The Xenophobia Police: Affirmative action in Europe.

Essay by courlove7 October 2003

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Ever since Sept. 11, europeans have been encouraged to believe that the big new problem for their continent is discrimination. Particularly Islamophobia. In other words, prejudice against the European Union's estimated 15 million Muslims. Europe's antibias bureaucracies, the main brooders on this new menace, are a wonder to behold. There is a European Monitering Centre on Racism and Intolerance. And, of course, there are antibias agencies in each of the EU's 15 member countries. On top of everything else, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights keeps involving itself in European bias issues and recently demanded "that measures taken in the struggle against terrorism do not discriminate in purpose or effect on grounds of race, color, descent, or national or ethnic origin." The European Council said it agreed with the High Commissioner. Affirmative action in Europe has a strange look to it. For openers, it's not called affirmative action.

For reasons never logically explicated, but possibly in and effort to de-emphasize the copycat aspect--affirmative action is, after all, an American invention--the European Union calls it "positive discrimination." Second, and much stranger, it's generally noncontroversial. Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon gave affirmative action to the U.S. back in the 1960s,and in the ensuing 40 years, Americans have regularly torn passions to tatters in arguing about race and sex preferences. In the U.S., affirmative action means boundless litigation and statewide referendums. Nothing like this happens in Europe. Positive discrimination is growing prodigiously on the continent, and hardly anybody's complaining. The most high-profile critic of ethnic preferences in Europe would appear to be Jean-Marie Le Pen in France, whoe fascist and anti-Semitic views do not exaclty make hiim a credible opponent of the positive discrimination trend. Serious mainstream politicians and intellectuals have been no-shows in the loyal opposition to this...