Not worthy of Bermuda

  • Anti-Filipino graffiti on the Railway Trail in Paget.

    Anti-Filipino graffiti on the Railway Trail in Paget.

It is perhaps inevitable during an economic downturn that there will be resentment towards immigrants. They are perceived as taking jobs away from citizens, or in some countries, seen as taking benefits. This resentment is especially fuelled when the immigrant looks different from most citizens.

Thus, in many European countries, there is anger and resentment directed towards immigrants of Asian or African descent. In East Africa, citizens directed their anger towards European immigrants and particularly towards Asians, most notoriously in Uganda in the 1970s. In the United States, anti-immigrant sentiment is most pronounced towards Hispanics.

And now in Bermuda, we are seeing resentments towards Filipinos and other Asians. Why should this be? While the resentment and insecurity is real, it is directed towards other races because they stand out and are easy to identify.

And it reflects humans? basic instincts as well. People seem drawn to others who look like them, and to some degree, share similar cultural references. People who look different and have different cultures and traditions are seen as being threatening.

The fact that these tendencies are commonplace, however, does not make them right. If we have learned anything in the last 100 years, it is to value people, as Dr Martin Luther King said, for the content of their character, not the colour of their skin.

There?s a thin line between resentment fuelled by financial insecurity and outright racism. Bermuda, more than most countries, should recognise this and beware of it.

And Bermuda, more than most countries, has always used expatriates as something of a release in economic downtimes. As jobs have shrunk, non-Bermudians have left, thus softening the blow for Bermudians. But that does not mean that no Bermudian will be affected, nor that all non-Bermudians, regardless of their nationality, will leave. It is not that simple.

What is simple, however, is the fact that the anti-Filipino graffiti that has cropped up around the Island in recent weeks is reprehensible. Bermudians invited Filipinos to work in Bermuda, often to do jobs that Bermudians would not do, or were not available to do.

Filipinos and all other expatriates deserve to be treated with respect, simply because they are human beings and because Bermudians, by and large, asked them to come to Bermuda. The world is too small for any of us to treat others with this kind of hatred and disrespect.

MP Dale Butler was right to condemn it. This kind of behaviour has no place in this society. It is unworthy of Bermuda.

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Published Jul 21, 2011 at 9:00 am (Updated Jul 21, 2011 at 9:53 am)

Not worthy of Bermuda

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