Letters to the Editor

We encourage DailyChatter subscribers to share their thoughts with us on what they’re reading in the newsletter. Send your Letter to Editors@dailychatter.com. If yours is chosen for publication, a portion will appear in the newsletter sent to subscribers daily and the rest will be published here. Thank you for helping your fellow DailyChatter readers to know the world better.

November 2017

“I just wanted to thank you for the article on the Reformation. Rarely do I find a well written and historically accurate piece on the evolution of the Christian faith. Your reflection on the Jesus of scripture as a loving, forgiving, and active presence of God in the world today is refreshing and, in my mind, right on target. The church, whether Protestant or Catholic still has a lot of work to do in our country where relativism seems to be very prominent among many people. We wore red yesterday in the church I serve and celebrated God’s ever changing presence in our world today.

Peace:
Rev. Jim Chaloner

October 2017

“After having made a comment about your recent article on Portugal, please allow me to comment on the piece about Switzerland in the DailyChatter of October 19, 2017.

It is bemusing, after all, that someone would have flushed large-denomination banknotes down a toilet, possibly to avoid a police crack-down, who knows?

I know it’s popular to cast Switzerland, my country of residence, as one inhabited by watchmakers and bankers who celebrate the banking secrecy laws by amassing hordes of gold in vast subterranean vaults etc.

However… banking secrecy is actually a thing of the past. The international convention on the automatic sharing of banking information entered into force the beginning of this year, heralding the end of banking secrecy.

BTW, Switzerland’s wealth is not distributed evenly, there is an ever-widening divide between the haves and the have-nots. Out of a population of 8.5 million, 530,000 inhabitants are classified as “poor” and 1.1 million are at the brink of poverty. No laughing matter that.

Sorry, don’t want to be a spoilsport –

Best regards,

Mike Chudacoff
Zurich, Switzerland

September 2017

Good afternoon and greetings from UNH,

I am writing in reference to this morning’s story on the Daily Chatter regarding the German elections. This story contains a commonly-held but inaccurate view, which has serious implications for the global narratives circulating about refugees and the rise of the far right. The following is the quote at issue:

“The [AfD] party can change the tone of a national conversation that was already getting darker since its transformation two years ago from an anti-euro party to an anti-Muslim, anti-foreigner force in the wake of Merkel’s decision to open German doors to more than a million refugees in 2015.”

This statement is misleading and it supports the problematic and pervasive narrative that the growth of the far-right can be construed as a natural response to increases in immigration. First, the factual question: xenophobia and nativism was woven into AfD politics from the early days, alongside its anti-Euro and anti-EU stance. Although migration only became an explicit part of the official party platform later, the AfD was founded on the dual pillars of economic and ethnic nationalism. A trend that that is also evident in the US, the UK, and France. The founders of the AfD began to organize in 2012, at a time of renewed debates about nationalism and the future of Germany (see, for example, the Sarrazin debate . While the party’s earliest platforms focused on economic nationalism, immigration has been a perennial issue in party discourse, like when party founder Bernd Lucke said in 2013 that unemployed immigrants “constitute a sort of social dregs – dregs that remain permanently in our social system.” A campaign poster from 2013 carried the slogan, “We are not the world’s welfare agency,” again linking economic and migration issues. Early examples are not hard to find.

The xenophobia and the economic nationalism in the AfD are inextricable, although there has always been tension in the party about the extent to which ethnic and cultural nationalism should be emphasized. The xenophobic rhetoric by AfD’s founders and leaders emerged long before the current refugee crisis began to affect Europe.

I feel compelled to write about this because I see this as part of a larger trend whereby international media explain the far-right as a natural reaction to migration rather than as a deeper, more tenacious fact of life in modern democratic nations. This happened with the right-wing violence in Germany in the 1990s as well.

I hope you will take this into account in the future. Thank you for your time and attention.

All the best,

Kate Zambon, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Communication
University of New Hampshire

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