Go Back to Where You Came From Book Summary By Sasha Polakow-Suransky

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Go Back to Where You Came From provides a comprehensive overview of the current international political landscape and the rising right-wing populism movement that has accompanied a greater influx of refugees into Europe.

Author Richard Seymour examines what has caused this difference in opinion about refugees, focusing on why Muslim immigrants have become so heavily demonized.

He also looks at how this controversy has increased political extremism and poses a real threat to democracy as we know it.

This book is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding today's evolving political landscape and the complexities surrounding refugee migration and the rise of populism.

Go Back to Where You Came From

Book Name: Go Back to Where You Came From (The Backlash Against Immigration and the Fate of Western Democracy)

Author(s): Sasha Polakow-Suransky

Rating: 4.1/5

Reading Time: 18 Minutes

Categories: Politics

Author Bio

Sasha Polakow-Suransky is an acclaimed journalist, writer, and editor.

He's the former editor of International Opinion at the New York Times, and the author of The Unspoken Alliance: Israel’s Secret Relationship with Apartheid South Africa.

His latest book Go Back to Where You Came From dives deep into how immigration is viewed in many countries, and explores how it has been seen historically.

He looks at the politics from all sides, providing a comprehensive argument to examine the nuances of immigration policies around the world.

With his experience in journalism and knowledge of politics he provides a unique perspective on this complicated issue.

The Growing Divisiveness Of Politics: Examining How Events Of 2015 Echo Those Of 1938

Growing Divisiveness

Sasha Polakow-Suransky’s “Go Back to Where You Came From” provides readers with an insightful look at the current political climate, providing a better understanding of today’s fraught political climate.

As he follows Europe’s immigration crisis and its reaction, he sheds light on how closely intertwined identity and politics have become.

By examining the similarities between what happened in 2015 and 1938, he reveals the potential danger to democracy and human rights that could be seen if extreme right-wing parties gain control.

He also explains what a “counter-citizen” is and how it can lead to extremist recruitment.

Polakow-Suransky offers a thought provoking book that helps readers gain a deeper understanding of today’s issue with immigration and extremism, allowing them to make more informed decisions about the current affairs in Europe

The Impact Of 9/11 On Muslim Integration In Western Europe And The Double Standard Surrounding Religion

Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, Muslims have often been seen as a group that threatens democracy and Western culture.

The lingering suspicions held by many have painted them in an unfavorable light and presented them as individuals who are hostile to the liberal values that make up our society.

Western Europe has experienced tremendous growth in Muslim immigration since 2015 and unfortunately, these migrants face immense difficulty gaining acceptance and fitting into European societies.

This is due to the fear that they will impose Sharia law or Islamic laws which could introduce beliefs such as female subservience and homophobia, which conflict with Western ideologies.

Leaders like Marine Le Pen of France’s Front National party, for instance, are vocal about this concern about Muslim immigrants threatening secularism – one of the defining features of French Republics.

Paradoxically however, she draws no attention to other public displays of religion like Christmas nativity scenes in stores.

Similarly Soren Espersen from Denmark’s People’s Party advocates that every immigrant should publicly declare allegiance to democracy before their faith – highlighting how some view this particular religious identity as an obstacle to equality before the law.

How Liberal Principles And Right-Wing Attitudes Have Been Weaponized To Demonize Muslims

Both the left and the right have contributed to Islamophobia in many ways.

The left has used principles of gender equality and freedom of speech to suggest that Muslims are a danger to society.

For instance, some believed that the attack on Charlie Hebdo was proof of this, while others labeled those Muslims who weren’t angered by the cartoons as “not proper Muslims”.

The right has taken a similar stance by adopting liberal issues such as feminism and claiming to be the guardians of society after an alleged incident with Muslim refugees in Cologne, Germany on New Year’s Eve 2015.

By using these so-called feminist values, they gain credibility in their fight against Islamophobia.

Ultimately, if we want to reduce Islamophobia, we need both sides to stop feeding into these destructive narratives.

The Real Lesson Of History: Don’t Generalize About Ethnic Groups Or You Put Innocents At Risk

Ethnic Groups

It is undeniable that there are similarities between today’s Islamophobia and Nazi-era anti-Semitism.

The populist right-wing movement often utilizes terrorist attacks as an excuse to villainize Muslims and perpetuate their agenda of expelling them from society.

At the same time, they argue that it differentiates their views from the anti-Semitic fervor of World War II, since there were no Jewish terrorist attacks around then.

But if we look back to 1938, we find a similar incident.

When German diplomat Ernst vom Rath was killed in Paris by 17-year old Herschel Grynszpan—a Jewish man living in Germany who had been unable to find work—the Nazis used this attack as justification for their propaganda which suggested Jews be locked up or expelled from the country.

This would later result in Kristallnacht when authorities and civilians destroyed Jewish homes and businesses throughout Germany.

Additionally, Marine Le Pen’s Front National has tried to erase the stigma of anti-Semitism from her party by claiming that their Islamophobic agenda is instead meant to protect Jews—essentially using Muslims as a scapegoat for political gain.

These examples demonstrate the power of scapegoating one group for the actions of another which can lead to devastating consequences for those communities whose identities become demonized or vilified in such a manner.

It is important to remember this history and recognize when parties attempt such tactics so we can avoid making these same mistakes again in our present day.

The No-Win Situation Muslim Immigrants Face: The Counter-Citizen Dilemma And Its Dangerous Outcome

The way many countries respond to Muslim immigrants these days can be characterized as counter-citizenism, where people with foreign backgrounds are made to feel like second-class citizens and can be treated differently from those who have strong ancestral connections.

Ineffective integration policies, such as neglecting to enroll new immigrants in vocational and language schooling, only serves to fan the flames of resentment among native populations that they are stealing taxpayer money and jobs.

At the same time, instances such as France’s “burkini ban” act as further examples of how Muslims are discriminated against, causing them to feel sidelined and degraded in society.

This kind of injustice is not only morally wrong but it also aggravates an already tense situation as it makes Muslims more vulnerable to coercion by fundamentalist recruiters.

Marginalizing Muslims this way has been proven to only fuel further violence by providing extremist groups with a ripe pool of potential recruits.

It’s time for governments around the world to finally realize this truth and take active steps towards true inclusion and equal rights for all within their borders no matter what religion or ethnicity they belong to.

The Left’S Failure To Empathize With Working-Class Struggles Led To The Rise Of Populism

When the immigration debate heated up in the early 2000s, it was the working class citizens of Europe who were the most affected.

Their neighborhoods often became populated by newcomers, and their jobs suddenly had more competition from this influx of immigrants.

Yet when these working-class voters voiced their worries and concerns to their representatives on the left, they were met with condescension rather than acknowledgement.

This neglect of the working-class citizens by those on the political left created an opportunity for those on the right to win over disgruntled voters.

Right-wing politicians capitalized on this opportunity by appealing to the rising anti-immigration sentiment among many former liberal constituencies.

The reality is that worries about immigration are not always rooted in racism—for many people they originate out of feelings of insecurity around a changing cultural landscape or economic development potentialities.

It’s what leads middle-class populations to happily embrace globalization and its promise of better educational and financial opportunities, whereas for underprivileged working-class citizens their very livelihood depends upon a stable status quo left mostly undisturbed by immigration policies or refugees arriving at their doorsteps.

The sad irony here is that as progressive political elites have failed to act upon these fears that many European citizens are feeling, they have pushed them over to right-wing politicians instead – undoing decades of work paving a forward path towards chance and equality with every victory they earn through fearmongering and emotionally charged rhetoric.

How Identity Politics And Fear Of Immigrants Can Lead To A Support For Authoritarianism


Identity politics play a major role in the political battle over immigration, with debates focusing on issues of identity such as ethnicity, religion, gender, sexuality and homeland.

This can be particularly difficult when it comes to the white working class.

As they become a minority due to increased immigration, many feel like they are losing their political power and begin voicing their beliefs louder than before.

Research shows that when people feel threatened by a loss of power or influence, it triggers an authoritarian response – an instinctive need for control which seeks out the protection of strict rules and laws.

Populist parties have been quick to pick up on these fears of their followers in order to validate and intensify them while offering authoritarian solutions which aim to protect against any newcomers.

Fake news also plays its part in triggering people’s tendencies toward authoritarianism.

Identity politics tap into this fear by amplifying these emotions and making them worse for those who are feeling vulnerable about their own diminishing authority or power dynamic- whether in regards to immigrants or not.

The Danger Of Populist Parties: How To Keep Them In Check And Protect Democratic Principles

In the past few years, right-wing populist parties have seen tremendous success in elections across Europe, causing the establishment political parties to shift their policies to more populist stances.

This means that the prevailing political center is much further to the right than it was before – but we don’t have to accept this as an inevitable reality.

The left must push back against these far-right policies by presenting viable and progressive economic solutions that will address the root causes of people’s anxieties and concerns instead of just mirroring the policies of the far-right.

It is also important to remember that these parties don’t actually want ultimate power: they prefer a situation where they can amplify their voice without having to deliver on their promises.

Moreover, when establishment parties take on more radical policies in response to populism, it does not draw voters towards populism but rather moves those who were once part of its base further leftwards.

Therefore, it becomes even less likely for these right-wing parties to come into power.

We need our democratic systems and institutions stay vigilant against this growing movement – not only through voting but also through upholding justice and fairness via judicial processes.

We must protect minority rights from being trampled down by majority rule, while at the same time preventing leaders from replacing members of the judicial branch with those who will serve their own agenda.

By doing so, we can move the current political center back towards a healthier space and away from populism’s dangerous grip.

Wrap Up

The takeaway from Go Back to Where You Came From is that democracy is under threat from anti-immigrant groups and right-wing political parties.

These groups target and oppress minorities, making them feel unwelcome in the societies they inhabit.

Established political parties often turn a blind eye to these injustices, which only serves to perpetuate them further.

If we wish to maintain our fair and just societies, then it’s up to us as citizens to stand up for minority communities that are being marginalized.

We must not allow fear of losing power to prevent us from speaking out against injustice.

Only then will we be true to our promise of democracy for all.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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