The Friedrich Ebert Foundation, a think tank linked to the center-left Social Democrats, this week published the results of a survey into the right-wing attitudes of Germans.
A sample finding: some 17.2 percent of respondents agreed with the statement: “Even today, Jews have too much influence.” But never fear, there’s just not a dash of anti-semitism in the modern Germany.
The pollsters also asked whether the practice of Islam should be significantly restricted in Germany. A total of 58.4 percent of respondents said that it should be, even though such a restriction would violate Germany’s constitution, which guarantees freedom of religion.
What is particularly pertinent is that 55.5 percent of respondents who tended to otherwise reject right-wing extremist statements agreed with the statement on the practice of Islam. The study’s authors characterized this as a “modern racism,” which is based on cultural differences rather than on supposed genetic differences.
Just over 55 percent of respondents agreed with the statement “I can fully understand why some people find Arabs unpleasant,” a result that was about the same in the east and the west. Again, over half of respondents that agreed with that statement tended to disagree with traditional right-wing extremist views. The researchers warn that right-wing extremist parties or right-wing populists could exploit this kind of resentment for political gains.
Before we do too much tut-tutting, perhaps the time is opportune for the pollsters to have a look at Australian attitudes to similar questions. I doubt that the findings would be much different.