We live in uncertain times.
There’s been widespread coverage of a rise in race-related attacks since last week’s EU referendum result was announced, writes John Baron.
Earlier today The Dispatch reported the disturbing incident where a Polish shopkeeper in Bramley Shopping Centre was hospitalised after being abused in what police are treating as a race hate crime.
Hearing about such an incident in our own neighbourhoods is obviously shocking.
But out of that dark act (and let’s hope the police soon catch up with the perpetrator) came a ray of light on the unlikely platform of social media.
Facebook and Twitter rightly get some stick as a haven for some dubious cvharacters, but what we saw today showed the truth:
That the VAST MAJORITY of people are appalled by these sort of acts – and were quick to condemn them. The real spirit of Bramley and West Leeds shone out today in outrage and condemnation. They rallied around the shopkeeper and his family.
Here are just three of the hundreds of warm and sympathetic comments taken from horrified Bramley residents posting on the Memories of Bramnley Facebook page this afternoon:
“Completely and utterly unacceptable that any human being should be treated this way! Even if the culprits are caught, what’s the worst they will get? Probably just a caution! Makes my blood boil and makes me feel shame for the place I love!”
“I am absolutely appalled to read this, I voted out but it wasn’t to be racial or have hatred against any one, why have so many people got so much hatred in them, we are after all HUMAN, all enter and leave this world, no one is better or above anyone we are all a skeleton with skin NO MATTER what our colour or nationality is..!!”
“Glad to hear the man is ok – ashamed of the small minded fools who are using the EU referendum result as a green light for racism and xenophobia across the country…”
Well wishers have inundated the shopkeeper’s family with cards and messages of support.
The reaction on Twitter has been similarly one of support.
@WLDispatch I've posted a message on their Facebook wall offering free massage treatment to shopkeeper. Love over hate.
— EborSulis (@EborSulis) 28 June 2016
Hate-related incidents have no place in civilised society. But it’s worth stressing they ARE carried out by a mindless minority.
Very concerned to hear about this within the local community. All best wishes and support to the shopkeeper. https://t.co/QsJCI5nhyL
— BEA (@BramleyElderly) June 28, 2016
Someone tweeted today that the racists ‘were winning’.
Racists are winning https://t.co/BCxfbjTREE
— Left Outside (@leftoutside) 28 June 2016
I don’t think that they are. Certainly not as long as people react the way they did today.
“All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing”, said Irish political philosopher Edmund Burke.
Despite the uncertainty in the country, with politicians tearing their parties to pieces rather than focussing on the matter at hand, it’s clear there are still a lot of good men and women out there. People like you and I making a difference. And that means there’s hope.
I’ll leave you with this image. It’s of a memorial to seven brave Polish airmen who lost their lives in when their plane crashed in 1943. It’s just a couple of miles away from Bramley, further up the Leeds Liverpool Canal.
— Andrew (@Barking_Madness) 28 June 2016
Hope, not hate …