Immigration: Can we help calm the angry rhetoric?

https://readthespirit.com/ourvalues/wp-content/uploads/sites/17/2013/03/wpid-0818_Anders_Behring_Breivik.jpgOne of Anders Behring Breivik’s self portraits. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.Dr. Wayne Baker is traveling and, this week, welcomes guest writer Haley Reimer, Media Director for OurValues.
Here is her fourth report …

Much has been made of the anti-immigrant rhetoric found in “2083: A European Declaration of Independence”—the lengthy manifesto by accused Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik. Of course, the violence Breivik apparently inflicted in the bomb blast in Oslo and the shootings on the island of Utoya may have been fueled by insanity. Nevertheless, his widely distributed ravings about Muslims and other immigrants throw a fresh spotlight on tensions across Europe over multiculturalism.

Even in the United States, tensions over treatment of immigrants are rising according to a number of national studies. While concerns about Muslim and Arab-American minorities are often in headlines today, this rising tide of angry rhetoric about immigrants includes the U.S.’s largest minority group: the 47-million Latino-Americans, the vast majority of whom are legal residents.

The Pew Hispanic Center conducted a major survey of Latino residents and found: “Today, more than six-in-ten (61%) Latinos say that discrimination against Hispanics is a ‘major problem,’ up from 54% who said that in 2007. Asked to state the most important factor leading to discrimination, a plurality of 36% now cites immigration status, up from a minority of 23% who said the same in 2007. Back then, a plurality of respondents (46%) identified language skills as the biggest cause of discrimination against Hispanics.”

Today, I’m simply offering two examples drawn from the great diversity of world culture: from one Norwegian extremist’s rantings—to a heated political debate concerning one American minority group. But there’s a major lesson here for all of us: How we discuss immigration—what each one of us says about the immigrant families living around us—is part of a powerful wave of discourse circling the world. As we speak with each other, are we adding to the ominous and angry tone of that discourse? Or are there ways we can help calm the discussion?

What do you think?

What is fueling this ominous wave of anti-immigrant bias?

Are there ways that we, as individuals, can help calm rising tensions?

Originally published at www.OurValues.org, an online experiment in civil dialogue on American values.

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