Sydney M. Williams
Thought of the Day
January 5, 2015
To paraphrase Jane Austen, it is a truth universally acknowledged that a people in economic straits will search for a scapegoat. With
– six years after the financial crisis – still mired in economic difficulties,
the rise of extremism is a consequence of that behavior. And there is little
question that the fringe that represents extremism is broadening.
Even though a dozen European countries have communist parties, it is telling that when one Googles ‘European extreme political parties,’ the only ones that show up are those on the right. It reflects the media bias, and that those on the left fear only right-wing autocracies. Conservatives, on the other hand, dislike ‘big’ government in any form; thus are concerned about totalitarianism no matter whether it emerges from the right or the left.
It was interesting that
Chancellor Angela Merkel, in a New Year’s Day speech, denounced Europe’s
far-right parties, slamming the organizers of recent anti-Islam protests in . She
described them as having “hearts often full of prejudice, and even hate.” Her
attack on right-wing populism was echoed by Germany France’s
François Hollande and ’s
retiring president, the 89-year old Giorgio Napolitano. While xenophobia in any
form is to be reviled, it is curious that all three ignored the anti-Semitism
that has been emerging from, among other places, Europe’s elite (generally
Leftist in their political philosophy), but perhaps most frightening, from
Muslim communities – the fastest growing segment of Italy Europe’s
population. The speeches ignored left-wing populism, which are every bit as ubiquitous
and virulent as that from the right. Evil knows no political bounds. If Hitler
was Beelzebub, Stalin was Mephistopheles. It would appear that ignoring anti-Semitism
is politically acceptable in Europe, while denouncing
Islamophobia is politically correct.
Thomas Klau of the European Council on Foreign Relations explains the Left’s concern for the rise in right-wing extremism. He noted that “…as anti-Semitism was a unifying factor for far-right parties in the 1910s, ‘20s and ‘30s, Islamophobia has become the unifying factor in the early decades of the 21st Century.” That statement, as it stands, may be true, but it ignores the critical differences between the behavior of Jews, who have always lived within a country’s cultural norms and who obey its laws, and Islamic extremists who have vowed to destroy the western world’s way of life.
Explanations for this cock-eyed behavior are difficult to comprehend. Christianity, which is under attack in many Muslim nations, had been the most important unifying, cultural component of European society. It is now in decline. Last weekend’s Wall Street Journal detailed the decline in church congregations over the past decade – 200 in England, 200 in Denmark, 515 in Germany. Roman Catholic leaders in the
predict that two-thirds of their churches will be out of commission in a
decade. A similar story is forecast for their Protestant churches. On the other
hand, as the author notes, Orthodox Judaism is holding steady, and Islam is
growing rapidly. Netherlands
European political pragmatists recognize that Muslims will be part of their future. They know that the world population of Muslims is more than 100 times that of Jews. These elitists understand that
is a Muslim country, part of which is in Europe, and that the Middle East is a
short distance away, as are the countries of North Africa.
Immigrants travel reasonably easily between Muslim countries and Europe. European elites know that most Middle Eastern
Muslims cannot abide the State of Israel, and have no love for the Jewish
people. It is unsurprising that anti-Semitism has reared its head, but it is
sad when someone of Ms. Merkel’s background and standing does not condemn the
anti-Semitism of the political elite in Brussels, Paris and Berlin with the
same passion she rightly castigates prejudice against innocent Muslims.
Hard times beget scapegoats. No one likes to look inward when it comes time to assign blame.
Europe remains mired in economic
mediocrity. Last month, the European Central Bank (ECB) cut its forecast for
growth for 2015 to 1% from 1.6%. The size of government in their economies
precludes tacking on much more debt; though it appears that the ECB will do
some quantitative easing to artificially keep interest rates low. Austerity
does not work, because it has been focused on debt repayment, rather than on
tax cuts and regulatory reform needed to stimulate the private economy. The
transition toward freer markets will not be easy, but the current path terminates
in mutual assured destruction.
Man is a parasitic animal. He relies on others. While we perform our own specialties, be it driving a school bus or running a fortune 500 company, we depend upon others to do their jobs. You make bread; I will make candles. That dependency extends to government. Probably 90% of people take more from government than they give. The benefits extend from the schools our children attend, to the highways we drive on, to the moneys expended on defense; so that we may live freely and without fear. Those who are the most dependent have the least interest to change; the greater their numbers the less is the incentive to change. It is only a small number of high-earning taxpayers who pay in more than they take out. Since everyone’s vote counts the same – as it should – any extrication from this plight will be long…if it can ever be done.
Like the fog in Carl Sandburg’s eponymous poem, anti-Semitism “comes on little cat feet.” It is insidious. This was true in 1920s and ‘30s
. It is discomforting
but livable at the start; only time reveals its viciousness. Leaders in Germany Berlin, Paris, Brussels, London, and
throughout Europe must be wary of threats from
Islamist extremists. But they must not fall victim to the anti-Semitism which
has grown as a consequence of an expanding Muslim population (and the extremism
of a few), and of economic difficulties, which are a result of a state trying
to manage what is best left to the private sector. Political correctness, no
matter its tempting appeals, should play no role in a state, nation or region.
The stakes are too high.