Beginning in Poland on November 23rd 1939, Nazi occupiers forced Jewish citizens to wear distinctive yellow stars on their clothing. The purpose of the ‘badge of shame’ as it was known was to ensure quick and easy identification of Jews at all times. It was, as security chief for France and Belgium, Helmut Knochen later stated “another step on the road to the final solution”. That final solution ultimately brought about the murderous slaughter of 6 million Jews throughout occupied Europe.
It seems unthinkable that such a policy could be repeated anywhere in Europe today. The very idea of forcing people to wear symbols that mark them out seems totally alien in our post WW2 world. And yet…
Earlier this week we were treated to what appears to be a non-story about red doors in Middlesbrough. The original claim by The Times was that red front doors were being used as a sort of ‘coded signal’ to isolate and publicise the whereabouts of refugees so that far right thugs could target them more easily. It didn’t take long for the Home Office to comment and soon the whole thing was the hot topic of the hour.
EBF didn’t say much about it at the time because there was nothing in the reports to tell us how many non-immigrant houses also had red doors. That lack of detail made us suspicious and so we waited to see how the story would develop. Unlike Britain First we actually prefer to report on true situations rather than made up ones. As it stands, one week on it’s still not clear but there is a strong argument that no such discrimination has occurred. We’ll wait and see. It might be true, it might be false.
Whatever the truth about the red doors scandal though there is another story that has much more of a ring of truth to it. That’s not unusual. One media story, whether accurate or not, can prompt people to go to the press with similair tales that really are accurate. This seems to be the case with the second ‘yellow star’ story of the week.
OK, it’s not actually a yellow star – it’s a brightly coloured wristband but the point is the same. According to The Guardian, refugees and Asylum seekers in Cardiff are being forced to wear distinctive wrist bands that identify them to the public. The wrist bands, once removed cannot be replaced and without them the refugees don’t get to eat. That looks pretty coercive to us.
It’s also a lot more plausible, not least because the company in charge of the situation, Clearsprings ready homes, a contractor for the Home Office has admitted to the practice and tried to rationalise it. The original ‘red door’ story was denied – this one wasn’t.
The rationalisation for this practice, so reminiscent of yellow stars in singling out a particular demographic is to do with administration of food. But there must be less discriminatory ways. We’ve been doing the same thing in schools with tickets and other tokens for decades. It’s not hard. Britain’s hostels and food banks seem able to manage to identify and feed people without making them wear badges or wristbands and we’re sure that other methods wouldn’t be entirely beyond the company with the Home Office contract for accommodating refugees and asylum seekers. So what gives?
Two Home Office contractors are accused of divisive discrimination in the same week. One admits it, the other may or may not be guilty. We have to wonder what is going on in Whitehall when taxpayers’ money is used in such a discriminatory way by people employed by the state and presumably then bound by European human rights laws to avoid discrimination.
We look forward to hearing how this matter has been rectified very soon. This isn’t 1939 and we’re not living in a Nazi state – at least not yet!