Stop the hate. We’re all human

Hate crime is inexcusable. It attacks an individual’s identity and can have an appalling and devastating impact on victims.

The issue is one that has always been close to my heart. My mother is from Poland and as a result I have in the past experienced racial discrimination due to my family’s overseas heritage.

Though my experiences of hate crime were rare and isolated I know for many other people this can be a very real and immediate concern, especially given the toxic post-Brexit atmosphere we now live in and an increase in Islamophobic incidents following the terrorist atrocities in Manchester and London.

Over the last six years we have witnessed a spike in extremism, including the murder of Jo Cox MP in 2016 and several disturbing incidents during the 2019 local and European election campaigns. 

That’s why Watford Liberal Democrats wanted to pass a new Council motion to mark National Hate Crime Awareness Week (12th – 19th October), demonstrating that people’s fears are taken seriously, and by listening and responding to our constituents concerns we as a council, and as individuals, can make a difference.

People have crossed borders and lived together for thousands of years. We’re all immigrants.

Everyone can integrate into a society if they’re able to respect the rule of law and the fundamental values of their new country.

Newcomers are integral to helping the economy grow and keeping our country moving. Many vital sectors such as the NHS, construction, social care, retail and hospitality would struggle to function without immigration.

In Britain our high regard for the rule of law, democracy, individual liberty, tolerance and mutual respect reflect the core values of our society, these values are part of the fabric of our national identity.

When I experienced xenophobia in my childhood, I knew that the discrimination I had experienced wasn’t reflective of the decency and tolerance of the overwhelming majority.

As a community when we come together on Remembrance Sunday, we take the time to remember everybody who fought in those wars, no matter how big or small a part they played. 

Hate crime is an insult to everything our veterans stood for, represented, and fought for.

Our wars have been fought and won battling the evils of fascism, totalitarianism and extremism by our British forces, not acting alone but with our allies.

Americans, Canadians, Poles, Australians, South Africans, Indians, Sikhs, Muslims, Jews, Christians, Atheists and many more faiths and nationalities from across the commonwealth and beyond joined forces with us to fight fascism in the twentieth century. 

They stood up for our shared values and risked their lives for our principles of tolerance and individual liberty. 

Our liberty allows multiple races and religious practices to co‐exist harmoniously, positioning us as an exemplar to the free and liberal world.

Let’s not lose sight of that and our hard-fought place in the world.

 

* Mark Hofman has been a Councillor on Watford Borough Council since 2012.

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