For some reason, I want to start this week’s post by talking about the Godwin law, which states that any online debate that goes on for too long is bound to have a Nazi analogy at some point. This is clearly a testament to the omnipresence of Nazi horrors in the memory of people, but the readings this week, especially Molnar, are careful not to have such a simplistic view.
Molnar traces the history of fear in postwar Germany and places it within a larger timeline that goes back to pre-World War II times. Fear, for Molnar, is what sustained democratic stability in Germany (495). The determination not to have the rise of a fourth Reich is what drove that fear. When it came to finding a scapegoat for that fear, asylum seekers were seen to be ideal candidates. The whole point of such high emotions in the hearts of Germans is the protection of the fatherland. Molnar interestingly points out that not unlike Nazi times, postwar Germans victimized themselves, and saw their very survival threatened by foreign invaders.
Considering that Western states have been using that fear when conducting policies, I was able to better understand the context behind the emergence of the great replacement theory. Molnar makes it clear that those sentiments did not come out of the blue. When speaking of German attitudes toward Turkish laborers, he highlights the influence of the post-Ottoman world in shaping those attitudes. The influx of Turkish migrants becomes reminiscent of Ottoman expansionism into Europe. We saw many times this semester that right-wing ideologies are built upon particular historical moments, that are then twisted and used for a specific political agenda.
Another thing I wished to discuss was the idea of “Racism without race”. I thought it was interesting how racism itself adapted to a post-war world, which once again resonates with what we saw about fascism evolving according to changing world order. The new form of racism that Molnar proposes focuses less on biological differences, but on cultural ones that are deemed as too fundamental to be reconciled (502). What surprised me is that it was even framed as a law of nature, in the sense that humans tend to gravitate towards similar individuals or groups of individuals, and that the addition of an alien individual to a homogenous group would only create problems.
Despite this reformation of racism, the underlying fear remains the same. That is, barbarian foreigners, coming to disturb the peace of a civilized country. I would say the mistake that the majority of those fearing people make is the automatic association between religion and culture. Religion (at least the Abrahamic faiths) by definition are not bound by the concept of nationality. Someone can be Muslim and “white” at the same time. The likes of Le Pen or Zemmour believe that being Muslim necessarily means being Arab or non-European. The deconstruction of that fear is thus a priority.