By Kristen Myers and Kirk Miller
In July, 2016, we collected data about the impact of mass immigration of Syrian refugees on perceptions of safety in Western Europe. We interviewed five people in Kaiserslautern, Germany, who had been instrumental in integrating Syrians into their community: providing housing, German classes, and family services. These subjects hoped the refugees would reside permanently, would become Germans. Our research assistant and interpreter, Sebastian Dodt, thought we should also hear opposing viewpoints. He arranged for us to meet two members of the right-wing party, Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD). We met a party candidate and a party member at a remote restaurant. The table where they sat was covered with pamphlets, stacks of books, and miniature table-top German flags. A ledge running around the room was filled with taxidermied animals—eagles, foxes, badgers—all poised for attack, teeth bared and claws out. The men were eager to begin. The candidate began to speak loudly, reading from prepared comments, gesticulating furiously, pounding on the table. Although we do not speak German, we understood key words repeated throughout the conversation: “Kriminellen;” “Immigrant;” “Terrorismus;” “Angst;” “Muslim.” The entire experience was disturbing. Feeling déjà vu, we asked each other, who do they remind us of? The answer: Donald Trump.
Since then, we have been analyzing the similarities between the Trump campaign and the AfD. They have many rhetorical parallels. For example, in commenting about asylum-seekers and refugees in Germany, the party candidate said this:
All in all there has been a lot of changes in Germany. Our democracy is saying goodbye. The will of the people is being ignored. Critics are being criminalized. Criminals are being spared and praised. Our rights are being limited. Laws are flouted. Women are becoming victims. Continue reading ““Massive” Masculinity and the Mainstreaming of the Alt-Right in the West”