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THE PLAGUE: RACISM AND THE SWISS ELECTIONS

 

By Gilbert-Michel Rolle

NEW YORK, 18 OCTOBER 2007—When I was a history student at the University of Fribourg and was looking for a subject for my thesis, I said that I wanted to analyze the extent to which the Nazis had infiltrated Switzerland during the war years, between 1939 and 1945. I was not given a warm welcome. My advisor made it abundantly clear that the Bern archives of that period were not yet in the public domain and I would do better to choose another subject.

Since then others have been given access to these sulphurous documents. The fuss with respect to Jewish funds shed a rather bright light on this shadowy period, full of blood and gold, in which extreme right-wing organizations, still underground, stood ready to take over the country the day Hitler invaded Switzerland. But the Führer died in his bunker.

The rise of racism, which today pollutes Switzerland from Limmat to Lake Leman, is nonetheless worrisome. Brownish, nauseating pollution has infiltrated, drop by drop, the Swiss ground water. The moral health of the country and its international prestige are degraded a bit further after each election. If we can believe attentive observers, the decomposition of the body politic has already begun. The first brown spots seem to have developed on a number of isolated members of the police force, who, under cover of their uniform, were able to hide their sores and satisfy in total impunity their most sadistic instincts against the Other, the Stranger. Lacking a national doctor, they could count on the tacit support of a slack Center and an ever-more-vociferous Right. Soon the nation will add its barking to the herd of the xenophobe billionaire of dubious pedigree who will devour Mein Kampf before Switzerland is torn apart.

At that point, a hateful cough will afflict another segment of the population: among those of independent means, the retired and others who collect State pensions, some will be covered with pustules and begin to tremble with rage when they hear the word "stranger". What in fact is this worrisome shadow that sweeps the cramped streets of their little towns with their narrow sewers? The question was rapidly answered in their feverish brain. "The Other, the Stranger" – a new barbaric horde, come from elsewhere to abuse social benefits to which one is entitled. And entitlements are not to be shared ! 

And that is how the plague went through its most extensive mutation, political this time: deserting the Left that courageously fought for decades to put into place old age and invalid insurance from which they benefit today, many of those of independent means are running to the extreme right with the speed and fanaticism of panicked lemmings.

Don’t they realize that when the Swiss People's Party (SVP) is installed on the throne of racism and atavistic fears, they will attack the social benefits on which so many pensioners depend? The xenophobic plague in the brain of Dame Helvetia will then have triumphed. She will no longer need to seal her borders; old and disfigured, she will be of no interest to anyone!  

Swiss parliamentary elections: Sunday 21 October 2007.

Gilbert-Michel Rolle is a classical singer based in New York and is a citizen of Switzerland and the United States. Born in Fribourg, he was educated at a Jesuit institute and holds an undergraduate degree in Contemporary History and French literature from the University of Fribourg. He completed his graduate studies at the University of Paris (Sorbonne). Mr. Rolle's new CD is entitled "Musical Voyage". His web site is www.gilbertrolle.com

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