Friday, March 12, 2010

Racism: A Taboo in the U.S. and a Celebration in Europe

Racism is a social ill that dogs every country on the planet, although it is widely condemned. Many states have recognized the fact that racism is immoral and illegal. No doubt, many have ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) - a UN human rights instrument designed to eliminate racial discrimination and foster good race relations. As a matter of fact, as of today, 173 states have ratified this convention. It goes without saying that these states have the obligation to eliminate racism within their borders. European states are committed (at least on paper) to combat and eliminate racism (and other human rights violations), evidenced by their wide ratification of international human rights conventions such as the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which explicitly prohibit racism and racial discrimination. I'll save you the trouble of an international human rights law lecture, but the point is that despite Europe's firm commitment to protect human rights, racism - which is a taboo in the U.S. is a celebration in Europe. The following video elucidates this assertion.
I don't know about you, but the day I watched this video I was appalled by the level of impunity - no arrests, no charges filed, no apologies. The perpetrators are known, but they go Scot free. This is what happens in Europe, where as of today, 47 major states have ratified the ECHR - yet racism remains a celebration, within their borders.

No doubt, victims of racial abuse (soccer players, in this case) are devastated by outright racism from fans. Unfortunately what they get in the form of justice is rhetoric from the authorities on how to deal with racism in the future - by abandoning matches and stripping teams of 3 points. Is this what we now call justice? Would abandoning matches and stripping teams of 3 points deter racist fans? How many witnesses do you need in a stadium to prove racial abuse in a court of law?

Now, I want you to imagine a Super Bowl game in the U. S., where fans on the stands utter monkey chants and throw bananas to the pitch. What would be the outcome? Would the perpetrators be allowed to walk away? I bet the response would be different.

European states should fulfil their obligation under international law to guarantee the fundamental human rights of people within their borders, irrespective of ethnicity, color, race etc. Racism is immoral and illegal, hence should be treated as such.

Above all, Europe should learn from the "Free World" (United States) that racism is a taboo; not a celebration.

Don't you think?

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