xenophobia


Trying to get back into the groove of blogging about immigration and this one seemed like a good place to start!

Now really, who thinks they’d get away with this in the age of the internet. Please! A little more creativity from our racists would be nice. I mean the Swiss came up with all sorts of visually interesting ways to disgust us:

The White Sheep/ Black Sheep poster is probably the most famous:

And the poster for their campaign to ban minarets (which they won) turned quite a few heads last year:

And now , everyone’s favourite French racist, Jean-Marie Le Pen of the far-right National Front,  has tooootally ripped them off! Laaaaame!


They’ve imitated the minaret-rockets, and the angry-looking, burkha-clad woman, but they’ve added an extra nice touch, and have made their propaganda nation-specific by including the Algerian flag in the background.

The poster equates the Algerian flag, which incorporates traditional Islamic star and crescent, with violence and “l’islamisme” or extremist Islam.

The newest stats I could find show that there were 691,361 in 2006, the largest immigrant group listed.

The Independent reports that the Algerian government, and anti-racism activists are none too pleased with this:

“We have officially protested,” said the Algerian Foreign Minister, Mourad Medelci. “It is up to the French state to take the necessary measures when foreign countries’ symbols are dragged through the mud.”

Kahled Lasbeur, lawyer for the Movement against Racism, warned of “riots, demonstrations and blood-letting” if the posters are not banned.

Ironically, yet unsurprisingly, as right-wingers tend not to understand international solidarity, “The Swiss advertising agency that devised the original poster said it planned to sue Mr Le Pen’s party, the National Front, for plagiarism.” Perfect.

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Ugh. I haven’t been paying eough attention to immigration news recently, but when the economic crisis hit big, I remember thinking, ooohhhh, just wait for it, the hate crimes will begin any moment now. Apparently in the UK, Poles feel there has been an increase in xenophobic hate crimes directed against them since the economic slump began.

From the Independent:

The Federation of Poles in Great Britain said it was increasingly concerned by the growing number of racist incidents in which Poles were victims last year.

Spokesman Wiktor Moszczynski said there was anecdotal evidence to suggest that the downturn was fuelling a backlash against Polish economic migrants blamed for taking British jobs.

He said: “We are aware that many of these incidents occur because of growing tension in the traditional indigenous population following increasing anxiety about job losses.

“While the Polish workforce has proved to be highly flexible and some 300,000 appear to have left the country now as the economic situation deteriorates, a large number who still have jobs are staying, particularly if they have their families here as well.

“Media scare stories can fuel resentment of these people at a time like this.”

I wish they mentioned what some of these scare stories might be. Sigh. That kind of writing is irritating.

Anyways, the group mentioned above has called on the government to do various things including gathering better statistics about the populations of immigrants form recent EU member states, enforce housing standards so that immigrant populations live more integrated with native populations, and increase availability of free English lessons.

Yeah….a Tajik migrant worker was decapitated by an ultra-nationalist group who claimed responsibility for it by emailing a photo of them with said head to human rights groups. Sigh.

The victim’s head was discovered wrapped in a plastic bag in a dumpster Wednesday on Ulitsa Tolbukhina, near Kuntsevskaya metro station on the Moscow western outskirts, the Investigative Committee said in a statement.

An autopsy confirmed that the head belonged to a 20-year-old native of Tajikistan whose decapitated body was discovered last week near the village of Zhabkino, a few kilometers south of Moscow, the statement said.

The victim and a fellow Tajik worker at a local food warehouse were walking home last Friday evening when they were attacked by about 10 men, who shot them with pellet guns and proceeded to beat them, according to investigators.

The murder victim died at the scene, having been stabbed in the torso six times before he was beheaded, investigators said. The other Tajik worker managed to escape and was subsequently hospitalized in critical condition.

The Independent reports on a British government warning that “hostility to immigrants ‘is holding UK back.'” Cuz all the really smart highly qualified immigrants that the UK should want (cuz they need them) are getting more than a bit turned off by increasing British xenophobia. Again – duh.

[A think tank called the Work Foundation] warns in a report that recruitment problems are growing for specialised computer, science and healthcare firms and that a lack of skilled employees could deter multinational companies from moving to Britain.

The Home Office this year launched the first stage of a points-based immigration system to attract the most skilled incomers.

But Katerina Rüdiger, the report’s author, said the Government needed to be more proactive in promoting Britain to foreign workers and in tackling scepticism in the UK about the extent of migration.

She said: “The UK needs to be seen … as being among the most open and attractive places for highly skilled people to want to move.

“At present, despite the hype, numbers are relatively low – only 167,000 high- skilled workers came to this country on official figures from 2005. Politicians need to actively make the case for highly skilled migration.”

The report argues that the debate about highly skilled migrants is difficult to disentangle from the wider controversy about immigration. It acknowledges that politicians face a dilemma in opening the door to the most talented foreign migrants without seeming a “soft touch on controlling their borders”.

Well, you get what you deserve. If you go around screaming about immigrants all the time in a racist and xenophobic manner, don’t be surprised when the talented, educated ones don’t want to help out your languishing industries.

Italy? Can we talk a sec?

You know I think you’re really gorgeous. That weekend we had, in Naples (despite the garbage crisis) was magical. But I sensed a little something, well, off. I mean it was our first time together, but I thought I felt a connection. I know. That man, that Berlusconi, he’s still got some sort of hold over you. The elections were that Sunday, but to be honest, I was so swept up in the romance of it all, I didn’t pay much attention. But now I’m worried. I saw this in the news last week:

The Italian government on Wednesday (21 May) presented plans to tighten up its immigration policy, which include making staying in Italy without permission a criminal offence punishable by jail.

What’s going on? My friends are saying you’re talking crazy, saying things like “All Gypsies must go.” I mean, all gypsies? Some of them have been there for centuries, so, like, you didn’t mean that right? Right?

And what’s this that Spain is telling me? I heard María T.’s pretty pissed off. Ok, it’s harsh to call your new style “racist and xenophobic” but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. I mean, this guy is causing such problems for you, he’s ruining some of your close friendships! My therapist says that’s a sure sign of a destructive relationship. I mean, I thought you were cool, Italy, but then you go and say s&*t like “The right to not be afraid is a basic one, and a state should guarantee its citizens that“? Like all immigration and all immigrants are something to be afraid of. That looks like some pretty straight up fear-mongering to me dude.

Man, Italy, why d’you have to go and be such a dick? You’re just not who I thought you were.

Regretfully,

The Guiri

Mi Querida España,

So, uh, I heard what you said the other day. I heard you tell Italy that you reject “violence, racism and the xenophobia, and therefore cannot agree with what is happening in Italy.” That’s so hot. Don’t ever change. Te quiero.

Besos,

the Guiri

I’ve been following this story for a few days now and have been astounded. Not only are the acts themselves shockingly brutal at times (like setting people on fire) but the causes seem tragically transparent: these are poor, desperate people, lashing out against the only people lower on the social scale than them. How many times has this story been repeated? One can’t help feeling that the repetition of a phenomenon like this should make it preventable.

From the NYT:

“White people hire the foreigners because they work hard and they do it for less money,” Mr. Booysen said. “A South African demands his rights and will go on strike. Foreigners are afraid.”

This line pretty much sums it up: “the powerless making scapegoats of the defenseless”

Great, so they’re easily exploited and therefore poor. But let’s not get pissed at the white exploiters, let’s not help our neighbors “demand their rights”, let get pissed off at the desperate poor people! yay! that will fix everything! It’s always worked so well in the past! Its almost sad to hear this stuff over and over and over….one starts to suspect that, as a species, perhaps we are not so bright. Guh.

And then there’s this: the NYT reporter says that people feel “a nationalistic sense of jubilation in the areas where the immigrants have been dislodged” because they were seen as an economic threat to natives. It’s so sad that nowhere is there a voice standing up and talking about the human (not national) jubilation they might all feel if they created a just labor system, if everyone was protected from exploitation, if they could all stand together and help these desperately poor people find a good life in their country without feeding into the employers’ greed. It’s such a frustrating example of people giving into their baser instincts.

And it’s counterproductive. Will this help? Will massive riots and instability help the economy that they all feel left out of to begin with? Most importantly, will the exploiters at the root of the resentment feel that they will be held accountable? Of course not. This is yet another one of the reasons nationalism is so scary. And i use it in the broad sense of the word – of the strong identification with a territory within a certain set of geographical boundaries.

Nationalism is catastrophically blinding. While they are “jubilantly” celebrating their nationalistically motivated actions, they are blind to the reasons why people come. They are blind to the even greater injustices being perpetrated on people beyond their borders. They are blind to the injustice and exploitation inherent within their own society. They are blinded, by an “us v. them” mentality, to the fact that there is only ever going to be “we”, because what happens to them (on the other side of their precious border) is going to affect us. After stewing on it for a while, I’m about ready to declare that I’m all for the dissolution of the nation-state, as I am for the disappearance of religion, if only because it would give people one less stupid excuse for ignorant violence.

Tear down the borders. Take off the blindfold.

(photo above from the Guardian)

Links on the situation, some quotes and some comments:

The Guardian has a good page with a bunch of resources and articles, including video here, and a little bit of a call for accountability for those truly responsible, and a recognition that this did not come out of nowhere;

For years now, violent protests against the government’s lack of service delivery have also been commonplace. One reason, for example, why President Thabo Mbeki was ousted as leader of the ruling African National Congress last December is because of deep-seated unhappiness with the government’s poor record of service delivery to the black majority.

From the Independent, as the death tolls rises to over 40:

Leonardo Boby, a senior Mozambican migration official, said 10,047 people had returned home in buses provided by the government. “The number is likely to increase in the next days as long as violence unfolds in South Africa,” he added.

This opinion piece starts off making it clear “When you need an explanation of xenophobic or tribal violence in Africa look to the money.” But this passage made me pause:

The plain fact is that post-apartheid South Africa faced a huge task building a new mass-based economy. Aids has made that more difficult. So has the high drop-out rate from black schools. But the final straw has been the huge burden of immigration. One in 10 of the population are now foreigners. (emphasis mine)

1 in 10 people in Spain, more or less, is also a foreigner. In Madrid, we’re 16%. The deciding factor is not immigration, it’s economics. One of the more illuminating and enraging chapters in Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine, explained in frighteningly clear detail the hijacking of the South African economy after the end of apartheid, basically, while no one was looking. But will anyone be going after the interests that created this socio-economic tinderbox? Of course not, they’ll just let people vent on the foreigners.

I particularly love this headline “African leaders express shock at South Africa violence”. Really? Did they really? Cuz I know barely anything about African politics and this doesn’t surprise me in the least. Is anyone paying attention?

In this article on AllAfrica.com, the author expresses a thought I come across alot in my readings. Explaining the resentment of South Africans towards employed foreigners who get jobs because they’ll do it for lesss, he is quick to take the moral high ground: “None of this justifies murder, but it does begin to explain it. ” But then he lets slip this popular gem:

Mbeki was incredibly foolish to assume that he could just let foreigners flood into the country and not expose them to a popular backlash.

Perhaps, but does this mean that we must keep poor, desperate people, many of whom are fleeing in the same way South Africans did – from brutal oppression  – and we must do it, for their own good – to save them from our own people, who don’t know any better that to lash out? It patronizing to say the very least.

And then he cites this incident:

Last week in Italy, other ordinary people threw Molotov cocktails into Gypsy camps and burned them down. Most of those people have jobs, live in comfortable surroundings, and eat quite well, and they still behaved badly. There are only about 150,000 Gypsies in Italy, half of whom have been there since the 15th Century. They are less than a-quarter of 1% of the population, and yet 68% of Italians want them all expelled.

What is this supposed to prove? Italians can be xenophobic racists so lets not let in immigrants because we shouldn’t expect better from anyone in South Africa? Nice.

There are a billion articles out there at the moment, I’ll keep linking to particular oes as I run across them

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