ModernityBlog

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Posts Tagged ‘Xenophobia

France, Nativism And A Piece Of Cloth.

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I am not a fan of the Niqab or Burka, but then again I am against enforcing specific dress codes, to wear something or not to wear something.

I argued some time ago on this very topic at Zword, but reconsidering some of those arguments I think there is a better way of looking at it, a simpler way. In the grand scheme of things, how important is it, really? In my view, not much.

When you think of France, with all its numerous social problems, economic ills and political difficulties, would you think that a piece of cloth is the biggest problem that they face?

And does it become a bigger issue when worn by women, in strategic places ?

I suspect most intelligent readers will say, no.

Clearly, there is plenty of historical material on secularism in France, and anyone familiar with the French Revolution would know why, but the contemporary debate in France owes more to the political manoeuvrings of politicians and the influence of the Far Right.

Xenophobia has long been a problem in Europe with its major manifestations in the 1930s and 40s.

More recently we can see increased racial attacks and violence again Roma across European countries, including France and then the spectre of nativism raises its ugly head, where those wearing unapproved fashions are now attacked.

The Far Right’s influence can be seen all over these measures, along with Nicolas Sarkozy’s fingerprints as he panders to French nativism in the hope of electoral success.

Enforced dress codes must be rejected, whether in Saudi Arabia, the Taliban’s old Afghanistan or France.

France has many serious problems and they do not come down to bits of cloth worn by women.

The real problems and social ills in France should be dealt with, and it does not help women in anyway to fine them for not wearing the approved range of clothes.

So in Europe let us be serious, deal with the real problems, infrastructure, social inequalities, decent wages, good pension, a solid welfare state and the stark divisions between rich and poor, and not these panicky measure which only increase racial tension and help the Far Right.

Update 1: Previous posts on the topic, Stigmatising Dress Codes.

Pandering To Prejudice In France.

Written by modernityblog

11/04/2011 at 17:23

Twitter, The Middle East And Racism in Italy.

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I find Twitter very useful for keeping up with events.

Of course, there is the danger of too much information and keeping track of things is sometimes hard. Still, certain issues deserve scrutiny, so here’s a selection of a few things I came across on Twitter recently.

Racism in Italy, or in any part of Europe is not new but the HRW’s documenting of it makes depressing reading, as if no lessons have been learnt:

“Instances of horrific racist violence in Italy have been widely reported on in the past several years. Some of the more notorious incidents include the October 2008 brutal beating of a Chinese man by a group of youngsters as he waited for a bus in Tor Bella Monaca, a district of Rome that has seen numerous attacks on immigrants. In this case, the attackers shouted racist insults, such as “shitty Chinaman.”[75] Seven teenagers were arrested hours after the incident.[76]

In February 2009, two adults and a 16-year-old attacked an Indian man in Nettuno, near Rome, beating him and then dousing him with gasoline and setting him on fire.[77] All three were convicted without the aggravating circumstance of racial motivation.[78] In May 2009, a Senegalese actor named Mohamed Ba was knifed in the stomach as he waited for the tram in MIlan.[79] Ba’s aggressor has never been identified or apprehended, according to Ba and a close personal friend.[80]

The focus on of immigration issues for political ends in an increasingly diverse society has created an environment for open expression of racist and xenophobic sentiment. “A particular kind of language has been dusted off … making it so that openly racist expressions in everyday conversation don’t provoke any kind of concern,” according to Deputy Jean-Léonard Touadi.[81] Francesca Sorge, a lawyer in a firm that represents victims of discrimination and racist violence, agreed, saying that “phrases like, ‘You foreigners go away,’ are taken as part of the common lexicon of normal urban rudeness.”[82]”

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The Tea Party, Racism And Antisemites.

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It is very easy to criticise the Tea Party for putting up or backing some plainly idiotic candidates, Christine O’Donnell and Rich Iott are just two examples. But the Tea Party’s problems extend slightly further than a one time Witch and a Republican candidate that likes to dress up in an SS uniform.

It is the Tea Party movement’s association with the fringes of the American Far Right and active antisemites that illuminates these issues.

There is a marvellous report by the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights on Tea Party Nationalism.

Here are two extracts from the section dealing with the Tea Parties – Racism, Anti-Semitism and the Militia Impulse:

“Tea Party leaders have promoted and provided a platform to known racists and anti-Semites on multiple occasions. Dale Robertson, the chairman of the 1776 who displayed the infamous “n****r sign,” for example, brought Martin “Red” Beckman on as a guest to the Tea Party Radio hour that he co-hosts with Washington state talk show host Dr. Laurie Roth. Beckman has been known for over twenty-five years for his anti-Semitic writings and his defense of militias. In 1994, Beckman was evicted from his property in Montana by the IRS for refusing to pay taxes. He now resides in southwestern Washington State.

In a separate incident, Robertson endorsed Pastor John Weaver on the 1776 Tea Party Meet Up website. According to Robertson, “John Weaver is a very knowledgeable Christian leader who presents scriptural basis for Constitutional Rights. The Church has not exercised these rights and consequently is in decline. The Constitution is founded on the principal of God and a moral people, without either then the Church and the people of this land will fall victim to an oppressive government.”[203] Robertson also used this Meetup site to advertise an August 29, 2009 “family retreat” with Pastor Weaver in Magnolia, Texas.[204] The site also indicates that Robertson attended that retreat.

Weaver, of Fitzgerald, Georgia, has a sprawling set of connections to neo-Confederates and those preaching the so-called Christian Identity doctrine. He is the former Chaplain in Chief of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.[205] He has spoken at “Christian Identity” gatherings in Branson, Missouri in 1998 and 1999.[206] According to this particular theology, Jews are considered a satanic force (or the incarnation of Satan himself), and people of color are considered less than fully human. By contrast, the white people of northern Europe are considered racial descendants of the Biblical tribes of Israel, and the United States of America is considered their “promised land;” a theory descended from a theology known as British-Israelism. Although Weaver describes his particular outlook as a variant of “Dominionism,” his essay, “The Sovereignty of God and Civil Government” was listed in a book catalogue published by the British-Israel World Federation. As such, this would place Weaver just one step to the right of the most radical forms of Christian fundamentalism.[207] “

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Sarkozy And The Jobbik.

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I often wonder if politicians and political activists actually have a sense of history?

You only need to see the treatment of the Roma by the Sarkozy government to think that politicians have learnt nothing?

Or possibly they have? That stirring up hatred against the Roma is politically useful? Whatever the supposed reasons, now that Sarkozy’s government has started an institutional attack on the Roma the Jobbik are joining in, again.

This is not new, as I pointed out before, but the actions in France have allowed xenophobia into the open and the Jobbik fully intend to exploit it.

That this was going to happen is perfectly foreseeable, even by the Sarkozy government.

The Toronto Star reports:

“BUDAPEST—Hungary’s leading far-right party said on Wednesday that Roma who are considered a threat to public safety should be forced from their dwellings and placed in highly-controlled camps, some of them for life.

The Jobbik party capitalized on deep-seated popular resentment toward Hungary’s large Roma minority to get into parliament for the first time in April elections. It recently launched its campaign for municipal elections due on October 3.

“We would force these families out of their dwellings, yes,” Csanad Szegedi, the party’s vice chairman and European Parliament representative, told Reuters. “Then, yes, we would transport these families to public order protection camps.”

“At these camps, there would be a chance to return to civilized society. Those who abandon crime, make sure their children attend school, and participate in public works programmes, they can reintegrate,” he said.

“No doubt there will be people who show no improvement. They can spend the rest of their lives in these camps.”

Jobbik is particularly strong in the northeast of Hungary, where most of the country’s 700,000 Roma live, many in squalid conditions. Unemployment among Roma is extremely high and petty crime is rampant. Jobbik Chairman Gabor Vona said that attempts to integrate the Roma community had failed and that segregation was the best tool to teach them to coexist with the majority, national news agency MTI reported.

Szegedi rejected the idea that the public order protection camps, where inmates would need permission to leave the premises and a 10 p.m. curfew would be enforced, resembled ghettos. “These are not ghettos, they are camps to protect public order,” he said. “I don’t believe this should be a problem as we would execute these plans in accordance with all laws.”

The plight of the Roma, Europe’s largest ethnic minority, has gained attention since French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced a crackdown one month ago on Roma camps in France.”

Written by modernityblog

03/09/2010 at 11:55

Silo Nation.

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Max Dunbar writes lucidly and in this particular piece takes on localism and the issue of immigration in a very persuasive fashion:

“During the late 1990s and early 2000s there was a lot of buzz about an economics writer called Thomas Friedman. Friedman was the Pangloss of globalisation. His books and journalism constituted one breathless paean to global free markets – an endless parade of twenty-year-old dotcom millionaires interviewed in Singapore coffee houses. There’s one passage where he has his shoes shined by an elderly beggar woman, and then speculates on her pride at being able to contribute to the global economy – written in prose so self-satisfied that Francis Wheen wondered how the woman restrained herself from punching him in the face.

Post-crash, Friedman’s work seems strikingly naive. In the protectionist backlash people are increasingly suspicious of globalism. The average UK citizen wants more immigration control, troops pulled out of Afghanistan, withdrawal from the EU and locally sourced food. Read the comment threads on any national or regional newspaper website and you’ll find our collective dream is of a silo nation: nothing gets in, nothing gets out.

For localism has a dark side. As well as Prince Charles’s babble about British cheese subsidies and supermarket regulation it has produced a fierce hostility to migrants. People think of economics as zero sum. Let too many migrants into the UK, they reason, and soon there won’t be enough food or money for the rest of us. If a migrant gets a job, someone else must lose theirs. If a migrant applies for housing benefit, it goes straight out of your paycheque. It is fair to say that loathing of immigrants has become a national pathology.
…”

Written by modernityblog

29/06/2010 at 00:15

Depressing News

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ITUC’s Annual Survey of Trade Union Rights makes grim reading:

“…a dramatic increase in the number of trade unionists murdered in 2009, with 101 killings – an increase of 30% over the previous year. The Survey, released today, also reveals growing pressure on fundamental workers’ rights around the world as the impact of the global economic crisis on employment deepened.
…..
This year’s report again records an extensive list of violations suffered by trade unionists struggling to defend workers’ interests, this time in 140 countries. Many other violations remain unreported, as working women and men are deprived of the means to have their voices heard, or fear to speak out due to the consequences to their jobs or even to their physical safety. Along with the appalling list of killings, the Survey provides detailed documentation of harassment, intimidation and other forms of anti-union persecution. A further ten attempted murders and 35 serious death threats were recorded, again mostly in Colombia and Guatemala. Furthermore, many trade unionists remained in prison and were joined by around hundred newly imprisoned in 2009. Many others were arrested in Iran, Honduras, Pakistan, South Korea, Turkey and Zimbabwe in particular. The general trade union rights’ situation has continued to deteriorate in a number of other countries, including Egypt, the Russian Federation, South Korea and Turkey.”

(H/T: Eric Lee)

Elsewhere, those xenophobes in Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party have seriously increased their votes in the new Dutch election, going from nine seats in parliament to 24. The Beeb has more:

“A Dutch anti-Islam party has more than doubled its seats in parliament in a national vote, though it is unclear if it will take part in a coalition.

Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders said he wanted to be part of government.

The election saw the centre-right Liberal Party (VVD) emerging as the largest party, one seat ahead of the centre-left Labour Party.

The Christian Democrat party of outgoing Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende suffered a big defeat.

Weeks of coalition negotiations are expected to follow the election.

With more than 99% of votes counted, the VVD had 31 of 150 seats, while Labour had 30.

As the party with the most seats, VVD leader Mark Rutte could now become the first prime minister from his political camp since World War I.”

Read The Comments Policy.

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In light of recent events in the Middle East, I would like to make clear the comments policy of this blog.

I don’t object to people who disagree with me, even witty insults are not a problem, but if you want to exercise your hatred against Israelis or Jews go somewhere else.

Of course, I fully realise that many people will reply “some of my best friends are….Jews” or “I don’t hate anyone except the ‘Zionists'”, in such eventualities I would ask you to acquire a degree of introspection.

Then ask yourself, would you use such inflammatory language against other nations, states or ethnicities?

If the answer is yes, then you are a xenophobic bigot and I’m not interested in your comments, whatever they would be.

If the answer is no, then you might reflect on why you have such a bias and why you might be projecting unconscious prejudice.

Either way, here is a copy of my comments policy:

The comments policy on this blog is fairly simple, if you are a racist, a racialist, one of their mates, or someone who writes like them, then you are not welcome here.

This blog implements a No Platform for Fascists policy.

So if you are hung up about the existence of Jews, Muslims, the Roma, immigrants, “foreigners”, the French, the Irish, etc and feel the need to express your petty hatreds and xenophobia, do it elsewhere.

For American readers, this blog does not implement political censorship, I welcome you expressing your opinions, but I just don’t like fascists or their buddies, and this blog is not covered by the First Amendment.

The blog owner reserves the right to determine what comments are fit and proper for his blog.

This is the older version of the comments policy, see the updates.

Apart from all of that enjoy!

Update 1: Just remembered, for the benefit of any truculent commenters I made a few similar posts, they might take the trouble to read them as well.

Anti-Muslim Bigots, Feck Off.

Feck Off Friends of David Irving.

The EDL and Geert Wilders.

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Reading Left Foot Forward today I noticed their post on the EDL and Geer Wilders, the Dutch anti-Muslim bigot.

I think they are probably choosing their words carefully, to avoid a libel suit but they are very wrong when they write “…the English Defence League, a single issue pressure group…”

Anyone familiar with basic fascist history would recognise the EDL as a proto-street army.

At the moment they latch on to the hatred and animosity in British society towards Muslims, but it’s fairly obvious from the nature of their leadership, peppered with BNPers or their allies, that the EDL fulfil a wider role.

Whilst there may be no formal ties, the role of each organisation seems fairly clear, one as a street army and the other as the besuited and respectable face of modern British neofascism.

We should not forget that neofascist ideology and their political methods have evolved in the postwar era to present a more moderate and acceptable face of neofascism to the public. That is a facade, many of the underlying tactics are still the same, if somewhat reinvented for the 21st century.

We should not be fooled by the EDL’s propaganda, or forget the lessons of history.

But back to LFF’s post:

“Wilders will be visiting Parliament on Friday, having accepted an invitation from from Lord Pearson of Rannoch, the leader of the UK Independence Party and Baroness Cox, a crossbench peer, to show his film ‘Fitna’ in the Palace of Westminster. The sixteen-minute film juxtaposes acts of terrorism with lines from the Koran.”

Update 1: Radio Nederlands reports that Wilders’ form of popularism and xenophobia is making ground in early election results:

“Liberal democrats D66 and Geert Wilders’ anti-Islam Freedom Party made major gains in the Dutch municipal elections on Wednesday. The Green Left also did well. The Christian Democrats and the Labour Party, the two parties responsible for the fall of the Dutch cabinet two weeks ago, both lost a large number of seats in the municipal governments. The biggest losers of the night were the Socialist Party, which saw its popularity of four years ago all but vanish.

The conservative VVD, which have done badly in a series of polls, has more or less regained the position it had in 2006. General public dissatisfaction with the larger established parties was expressed in the large proportion of votes which went to the different local independent candidates, over 25 percent. Although individually the local parties failed to attract enough voters to become a force to reckon with.

The Labour Party remains the largest national party in local politics, although it suffered severe losses, the damage was less than they had expected. The party received 16 percent of the votes, 5 percent less than in 2006. However, Labour Party leader Wouter Bos remained optimistic. The election in 2006 was a “monumental victory” that could not be equated, he argued, and explained that he believed these results were a leap forward.”

Written by modernityblog

04/03/2010 at 13:44

Sarkozy’s Debate.

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It seems that the President of France, Nicholas Sarkozy, wanted to start a debate on national identity but didn’t seem to consider how this topic could be used by nativists, the far right and anti-immigrant bigot, this story in the Times should be a lesson to us all:

“A gathering of citizens in the eastern French city of Troyes has demonstrated the explosive nature of the “great national identity debate” launched by President Nicolas Sarkozy in an effort, say critics, to shore up support on the right.

About 100 people were seated in a hall to discuss what it meant to be French, one of dozens of debates on the subject being held around the country during the next few weeks. Laurent Bacari, a young schoolteacher, got to his feet.

Various speakers from the far-right National Front had been complaining that immigrants supported foreign football teams and flew Algerian flags at their weddings. One claimed that many immigrants did not know the name of the French capital, let alone the words of the Marseillaise, the national anthem.

“When I listen to you lot,” said Bacari, a wiry figure with dark eyes, stubbly cheeks and black hair, “I’m ashamed to be French.” One of his neighbours stood up and began haranguing him. “We’re all proud to be French and if you aren’t you should leave,” he shouted.

Soon the two were screaming at each other as Christian Rouyer, the local police chief who had organised the gathering, tried to call them to order.

A policeman ploughed into the crowd to stop the fight. As Bacari was being escorted from the hall, a man at the back began to sing the Marseillaise at full volume. He was dragged out by another policeman, singing “to arms, citizens”. Others in the audience joined in the Marseillaise and another man was taken away by police.

No wonder Sarkozy has been accused of playing with fire: if such scenes can occur in peaceful champagne country, whose inhabitants seldom work themselves into a froth about anything, the government can only wonder how things will go in the battle-scarred banlieues.

By the end of last week the much-vaunted debate had turned into a conflagration raging out of control. A website set up to encourage discussion had become a forum for brutal immigrant-bashing. About a fifth of the entries had to be erased.

“They’re not publishable,” Sarkozy was reported to have complained to aides, adding that the state-organised town hall debates were suffering just as much from “xenophobic insults”.

Written by modernityblog

13/12/2009 at 22:13

Muslim Baiting, Swiss Style.

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The petty and unnecessary ban on minarets is just one measure taken by the right wing Swiss People’s Party in a deliberate attempt to stoke up xenophobia, which many Muslims already face in Switzerland.

Apparently religious freedom is enshrined in the Swiss constitution and the targeting of Muslims is deliberate and provocative.

Readers will probably remember the sheep posters from 2007, and the SVP are continuing down the same path, whipping up resentment against Muslims and alienating them in Switzerland.

This populist form of xenophobia has been common enough over the past 150 years and it leads to a very bitter place.

No one, who believes in religious freedom, should welcome this vote or the longer-term consequences of division and distrust within a society, deliberately provoked by a rightwing political party for their own cheap ends.

Update 1: Anyone interested should read the European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance’s report on Switzerland,[PDF download] here’s a small extract:

“117. In its third report ECRI recommended that the authorities take steps to combat prejudice and discrimination against Muslim communities, particularly as regards practical issues connected with the practice of their religion.

118. Muslims, who are estimated to number between 350 000 and 400 000 in Switzerland, encounter manifestations of racism and intolerance, which are described in several parts of this report. The Swiss authorities themselves consider that there was a significant increase in acts of intolerance with regard to members of Switzerland’s Muslim communities between 2002 and 2006.

119. In particular, ECRI is concerned to learn that, in recent years, some political parties, including the UDC, have considerably exploited and encouraged prejudice and racist stereotypes concerning Muslims within the majority population, not only in their rhetoric but also in political campaign posters. As a result some parts of public opinion may equate the entire Muslim population with terrorists and religious extremists. The fear of seeing Switzerland “swamped by Muslims” is also exploited. In some cases, this prejudice apparently leads to discrimination, notably in employment, since Muslims are refused jobs because of the suspicion surrounding them. In particular, women who wear the Islamic headscarf encounter difficulties of access to jobs, housing and goods and services for the public. Muslims are also vulnerable to discrimination in matters of naturalisation.”

Written by modernityblog

30/11/2009 at 02:39