Anti-racism organisation: “we stand by our decision to work with Ken and Michael”
Anti-racism group Show Racism the Red Card (SRRC) has rejected calls to cancel invitations to author Michael Rosen and film director Ken Loach to serve as judges in the organisation’s annual School Competition.
The Campaign against Antisemitism group and supporters had called for the pair to be uninvited. The group said it’s objection to Rosen, who is Jewish, was that he had defended Jeremy Corbyn against accusations of antisemitism.
On Loach, the group said that while he had ‘clarified’ comments on the Holocaust, “he has continued to make inflammatory and provocative statements about Labour’s antisemitism scandal“.
SRRC said of its decision:
We are sad that a creative initiative to encourage young people from a range of diverse backgrounds – many of whom have direct and painful experience of racism – has been overshadowed.
We condemn antisemitism and racism in all its forms. Through our education programmes we have worked tirelessly to combat racism since we were founded nearly 25 years ago. Much of our work involves raising awareness of the Holocaust and antisemitism. We welcome those who question our decision to work with Ken Loach and Michael Rosen to collaborate with us on future education campaigns.
With hate crime on the rise – and the Jewish community increasingly a target – our anti-racism work is more vital now than ever. We are a non-political charity that relies on support from people with differing political views, who are all united in their belief that racism must be eradicated. Cross-party support is essential to our mission, which is why we established the Show Racism the Red Card All-Party Parliamentary Group, comprising Parliamentarians from different political parties working together in partnership.
Many prominent figures in academia, the arts, education, law, media, politics, science and sport have contacted us to endorse our decision to work with Ken and Michael, and to refute the allegations made against them. We are grateful for their support, as well as for the kind messages we have received from the public. We have taken time to reflect and listen, and we stand by our decision to work with Ken and Michael, who are both long-standing supporters of our charity.
We previously recognised Ken Loach with a Show Racism the Red Card Hall of Fame award for the work he has undertaken with the charity spanning two decades. As a world-renowned film director, we are delighted that he has agreed to judge our annual School Competition, alongside the recognised novelist, poet and former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen. It is the UK’s largest anti-racism competition for schools, with 27,000 young people taking part last year and more than 8,000 calendars of the winning work distributed. More than half a million young people have entered the competition since it launched in 1998, producing art, creative writing, film or music around an original anti-racism theme. As award-winning icons in their respective fields, it is very exciting for us that Ken and Michael have agreed to be judges. But equally important is the compassion we have seen them show to people – of all races and religions – who our charity is here to help.
Rosen was invited several years ago to testify to MPs about his experience and research into antisemitism and the Holocaust. Although attending as a guest of Parliament, he was the subject of a ‘full frontal assault‘ by ex-Labour MP Ian Austin.
Rosen said of Austin’s behaviour that the MP:
wouldn’t let me say in a House of Commons Education committee that when we tell the story of the Holocaust, we British shouldn’t be triumphalist about ‘our’ record…
[He was] repeatedly interrupting someone (who is Jewish and who teaches the Holocaust in schools) speak about Holocaust Education – though I was invited to do so.
Eric Cantona, Sir Alex Ferguson, Sir Mark Rylance, Miriam Margolyes OBE, Dame Marina Warner, Baroness Blackstone, Steve Coogan are understood to be among the ‘many prominent figures’, many of them Jewish, who supported Rosen and Loach.
SRRC’s School Competition is open to new entries in England until 13th March 2020. For more information, see its competitions site. The closing date for Wales and Scotland has passed.
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