Lies about Migrants
Immigration Policy in a Time of ‘Post-Truth’ Politics
June 6, 2019, 12:00 – 1:30 pm
The ascendance of the far right has jolted both American and European politics, weakened the European Union, and undermined liberal democracy on both sides of the Atlantic. This ascendance – whose myriad causes continue to puzzle scholars – depends heavily upon the right’s virulent opposition to immigration. Conflating refugees and asylum seekers with economic migrants, the extreme right fans the flames of fear of “the other” with vitriolic anti-immigrant rhetoric as its central political message. The anti-immigrant right has both tightened its grip on power and bled into the politics of traditional political parties in both countries. Throughout the West, migration has become the battlefield in a culture war between an open conception of society in which aliens can gain status and opportunities and a closed society in which aliens are dehumanized and locked out.
DAAD/AGI Research Fellow Beverly Crawford Ames will argue that misinformation, exaggeration, distortion of facts, and fabricated content – all bolstering false narratives about migrants – are important factors explaining the rise of the extreme right and, more generally, the politics surrounding immigration policy. Many authoritative opinion polls in both the U.S. and Europe show a grossly misinformed public on the issue of immigration. Numerous studies demonstrate that anti-immigrant voter attitudes and economic and security concerns about immigration are not based on personal experience and are not driven by facts. Crawford Ames will examine the origins of this misinformation, the conditions under which it spreads, and why a sizable percentage of the population in both countries believes it. She concludes by looking at what can be done in both Germany and the U.S. to counter false narratives about migrants and bring back reasoned debate about immigration from its descent into “culture war outrage.”
Join AGI/DAAD Research Fellow Beverly Crawford Ames as she presents her research on the representation of migrants and the role of misinformation, exaggeration, distortion of facts, and fabricated content about them in both social and mainstream media as important factors explaining the rise of right-wing extremism in both Germany and the United States.
Beverly Crawford Ames is Professor emerita of Political Science and Political Economy at the University of California at Berkeley and is the former Director of Berkeley’s Center for German and European Studies. She has written on German foreign policy, ethnic and religious conflict, international trade and security, the European Union, globalization, regionalism, and topics in international relations theory. Her most recent publications are “Merkel III: From Committed Pragmatist to ‘Conviction Leader’?” with Ludger Helms and Femke Van Esch, German Politics, Vol. 27, Issue 3, 2018; “The Euro, The Gold Standard, and German Power: A Cautionary Tale,” with Armon Rezai, German Politics and Society Issue 125 Vol. 35, No. 4 (Winter 2017): 77–104; and “Moral Leadership or Moral Hazard? Germany’s Response to the Refugee Crisis and its Impact on European Solidarity” forthcoming in Crisis, Resilience and the Future of the EU (working title – editors Akasemi Newsome, Marianne Riddervold, Jarle Trondal), Palgrave Macmillian, 2019.
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