Fear and Loating in Cottenham
A Letter to the Cambridge Evening News in response to an article printed reproduced here, 7.9.05

Dear Sir,

I was appalled when I saw the headline on the front page of today's Evening News, "Gypsies Go Back To School, and In A Taxi". This turned to horror when I read the text of the story. The Evening News is meant to be a local paper carrying reports of what happens in our area, not tabloid style sensationalism with little concern either for the facts (even the name of the school involved was wrong!) or the consequences of its actions.

All children, regardless of their background and social position, are entitled to an education free from prejudice, fear or stigma. To access this, many do have to have special provision made for them, such as ramps for disabled kids, learning assistants for those with special needs and extra activities for those with special gifts and talents. Some children, by no means all of them travellers, also need taxis to take them to school, and they are entitled to this regardless of their life style or whether there "are expensive cars and four-by-fours" parked near where they live. Is the Evening News going to follow all the taxis that take children to school and declare them a waste of money, or is your ire reserved for one section of the community?

The results of such careless, lazy reporting are simple to anticipate. Not only do these easily identifiable children risk being singled out at school by classmates and their parents, but more sinister forces will also seek to use such articles. As you have reported in your pages, the National Front and The British National Party are trying to establish themselves in our area, relying largely on fears about travellers and asylum seekers. Your frequent stories scapegoating these communities are helping to create the climate in which these neo-Nazi groups can grow and spread their race hatred, and still you seem happy to print their press releases and to carry their bigotry on your message boards.

Perhaps you feel that in so doing you are upholding the torch of free speech, but you should remember what happened to the free press under their idol Adolf Hitler; it was he who said "Propaganda must not serve the truth, especially not insofar as it might bring out something favourable for the opponents."

Richard Rose
Coordinator Cambridge Unite Against Fascism c/o PO Box 438, Cambridge, CB4 1FX

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