RATs – Racists Against Tots
While the racists spent the day after the attacks presumably sleeping off their hangovers Belfast was mobilising to bring relief to the suffering. While the PSNI, like the racists, seemed to be sleeping off whatever they had the night before, successful European candidate Joe Higgins saw his party in Belfast take the lead as it immediately organised defence for the victims. Paddy Meehan, one of its activists, has been warned by the PSNI of a death threat because of his role in defending Romanians against racism.
There appears to have been some UDA involvement whether approved or not despite assurances by Frankie Gallagher of the Ulster Political Research Group, definitely not a racist, that this was not so. Gallagher was far from persuasive when he made the case that the UDA were not blameworthy. When asked should the loyalist militia condemn the attack he sought refuge in peace processery, claiming that when military style organisations were being urged to go out of existence it was a backward step to be asking for the same organisations to be making statements of any kind. Whatever logic there is in that it seems more an excuse than a reason.
The UDA has a long history of involvement in hate crime, albeit a history which some of its members have refrained from participating in. Catholics were often targeted for no reason apart from their perceived religious allegiance. And the organisation in its Johnny days openly flouted its racism. It is hardly surprising that Frankie Gallagher and his colleagues are having problems confronting a racist mentality in the UDA. But the response, focused as it is on the need for more funding, is so typical of the UDA begging bowl mentality – dole out money and we will insist on our membership doing what it is doing now, whether it be killing Catholics or expelling Romanians. The UDA may have decommissioned some of its weaponry at the start of the week but it needs to decommission the racist mindset that grips many within it ranks.
One of the most appalling aspects of the attacks was that a baby of 5 days was among those targeted. I have known Romanian kids from birth. They have been in my home and I in theirs. They are no different from any other child in their vulnerability and need for human love and protection. That the pernicious viciousness of racist violence should visit them at so tender an age is loathsome. All the rubbish about begging in the streets and ‘stealing our jobs and houses’ is brought into sharp focus for the trash that it is when the situation of this tot is considered.
The incidents have also demonstrated the futility of censorship. Listening to a BBC Radio Ulster broadcast featuring those who were vehemently critical of the people under attack rather than the attackers, I felt a great opportunity was lost when they were silenced and told to clear off by the presenter. Here were bigots every bit as dunderheaded as those white South African farmers from the apartheid era who argued that black people lived in hovels because their brains could not understand other shapes. And their stupidity was pushed to the side where it was no longer exposed to us. They should feature on every chat show available and their bigoted moronic stupidity laid bare so that everyone can see the level of intellect that drives the violence against Romanians.
The Romanians have a right to return to their homes. The racists have a right to be nowhere but jail.