While the events of Charlottesville, may seem so distant from us here in South Yorkshire, we for a number of years have been sadly familiar with the faces, sentiments and the intent of hate presenting itself in our region.
We have been blessed that we have had people and anti-racist groups, willing to come together to stand up against it.
This is alongside the oversight of equalities and human rights and strong and effective policing, that combined, ensured that racism and other forms of discrimination, during those times of duress, were kept in check.
They were making sure that haters did not have the chance to mow down peaceful community members, who were out on their own streets, rightfully challenging the hatred that was brought to their neighbourhoods and communities by the far right.
The purposeful action of inflaming hatred and causing division, as we saw and as the USA have been experiencing can and does at times lie in the hands of those vested with the task of ‘representing all the people’ despite public figures (some politicians) holding duties of maintaining safety, harmony and security.
We will all recall how our region debated political breaches and failings in this regard after local and regional racist killings, including the tragic far right-influenced murder of Jo Cox.
We for a number of years have been sadly familiar with the faces, sentiments and the intent of hate presenting itself in our region. We have been blessed that we have had people and anti-racist groups, willing to come together to stand up against it
But following on this swiftly, we saw heightened hate, with the build-up and aftermath of Brexit with the rhetoric of ‘anti-immigrant/anti -foreigner again taking hold.
Our area, over centuries has seen this pattern repeated. A distant albeit notable example being when we had a straggle of poor Irish people arrive from boats landing in Liverpool.
Arriving not from the island of Ireland but from the USA, where in excess of 50,000 had been forcibly deported by an extreme government who were heavily influenced by the Know-Nothings, a powerful ‘alt-right’ – KKK-like Protestant group, who systemically persecuted and attacked Irish Catholics who had taken asylum and refuge in the USA during the last Irish Famine.
The Irish rounded up even included Irish-Americans who had been born and bred in the USA of over 40 years standing.
Some, in minority numbers ended up welcomed into South Yorkshire, their ancestors are still part of our South Yorkshire family, and we commemorate this sanctuary anniversary this month in the Irish community
Just like in the USA, today, good people spoke out. The Boston Pilot said: ‘How much more will the law be abused under this vile tyranny, which decrees that poverty, Irishism and Catholicity are crimes and to be punished as such.”
This region too, spoke up against the racism and classism at the time and like then, our region can pride itself on standing against hatred, injustice and can speak truth to power.
We note in our region that Theresa May and her previously silent colleagues have of late been on record condemning far-right views and behaviours.
Ms May said: “I see no equivalence between those who propound fascist views and those who oppose them.”
Yet,the line of authorities for much of the time was to assert, they-the far right and anti-fascist/anti-racist people and groups were like for like.
You cannot equate those who stand against fascism and against racism, with those who espouse hate, including the worse type of hate – Nazi venom and ideology. Hate is not welcome here nor anywhere else on our shared earth.