Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Switzerland's Black Sheep Ad Campaign

Switzerland has finally rejected a series of ads that could only be defined as xenophobic. Photos of the ads and analysis by Joël Vacheron can be found on The Root, including this summary:

The latest ad campaign features black and brown hands grabbing at Swiss passports with the catch phrase "STOP." The SVP/UDC implies that obtaining citizenship is still too easy and permissive for certain ethnic groups. During the campaign, the SVP/UDC supporters claimed that discrimination was not a problem as long as Swiss citizens have the last say about naturalization. Sadly this rhetoric becomes a simple game on the party's Web site where one can play the goat, emblem of the SVP/UDC, and kick the maximum number of black sheep out of the borders to win.

Voters, however, had other ideas. Last Sunday, they rejected this initiative with 64 percent of the vote sending the message that they want the game to be over. Hopefully, this other slap in the face will show Blocher and his disciples that their foolish propaganda has reached its limit. The Swiss voters showed that they want to bring the shameful xenophobic climate to an end.
It seems that while America is known to have a race problem, Western Europe is far from perfect (anyone remember the Muhammad cartoons in the Netherlands?) when it comes to race. It's just that the race narrative in Western Europe isn't such an obvious one. While they don't have quite the same record with civil rights and slavery as in America, they still struggle with xenophobic tendencies when it comes to immigration. I guess it's a battle that's getting fought on both sides of the pond.

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