When the leaders of the Group of 8 meet … — among them, Barack Obama, David Cameron, Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy — one of their official concerns will be supporting attempts to make democracy emerge in some kind of recognizable form from the Arab revolts in countries like Tunisia and Libya.John Vinocur takes on the issue of Arab Spring migrants due to cast a shadow on next week's G-8 talks.
Unofficially, and perhaps even without public mention at the summit meeting in the French resort town of Deauville, that helping hand also means providing sufficient economic incentive to hold off a wave of Arab migration toward Europe. The potential human flood gets described by the apocalyptically minded as “biblical.”
Of course, no one in Deauville would talk in those terms. … But reality doesn’t sit still. What is changing now is that none of the heads of the four big Western countries at Deauville in 2011 can avoid immigration as a domestic/international political issue that carries with it the emotional vote-getting-or-vote-losing volatility of war or taxes.
… signs are emerging of left-of-center politicians’ acknowledgment of the legitimacy of European voters’ concerns about how their lives are affected by the failed integration of many Muslim immigrants.
… A reflexive equation linking concern about immigration with reactionary thinking has been dulled in Europe, but not without embarrassment. In a clumsy attempt to cozy up to its wavering white working-class constituency, the German Social Democratic Party leadership voted last month not to expel Thilo Sarrazin, a party member who wrote a best seller, larded with genetics-based arguments, designating Muslim immigrants as a drag on German society.
Yet for parts of the European left, a serious question exists about a way to move closer to the immigration themes it once rejected as reflecting bigotry.