|Chief Minister, Terry Le Sueur, rightly denounced the racist abuse targetted towards|
Planning and Environment Minister, Freddy Cohen -
but where is the Discrimination Law that had been promised?
Racism is nothing new in society. What matters is the relationship between racist sentiment and the state.
When Mikhail Gorbachev heard that the Ukraine, a Soviet Republic was separating from the union to form an independent state, his skepticism was expressed with his remark that they would probably return to their old ways, best summed up under the slogan, “Death to the Jews and the Poles”.
To listen to the Chief Minister give a sanctimonious speech about racism in the States today, showed, once again, the gall of the Jersey political elite. One of his ministers, Senator Freddy Cohen, had received racist communications, including a death threat. Interestingly, BBC Radio Jersey journalist, in her report of the day in the States, could not bring herself to call the beast by it true name. Anti-Semitism is not in the vocabulary of our Liberal minded radio station.
When one of the Ministers is subject to anti-semitic abuse, the Chief Minister makes a statement, yet for years the racism experienced by Poles, Romanians and Portuguese, never gets a mention. Not that government is going to do anything about it – like introduce laws against discrimination or racist activity.
Racism is frequently encountered at all social levels in the island. It is of course something that those with right-wing opinion hold close, and not surprisingly it is very prevalent. It is the Poles and especially the Portuguese, who somehow rank lower in the racist hierarchy, that are singled out because they form significant minorities. In the nineteenth century it was the French immigrant workers that were the subject of racist abuse. The “Mafeking Riots” of 1900, led to violence in French Lane (Hilgrove Street), necessitating the use of troops from the garrison to maintain order, as a patriotic mob attacked persons and property.
Twice a year our rulers pay lip service to memory of the victims of militarism and fascism in the form of Holocaust Day and the Liberation Day remembrance for forced workers at Mount Bingham. Many wreaths are laid by Ministers and dignitaries but none speak about the need for legislation to protect human rights and protect citizens against discrimination based on race or colour.