Yawn: The election was about racism against Barack Obama

Yawn: The election was about racism against Barack Obama

The popularity of radical anti-immigrant nationalism in Europe, from Britain to Russia, and in the United States—the recent defeat of a right-wing candidate in the Austrian presidential election notwithstanding—unmasks a startling irony in the way history influences the present. Among the most common complaints leveled at the migrants and refugees now in Europe and the millions who seek to follow in their footsteps—primarily Muslims—is their unwillingness and failure to adapt to Europe and assimilate.

The controversies over burkas, head scarves and mosques suggest a widespread anxiety that the new populations, and therefore potential citizens of the future, will undermine and change cherished definitions of European national identities based on shared religion, shared language and, since the 20th century, a commitment to secular traditions, in which political practices and public culture presume a separation of church and state. The new immigrants, and their predecessors, particularly those in France who came after the independence of Algeria, are seen as determined to retain the customs, laws and way of life….

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