as reflected, for instance, in an exchange of comments (including one by yours truly) in response to Steve Hynd's post at Agonist.org about the motivation underlying European treatment of North African boat people.
Many Europeans are showing their true colors about "those people" in a manner similar to that of the many white Americans for whom a Rick Santorum's hateful preachings offer self-destructive solace.
What goes unnoticed in both Europe and the United States – in addition to the sheer distractive value of demonizing poor brown people instead of CEOs and their hired political representatives – is the actual origin of the wave of northward immigration from Africa and Mexico: the dysfunction of neocolonial economies that starve their citizens for the benefit of European- and American-based commerce. Europe likes to forget that its colonial carving up of previously stable African nations and economies is the direct precursor to their current states of disaster. And the U.S. conveniently ignores the key role of dire Mexican poverty and political chaos in enabling American banks' benefits from the American-bound drug trade and American commerce's pleasing profits from Mexican maquiladoras and cheap illegal immigrant farm and service labor.
It's the same scheme on both sides of the Atlantic: diverting the anger of the working classes by encouraging them to kick the goose that lays the golden egg for the rich.
Here is the exchange from The Agonist, in which I have substituted the word "Person" for all names except my own:
Germany When I lived in Munich in the 60s and 70s the Germans were extremely xenophobic. Munich had about a 15% Turkish population. They did all the grunt jobs the Germans wouldn't do - sound familiar? The Germans/Bavarians hated the Turks. I'm sure they would have sent them all back except they didn't want to do the shit jobs they did. Of course they could never become citizens of Germany but then neither could Americans. –Person March 14, 2012 - 7:00pm
Probably still similar. I have a friend who recently moved to Germany. She is American, of German extraction, and speaks German. Blue eyes, blonde hair. She was still treated as an outsider at her first job in the countryside. She reports it's better in Munich. –Person March 14, 2012 - 7:05pm
OK I too have blond hair and blue eyes and spoke German. I was treated very well in Munich. Of course I worked with the Bavarian State Police and many of them were friends so that might have had something to do with it. It was strange but the Bavarians had a fascination with black GIs and frequently befriended them. –Person March 14, 2012 - 7:30pm
Anecdotally... To be African-American in Europe (France / Germany) is not the same as being African-American here. –Person March 14, 2012 - 7:35pm
Damn straight. Ask Jack Johnson, Josephine Baker, Richard Wright, James Baldwin, the Tuskegee Airmen (of whom my Dad was one), the entire generation of post-bop black jazz musicians, or virtually any black American artist who has spent time there. In my travels as an African American in France, Germany, and Italy some years ago, I found some fascination with me (one night when I walked into an arty Berlin bar an entire line of young hipster women stood and invited me to light their cigarettes for them, and it wasn't because I'm some irresistible hunk). I also found, though, that my American-ness counted (often negatively) more than my skin color. And, most tellingly, I saw an entirely different set of wickedly racist rules applying to Turks and North Africans. In Germany Turks were the niggers of the culture -- persecuted, abused, and ridiculed (it's the first place where I ever heard "Turk jokes"), and in France North Africans were widely hated and sometimes even killed by mobs. This was years ago, mind you, but if anything it appears that Europe's post-colonial race hate is showing more than ever now that the recession is slamming The Motherland. –Bruce A Jacobs March 14, 2012 - 10:01pm