Aamir R. Mufti’s seminar “Strangers in Europe: Migrants and the Crisis of Unification” provided me with an interesting, and unique, view of the European migrant crisis from perspectives of Europeans and also Middle Eastern migrants or refugees. He specifically spoke about the current crisis affecting Germany, France, Greece, and other Europeans Union member countries. Mufti dives into ethics of the European individual and forces them to ask themselves and us reading or listening, “what is my relationship with the stranger(migrant)?” To the migrants, this stateless population, their lives have been turned around and upside down, forced to leave their homes, into a new land where they are absolutely weak and exposed. In the summer and fall of 2015, Europe had their arms wide open to these individuals, “refugees are welcome here,” a phrase that is still alive in current politics in the U.S. now, was written on posters, social media post, and shared by simple spoken word. But after a few sexual violent, heinous terrorist attacks, and new legislation making it easier to deport those in asylum, there was a growing rift in the European political scene. The left still filled with “European values,” even after the attacks, their ethics still existed. And the right (or alt-right) increasingly using words like terrorist and refugee interchangeably. Society’s fear of this small Muslim migrant population putting their state in danger, is growing, and that is unmistakable. During this, Europe is also facing a recession, and scapegoating is falling on these refugees.
From a Durkheimian perspective, there are two different totems coming from the different political groups in Europe. Or rather, one totem, Europe, from two different point of views. For the left, Europe as a totem symbolizes their “european values”, the party’s ethics and openness to the migrants, and their acknowledgement of the Muslims as anything but radical Islamist. For the alt-right, the totem is the purity of Europe. They believe that Europe must be protected from the terrorist, and the best way to do that is to keep them all out, which creates an extremely Islamophobic and anti-arab racism. In either interpretation of the totem, collective consciousness exists. This collective consciousness results in the social integration, and the formation of these two polar groups.