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  #41  
Old 07.07.2006, 14:36
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Re: Are the swiss racist?

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All this is inacceptable. Sure. But this takes it to a different level. For someone in an unemployment office who should be aware of equal opportunity laws (they do exist don't they?) - they should respect these laws and treat everyone equally. They should be professional about this.
Well that's interesting. As far as I am aware it is not legal to advertise a position for male or female, but a scan of the job ads will show you that nobody is paying attention to that. In fact - as Lynn said before when she spoke with the RAV to create the position they wanted to know if she wanted male or female, young or old.

I see a number of approaches:

1. Say something to the media. Nobody will care or listen.
2. Raise hell with the director of the RAV, demand to know their equal employment policies - for their own staff and for the positions they place. This will probably also be ignored.
3. Complain to someone in the Cantonal government and have a question raised in question time. Except there probably isn't a question time, there's just smoking time (they smoke in the government chamber).
4. Take it to the federal level and report it. Since the gemeinde and canton are king in this country this probably won't go anywhere, but they are far more progressive at the federal level, and at least someone will listen.

As far as institutions go there is a federal office called "The office for the equality of men and women". Just the name of the department goes to show that the Swiss view of discrimination is already very narrow.
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Old 07.07.2006, 14:46
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Re: Are the swiss racist?

Hmmm.. but do we know for a fact what the law is on racial discrimination?

Lynn - could I just ask, what was your reponse to the lady?

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Old 07.07.2006, 15:15
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Re: Are the swiss racist?

The article that was posted from Swissinfo says:

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"The absence of national legislation against racism and discrimination is another indicator, leaving victims with no means of complaint or redress," he told swissinfo.
Doesn't this give you the answer, plus indicate that yes, at a government level there is an absence of will to address this problem, or even recognize its existence? I cannot yet say whether the Swiss as a people are more racist than others as I have not yet met enough. I only know that the first Swiss person I met said to me:

"It is too damn easy to get a Swiss passport these days. And you know, all these so called war refugees, well they are just inventing their war stories, no doubt about it."

This was an older person, but what was equally shocking is this person works for an expat company, and is supposed to help foreigners integrate.

I agree with an earlier poster who said that if the Swiss are not more racist than others, they at least seem unashamed of talking about it.
I find this attitute unbelievable. And to the person who said their balkan friends are hung up on, that says it all to me really.
  #44  
Old 07.07.2006, 15:22
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Re: Are the swiss racist?

Well, after I managed to get over the initial shock, I told here I was speechless and disgusted and asked her as to why she felt she had to draw attention to the fact. Her response was to say that many companies feel uncomfortable having a black person standing in front of their clients. Talk about from bad to worse. I simply told her that I was going to persue this blatant racism and wanted the applicant to send her file to me I would be more than happy to interview her.

I spoke to a friend of mine today (who is black and grew up in CH) and she said that she never had any problems but then she never had a job facing clients before and was always in the back office. For some reason she didn't seem fased nor aware of the discrimination...
  #45  
Old 07.07.2006, 15:28
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Re: Are the swiss racist?

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I spoke to a friend of mine today (who is black and grew up in CH) and she said that she never had any problems but then she never had a job facing clients before and was always in the back office. For some reason she didn't seem fased nor aware of the discrimination...
Exactly, the applicant for the job would never have been made aware that this was "policy" so they may always just assume that there is no problem. Lynn ask your friend if she's been stopped on the border very often. That's something else that makes me hopping mad.
  #46  
Old 07.07.2006, 15:36
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Re: Are the swiss racist?

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"It is too damn easy to get a Swiss passport these days. And you know, all these so called war refugees, well they are just inventing their war stories, no doubt about it."

This was an older person, but what was equally shocking is this person works for an expat company, and is supposed to help foreigners integrate.
Yes there seems to be a common misconception that refugees are all liars. Unfortunately this is not just a Swiss attitude, I've heard it spouted by many expats, mostly coming from the same country (i'm not going to name it). The reality is that refugees are often fleeing for their life and they have a hell of a time. Most of the people who claim it is all made up have probably never met a refugee in their life, and have not informed themselves about what it is like.

What is worse is that Blocher is pointing to his new laws and then to the drop in refuguees - his point: "See everyone, my new laws are working, we had less applicants". Gee - very convenient to ignore the fact that there are less conflicts in the region, therefore there are less applicants. Many refugees want to return to their home countries, but can't as they will be killed. I must say if I were in a similiar situation I'd probably flee my homeland too, and I wouldn't have time to collect my passport as I did so (if the government hadn't already take it away or destroyed it).

But you are right - in many countries people would be ashamed to say such rubbish, unfortunately CH is not the only place in Europe I've heard such things openly - even from young people.
  #47  
Old 07.07.2006, 16:35
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Re: Are the swiss racist?

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Yes there seems to be a common misconception that refugees are all liars. Unfortunately this is not just a Swiss attitude, I've heard it spouted by many expats, mostly coming from the same country (i'm not going to name it). The reality is that refugees are often fleeing for their life and they have a hell of a time. Most of the people who claim it is all made up have probably never met a refugee in their life, and have not informed themselves about what it is like.

What is worse is that Blocher is pointing to his new laws and then to the drop in refuguees - his point: "See everyone, my new laws are working, we had less applicants". Gee - very convenient to ignore the fact that there are less conflicts in the region, therefore there are less applicants. Many refugees want to return to their home countries, but can't as they will be killed. I must say if I were in a similiar situation I'd probably flee my homeland too, and I wouldn't have time to collect my passport as I did so (if the government hadn't already take it away or destroyed it).

But you are right - in many countries people would be ashamed to say such rubbish, unfortunately CH is not the only place in Europe I've heard such things openly - even from young people.

Mark - the sad fact is that in today's world, laws on refugees are routinely abused by economic migrants. The people who have most to lose from this are genuine refugees.

This needs to be addressed in a sensible debate, without people yelling 'racism' because the subject is being tackled.

What's needed is faster and fairer screening so that genuine refugees are given the chance to make a new life. Either on a temporary or permanent basis, depending on the nature of the conflict that they are fleeing.

Also needed is a proper immigration policy that allows people with suitable, in-demand skills to come and live and work in the richer countries.


Finally, the European and 'Western' countries need to pull together in cooperating to accept their share of the burden, instead of those countries with perceived 'softer' laws ending up being swamped. If that's not tackled, then there's going to be an 'arms race' between countries to bring in tougher and tougher laws and to take a harder-line stance on immigration and asylum.



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  #48  
Old 07.07.2006, 18:08
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Re: Are the swiss racist?

being swiss myself, i do think most of the people (especially older people) are just in a weird way scared of foreign people. if i think of my granny, she even feels uncomfy cos she think, she cannot speak to them. of course you can call that to a certain stage racism. best thing to fight against this stuff is what nanda did. keep on being friendly and open.

when i was much younger (18?) i met 3 guys from south africa. they were travelling around europe and where stucked in switzerland for a weekend cos all the banks were closed and they didn't had any money. they tried to spend one night tenting but the police gave them a hussle. being young and open or just the way i am, i just invited them to my parents place (very much to their delight ). my mum told me i cannot be serious when i arrived with 3 guys at 11 on the door steps. anyway, they finally stayed for 2 nights in our "tinker room". my neighbours (all old people) were very suspect in the beginning (like closing doors when one of them was outside smoking a fag) but on the 2nd day they calmed down. one of old lady came down and asked me if they have dirty clothes. She ended up washing and ironing all of what they had. brilliant!

i don't really care about nations/skin-colour. i was lucky that i grew up in a very multi-culture way. in my primary school we were 2 swiss mixed with any other nationality. i only felt jealous of not speaking another "secret language" like italien or whatever ...

back to the job topic: i know finding a job can be a trouble for some foreign people. one of my former bosses (a book keeper) was looking for someone new and told me to send a refuse-letter to anybody with the ending "-ic" in the name and one of the girls was refused cos she was black although she had the best cv. i was too young that day ... i should have told him what a pr*ck he was by being so judging.

the first time i was involved with racism was during my time when i lived in glasgow. i had to learn to tell people i would study there rather than working. especially a taxi driver gave me a nasty time after blaming me to take away their jobs and stuff.

right now i'm looking for a position in england and most company or agency are having a field to fill out what colour your skin is. i was shocked the first time ...
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Old 08.07.2006, 12:55
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Re: Are the swiss racist?

What an interesting discussion.

I have lived here for 5 years, and just as the locals are soooo intolerant, so is my own intolerance of their ignorance and, to be honest, blatant racism.

I am British born Chinese and having lived in many cities around the world, have never felt as unwelcome as I do here. Facing the disapproving looks and stares everyday really starts to wear away at one's resilience. Makes me boil inside, but its a choice (a mad choice perhaps).

Zurich attempts to position itself as a world city - and it has come far. Despite all its attractions however, I see a time where people are simply not attracted to the city anymore. It is apparently the second most friendliest city in the world (! http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article...233162,00.html). But what makes a world city? It's not only companies and infrastructure. Its the diversity of people and views. If this diversity is not embraced, Zurich will lose out, and as far as I can tell, the residents of Zurich are above losing! Foreigners, be they black, white, yellow, brown, have a tougher time somewhere to live, let alone have a chance to help create a world city.

I was reminded last night of the stark difference between London and Zurich in their approaches to race. Yesterday was the anniversary of the London bombs. A tragic, sad and non-discriminatory event. The backlash against the muslim community could have been severe, even in a multi-racial country. While it did strike terror into the hearts of residients, it has actually all in all, united previously disparate communities against a common enemy (mind you the common enemy could be certain politicians...) This was not dictated by law or authorities. It was a natural, humanist reaction.

Had in this happened in Zurich, do you think there would be the same reaction? My own feeling is that racist views unfortunately are under a very thin skin here, and sadly, the reaction would have been different.
  #50  
Old 09.07.2006, 09:33
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Re: Are the swiss racist?

Which national group of people in the world are not racist?

I have lived here for three years and was at one time eager to complain about the contempt and suspician the swiss show to foreigners, especially towards eastern european immigrants. It disgusts me to hear that I am not really a 'foreigner'...

I have heard many Italians explain how they suffered this 40 years ago, but now this hatred has moved to a new group of people.

I was shocked on a recent trip home to Northern Ireland ( not exactly famed for its tolerance) to hear friends complain about the recent influx of eastern europeans in a similar way to some Swiss.

I have stopped my Swiss bashing as have come to understand that some groups of people just wear their hatred closer to their skin than others.

John
  #51  
Old 10.07.2006, 07:13
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Re: Are the swiss racist?

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What an interesting discussion.

I have lived here for 5 years, and just as the locals are soooo intolerant, so is my own intolerance of their ignorance and, to be honest, blatant racism.

I am British born Chinese and having lived in many cities around the world, have never felt as unwelcome as I do here. Facing the disapproving looks and stares everyday really starts to wear away at one's resilience. Makes me boil inside, but its a choice (a mad choice perhaps).
Well I must admit you have just blown me away and killed one of my long held beliefs... I have lived here for quite some time, I have lived in other racially "charged" areas, I have heard many insults, I have attended courses on race relations and working and living with ethnic minorities (actually these were on the whole bullshit as they missed the point) - I thought I had heard it all and during this time one ethnic group always managed to "slip under the radar"!

Put simply I have never heard any negative comments about Chinese anywhere apart from mild comments in San Francisco and then that was understandable when you actually visited the areas - "be careful that is in Chinatown" can be misinterpreted quite easily ie it was Americanese for you might get lost - if you don't understand go there and you will...

So seeing as you have felt racisim in Switzerland I must reassess my whole concept on racial abuse... But hey don't worry you do have the rest of the world where you are fully integrated and accepted...
  #52  
Old 10.07.2006, 09:25
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Re: Are the swiss racist?

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Which national group of people in the world are not racist?
In some situations people often claim things like "Yes, but it is like that everywhere". The attempt here is to excuse or normalise the behaviour. Such a statement also attempts to put the situation into black-and-white (pardon the pun), where it can then be easily dismissed. I agree with you that there are many groups of people in the world who are racist, but I most certainly disagree with you that there are no non-racists about. If one were to look more closely at "new world" countries which have had high levels of immigration (Canada, US, Australia, New Zealand) you would see a lot of effort put in by the government through public education, classes in schools and a whole host of other measures to try and foster tolerance within the population. I would hazard a guess that these countries also had anti-discrimintion legislation on the books quite some time ago. Of course, these countries also have their own demons to deal with, and I don't deny that the situation isn't perfect, but it is a damn sight better than Switzerland which puts in almost no effort in this regard. One could also look to South Africa - despite it's reputation I'm sure everyone who has lived or been there will agree that it is a damn-sight less racist than Switzerland.

I'm sure there's room to pick holes in the race issues in each of the countries I mentioned, but you asked for concrete examples, and I just wanted to point out that all countries and peoples are NOT the same when it comes to this issue.

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I was shocked on a recent trip home to Northern Ireland ( not exactly famed for its tolerance) to hear friends complain about the recent influx of eastern europeans in a similar way to some Swiss.
Well sadly this is often the case. I was in Ireland (as in republic of) a while ago (many years) and at the time they had received their first big batch of refugees following some war or the other. It was about 100-150. The press were up in arms and people were bitching like mad. I must admit I found it a little hard to swallow that a nation that had exported so many economic migrants in recent history, and who had received so much assistance from the EU could have elements within their population who could say such things.

Quote:
I have stopped my Swiss bashing as have come to understand that some groups of people just wear their hatred closer to their skin than others.
Do you think it is just that (some) Swiss are totally unashamed of being racist compared to other nations, or that they actually are racist? Surely the total lack of effort at a government level (or others) might help to foster the view that such types of behaviour are acceptable? How else could we explain the government employment office calling an employer and saying "But there's just one problem - she's black". Would this really happen everywhere else? I'd be willing to be a substantial amount that it wouldn't.

Sorry, but in my case I realise that the Swiss wear their hatred close to their sleeves, but I'm not going to somehow be understanding of the poor things and let them off the hook for it! Such behaviour is in my opinion vile and I look forward to the day when it changes.
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Old 10.07.2006, 09:35
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Re: Are the swiss racist?

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Well I must admit you have just blown me away and killed one of my long held beliefs... I have lived here for quite some time, I have lived in other racially "charged" areas, I have heard many insults, I have attended courses on race relations and working and living with ethnic minorities (actually these were on the whole bullshit as they missed the point) - I thought I had heard it all and during this time one ethnic group always managed to "slip under the radar"!

Put simply I have never heard any negative comments about Chinese anywhere apart from mild comments in San Francisco and then that was understandable when you actually visited the areas - "be careful that is in Chinatown" can be misinterpreted quite easily ie it was Americanese for you might get lost - if you don't understand go there and you will...

So seeing as you have felt racisim in Switzerland I must reassess my whole concept on racial abuse... But hey don't worry you do have the rest of the world where you are fully integrated and accepted...
Hi Richard, at first I thought this post was being rather dismissive and almost ridiculing the original poster (for example, the last sentence could have used a smiley or two). However, since I also know you off-line I re-read the post a few times and realised that it probably came across a little differently than you might have intended.

Just to enlighten you - ethnic Chinese are not a group that are somehow exempt from racism or intolerance, it's just that they are present in such small numbers that they often aren't noticed. Let's take Zurich for example - not exactly the hub of asian culture, so we don't tend to notice the few asians that are here. However, I have heard stories from at least one other Chinese girl who was taunted on the streets of Zurich with racist slurs. It does happen.

In Dee's case if she says she has lived in many other cities and never had these issues - then I believe her. It's not the first time I've heard something exactly like that.
  #54  
Old 11.07.2006, 19:02
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Re: Are the swiss racist?

I remember reading something about a study into the mechanics of hate. Can’t remember the title or author, but two things stuck with me. For hate to exist two things have to happen: people have to be comfortable talking about their subjects of dislike openly and they dehumanize the subjects. I do hear Swiss people talk openly about their distaste of Auslanders and their ways. Like someone mentioned earlier/elsewhere, if I object they say “but you are different” because I am a white, American male. That implies racism rather than nationalism. Yea, they’ve got some racist stuff here.

But is racism greater here than in other countries? A point that sticks in my mind is that the Swiss are very comfortable talking in a derogatory manner about other races in public like no other Western nationality I’ve known. Yes, there is racism in all countries…but here in Switzerland people in all circles are very comfortable talking about race to complete strangers. That is not something that is tolerated in my circle of friends in the UK or the US. If someone says something overtly racist then they get called out on it…or loose friends.

That doesn’t seem to happen here. Racist chat is fairly acceptable.

The openness is troublesome because so many people are followers rather than independent thinkers or leaders. If one can spew racist crap openly, in public and to complete strangers…then it is OK, it is correct, it is acceptable, it can be repeated. And that is a bad thing.

So, all of that put together, leaves me with the impression that the Swiss are more racists than others.

Quote:
I have heard stories from at least one other Chinese girl who was taunted on the streets of Zurich with racist slurs. It does happen.
Oh, does it. The woman in the now-married friends who I networked my way to Zurich through is BBC…and we worked together for 3.5 years. The shit she went through on a daily basis, both on the streets and at work, continuously amazed me. I think part of it was sexist, but most of it was racist. It happens, for sure…it happens a lot.

(She has since moved to London and is much happier.)
  #55  
Old 11.07.2006, 19:33
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Re: Are the swiss racist?

Yet more anecdotes to add to the pile: when I arrived here three years ago I was in the pharmacy with a prescription and trying my best with my limited German to get through the transaction. Finally, the assistant asked me what my language was and if I could understand English. I laughed and said that I was English - immediately her manner changed and she laughingly said that she'd thought I was Eastern European to excuse her previous bad manners.

Recently I was having a conversation with my (Swiss) hairdresser about my thoughts on moving house and I mentioned a couple of places where I was going house-hunting. She told me that one of the areas I mentioned wasn't nice because it was full of foreigners. Having a little more confidence now I decided to tackle this and asked her if she'd forgotten that I was a foreigner. Her reaction was typical to those that are already in this thread - you're a white British woman and that's not what I mean. It ended badly and I need to find a new hairdresser - at least I kept my hair.
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Old 11.07.2006, 21:31
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Re: Are the swiss racist?

You know, it really isn't just racist. The Swiss are afraid of / dislike / distrust anything / anyone that doesn't look like them.

I've been told I'm "as good as Swiss" since I'm a white American woman married to a Swiss guy.

I also get stares and comments when I am out in public simply because not only am I not "Swiss thin" but I also don't dress like a good little hausfrau (no pastels and florals, thankyouverymuch). My husband also gets stares because he also doesn't dress out of a cookie cutter catalog. Nothing over the top, just not cookie cutter trendy fashion.
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Old 12.07.2006, 19:50
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Re: Are the swiss racist?

You get comments for those reasons?? I always find that so horrifying and incredible, that people, being whatever race/nationality, can actually go up to someone and say something derogative in their face. I cannot imagine what kind of state of mind someone has. that they are able to willingly insult another human being, without provocation even.

I absolutely believe it happens, I just cannot fathom what these people are truly like, that they think they are allowed to judge, and worse, attack someone. That is the problem, when we as a group here have the honest impression that it is generally regarded ok in CH to openly be racist, and even have conversations about it as if it is normal, I find it very hard to respect these same people on other levels, as for me it questions their whole being, even the respect for the society as a whole that tolerates such behaviour.

To JudyK, yes, our home countries can be bad, but in mine it is not regarded socially acceptable to be derogative of people due to their race/religion etc. I think that is the crux of this thread, and the title is a bit misleading, in that yes, all countries are probably full of citizens with views one could consider racist, but what some of us foreigners are struck by, is that here it seems more accepted than elsewhere as something that is normal. And I for one do not ever want to get to a stage where society does not fight this anymore.

And I am not American, and it is not fair to assume that most people here are.

Last edited by muze7; 12.07.2006 at 21:28.
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Old 12.07.2006, 20:15
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Re: Are the swiss racist?

Hey you all!!

You're a bunch of ignorant people!! Do you honestly think it's anything better in your home countries??? i tell you something: IT'S NOT!!!! I know it's just the same or even worse in my home country as it is over here in switzerland! ..and to all the americans here complaining about the swiss: you're the last people who should complain about racist people in switzerland!! look at what is happening in your own country..and look at your president!! the swiss are not more or less racist than people elsewhere. besides.. you're discriminating the swiss now, too! so.. that basically makes you all being racists, too!
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Old 12.07.2006, 20:30
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Re: Are the swiss racist?

JudyK,

I am quite certain that people in the UK hold fairly unsound, racist views but I am also quite certain that if a government official were to telephone an employer advertising a job with the words, 'the problem is that the applicant is black' then there is a very clear procedure to deal with that. (I think it was Lynn's posting that dealt with that issue) My experiences here in Switzerland have shown me that it would seem that it is perfectly acceptable for people to announce racist opinions in very public and official positions. For instance, Mr Blocher's recent tirade against Albanians.
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Old 12.07.2006, 20:31
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Re: Are the swiss racist?

Quote:
Hey you all!!

You're a bunch of ignorant people!! Do you honestly think it's anything better in your home countries??? i tell you something: IT'S NOT!!!! I know it's just the same or even worse in my home country as it is over here in switzerland! ..and to all the americans here complaining about the swiss: you're the last people who should complain about racist people in switzerland!! look at what is happening in your own country..and look at your president!! the swiss are not more or less racist than people elsewhere. besides.. you're discriminating the swiss now, too! so.. that basically makes you all being racists, too!
So are you saying we are ALL ignorant or just Americans? your post has no point to it whatsoever!! The main point here is the fact that the Swiss generally can openly racist whereas in other countries this is not tollerated even if there are racist people in that country, obviously we are not ignorant we know that every country has racism - the point here is that it is openly accepted here to the point where a black person may not get a job because the lady at the employment office warned the prospective employer that they were black - aree you saying this sort of practice is common in all countries? I think not
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