Marine Le Pen (France); Jimmie Akesson (Sweden's SD party); Geert Wilders (PVV party, the Netherlands); Norbert Hofer (Austria); Donald Trump (USA) and now Pauline Hanson of Australia.
All the most ghastly xenophobic, populist, rabble rousers imaginable. All right thinking people reject and loathe them. Trouble is there seem to be a lot of people who think they're just bonza.
Who's right? Did such leaders arise in a vacuum and then lead helpless half-witted voters after them with their silver tongues? Or are they a result of a genuine - if sometimes poorly apprehended & articulated - concern held in their electorates?
Let's take a quick squizz at some attitudes to Muslims and see if they give us a clue.
Sweden:~ 80% of Police are considering quitting due to the escalating violence.
Sweden has been rocked by increasing levels of criminality from sex attacks at music festivals, hand grenade attacks and violence toward the police in areas populated mostly by migrants. ... Swedish police Sergeant Peter Larsson [said] “We have a major crisis. Many colleagues have chosen to leave. We will not be able investigate crimes, we have no time to travel to the call-outs we are set to do. ... The violence against us in the police and the paramedics and firefighters, has become much worse. We’re talking about stone throwing, violence, fires. It has become much worse in recent years." ... Much of the crime in Sweden is linked to specific suburbs in large cities like Stockholm and Gothenburg that generally also have a high population of migrants....Swedish police have accounted for a total of 14 no-go areas in which they rarely venture outside of their heavily fortified police stations for fear of being attacked by locals.
The Netherlands:~ "A survey by research group Ipsos found that 73% of people think the gulf between Muslims and non-Muslims has increased in the past few years. In addition, around seven people in 10 consider the gap between the rich and poor and between native Dutch and immigrant has widened."
Greece:~ Parents at northern Greek elementary school oppose admission of refugee children.
“The cultural chasm is so great that a violent installation of migrants in our town will only create adjustment problems,” the association adds. “And this is likely to erode elements of our own culture, such as our national, cultural and religious identity.” They warn authorities that the association will “hold them responsible for any extreme behavior that may arise.”
Sixty per cent of Liberal voters, 40 per cent of Labor voters and 34 per cent of Greens voters said they would support the ban. More than 40 per cent of people who favoured this ban said it was an “integration” issue, saying they fear Muslims “do not integrate into Australian society”. The second-highest reason was “Terrorist threat”, at 27 per cent.
Not a word about racism or "Brown people" in ay of these news reports.
Pauline Hanson's maiden speech to the Australian Parliament caused the Greens to walk out. But she didn't mention race or brown people either. She only mentioned Islam, an ideology, a religion, not a race. Neither does she tar all Muslims with the same "radical" brush. Having heard her entire maiden speech, I regard her comments about Islam as thoroughly unremarkable.
Hanson enlarges on her problems with Islam here where she warns Australians to prepare for the inevitable turmoil to come. Again, no racism evident. Just concerns about a particular group that have considerable, demonstrable trouble assimilating and that causes a disproportionate amount of violence and disruption. Those are fairly easily ascertainable facts.
So are her concerns really that outrageous?
So are all the "populist" leaders in all these disparate countries simultaneously being overcome with a sudden nativism or do they simply represent the concern of normal people who aren't being heard by existing politicians? Surely the latter. They could lead no-one if they represented no-one.
IMHO Mr Trump is mainly a reaction by the average American to the phenomena of BEING IGNORED for far too long by the political establishment. Too many RINOs (Rhinos - Republican In Name Only) offered for President for the last 3 elections and not enough genuine representatives of the people. Just as Bernie Sanders exemplified grass roots Democrats deciding they had had enough. Right or wrong, good or bad, American leadership - academics, politicians, journalists - has brought the current situation upon themselves. (BTW Bernie Sanders has good reason to argue he was robbed, but we won't go there).
The issue here is: Are we going to begin seriously engaging with the real problems or are we going to ignore things until a crisis occurs? We owe it to Muslim immigrants to work to assist their assimilation. But if some do not wish to do so what do we do then? At what point do we begin to speak honestly about the growing problem?
It's our choice. Do nothing. Wait. Face the untidy consequences. Or get engaged now.