Jesse Willms: Nationalism Rears Its Ugly Head In Europe Once Again

Posted by Jesse Willms on July 26, 2011

It was chilling to turn on the news Friday and see reports of two attacks in Norway – the bombing of the prime minister’s office, followed by a mass shooting at a summer youth camp.

The two incidents left a total of 76 people dead, many of them children. Perhaps even more chilling was the revelation that both attacks were carried out by one man, Anders Behring Breivik, who did so because he was against Muslims living in Norway and the politicians who support multiculturalism.

In other words, Breivik wanted to see Norway remain a pure country of native-born and bred Norwegians. His beliefs, described in a lengthy manifesto, are based in nationalism – which has been slowly but steadily rearing its ugly head in Europe once again.

It seems unbelievable to me that merely 60 years after European nationalism led to one of the largest genocides in the history of the world and shamed the German population for two generations, nationalism should be back in the headlines.

But, the truth is that it is. There is an irrational fear of Muslim immigrants sweeping the continent, and Breivik is just the most tragic and bloody example to hit the airwaves.

In Switzerland, the country recently passed laws banning Muslim minarets – even though there has never been any plan to build any. In France, they banned face coverings for Muslims – even though this means many Muslim girls will not be able to go to school. In the UK, parties that support mass deportation of the Muslim population are gaining in popularity.

These are just a few examples, but they illustrate the larger trend of racism and nationalism that threatens to take over the EU.

From an historical perspective, we probably should not be surprised that nationalism is becoming popular again today. The rise of the National Socialist Party in Germany in the 30′s came about when war debts forced harsh austerity measures on the German people. These measures led to mass unemployment, the loss of social safety nets and the weakening of the economy. The German people felt like they needed someone to blame and chose Jews, Gypsies and Catholics.

Today, as debt crises move like a virus through Europe, austerity measures are once again being pushed on people already struggling in a weak economy. When you lose your life savings, your job and your pension, it’s human nature to look for someone to blame.

But, blaming New York City bankers isn’t particularly emotionally satisfying. So, this time around it is the Muslims and not the Jews who are facing the wrath of tired and hungry people.

Obviously, this situation needs to come to an end. We’ve seen all too clearly how brutal and disastrous the results can be otherwise. European governments need to work hard to educate people about how Muslims can integrate into their communities. They also need to find ways to take care of their people, so that nationalism is nipped in the bud.

Otherwise, the Oslo attacks may just be the first battle of a long and bloody war to come.