Some the links in this post may only be available if you live in certain parts of the world I’m afraid, due to the wishes of the content owner. Firstly this 5 minute recording of a conversation on the BBC Listening project, a brilliant collection of recorded conversations between different people which is really worth exploring. This one between Ray and Tom touched me deeply. Ray was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in his 30’s, he had been working as a Probation officer and had to retire. He describes how he feels when people react to the time it takes him to get money out to pay at the supermarket till, his sense of self has been changed as he is no longer the quick thinking, “on top of everything” boss he used to be. Ray says:
“We’re all strong sometimes and we all weak sometimes…if civilisation means anything at all, it is the strong looking after the weak…it’s just what civilised people should do”
This struck a chord particularly as I have recently visited Auschwitz with my husband and eldest son. Here’s an image from that visit.
I am sorry this is such a distressing image. The Nazis clearly believed that the disabled were a group of people who were not worthy of life. They felt that way in fact about many people who were not in their image – white, physically fit, male, young…
At the death camps of the Second world war they tried to rid the world of all those who did not fit their criteria for life. They killed at an industrial scale. The museum is there to make sure we never forget that such things were allowed to happen in “civilised” Europe.
The current Windrush scandal in the UK results from the exposure of UK government position on immigration and the policy of creating a “hostile environment” towards those living in the UK who may have originally come from abroad. Of course, accidents of birth as responsible for any of us being raised in any country but this is not an easy understanding for Tories to grasp it seems. A political agenda which enshrines hatred or fear of “the other” whoever that may be is unacceptable to me and I hope to any civilised person. Removing the rights of a group of individuals in order to favour another group is simply not something we should tolerate. As we visited the Nazi death camp we learned that the SS insisted on maintaining order at all times, panic was to be prevented as this would risk disrupting their control of the camp. They succeeded because the penalties for questioning their authority were immediate and draconian, terrorising the individuals into submission. This prevented solidarity between interns and kept the abusers in a position of power.
Such things are not possible if we recognise and act in solidarity against them as socially unacceptable. Action is the only response required. Are we prepared to stand up for what is right, fair and just whenever we see abuse of power?