Conservative pundit Pat Buchanan today praised a successful anti-immigration referendum in Switzerland as a boon for the larger “patriotic, populist and nationalist right.” He hailed “patriot parties” such as the National Front of France, Freedom Party of the Netherlands, Northern League of Italy and Flemish Interest (Vlaams Belang) of Belgium as models for right-wing activists in the US.
So what drives the far-right parties that Buchanan sees as inspirations?
- The National Front’s founder is a Holocaust denier and its top leaders have compared Muslim prayers to the Nazi occupation of France and alleged that the September 11 attacks were devised by an “American-Israel conspiracy.”
- The Northern League has led a racist fight against a black government minister, likening her to an orangutan; supports the break-up of Italy; advocates racism against the country’s Roma minority; organized anti-Semitic demonstrations; and seeks to ban the constructions of mosques.
- Vlaams Belang was launched as a successor to the right-wing Vlaams Blok, or Flemish Block, after it was punished for violating anti-racism laws. The group continues its predecessor’s goal of denigrating immigrants — especially Muslims — and backing the Flemish secessionist movement.
- The Freedom Party wants to ban mosques and the Koran, which he likens to Mein Kampf, as part of a broader anti-immigrant agenda.
Buchanan adds that Americans, taking a page from the Swiss, should “vote on a timeout on all immigration.”
Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s National Front, is praising the “great courage” of the Swiss and has launched a petition drive to put a referendum on the ballot in France.
“Similar calls have come from the Dutch Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders, who is ahead in several recent polls; the Austrian Freedom Party, which showed strong gains in September’s national elections; the Danish People’s Party … and Sweden’s Democratic Party,” writes the Financial Times.
Though the parties of the patriotic, populist and nationalist right have been notoriously independent of one another, three months ago, Le Pen’s National Front and Wilders’ Freedom Party joined forces for the May elections. They have invited like-minded allies, such as Belgium’s Vlaams Belang and Italy’s Northern League, to join them.
First, there is the desire in each country involved to retain its own ethnic, cultural and national identity and to halt immigration that would alter its character, especially from the Islamic world and the Third World.
Second, there is the desire for sovereignty and liberty we Americans, above all, should understand. French, Dutch, British, Italians and Germans do not want to be ruled by the European Commission in Brussels any more than Thomas Jefferson’s generation wanted to be ruled by the king across the sea whom Jefferson described in his declaration in Philadelphia.
Third, unlike transnationalists and multiculturalists, the patriot parties hold their countries to be the largest entities to which they can give love and loyalty. And they do not worship at the altar of economic efficiency or measure happiness by the gross domestic product.
What has all this to do with us?
The ethnonationalism roiling Europe is not unique to Europe. It is roiling the world. And it is not absent from the hearts of Americans.
If the May elections for the European Parliament turn into a sweeping rejection of the EU, what is happening there will find an echo here.
How would Americans vote on a timeout on all immigration? How would Americans vote, if given a chance, to repudiate our entire political elite?