There’s a lot of breast-beating, inside and outside of Germany, about the right-wing nationalist AfD getting more than 12% of the vote and taking seats in the Bundestag. I find much of this commentary overwrought. It’s not just the rhetoric that tries to make the AfD into the second coming of the Nazis, such as this from the Telegraph:
The far-Right could return as a force to be reckoned with in Berlin politics for the first time since the Second World War.
Almost identical lazy rhetoric appears all over the place, such as this from NPR:
It’s the first time since the Second World War that a party professing such xenophobic, anti-immigrant and anti-Islamic views has been voted into the Bundestag.
I dare say that the previous time they are alluding to, the problem was not that the far-right was “a force to be reckoned with” in Germany. It’s a bit like if you were writing an article about the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster and called it “the most significant nuclear incident in Japan since the Second World War.” (I suppose they could have made it worse by calling this instead “the second time since the First World War” that the far-Right was a force to be reckoned with.) (more…)
Fox News reported Thursday morning that Department of Homeland Security Secretary Gen. John Kelly said that parts of President Donald Trump’s border wall would be transparent.
Built with special transparent concrete purchased at a premium from Trump, Inc.
Transparent to unqualified coastal elitists and cuckservatives, that is. Smart Real Americans will be able to see how beautiful it is.
The president’s inner circle have been announcing the dawn of a new Jacksonian era with reality TV star Donald Trump in the role of the populist self-made plutocrat who drove the elites out of the White House. Now:
Trump’s Border Patrol Defies Judge, U.S. Senator at Dulles Airport as His First Constitutional Crisis Unfolds
Border Patrol flouted a federal injunction against Trump’s order, barring lawyers from reaching legal U.S. residents detained at Dulles airport.
UPDATE: Speaking of Jackson, who is that I see in the place of honour to the left of Trump’s desk in the Oval Office? The arch-racist himself…
An anonymous White House official has called the Muslim travel ban a “massive success story”. Assuming this reflects general feeling within the Trump administration, we have to assume that it has accomplished much of what it was intended to accomplish. Which presumably does not include having prevented terror attacks in the US, but does include provoking widespread protests; showing Trump untethered to considerations of custom, law, or humanity; and persuading perhaps wavering foreign governments, particularly in majority-Muslim nations, of the value of pursuing ongoing business relations with Trump, Inc.
I assumed that the Trump administration couldn’t possibly have intended for its executive order to exclude legal permanent residents based on their country of origin. Not only is this clearly illegal, but these are clearly sympathetic individuals with established lives in the US that are being blown up by presidential whim, certain to generate bad press for no discernible benefit. But no:
Friday night, DHS arrived at the legal interpretation that the executive order restrictions applying to seven countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan and Yemen — did not apply to people who with lawful permanent residence, generally referred to as green card holders.
The White House overruled that guidance overnight, according to officials familiar with the rollout. That order came from the President’s inner circle, led by Stephen Miller and Steve Bannon. Their decision held that, on a case by case basis, DHS could allow green card holders to enter the US.
I pointed out a few days ago that we need to take seriously the idea that Trump’s British mother* indoctrinated him with radical colonialist ideologies. Now Trump has installed a bust of an arch British colonialist in a prominent place of honour in the Oval Office.
Imagine if Barack Obama had, as one of his first acts as president, installed a bust of Jomo Kenyatta in the Oval Office.
* An English colleague to whom I mentioned this theory said, “No, she was Scottish.”
From the new Brexit sequel to The Life of Brian:
Theresa May: If you want to join the parliamentary front benches, you have to really hate foreigners.
Jeremy Corbyn: I do.
TM: Oh yeah? How much?
JC: A lot.
TM: Right, you’re in.
I don’t know if it’s better or worse that he probably isn’t really xenophobic. But as I observed when I first arrived in this country,
In the U.K. context, it’s barely controversial to bash legal immigrants, much less illegal immigrants. In the most recent prime ministerial debate, the one thing David Cameron and Gordon Brown agreed on was that the Liberal Democrats’ proposal of an amnesty for long-term illegal residents was simply insane and indefensible. They didn’t even have to respond to his counter-arguments, pretend that they had an alternative solution for the problem. It’s the putatively left-wing party in power for the past 13 years in the U.K. that can’t think of enough new ways to attack foreigners, that they have to invent bizarrely creative ways to attack foreigners, like the law banning foreigners from marrying without Home Office approval, or instituting new proposals that immigrants need to perform “volunteer” work to earn citizenship.
I was just interested in comparing the conditions for citizenship and annual number of new citizens between the UK and Germany. The UK numbers I found on this government website. Under “Key Facts” the first thing they have to say is
Applications for British citizenship fell by 29% in the year ending June 2015 to 137,406.
There were 112,407 decisions about British citizenship, 40% fewer than in the previous year (188,910). Correspondingly, there were 42% fewer people granted British citizenship (-75,908 to 105,043). This was the lowest annual figure since 2002 (120,121).
It seems like they’re really proud that British citizenship has become so unattractive. The number of people acquiring German citizenship in around the same timeframe was slightly higher — 107,181 according to the Statistisches Bundesamt — which also notes that this represents a slight decrease (1.1%) from the previous year.
The Berlin newspaper Der Tagesspiegel commented on these statistics with concern:
Deutscher Pass verliert weiter an Attraktivität
Die Zahl der Einbürgerungen in Deutschland ist seit Jahren rückläufig. Das ist ein beschämender Trend.
German passport continues losing its lustre
The number of people acquiring citizenship in Germany has been going down for years. This is an embarrassing trend.
The Statistisches Bundesamt also compares these numbers to the “Einbürgerungspotenzial” — the “potential acquisitions of citizenship” — finding that only about 2% of the available citizen material has been “ausgeschöpft” (made use of).
I might note at this point that the Germans take only 255 euros as a citizenship fee, as opposed to the £1,236 that the British take. (One wonders if the whole Brexit thing is just a scam to get Europeans living here to apply for citizenship. If all 3 million apply, that will be worth nearly £4 billion.
… because that would be fascism! Instead, we’re likely to get the NHS checking people’s passports and utility bills (for proof of address) before they can get medical treatment.
As I’ve commented before, the British seem obsessed with not having national ID cards — when they came into power one of the first things the Conservatives did was to cancel a Labour programme that had been in the works for about five years to provide ID cards — because carrying an ID card is inimical to Anglo-Saxon freedom. They don’t object to round-the-clock video surveillance, police stopping foreign-looking people on the Tube to ask for proof of right to be in the country, or now checking nationality documents at the hospital.
They just object to providing people with the documents they need to meet the authorities’ demand (given that one in six Britons has no passport, and they cost about £80). Instead, they leave it up to easily falsifiable electric bills to attest their address.
I’ve been warning since the Brexit vote that there could be a xenophobic feedback spiral:
We face years of escalating frustration on both sides of the negotiating table, as the British are confronted with the reality of a Europe that has no interest in making the fantasies of the Conservative Party come true. The British public will become more bloody-minded, unwilling to be dictated to by a bunch of foreigners, leading to a feedback loop of retaliation against the hostages, the EU citizens living in Britain and the British living in the EU. It could get very ugly.
According to the Guardian,
The chairman of JD Wetherspoon has fired a warning shot that the pub chain could stop selling drinks brands from other European countries if senior EU leaders maintain a “bullying” approach to Brexit negotiations.
For Britain to take a decision that harms its neighbours — with rhetoric that positively seems to relish the gratuitous harm to its neighbours — is a matter of high principle. Sovereignty! But when the neighbours respond in kind it is “bullying”.
I never heard of this chain, but then, the negotiations haven’t even started.