The UK is gearing up to host the Eurovision Song Contest on behalf of 2022 winner Ukraine. On 25 February, the UK announced that it will allocate 3,000 tickets to displaced Ukrainians, as well as ensuring that the event “truly showcases Ukrainian culture” with millions of pounds in funding.
Culture secretary Liz Frazer said:
Today’s announcement means that thousands of tickets will be offered to those displaced by war, so that they can take part in a show honouring their homeland, their culture and their music.
As always, we stand together with the Ukrainian people and their fight for freedom.
Hypocrisy and racism
The UK government is adept at gaslighting the British public. It tries to persuade us that it stands for “freedom” and supports those “displaced by war”. However, this is while the UK is instrumental in curtailing freedoms around the world and displacing millions through its support of multiple wars.
It suits the Tories to show their allegiance to those escaping Russia’s bombs. After all, it can then rally the British population to unite in hatred against a common enemy – Russia – which is always good for a government’s popularity which might otherwise be waning. It’s also very convenient that Russia’s victims are mostly white. After all, racist Britain won’t just open its doors to anyone. If you’re Black or brown, the government will leave you to die – either in our very own English Channel or in our detention centres. And if those things don’t kill you, you’ll be faced with racist attacks from white supremacists.
Of course, it isn’t just the UK that will be flying its racist flag on Eurovision night. In fact, other European nations – which are just as culpable – will be taking part in the entire, hypocritical charade.
Read on...Support us and go ad-free
Europe’s blood-stained policies
Europe has blood on its hands, whether at its land borders or its sea borders.
Let’s take the Poland-Belarus border, for example. Millions of Ukrainians have crossed the border into Poland. The EU has freely welcomed them into the Schengen area, as has the UK government into our country. Thousands of other refugees, from countries such as Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan and Iran, have also tried to cross the border to Poland. However, they have experienced the most appalling conditions, and Europe has treated them with contempt.
People hate these refugees so much that Poland even completed its own sinister border wall to keep them out. Security forces have raped, beaten, stolen from, extorted, and suffered inhuman treatment upon refugees on the Poland/Belarus border, while a number of them have died.
Now, let’s take Europe’s Mediterranean sea borders. Since 2014, more than 25,000 people have died after trying to reach Europe in dinghies unfit for the perilous journey. And what has the EU done? Pushed back refugees and actively strengthened laws to ensure that people drown.
And in the wake of the Turkey earthquake which killed thousands, Greece has fortified both its sea and land borders to prevent Turkish, Kurdish and Syrian refugees from crossing into Europe. Greece, too, has its own racist border wall to prevent people from seeking refuge, which it seeks to enlarge.
We’re to blame
Of course, it’s vital to remind ourselves just who is to blame for the largest ever worldwide displacement of people. No, it’s not just Russia. The UK was an instrumental force in the military coalition which wrecked Afghanistan. The Canary‘s Joe Glenton has previously reported on:
It was also our government that lied about so-called weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in order to begin an illegal war. Ex-prime minister Tony Blair should be tried for war crimes, yet he received a knighthood instead. He remains untouched and unaccountable for the untold number of Iraqi deaths he’s caused and the trauma and deaths of the British soldiers who were forced to fight.
Then there’s Yemen. The UK has been a crucial ally for the Saudi-led coalition in its annihilation of the country. The war has killed hundreds of thousands, while millions are suffering from extreme poverty, hunger and malnutrition. A United Nations (UN) 2021 report stated that 1.3 million people would die by 2030.
Meanwhile, British arms companies have made billions in profits as the government grants them export licences to sell arms to Saudi Arabia. The UK – and the private arms companies around the country creating the weapons – are complicit in every Yemeni death since.
Israel and Eurovision
Finally, let’s talk about the people of Palestine. Their lives have been torn apart by the UK’s staunch ally, Israel, since Zionist forces ethnically cleansed 750,000 Palestinians from their land in 1948. Eurovision fans across Europe showed either their apathy or their contempt for Palestinian lives when they voted for Israel to win the contest in 2018. Palestinians and their supporters called for an international boycott of Eurovision when Israel hosted it in 2019. However, Palestinian lives were not deemed worthy enough by white Europeans, of course.
Since 1973 – the year that Israel joined the contest – there has never been an all-out ban on the country participating. Not even after Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s assault on Gaza in 2008, in which it murdered around 1,400 Palestinians. And not after 2012’s Operation Pillar of Defense, which saw tens of thousands fleeing their homes. In fact, Israel hosted Eurovision 2019 at the same time as its depraved snipers were gunning down Palestinians who were protesting in the Great March of Return.
Once again, it’s British arms companies that are profiting from the never-ending cruelty that Israel inflicts on Palestinian people.
Time to self-reflect
So if, like me, you’re white, and you’re planning to enjoy Eurovision, please take some time to reflect on the possible racism inside of you. Why, as the British public, do we see nothing wrong with locking up Black and brown people, yet condone war when it displaces white people? Let’s ask ourselves: what is the difference between Ukrainian refugees and the people left to rot on the Poland-Belarus border, or in our own Manston detention centre? Why do we show our compassion for people fleeing from one country, yet show contempt for others? The answer is, of course, because of the skin colour and religion of those we’re choosing to either support or leave to die.
The Canary‘s Maryam Jameela previously summed up the mentality of people in Britain when she wrote:
It’s almost as though people in the UK don’t value and respect the lives of Black and brown people. They merely tolerate us. They don’t value us as human beings; they see us as cockroaches to keep out of the way. Ukrainian people are considered as a whole – their culture, their traditions, their communities. Black and brown people don’t get that luxury. This is because white people only consider fellow white people to have inalienable rights.
Of course, the Canary isn’t against the housing of Ukrainian refugees, nor are we against the celebration of Ukrainian culture. But these levels of hypocrisy among the British public can’t go on. If we stand with the Ukrainian people, then we need to stand with every single person who is displaced by war – no matter what their skin colour or religion.
Featured image via YouTubeSupport us and go ad-free
We know everyone is suffering under the Tories - but the Canary is a vital weapon in our fight back, and we need your support
The Canary Workers’ Co-op knows life is hard. The Tories are waging a class war against us we’re all having to fight. But like trade unions and community organising, truly independent working-class media is a vital weapon in our armoury.
The Canary doesn’t have the budget of the corporate media. In fact, our income is over 1,000 times less than the Guardian’s. What we do have is a radical agenda that disrupts power and amplifies marginalised communities. But we can only do this with our readers’ support.
So please, help us continue to spread messages of resistance and hope. Even the smallest donation would mean the world to us.