Erik Tillman is an Associate Professor of Political Science at DePaul University and one of my colleagues on the Academic Board of Trustees at Vocal Europe.
We seem to have differences concerning the significance of the migration crisis currently playing itself out in Germany and Sweden, among other western European countries.
In a piece entitled, Is the Refugee Crisis Fueling a Radical-Right Surge in Europe?, Tillman claims:
the refugee crisis is helping to push those voters attracted to the radical right—individuals who value security and social cohesion over individual autonomy and universal rights—to vote for those parties. (Emphasis mine.)
My question is whether or not the current refugee crisis will incline European voters who are already attracted to the "radical right" to vote for right-leaning political parties, as Tillman implies, or are we seeing a reasonable and growing concern among native Europeans about the political sensibilities and behavior of many of the Arab-Muslim immigrants pouring into their countries?
Tillman, for his part, took exception with my statement, within Arab Migrants, Jews, and the “Radical-Right” in Europe:
One thing that we know with certainty is that the great majority of Middle Eastern immigrants into Europe do not hold liberal values, i.e., the values of minority rights, gender equality, free speech, freedom of religion, and Gay rights.
Tillman points out:
But what do we “know with certainty” about the values of Muslim immigrants in the West? Because it is difficult and expensive to conduct survey research on a minority population, there is not a great deal of evidence.
it is not a monolithic religious community, and significant differences exist between Muslims of different branches.
Islam numbers around 1.5 billion people from virtually every corner of the world... with the possible exception of Japan... so, yes, it is exceedingly diverse.
many European Muslims display lower levels of prejudice closer to those of European Christians. This fact should remind us that individual personality traits that predispose one to prejudice exist across all religions and societies.
I absolutely agree.
Nonetheless, the data clearly shows levels of anti-Semitism throughout North Africa and the Middle East topping out over the 90th percentile according to Anti-Defamation League world statistics. The current genocide of Christians within that part of the world is staggering, and entirely under-reported, as Raymond Ibrahim, a scholar of Coptic descent, can easily attest. The rights of women and Gay people are regularly trampled throughout the Arab-Muslim Middle East and few in the West seems to care.
It is a matter of fundamental common sense, therefore, that traditionally oppressed groups within Europe, such as the GBLT community or the Jewish minority, not to mention women, should have a heads-up concerning the political nature of this Islamic influx.
Tillman takes a helpful step in that direction by breaking down some of the differences between Islamic groups. For example, he notes that there are significant differences in outlook between Sunni Muslims and the more liberal-minded Alevi Muslims. However, Alevi Muslims only represent between fifteen and twenty million people throughout the world, which means that they represent only a tiny percentage of the world Muslim population.
In any case, my question above stands.
Are the Europeans who will be voting for right-wing political parties likely to do so, as Tillman suggests, because they were already attracted to the "radical right" or will they do so out of a moderate and reasonable concern over how this mass migration will alter the nature of Europe?
The question is important because if the answer is the former they can easily be dismissed as radical right-wing bigots. However if the answer to the question is the latter then their politics will have significantly greater weight among opinion makers, policy makers, and the general public going forward.
Michael Lumish is a blogger at the Israel Thrives blog as well as a regular contributor/blogger at Times of Israel and Jews Down Under.