The not guilty verdict in the trial of Mark Collett - the BNP ( British Nationalist Party )’s head of publicity – , like the debate over Councillor Bland’s poem vilifying immigrants, shows the confusion between racism and prejudice against immigrants.
While racism is condemned by everyone prejudice against immigrants is wrongly seen by some people as somehow respectable.
Collett had called asylum seekers ‘cockroaches’ – the same insult used by Hutu extremists to whip up the hatred against Tutsis which led to the 1994 genocide – and gone on to say that we should ‘show the ethnics the door’.
The latter was part of the attack on ‘multi-culturalism’. The critics of multiculturalism effectively demand that we all conform, all become identical and all have only one identity – national – and one single loyalty – to the state. This is a recipe for the end of any meaningful democracy. There can’t be democracy if there’s no debate allowed and no civil society, no membership of overlapping groups with different beliefs beyond the state.
Multiculturalism is part of a free society. Prejudice against immigrants is often a cover for racism and even when it’s not it’s no better than racism.
Yes Muslim demonstrator Abdul Rahman was wrong and inciting violence when he called for those who insulted Islam to be beheaded. He however, unlike Collett or BNP leader Nick Griffin, was jailed for doing so and said he regretted and apologised for his actions. Collett and Griffin walked free and far from apologising for or regretting their actions went on to add the BBC to their list of humans to be seen as no more than ‘cockroaches’. (Maybe we should feel sorry for him? - after all he only seems to know one insult)
Perhaps amending the law to include inciting hatred against immigrants as an offence would prevent the same happening in future? Or maybe the best thing to do is just condemn those who are prejudiced against all immigrants or asylum seekers for their bigotry the same way we condemned racism until it’s no longer acceptable?