Intolerance 2, Integration 0.

29 11 2010

Yesterday, the Swiss electorate voted in favor of another xenophobic, inward-looking, unbelievably intolerant referendum. The world champions of direct democracy approved a measure that now allows the government to automatically deport any foreigner who has come into any possible conflict with any law, regulation or statute. The final vote was 52.9 percent in favor, 47.1 percent against. The initiative was sponsored and supported by the Swiss Peoples’ Party – to be found on the political spectrum slightly to the right of Attila the Hun – and must now be anchored in the constitution.

So as a foreigner in Switzerland, that means if I get caught stealing a crouton from my salad before paying for it, or maybe for making noise after 10 p.m., or parking in a no-parking zone, I run the risk of being kicked out of the country.  This initiative applies to only non-Swiss criminals, or criminals with a foreign or immigration background, even if they have a Swiss passport. Swiss criminals are more equal than foreign criminals, you see, and they get to stay.

The growing animosity towards anything non-Swiss that dares to settle within its borders is rather disturbing. The “Yes” committee advertised with this poster:

Get the hell out of here if you don’t look like us.

So this to me says that anyone who is a not a white sheep will ostracized from society and don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out. This placard is only slightly more insulting than last year’s advertisement for the referendum banning the building of minarets. This was also approved, a year ago exactly, to the incredulity of the rest of the world. (FYI – there are exactly four minarets in the entire country. That’s about half of the number on the poster.)

Minarets are actually missiles – did you know that?

So where does this intolerance come from? An ignorant, closed, hillbilly perspective on the world. The arrogance of exclusivity and special-ness. The avid refusal to believe that those not born and raised in lily-white Switzerland are just not good enough.

And even though I wrote about all the things I love here in Switzerland a few weeks ago, I pretty much guarantee that this is the one issue that will make me leave this place someday.

The longer I live here, the less welcome I feel. Even though every month I pay a boatload of taxes and do more than my fair share to help keep the state pension system liquid. And that’s the irony of it: the Swiss know they need to import workers from abroad in order to keep the country running – they can’t educate enough doctors, tradesmen and other skilled workers to cover their own local needs. Without foreigners, Switzerland’s economy would come to a screeching halt. Its trash would lie on the street, its health system would collapse, its IT logistics would crash and its banks would go bust.

I honestly do not get the logic of yesterday’s referendum. Maybe one of my Swiss friends can explain it to me someday.

But after this vote I will once again advise my non-Swiss friends to avoid the place completely because you never know if you will run into an over-enthusiastic citizen policeman that just doesn’t like the way you dress. Before you know it, you could be on a plane back to wherever it is the authorities think you came from, even if the place is mired in war and violence, and you and your family will not be safe. Even if you never spent any significant time there and know not a soul.

With no chance of appeal.

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12 01 2011
My best friend: My gun « Evelynn Starr

[…] February 13th the Swiss voters – who are, as we know, professionals at direct democracy – will decide on an initiative that would ban all military weapons from private homes and […]

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