What evidence is there of the emergence of new
forms of racism within Europe?
Racism has increasingly become an important issue in the European Union. This has been largely due to the emergence of far-right nationalist parties in a number of countries. There has been much debate as to whether this form of racism is new or just an extension of the racism experienced in the nineteenth century. What is clear however is that there are a number of factors contributing to the rise of the far right in the European union. Throughout this essay I will endeavour to answer if the racism being experienced today is a new form of racism and if so, what evidence there is for this new form.
Evans argues that there are three reasons for the premise that Europe is experiencing a new form of racism. Firstly he argues that the increase in immigrants in the European union has contributed to the growth of racism (Evens; 1996). He suggests that this is due to nationalism and the feeling that a person can only be a member of a community if they share the same values as that community.
With the success of the far right in Germany, France and Italy, the issue of immigration within contempory political discourse has raised questions about the rights of citizenship, the nature of nationality and the viability of a multicultural society across the European union. This question has allowed Far-right parties like the Front National in France and the Republican Party of Germany to raise the profile of immigration and to gain mainstream political backing.
This raises the question of national identity. Smith outlines this to be a complex phenomenon with a number of inter-linked factors, which include, ethnic, cultural territorial and legal political (Smith; 1991). These he argues signify the “bonds of solidarity, which serve to bind together notions of a national community.” This is the most common point of far-right parties across Europe who attempt to use the “us and them” argument to increase public notoriety and racial fear and hatred. Evans suggests, “The identification of groups deemed not to belong is a central element of any nationalist movement of whatever political ilk”. Jean-Marie Le Pen the leader of the Front National in France is a typical example of this. He claims to not be racist, as he believes that all cultures have the right to develop freely, with a right to a homeland and a separate national identity.