Friday, November 26, 2010

The Black Sheep Return

Maybe you've noticed. Our friends, the black sheep, are back to being beat up on posters everywhere from the Zurich HB to your own backyard. The vote to deport foreign criminals is back on Nov 28.

Now. Let me get something straight. In principle, I have nothing against the idea that foreign criminals who commit certain kinds of crimes should be deported. Yes, they've broken the rules and why should Swiss people pay to lock them up?


What I have against the whole argument is the way the SVP party presents it. With propaganda. With fear. A fear so great that it makes even non-criminal foreigners like me feel dirty. And a fear that makes its own sweet citizens, my neighbor included, put double locks on their doors and install security systems. All of this in a country as beautiful and crime-free as Switzerland.

I also have a problem with the issue because it includes the word "foreigner". What defines a foreigner? If I have a child in Switzerland and they grow up here, are they a foreigner too? Just because they don't have a Swiss passport? It seems like the foreign criminal issue is just an another excuse to discriminate.

What do you think?

To read more, visit my piece on Fear in Switzerland, over on swissinfo.


Anonymous said...

Leave it to the Swiss to make racism cute and fluffy.
If they were to throw out the rich criminals now...

Chantal said...

The rich can be criminals?

Romy said...

@Hattie Xenophobia and racism are not the same thing. While I can see that the poster might be understood as kicking out the black sheep because it is black, it is actually primarily referring to criminal foreigners no matter what country they come from or what skin color they are. "Black sheep" is a commonly used idiom and usually has nothing to do with skin color at all. I'm not defending the SVP and their fear-mongering tactics but the issue and the ads should be properly understood and not just labeled with the blanket term "racism".

Chantal said...

I agree that black sheep is a commonly used idiom to refer to outsiders, but if you look at other SVP posters, like the minaret poster, like the poster with all the brown hands grabbing the Swiss passport, I think the whole racism issue does come up in the SVP campaign.

M'dame Jo said...

The SVP reduces ideas to their simplest expression so even the most stupid people feel like they understand politics and feel concerned. And it works.

In the French part if Switzerland, we have a counter campaign and I posted it here

On a side note (and not to defend this campaign at all): yes, Switzerland is safe and quiet, but not every place is as safe and quiet (dead?) as Baden. It has indeed changed over the last decade. Fights and stabbing have become an every post-drunk-clubbing weekend activity and drug trafficking is getting more visible each year. As a female, you could walk around alone at any time anywhere and no one would even bother you, and this has changed. But interestingly, it's not in these places that people vote SVP...

M'dame Jo said...

Hattie > I agree with you. It's xenophobia, not racism.

Diana said...

I agree with you Chantal on all your points, although I don't think you should feel targeted or "dirty". 80% of all convicts are male in Switzerland. Violent crime is on the rise and the Swiss don't like how their country is changing.

I must give the SVP campaign credit: it's shaking things up and getting people talking about a problem that is difficult to solve. The only way to deal with xenophobia is to discuss problems openly.

Chantal said...

Baden is definitely not "dead" or quiet but compared to many U.S. cities, it feels much safer. Yes, I see the police about twice a year in the main square breaking up a fight, but that's just that--twice a year. It's nothing. Unfortunately humans aren't perfect. Fact of life.

I can't give the SVP any credit until they can discuss an issue without using fear as their main motivator.

M'dame Jo said...

Well, twice a year is nearly zero... There will always be drunks that have some kind of disagreement and will end up fighting. It's not "insecurity." What I meant is that I would definitely walk around anywhere at any time, day or night, in Baden and feel 200% safe. No anymore in Geneva or Lausanne... Baden is so clean and quiet and nice and cute and polite, it's almost scary :)

But about what I was saying: If you look at yesterday results: Basel and Geneva, which are the two main "border cities", that is typically with higher rate of foreigners and (some more) criminality resulting from being border cities (especially drug related), voted against the SVP project. I mean, the safer, the whiter, the swisser places have the higher rates of SVP voters.

If it's not xenophobia - fear of the unknown - I don't get it.

Chantal said...

Yes, I find it very interesting that the places with the least amount of crime are the ones most afraid of it.

And the whole French/German speaking divide too. Any explanation for that? Why do the French speakers always seem more liberal?

Anonymous said...

A black sheep is a family member. Obviously the poster is not trying to convey that meaning.
So it's not such a clever poster, is it.
When I lived there I would get this: Oh, when I talk about foreigners, I don't mean you. It's those (at that time) Italians. The Italians were scapegoated for everything that went wrong in our neighborhood.
If you think Baden's dead, try Wettingen, where I lived for a couple of years. Luckily, the wonderful transportation system makes things there easily escapable now.
Ah, Zurich.

Anonymous said...

I'm new here, I live Germany in the border line. I don't feel any special discrimination around here. There is a discussion to make about criminality of course. But this poster is a little scary. The simple straight information you can read is kick out the dark thing out of the country. I guess it's not incidental to use a childish visual language to spread such an idea. This is a serious subject not to be hidden behind a nice cartoon.

M'dame Jo said...

Why do the French speakers always seem more liberal?

I don't know. Maybe we're just happier because we don't live surrounded by swiss germans?

Bitchiness aside, frankly, I'm not sure why. Maybe a more social view of things coming from the influence of France?

M'dame Jo said...

Sorry, the link was too long

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