Hate speech thrives on fear and anxiety among different sectors of our population. They feel that they are inadequately protected against changing circumstances in their daily lives and must bear alone the brunt of economic slowdown or social dislocations. To contain and eradicate hate speech, anti-semitism and islamophobia, we must tackle the conditions that help them to spread. This is more difficult at times of economic stagnation or recession but it must be done. Problems multiply when massive immigration flows raise the perception that European lifestyles will be submerged under alien cultures and that scarce jobs will be appropriated by newcomers. Such anxiety and fears should be addressed. They should be seen as grounded in concrete concerns not in innate prejudices. The extremists who fan hate and xenophobia have understood this. They play on such concerns to drive people towards irrational and violent action. Those who combat extremism and hate mongering, should equally face up to people’s concerns. They should put upfront strategies and plans based on consistent efforts to remove the causes of fear and anxiety. Simply saying “Wir schaffen das”, though encouraging, is not enough. Much more needs to be done.
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