Of course, there has always been a sizeable percentage of Europeans with extreme nationalistic views and outright racist values. One survey in 1997 by the EU indicated a third were. However, likely much less were of the hard type, I am presuming. http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/ archives /ebs/ebs_113_en.pdf
It is not hard to make an extension that these percentages would have also likely included critical views towards Muslims. However, until more recent years these extreme views against this religious group or near views never got overall traction. But now a Chatham House poll demonstrates that a real majority of Europeans really fear Muslim immigration well beyond the White supremist maniacs who I doubt ever represented close to a third of Europeans post 1950s.
While part of that fear will be from persistent racist elements, these numbers show or infer that people who have normally been tolerant heretofore to Muslim immigration or even disinterested in the issue are now moving towards harder core resistance to allowing people of such s religious persusassion from coming in.
Rather than fully blaming the average citizen for ignorance, primarily or mean spirited populist groups, elites instead should own up to their fair share of responsibility for these poll results where 55 percent! of the European population show serious concerns with Islamic immigration.
Rather and more specifically, I blame the elites for creating too much of the social and politically combustible material causing the further heightened “fires” of polarization. This includes excess political correctness which has spurred a backlash. But in my opinion, it is not the critical factor.
It is clear, probably more importantly that in a prosperous economic environment where there is high demand for employment and decent paying jobs that there is usually less rancor between groups and against immigration. This often means less feelings of victimization being felt by either ethnic or religious groups be they majority or minority groups. Scapegoating, sadly is made easier during tough economic times.
However, much of Europe, particularly certain communities and regions, economically and job growth wise are underperforming. The reason is because of high taxation, over regulation and excess willingness by the EU to facilitate manufacturing job exports.
Muslim majority communities even in the EU capital, Brussels have complained that they were welcomed decades ago to do the dirty and dangerous jobs in manufacturing and elsewhere. However, the rug was pulled out from under them when European companies exported their jobs abroad facilitated by EU over enthusiasm for free trade and manufacturing killing policies. Then with the Schengen area of free movement of European people widening to the Balkans, immigrant groups established in Northern Europe had to face incoming cheaper labor from countries like Romania.
And as job losses mounted under such existing conditions, then added to injury comes the incoming of mass waves of Muslim refugees from Syria and North Africa. This is all facilitated by the EU and particularly Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany. If one was looking to stoke polarization between non-Muslims and Muslims and even within such groups, then the EU elites get an A plus.
Yet the EU and most EU nation leaders have not assumed their responsibilities, particularly in Brussels or Berlin excluding belated apologies from people like German finance minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble. He finally admitted about his government being wildly optimistic about the integration of these refugees, possibly including keeping terrorists away from infiltrating these waves.
Into this vacuum of economic stagnation and cross-cultural stress, the populist left to right parties are growing and fast. The elites simply refer to them too much as the cause not a symptom or blame fake news and even Russia. And when they see the so-called symptom spread through the Brexit and Trump phenomenon, they simply raise the bigot card.
They should raise the self-criticism card, as well but are too invested in the status quo and too bullheaded and proud to change. It is now easier to distract by pointing to hostile and even sometimes dumb statements coming from within some of these populist movements.
Until these elites of the pro-globalist types connected to groups like Bilderberg admit that their vision of both Europe and the world are at least overdone, polarization will be easier to reign as serious reform will be blocked by these myopic establishments.
Thus, the suffering majority of the population will remain open to populist forces some of which could prove very destructive to the honourable goals held by the elites of pluralism, economic openness and law and order even if they are doing a poor to only fair job of encouraging the conditions for it all.
As I said, I am all aware of the siloization of these generally liberal globalist elites hellbent to mock and marginalize nativists and look down on the less educated and blue collar workers.
I have seen personally how awful they have been that they were “banished” from regions because of the negative forces they or their ancestors unleashed against certain ethnic groups. It was not necessarily that they were wrong about everything but there is a continued lack of responsibility in recognizing the damage they had done to certain minorities or even majorities and fixing it beyond simplistic, dysfunctional largely liberal models. I am thinking of Quebec but not only so.
Let us hope that the forces the elites have been unleashing in Europe, do not make this great civilization into one dealing with so much grief it experienced in war years before or even in the tumultuous 1960s. It would be disgusting, if such forces were unleashed again that Europe became itself a great exporter of refugees from its own existing citizens.
We shall see if the European elites have enough critical thinking about themselves and their European project to usher in a calmer, fairer and prosperous Europe. One that is confident to welcome in a diverse group of immigrants in culturally and economically sustainable numbers. The current situation is too much a casualty of arrogance of leadership especially from Berlin to Brussels and is insupportable.