Times are hard. People are becoming increasingly desperate. Throughout history in times like these, leaders have emerged with an instinct for capitalizing on the mood by inciting the basest instincts and scapegoating particular groups of people for political gain. For Trouw of the Netherlands, columnist Rob de Wijk warns that we are now in the thick of one of those times, and at stake is Western civilization as we and the world have known it.
For Trouw, Rob de Wijk starts off this way:
The first decade of this century were years of struggle against Muslims and terrorism. These have now been seamlessly exchanged for Europhiles and austerity measures. But in both cases, foolish discussions about scapegoats that conceal the really important matters have been on offer.
President Bush’s rash struggle against terrorism began, leading to wars that cost $150 billion per year and contributed to the colossal budget deficit that put America in a sorry position when the financial crisis began. In the Netherlands and the rest of Europe, this narrow minded obsession with Muslims led to a social polarization that sapped the strength of the political system as the euro crisis escalated.
On both sides of the Atlantic, at a time of rapid global change, this obsession with Muslims and terrorism diverted our gaze from the critical issue of how to safeguard our prosperity and security. The emergence of states like China and a scarcity of raw materials can result in only one victim: that part of the world that has the most to lose and which has dominated the planet for centuries. That’s right: I’m talking about us.
But While trying to resolve a new financial crisis like the one that followed 9-11, we are picking new scapegoats and proposing simplistic and counter-productive solutions. Scapegoats and simplistic measures only serve to get voters on your side. The mobilizing effects, and not the actual results, are considered of paramount importance.
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