For a region that prides itself as a bastion of progressive thought, the campaigns in Europe have nevertheless taken on a decidedly ethnic and religious bent similar to the debates in the United States over the proposed Islamic center in Manhattan and the Arizona law targeting illegal immigrants.
And what, pray tell, has caused such alarm at The Post? According to Faiola:
In France, a proposed law could strip citizenship from foreigners naturalized for less than 10 years if they commit violent crimes against the police or a government official. New detention centers would be set up to make it easier to deport illegal immigrants. Citizens of other European Union countries — who theoretically enjoy freedom of movement across the 27-nation zone — would find it harder to stay in France if they are not law-abiding and gainfully employed.
So if recent immigrants break the law — even assault the police or other government officials — or refuse to work, a country might want to mark them “return to sender” and evict them from a nation where they have been living off the dole and hurting people? How medieval.
But other recent legal developments are also alarming to Faiola:
Across the continent, governments are boldly throwing up new barriers to immigration, increasing enforcement and targeting groups such as the Roma, who are also known as Gypsies. Even in some of the most progressive nations in the region, such as Sweden, voters are showing new support for ultra-right politicians whose platforms center on a tougher line on immigration.
In Britain, the new Conservative-led coalition government has slapped a temporary cap on immigration from non-European Union nations, limiting the ability of companies to hire foreign nationals in a bid to drive down the unemployment rate. A permanent cap set to go into effect next year is expected to make it more difficult for even Americans to get long-term work visas there. ...
A new law in France will ban Muslim women from wearing full-face Islamic veils in public, with similar laws pending in the Netherlands and Spain. Switzerland has prohibited the construction of mosque minarets. But the campaigns against the Roma in France and Italy have stoked accusations that politicians are targeting unpopular immigrant groups to shore up flagging support.
"There is a worrying trend in Europe in which we are seeing the embrace of populist policies," said Benjamin Ward, the Europe deputy director for Human Rights Watch in London. "They are creating a new climate of intolerance in Europe with movements in some countries now openly hostile to ethnic minorities and migrants."
Thus, in The Post’s estimation, opposition to such immigration is not merely "conservative"; it is now — in Faiola’s words — “ultra-right.” The problem with the such terminological hyperinflation is that once readers understand such scare tactics for what they are, they will be immunized from the effects of such devil terms in the future.
In fact, what is taking place is that after decades of enduring the denigration of their respective histories and cultures, people throughout many European nations are resisting the efforts of recent immigrants to fundamentally change their nations. Such resistance to dramatic change, while taking steps to strengthen national economies and resist an influx of criminal, even violent, immigrants is nothing more or less than the natural desire of any group of people to secure the blessings their have enjoyed for the benefit of their progeny. Europe has not suddenly become “intolerant”; rather, Europeans seem to have decided that sacrificing their children’s future for someone else’s benefit is not the path that they want to take.
On occasion, neoconservatives have been defined as liberals who have been mugged by reality. Perhaps what Faiola is discovering is that cultural "muggings" may have the same effect on progressives. Whether the steps undertaken thus far, and those which have been proposed, will be sufficient to arrest the decline of the West is far from certain. But they are certainly steps in the right direction.
Photo: French police officers guard a group of Gypsies, disembarking a bus at the Saint Exupery airport, enroute for Bucharest, Romania, in Lyon, France, Aug. 19, 2010.: AP Images