Mass migration is fuelling anti-immigrant sentiment in the western world

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Pradip Rodrigues

The cold-blooded murder of 50 Muslims praying in a New Zealand mosque has once again reminded the world about the danger posed by White neo-Nazis in the western world.

It is easy to make a lazy assumption that this white nationalist Australian hated all immigrants, but the truth is way more complicated. The killer wasn’t an Islamophobe or against people of color as long as they didn’t ‘invade’ his world. Many westerners love traveling to exotic countries and enjoying for example Mexican culture as long as they experience it in Mexico and not downtown Los Angeles,. Once these immigrants and refugees pack up and set their sights on western lands, all bets are off. There are many who view this as an ‘invasion’ of their world. The killer made it clear in his so-called manifesto that he resented ‘outsiders’ whom he feared would replace his culture. If the killer Brenton Tarrant truly hated people of color, he would not have traveled to North Korea, Pakistan and even India to sample local culture. Like many white nationalists and other westerners with anti-immigrant views, he feared becoming a white minority.

That was the thinking of Norwegian rightwing extremist Anders Behring Breivik when he went on to kill 77 people in Norway back in 2011. He justified killing his victims as they embraced multiculturalism.

In the era of mass immigration and a massive refugee crisis, there is a troubling rise in the number of neo-Nazis and white nationalists in many western countries who believe “the idea that European civilisation is threatened by immigration in general and by Muslim immigration in particular. They believe it is legitimate to resort to extreme violence to discourage and force governments to halt immigration or for immigrants to stop immigrating, period.

In 2017, tiki-torch wielding white supremacists marched through Charlottesville, Virginia, chanting, “You will not replace us,” and, “Jews will not replace us.”

In Europe, the idea that white Christian identity is being threatened by ethnic diversity and multiculturalism has become a common refrain on the far right and there is ample evidence that versions of this view is held by a growing normal everyday people which explains the growth of right-wing parties in much of the western world. Millions are voting for political parties that promise to halt or control immigration.

Historically population changes the world over has invariably resulted in social and political unrest. And the rise of the far-right nationalists is a result of changing demographics. Whether we like to believe it or not, many rational whites do fear being outnumbered and that fear needs to be addressed and not dismissed by politicians who force multiculturalism without thinking about the possible backlash and consequences.

Countries need immigrants but I really believe not enough is being done to prepare host populations to deal with a sudden influx of people who come from starkly different cultures. There are some native born Canadians who believe multiculturalism has been foisted upon them. To oppose high immigration numbers is to be subjected to ridicule and shame by progressive liberals who champion multiculturalism above any concerns voiced by native born Canadians and for that matter Americans and Europeans.

So is there any basis for white nationalists and others to feel insecure or under seize? In the US, statistics project that the nation will become “minority white” in 2045.

In Canada, by 2036, as many as 30 per cent of all residents will not have been born in Canada. The vast majority of immigrants now come from Asian or Pacific nations and it is safe to say that within 20 years Canada will be browner. In other words, Canada will look and feel less European and more like the Peel Region.

In many European countries including Germany, there were nearly 119,000 more deaths than births in Germany in 2016. By 2080, Italians will be a minority in their own country. This population trend is bound to fuel even more such verbal and physical attacks in the years to come.

While these facts play out in the real world, what is driving fear and paranoia in the right-wing world is a conspiracy theory called The Great Replacement, which states that the white Catholic French population, and white Christian European population is being systematically replaced with non-European migrants. Falling birthrates of native born populations is mostly dealt with the easy way- bringing in even larger number of immigrants which is exacerbating the tension and fear of the native born being outnumbered.

While those espousing multiculturalism believe and insist that western culture will continue to dominate, there are many native born Europeans and North Americans living in parts of the country that have irreversibly changed. Large swaths of London, Paris, New York and LA sound, look and feel like other countries.

The fear of being replaced, losing status, social and political clout has been the reason for genocides, murder and riots around the world. History is littered with examples of pogroms, genocides and riots. India has its fair share of riots that can be attributed to demographic changes. For example in July 2012, violence in the state of Assam broke out between indigenous Bodos and Bengali speaking Muslims .

The 2011 census showed that 11 of the 27 districts in the state had a Muslim majority that was a result of illegal migration of Bangladeshis.

In Fiji, in 2000, a year after Mahendra Chaudhry became the country’s first Indo-Fijian Prime Minister, he was ousted in a coup.

Native born Fijians resented the growing political and economic power of Indo-Fijians and those tensions boiled over with the coup which brought those simmering tensions out in the open. Today the emigration of Indo-Fijians to Australia, Canada and the US and they now account for just 32 percent of Fijian population so much so that native born Fijians no longer feel threatened.
Attacks against ‘outsiders’ has happened and continues to happen in various states in India.

In Punjab there are about 2 million Bihari migrants, 1.3 million living in the Ludhiana area alone. In 2014, Gurbachan Singh, head of the Akal Takhat urged the community to bear four children per family during the traditional Holla Mohalla Festival in Punjab. Singh categorically denounced the government’s small-family slogan, “We two, ours two,” and asked the Sikhs to rather adopt a “We Two and Our Four” approach to ensure the growth of Sikh population. I once met a South Asian from Brampton who had recently visited his town in Punjab and lamented that he heard more Hindi than Punjabi in the marketplace. He grumbled about his hometown which was decades ago mostly homogenous.

I’ve met native born Canadians who hold similar sentiments when it comes to South Asians in Brampton and elsewhere.

Resentment against ‘outsiders’ tends to grow once the number of new immigrants or people from other regions grow to a critical number. It would be wrong to say for example that Maharastrians in Mumbai dislike ‘outsiders’, what would be more accurate is the view that ‘outsiders’ are welcome as long as they don’t change the social and political fabric of the city or state.

This is something that many in the western world are grappling with. Whites who form 90 percent in a part of Canada could feel very positive and secure in more immigration compared to whites in another part of the country where they are a minority who might feel a little differently. When human beings fear a loss of identity, culture and traditions, they can feel unhinged and alienated in the very land they grew up and called home. Mass immigration seems to have caught many native born populations unprepared for the transformation of their societies. Dismissing them as bigoted racists will only drive more to harbor racist and extreme views, some may even act on them like we’ve seen just last week. -CINEWS

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