It is very common in this day and age to talk about immigration and refugees. These are the two terms I will consequently use in this article even though sometimes in papers and in common speech other terms are used. In addition to this I would also like to clearly state that I am in favour of letting refugees into our countries, also making the statement to be very proud of my country Sweden and it’s consistent proud tradition of taking in refugees, which has benefits on a daily basis in various ways. Many of my closest friends are foreigners and it has been extremely beneficial for me to be a part of a multicultural society.
Usually when we as socialists discuss immigration and refugees we consider it to be something positive and something which will benefit us both from a moral point of view, enriching our cultural life but also economically. This is generally our point of view to sum it up, even though of course it differs depending on states, regions, municipalities and people, but somewhere along the lines of these thoughts we as socialists around Europe seem to look at it. Does this necessarily create a dilemma ? I would like to make the claim that yes it does to some extent and i would like to point out how and when it becomes problematic.
Whilst the rising far right parties blame refugees more or less for every dilemma which we face, we as socialists have had a more welcoming and solidaric standpoint (as we always have) when discussing refugees. This is of course a positive thing, to people move into our countries, to provide them with a safe haven and a new fresh start in their life. It is something inspiring, wonderful and something worth fighting for. But it does not always go as smoothly as we sometimes rather naively think. Which unfortunately we in Sweden are experiencing more and more due to several reasons, even though we have in some aspects done very well.
I would like to use a quote from a good socialist friend of mine. The quote is written in Swedish and it is also used in a Swedish context but is still applicable in a wider one, and aims at comparing the different rethorics used to discuss the refugee crisis : on the one hand, the far-right only focuses on the ethnical origin of the refugees ; on the other hand, the progressives insist on the fact that there are no differences between an individual from Syria and an individual from Sweden. Sadly, both are wrong.
The quote describes how the swedish far right party “swedish democrats” takes on refugees compared to the “hardcore-left” and their views of refugees. The quote clearly states the issue we as a progressive socialist movement have.
Complex issues like these are seldom so easy unfortunately. We should take in refugees and also help them to integrate into society with all that comes with it. But on a lot of occasions we are not aware of all that is required and we rather blatantly shout refugees welcome without thinking that much about the real meaning of it. The phrase in itself is rather positive and I am a fan of it but there is more to it than meets the eye.
We must be very clear and acknowledge that whatever their origins, refugees and migrants can have a different view on things we see as obvious in the western world. It is not for nothing these people are fleeing from war zones. Now, in finding the golden middle path when talking about these issues the left clearly has failed. We as a movement cannot talk about eventual “difficulties and differences” in values when it comes to refugees due to the fact that we are afraid of being labeled as racist or islamophobic.
It is taboo to speak about it, thus creating a momentum for the far-right movement to use to their advantage. Just as the concept of patriotism have been snatched by the right, this sensitive question cannot afford to be stolen from the left, to an extent that the left simply doesn’t dare to say anything about it expect pretty much that we should take in refugees. By all means we should but then we must stand prepared and ready to face it and deal with it in a way which benefits the whole society. This is extremely serious, worrying and one of the things making the far-right movement so strong in Europe at the moment.
When taking in refugees to your country you must have a very clear plan to deal with different aspects of integration and acknowledging the differences to understand. From a swedish perspective there are simply not enough people that understands how to integrate people. Still as mentioned earlier in this article we have had a long and proud tradition of taking in refugees. I am not saying that we in the west are superior in any way but on a lot of things we have different methods for instance when it comes to gender equality and child upbringing.
Now I am not saying islamophobia is not an issue it is and it was clearly shown in president Trump’s campaign. But think about this: We as a movement tend to talk about islamophobia to an great amount. That in itself is not an issue but then think about how often do we talk about anti semitism for instance ?
This all comes down to age old socialist thought that the U.S is the cause of all the world problems. Now again I am not saying this is not entirely true. But is it really that easy ? That USA with its ally Israel is the root of evil and that muslims are constantly victims. Surely this is a naive and very narrow minded way of seeing things. But it is normal to see things as black or white. The conservatives do it as well as the far-right. We all do it to make it easier to understand these complex issues. I believe this is one of the reasons why we sometimes “look the other way” when refugees do things which are not acceptable. Which also is an increasingly worrying sight, looking the other way not daring to speak up against wrongdoings.
In the wake of Brexit and the election of president Trump it is quite clear that we as socialists have failed to some extent when it comes to integrating refugees. Now is the time to present clear guidelines and ways to deal with integration which people have a genuine belief to that it will succeed. People are worried and concerned and they have every right to be. It is our goal to let them know what they should be angry with, tax-havens, austerity measures, inequality, an increasing income gap and unsafe employments etc.
I think we as socialists all can see that the inmigrants are not the ones to blame. But in order to get that message across we cannot simply say bring in more refugees. It is not that simple.
The harsh reality is that if we keep using this simple rhetoric more far right parties all over Europe will come to power and the faith of refugees will be even worse than now. That is a scenario which we cannot afford, we have to wake up and become aware of how to deal with integration on an EU level, national level, regional level and on a local level. We must think about which rhetoric we use but more importantly so we must understand how hard it is and what it takes to become a truly inclusive society. What is deeply worrying is the lack of willingness of even accepting refugees in a lot of the member states in the European Union.
Once again I would also like to clearly state that i am in favour of letting refugees into our countries, also making the statement to be very proud of my country Sweden and it`s consistent proud tradition of taking in refugees. Which i see the benefits of on a daily basis in various ways. To care, to be empathic and wanting a better life for everyone is one of our biggest strength as a progressive socialist movement.
But sometimes it can misfire if we are not prepared, ready and competent enough to be able to deal with it. For a better day where we can all live in an inclusive and equal society which benefits us all, Inshallah. Victimizing muslims will not help anyone, surely we as a community must be very clear if someones acts inappropriate towards refugees, but it will not help refugees to integrate into our society, which must be our common goal at the end of the day.
The Graduate of Democracy student Jonathan Brash shares his concerns about a hot topic, which leaves the left in a tricky situation, thus creating a dangerous momentum for the far-right parties all across Europe