A rant against racism

Pam
Pam Frampton
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Pam Frampton

“Racism is a refuge for the ignorant. It seeks to divide and to destroy. It is the enemy of freedom, and deserves to be met head-on and stamped out.”

— Pierre Berton

 

I’ve always wondered what it is that makes some people feel so threatened by other cultures, other religions, other forms of sexual expression. Is it insecurity? Fear of the unknown? A mistrust of anything unfamiliar?

Whatever it is, there’s plenty of it here.

Whenever The Telegram — or any media outlet, for that matter — runs an article on someone with a unfamiliar name who has run afoul of the law, members of a certain faction raise their bitter heads and start howling.

Latest case in point: last week, a Supreme Court judge decided that evidence collected in a major ecstasy bust in St. John’s in 2009 could not be considered because the charter rights of the person it implicated had been violated by the police.

The story got posted on our website and the vitriol soon started rolling in. Fortunately, The Telegram’s online comments are moderated, and the ones dripping with the most hate don’t get to see the light of day.

“Send him back to wherever he came from” is a familiar refrain.

It would matter not a whit, of course, if the subject of the judge’s decision — Hassan Kamel Al-Ameri — had been born and raised in Bay Bulls.

No sir, he’ll never be from here with a name like that.

Now, Al-Ameri could be as guilty as sin in this case, or he could be as innocent as a babe in a cradle. All I know is — at least, the last time I checked — his rights were the same as yours or mine; no less.

If the police busted into your house without a warrant, you’d be shouting to high heaven about your rights being violated, too, whether you were ultimately guilty of drug trafficking or not.

And rightly so.

When evidence is seized, there’s proper procedure that must be followed, and that’s not what happened here.

It’s as simple as that.

And it shouldn’t matter if your name is Hassan Kamel Al-Ameri or Ray Newman.

And speaking of Ray Newman, there was plenty of outrage about that outcome, too. Where do the folks who felt like justice had not been done in that case suggest he be sent back to, I wonder?

The fact is, for some people, an exotic-sounding last name or a darker shade of skin is all it takes to get them foaming at the mouth about foreigners bringing their filthy behaviours and customs to our pristine shores.

This is unfathomable to me in the 21st century. Surely we have evolved since the days when Rosa Parks was sent to the back of the bus.

Driving and walking around St. John’s, I’m happy to see people of other cultures and colours, and to hear them speaking different languages and dressing according to their custom.

The addition of people of other cultures makes this city more interesting, sophisticated and colourful and a heck of a lot less bland.

Just as ethnic dishes add spice to the fare at the farmer’s market, so too does cultural diversity add another layer of depth to our culture. We shouldn’t feel threatened by it.

And just because someone from another country or of another ethnicity commits a crime, doesn’t mean we should tar their whole country and all their countrymen and women with the same judgmental brush.

The existence of a Nigerian letter scam does not make every Nigerian a scam artist.

Likewise, being from a country other than this one does not mean you are more likely to commit a crime.

That’s called racial profiling.

Do people sometimes come here from other countries or provinces and commit crimes? Of course they do, just as we’ve exported the odd criminal or two to different places.

The truth is, criminals come in all colours, shapes and sizes.

But in this province? The vast majority of the people doing the perp walk are white, English-speaking and made right here.

So you can park your racism at the door.

 

Pam Frampton is a columnist and

The Telegram’s associate managing editor. Email pframpton@thetelegram.com.

Twitter: pam_frampton

Organizations: Supreme Court

Geographic location: Bay Bulls.No

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  • Jacklyn Adams
    September 08, 2013 - 17:00

    Great article about Newfoundland xenophobes, Pam. Makes me sick actually that we have so many of them here. Remember the cross on the school incident, where people automatically assumed the complainer was some foreigner or a CFA? I also remember when weatherman Ryan Snodden, a CFA, got the job at Here and Now. Lots of Newfoundlanders threw a fit then, too, because he wasn't born here. Makes me sick. P.S. Pam, I love every single one of your articles. I look forward to your column every week! :)

  • Down Town
    September 08, 2013 - 00:11

    Great article Pam as always. Insightful and disturbing. Well sadly I do witness the "N" joke at certain venues or situations and what gets me about the NL'ers who tell racist jokes is they are the first to cry foul and scream and roar on call-in shows when they hear mainlander's say "Newfie" . PS Love the new website. What took so long guys? It's much faster now.

  • Tim
    September 07, 2013 - 19:47

    I agree, no place for racism in any society. However, your emotions are clouding your point of view: "I’ve always wondered what it is that makes some people feel so threatened by other cultures, other religions, other forms of sexual expression." Racism has absolutely nothing to do with one's religion or sexual "whatever". Racism has to do with race, pure and simple. Anytime this junk pops up it has to be challenged. Please do not lump an opinion on religion or sexual "whatever" inside the same argument on race. It waters down your argument. Racism really is an extreme prejudice or discrimination against another based on the race of the person. Pam, you also jump to conclusions, as opinions expressed do not necessarily equate to racism. I have an opinion and I am free to express it. Yours may differ from mine and I may utterly detest it. However, I will defend your right to express it, no matter how ugly I may consider it to be and vice versa should be the case. That's freedom and it should not be policed. Besides ,who cares what Pierre Berton has to say anyway? Cheers!