Sunday, June 5, 2011

I'm not racist, but...



It is obvious that racism is based on ignorance: only by fighting ignorance can we end up with racism. Recently, in Europe, blatantly racist parties are rampant thanks to the ignorance of their voters, who accept far from reasonable arguments. Their speech not only promotes hatred and exclusion, but it is based on false premises. In general, their speech reproduces false rumours, which are widespread because people just want to believe them, because it is easier to think that most of our problems are immigrants’ fault, so that by expelling immigrants from our country everything would be wonderful.
Hopefully, some people try to fight these false rumours to disarm racism. One of the most interesting projects in this sense is the Anti-Rumour Agency of the Town Council of Barcelona. Its web fights against the most widespread rumours about “the evils of immigration” by means of data and blatant arguments not based on moral questions but on evidences, to prove that our perceptions on immigration are often wrong, based on false premises.
Here you have some examples of rumours refuted in this web site:
"Immigrants are invading us"
"Immigrants take all social assistance programmes"
"Immigrants do not pay taxes"
"Immigrants abuse health services and obstruct emergency units"
"Immigrants have no restriction of opening times in their businesses"
"We are loosing our identity"
Besides all these arguments, this initiative also counts on free sessions to train “anti-rumour agents” (last March 2011, more than 250 people had already attended these training courses), a handbook to combat rumour and stereotypes and a didactic comic strip illustrated by Miguel Gallardo. 
Currently, in times of crisis, demagogic arguments against immigrants are not only heard from openly racist parties, but also from other parties which did not use to play so dirty. Just remember the arguments used by Jean-Marie Le Pen’s party Front National to become the third major political powers in France: there are two million unemployed people in France and two million immigrants, so let’s expel immigrants and we will all have a job post (literally: “two million unemployed, that is two million immigrants we don’t want”). Sadly enough, such arguments are more and more present in our media and in our coffee chats. Therefore, anti-rumour campaigns like this initiative in Barcelona are very positive to provide citizens with solid arguments against demagogy, and it is even more interesting because it comes from the public administrations themselves and not from NGOs and human right activists. Fighting racism is fighting for democracy and a harmonious coexistence and we all, especially our elected politicians, should play an active role in this enterprise.

Sources:

  1. The web page of the Anti-Rumour Agency is not translated into English yet, but we have been told that this translation is in process and it will be available soon. Therefore, on due time, we will update this link, but for the moment you can enter the Catalan site: www.bcnantirumors.cat
  2. Blog of the European Council about the Anti-rumour Network of Barcelona: http://www.interculturalcities.com/blog/16494/Barcelona_s_anti-rumour_strategy 
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