wall to his curbs on immigration that include admitting the smallest number of refugees to the U.S. in decades.
In a new interview for The Global Politico during a rare visit to Trump’s Washington, Ai referred to Trump’s win as “the moment I think history stopped,” a “backward” evolution that undermines liberal ideas like freedom of speech and human dignity everywhere.
Authoritarian leaders in China and elsewhere are the beneficiaries of Trump and the crisis of American democracy, said Ai, who spent four years under house arrest and forbidden to leave China before being allowed to leave the country two years ago.
“China is laughing about this situation,” he said. “China, Russia, they all laugh about it.”
When we met in Georgetown recently, I found Ai most compelling when talking about why he made the film, a “strangely beautiful” documentary, as the New York Times put it, shot in 23 countries from Asia to Africa to the Middle East and Europe over the course of a year.
It’s a call to action for Americans, he told me, and a commentary on what he sees as the breakdown of our society into a “timid” and “cowardly” and “selfish” place, one whose new role in the world is very much at odds with its self-identity as this liberal, generous nation.
“We have to save our own soul and our own mind and our own society,” he said. [Continue reading…]
The Guardian reports: By handing a convincing victory to the centre-right party of 31-year-old Sebastian Kurz on Sunday, Austria rewarded one of the most audacious political gambles in its recent history.
Until Kurz was announced as a candidate for chancellor in June, his Austrian People’s party (ÖVP) had been trailing by some distance in polls behind its senior partner in the governing coalition, the centre-left SPÖ, and behind the far-right Freedom party (FPÖ).
But on Sunday evening the man Austrian tabloids have affectionately dubbed wunderwuzzi or “wonderkid” could hardly make himself heard over deafening cheers as walked on to the stage at Vienna’s Kursalon, draped in the turquoise colours of his “movement”.
With the ÖVP winning more than 30% of the vote, Kurz is in a position to choose whether he wants to continue the “grand coalition” of the past decade under his leadership or enter an alliance with the nationalist FPÖ. [Continue reading…]
The Washington Post reports: Austria could be set for a turn to the right, as voters there head to the polls on Sunday in an election that’s being closely watched across Europe.
One of the most likely results, according to polls, is a coalition between the right-wing populist Freedom party and the center-right ÖVP party. The Freedom party is expected to make significant gains, possibly paving the way for its best election result in over a decade.
What’s at stake?
When neighboring Germany held its election less than a month ago, the far-right Alternative for Germany made significant gains. The political center still held, however, putting Chancellor Angela Merkel on track for a fourth term. Her party’s losses were widely linked to her decision to allow more than one million refugees into the country within four years.
In Austria, the backlash against liberal policies has been much more pronounced. As a member of the European Union, Austria could resist efforts by Germany and France to reform the E.U. and to expand cooperation on issues such as immigration.
The center-right candidate considered most likely to win the chancellorship, Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, has already rejected E.U. reform proposals by French President Emmanuel Macron. As foreign minister, Kurz also pursued policies designed to stop the influx of immigrants, even if some of those measures contradicted E.U. rules. Sunday’s elections could turn some of those measures into longer-term solutions embraced by the country’s political mainstream. [Continue reading…]
Jonathan Blitzer writes: In 1980, the year that Congress passed the Refugee Act, the U.S. accepted more than two hundred thousand refugees. The law created a robust program for accepting people who had been displaced by war and strife, and made refugee policy a new tool of American foreign policy, improving the country’s standing with foreign allies and helping the military and intelligence communities find partners in conflict zones. Since then, the mandated refugee “cap” set by the President has fluctuated; during the Obama Administration, it averaged seventy-six thousand, and, in 2017, Obama raised the cap to a hundred and ten thousand to allow in more Syrians fleeing civil war. Then came Donald Trump. In January, he signed an executive order temporarily freezing the refugee program, barring all Syrians, and slashing the number of refugees allowed into the country for the remainder of the year. Late last month, the White House announced that next year’s cap would be forty-five thousand, a record low. The State Department, the Defense Department, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Office of the Vice-President, and the Office of Management and Budget had wanted the number to be higher. But they had all been forced to compete with one influential White House official: Stephen Miller, the thirty-two-year-old former aide to Jeff Sessions who has become Trump’s top immigration adviser.
I recently spoke to four Administration officials involved in the refugee-cap process to try to understand how Miller was able to outmaneuver an array of powerful factions in the federal bureaucracy. Each official described Miller as a savvy operator who understands how to insert himself into the policy-creation process. They also described him as the beneficiary of a dysfunctional and understaffed Administration. Miller hadn’t completely gotten his way on the refugee cap, they told me; he wanted it to be lower. The forty-five-thousand figure—which past Administrations would have considered impractically low—amounted to a kind of compromise. [Continue reading…]
Sasha Polakow-Suransky writes: In recent years, anti-immigration rhetoric and nativist policies have become the new normal in liberal democracies from Europe to the United States. Legitimate debates about immigration policy and preventing extremism have been eclipsed by an obsessive focus on Muslims that paints them as an immutable civilizational enemy that is fundamentally incompatible with Western democratic values.
Yet despite the breathless warnings of impending Islamic conquest sounded by alarmist writers and pandering politicians, the risk of Islamization of the West has been greatly exaggerated. Islamists are not on the verge of seizing power in any advanced Western democracy or even winning significant political influence at the polls.
The same cannot be said of white nationalists, who today are on the march from Charlottesville, Va., to Dresden, Germany. As an ideology, white nationalism poses a significantly greater threat to Western democracies; its proponents and sympathizers have proved, historically and recently, that they can win a sizable share of the vote — as they did this year in France, Germany and the Netherlands — and even win power, as they have in the United States. [Continue reading…]
Lauren Wolfe writes: Out in New York Harbor in 1903, the bronze plaque with Emma Lazarus’s poem “The New Colossus” was affixed to the Statue of Liberty. It’s the one that begins: “Give me your tired, your poor…” Her poem went on to welcome 5,000 to 10,000 immigrants every day between 1900 and 1914. About 40 percent of Americans are now descended from someone who came through Ellis Island. My great-grandfather was one of them.
His name was Avram. The year the plaque was being installed inside the Statue of Liberty, Avram was living in a place called Bessarabia, then part of tsarist Russia, now mostly in Moldova. Pogroms were ravaging cities across the region. That year, Avram and his wife, Dora, set sail with their son, my grandfather Joseph, aged four.
The family settled on New York’s Lower East Side, where Avram learned English but spoke his native Yiddish at home, reading a Yiddish-language newspaper each night. He didn’t arrive with much money; he did piecework making zippers for a while and went on to become very active in the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union — a feminist labor organizer ahead of his time. He spent the rest of his life in America, dying in Brooklyn in 1954.
Yet under a new presidential determination from the White House, future Avrams may never have the chance to come to the United States. According to both international and U.S. refugee law, people like my great-grandfather have for decades been candidates for refugee resettlement based solely on their well-founded fear of persecution in their home countries. Their ability to “assimilate” — learn English and embrace the customs of the United States — had no bearing on their asylum applications. That, however, may be about to change: Buried inside the 65-page Sept. 27 directive that also capped the number of refugees to be resettled in the United States next year at 45,000, the lowest since the White House began setting a limit in 1980, there is vague, disconcerting language that lawyers and immigration experts say they have never seen before in reference to refugees in this country.
The Trump administration may now consider “certain criteria that enhance a refugee’s likelihood of successful assimilation and contribution in the United States” in addition to the humanitarian criteria that have long been the standard for refugee claims, according to the determination, which is similar to an executive order in that it has the force of law. That term, “assimilation,” is brand-new in the history of U.S. policy on refugees, and it appears in the document over and over again. Previous directives have used the word “integration,” which comes from the Latin “integrare” — “to make whole” — and implies some change on the part of society as well as those entering it. “Assimilation,” in contrast, “is kind of the erasure of cultural markers,” according to Kathleen Newland, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Migration Policy Institute. “It’s important to make a distinction,” because, she said, the word “has that connotation of erasure of one thing and absorption into the mainstream culture.”
There is little doubt that this is the meaning of “assimilate” the White House has in mind. As a candidate, Donald Trump complained about what he saw as a lack of assimilation among Muslim immigrants, a group he has smeared repeatedly, from belittling Muslim Gold Star parents to pretending his “Muslim ban” never really targeted Muslims, despite the fact that his campaign website called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the U.S.”. More recently, on Sept. 15, the National Archives in Washington debuted a video of the president welcoming new U.S. citizens in which he says, “Our history is now your history. And our traditions are now your traditions.” He adds, “You now share the obligation to teach our values to others, to help newcomers assimilate to our way of life.” [Continue reading…]
The Washington Post reports: The Trump administration released a list of hard-line immigration principles late Sunday that threaten to derail a deal in Congress to allow hundreds of thousands of younger undocumented immigrants to remain in the country legally.
The administration’s wish list includes the funding of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, a crackdown on the influx of Central American minors and curbs on federal grants to “sanctuary cities,” according to a document distributed to Congress and obtained by The Washington Post.
The demands were quickly denounced by Democratic leaders in Congress who had hoped to forge a deal with President Trump to protect younger immigrants, known as “dreamers,” who were brought to the United States illegally as children. Trump announced plans last month to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, an Obama-era program that had provided two-year work permits to the dreamers that Trump called “unconstitutional.”
About 690,000 immigrants are enrolled in DACA, but their work permits are set to begin expiring in March. Trump had met last month with Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and agreed to try to strike a deal, worrying immigration hawks who feared that Trump would support a bill that would allow dreamers to gain full legal status without asking for significant border security measures in return.
The list released by the administration, however, would represent a major tightening of immigration laws. Cuts to legal immigration also are included. And, while Democrats have called for a path to citizenship for all dreamers, a group estimated at more than 1.5 million, a White House aide said Sunday night the administration is “not interested in granting a path to citizenship” in a deal to preserve the DACA program. [Continue reading…]
Quartz reports: Following the political earthquakes of Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, commentators tried to get a better understanding of who was leading this seismic change in politics. A picture quickly emerged: angry, working class (“left behind”) men were the driving force of right-wing populism. But a year of bruising elections in Europe has highlighted an uncomfortable truth—support for the far right is far more widespread then angry, old, white working class men.
Last Sunday (Sept 24), German voters put a far-right party into parliament for the first time since the Second World War. Right-wing nationalists Alternative for Germany (AFD) won 13% of the vote, easily overcoming the 5% threshold needed to enter the German Bundestag. A previous study (link in German) showed that AFD supporters come from different social classes, including workers, families with above-average incomes, and even academics. The study concluded that what was common among AFD voters was their dislike for Angela Merkel’s so-called open-door policy to refugees.
A snapshot of where AFD voters came from highlighted the party’s ability to win over voters from a wide array of political affiliations. Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (and its sister party the Christian Social Union) lost over one million voters to the AFD. But it wasn’t just right-wing voters who switched to the AFD; the center left Social Democrat lost over 500,000 (or 8.6%) of its 2013 voters to the AFD, the far left Left Party lost 420,000 (11%), and the Greens saw 50,000 defections (0.84%). Polling also showed that the AFD’s received the most votes among voters aged 33 to 44-year-old and that the party had done well with workers, and even managed to win over 10% of support from white-collar workers.
The AFD’s widespread support isn’t particularly surprising or unique. Far-right populism has always been dependent on a fragile coalition of voters—wealthy professionals, disaffected workers, and extremists—to break out of the margins and succeed. While white working class discontent is an important driving force for populism, so is anger from wealthy suburbanites and millennials. [Continue reading…]