Waar Facebook al niet nuttig voor is. Ik trof er een heldere samenvatting, die tegelijk ook een analyse was, van de problematiek waarmee met name de Westerse wereld momenteel worstelt. Helder worden daarin gemaakt de positie van het populisme en de gevaren die in die stroming besloten liggen. Om de tekst zo goed mogelijk tot haar recht te doen komen, heb ik haar in het Engels overgenomen. Voor de rest kan ik alleen maar aanraden om een en ander te lezen, omdat eigenlijk alles dat thans aan de orde is, duidelijk wordt benoemd en samengevat:
The global rise of populists poses a dangerous threat to human rights — which exist to protect people from governments. Yet today, a new generation of populists is reversing that role. Claiming to speak for “the people,” they treat rights as an impediment to their conception of the majority will, a needless obstacle to defending the nation from perceived threats and evils. Instead of accepting that rights protect everyone, they encourage people to adopt the dangerous belief that they will never need their rights against an overreaching government claiming to act in their name. The appeal of the populists has grown with mounting public discontent over the status quo. In the West, many people feel left behind by technological change, the global economy, and growing inequality. Terrorism sows apprehension and fear. Some are uneasy with societies that have become more ethnically, religiously, and racially diverse.
There is an increasing sense that governments and the elite ignore public concerns. In this cauldron of discontent, a certain breed of politician is flourishing by portraying rights as protecting only the terrorist suspect or the asylum-seeker at the expense of the safety, economic welfare, and cultural preferences of the presumed majority. They scapegoat refugees, immigrant communities, and minorities. Truth is a frequent casualty. Nativism, xenophobia, racism, Islamophobia, and misogyny are on the rise. But if these voices of intolerance prevail, the world risks entering a dark era. We should never underestimate the tendency of demagogues who sacrifice the rights of others in our name today to jettison our rights tomorrow when their real priority — retaining power — is in jeopardy.
Donald Trump’s successful presidential campaign was a vivid illustration of this politics of intolerance. Sometimes overtly, sometimes through code and indirection, he breached basic principles of dignity and equality. He stereotyped migrants, vilified refugees, attacked a judge for his Mexican ancestry, mocked a journalist with disabilities, dismissed multiple allegations of sexual assault, and pledged to roll back women’s ability to control their own fertility. We see a similar scapegoating of asylum-seekers, immigrant communities, and Muslims in Europe. Leading the charge have been Marine Le Pen in France and Geert Wilders in the Netherlands, but there are echoes of these arguments of intolerance in the Brexit campaign, the rhetoric of Viktor Orban in Hungary and Jaroslaw Kaczynski in Poland, and far-right parties from Germany to Greece.
Throughout the European continent, officials and politicians hark back to distant, even fanciful, times of perceived national ethnic purity, despite established immigrant communities whose integration as productive members of society is undermined by this hostility. We forget at our peril the demagogues of yesteryear — the fascists, communists, and their ilk who claimed privileged insight into the majority’s interest but ended up crushing the individual. When populists treat rights as an obstacle to their vision of the majority will, it is only a matter of time before they turn on those who disagree with their agenda.