THE BLOG

Now More Than Ever We Must Call Out The Poisonous Rhetoric We Saw In The Sun

16/08/2017 13:02 BST | Updated 16/08/2017 13:02 BST
Toby Melville / Reuters

Just two months ago, on a delightfully warm summer's evening, I stood in Batley Market Square with friends old and new.

We were people of all faiths and none; of Irish, English, Pakistani, Indian, Kashmiri and a patchwork of other heritages. We shared laughter, pakoras, and stories about our lives and community. I felt happy, hopeful, and at home.

It was the Great Big Iftah, one of hundreds of events in Batley and Spen, and thousands of events across the country, to mark the Great Get Together; a celebration of Jo Cox's life and her assertion that we have more in common than that which divides us.

Those events, and my community's determination to celebrate everything that makes us who we are, is what gives me hope for the future.

We need to hold onto that hope. Now more than ever, we must continue to celebrate our diversity, never shying away from calling out discrimination wherever we find it. That's why I put my name to my colleague Naz Shah's recent letter to Tony Gallagher, calling out The Sun for publishing an article which referenced a "Muslim Problem". It's an unacceptable phrase that harks back to the "Jewish Problem" of the early 20th Century, to which the Nazis responded with the "Final Solution", the most shameful moment in human history. On a recent visit to Auschwitz Birkenau, I was struck by a renewed determination to ensure that such a horror will never happen again.

Sadly, this isn't the first poisonous and discriminatory article published by the tabloid newspaper in recent months, and nor is this rhetoric isolated to The Sun. In fact, this language is just the latest in a rise in intolerance, racism, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. Across the Atlantic, white supremacists have taken to the streets in Charlottesville, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring many more. Appallingly, the President of the United States has failed to condemn them, defending his claim that "I think there is blame on both sides". Frustratingly, our Prime Minister's response to Trump's unacceptable comment is that "what the President says is a matter for him".

This rise in hatred is shameful. We are better than this.

When this tide of poison spreads across our communities, it could be easy to despair, to lose hope. However, in times like these, we should take strength in the knowledge that intolerance can never win. Barack Obama took to Twitter to respond perfectly to the violence in Charlottesville, by quoting Nelson Mandela. He said: "No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite".

That's why it is incumbent upon us all to respond to this rise in hatred with a renewed, determined, unstoppable love.

We must respond to hatred, by setting out why it's wrong. We must continue to nurture the love that our children are born to feel, and teach them that we become stronger when we embrace diversity.

Finally, we must continue to live life in the spirit of the Great Get Together, reaching out to, and celebrating with people of different faiths, races and backgrounds. We can fight hatred with friendship, we can counter discrimination with solidarity, and we will succeed.

After all, a community full of love and diversity will always be happier and stronger than one full of hate.

Tracy Brabin is the Labour MP for Batley and Spen