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GO BACK TO WHERE YOU CAME FROM by Sasha Polakow-Suransky Kirkus Star


The Backlash Against Immigration and the Fate of Western Democracy

by Sasha Polakow-Suransky

Pub Date: Oct. 17th, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-56858-592-5
Publisher: Nation Books

A well-researched and authoritatively written analysis that resists easy answers and generalizations regarding the complex problems of immigration.

American readers surprised by the rise of Donald Trump will see here that it is part of a phenomenon that extends from Holland and Denmark to Australia and South Africa, rearranging age-old political affinities and forging unlikely alliances in the process. A former Rhodes Scholar, op-ed editor at the New York Times, and senior editor at Foreign Affairs, Polakow-Suransky (The Unspoken Alliance: Israel's Secret Relationship with Apartheid South Africa, 2010), currently a fellow at the Open Society Foundation, plainly views the collapse of liberal democracy with alarm. Refreshingly, however, he generally steers clear of polemics and demonization, giving those on what he terms the “new far right” their voice and showing how widespread resistance to immigration in general, and Muslim immigration in particular, has moved from the fringes to the mainstream. He shows how working-class liberalism has suffered a split between ideologues more concerned with identity politics and social issues and voters who pine for the way things used to be and feel like their parties have abandoned their interests in favor of minority rights and religious tolerance. The author demonstrates how tensions throughout much of Europe are even greater than those in America, which has more of a melting-pot tradition and less of an indigenous character to its population. He also shows the tensions between secularized societies and immigrants whose conservative, sometimes fundamentalist beliefs can seem repressive to the culture at large and who might be seen as betraying their religious beliefs if they assimilate. Furthermore, many of those opposed to immigration, some former liberals, voice fears that the Muslim minority will become the European majority and thus “lead France and other European countries to civil war.”

Not an apologia for resistance to immigration but rather a nuanced, important analysis of an issue fraught with complications.