Fear and Loating in Cottenham
A Letter to the Cambridge Evening News in response to an article
printed reproduced here,
I was appalled when I saw the headline on the front page of today's
Evening News, "Gypsies Go Back To School, and In A Taxi".
This turned to horror when I read the text of the story. The Evening
News is meant to be a local paper carrying reports of what happens in
our area, not tabloid style sensationalism with little concern either
for the facts (even the name of the school involved was wrong!) or the
consequences of its actions.
All children, regardless of their background and social position, are
entitled to an education free from prejudice, fear or stigma. To access
this, many do have to have special provision made for them, such as
ramps for disabled kids, learning assistants for those with special
needs and extra activities for those with special gifts and talents.
Some children, by no means all of them travellers, also need taxis to
take them to school, and they are entitled to this regardless of their
life style or whether there "are expensive cars and four-by-fours"
parked near where they live. Is the Evening News going to follow all
the taxis that take children to school and declare them a waste of money,
or is your ire reserved for one section of the community?
The results of such careless, lazy reporting are simple to anticipate.
Not only do these easily identifiable children risk being singled out
at school by classmates and their parents, but more sinister forces
will also seek to use such articles. As you have reported in your pages,
the National Front and The British National Party are trying to establish
themselves in our area, relying largely on fears about travellers and
asylum seekers. Your frequent stories scapegoating these communities
are helping to create the climate in which these neo-Nazi groups can
grow and spread their race hatred, and still you seem happy to print
their press releases and to carry their bigotry on your message boards.
Perhaps you feel that in so doing you are upholding the torch of free
speech, but you should remember what happened to the free press under
their idol Adolf Hitler; it was he who said "Propaganda must not
serve the truth, especially not insofar as it might bring out something
favourable for the opponents."
Coordinator Cambridge Unite Against Fascism c/o PO Box 438, Cambridge,
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