Source: Slate Magazine, September 15
…What accounts for this hostility in the countries that Donald Rumsfeld once called “new Europe”? For one thing, Eastern Europe (I’m using the term to distinguish these countries from places like Germany and Austria although “Central Europe” is generally preferred) has relatively little experience with large-scale immigration and until recently was generally considered a source of migrants rather than a destination.
In Western Europe, the “Polish plumber” was the symbol of anxiety over migration long before it was the Syrian asylum-seeker. Given questions about refugees’ motives, Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico has suggested, in the face of most available evidence to the contrary, that the vast majority of the refugees are actually economic immigrants – many people in these countries may be wondering why they’re being lectured about taking in migrants by countries that weren’t particularly welcome to them.
One populist political candidate has even suggested there’s a global conspiracy at work for “Poles to be scattered around the world” while “diverse nationalities” come to Poland. Because of the lack of previous immigration, these countries’ populations have remained relatively homogenous.
While in France and Germany, the Muslim population is 7.5 percent and 5.8 percent respectively – the result of waves of migration going back decades – it’s below 0.1 percent in Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary. (It’s a whopping 0.2 percent in Slovakia.) And as Poland’s prime minister has pointed out, the country is already coping with a large number of refugees fleeing the conflict in Ukraine….