It is ‘ballot time’ here again – what I am almost tempted to describe as a Swiss speciality given that the Swiss people are called to the ballot station several times a year. I am not going to delve on the issues which we are being asked to vote on no later than this coming Sunday – there are some very important ones indeed, but I am more interested in recounting how I was able to set my mind at peace after having been affected by a horrid political poster that I had caught sight of mid-October just before the previous national ballot session. In fact, it was not one political poster that traumatised me so much, but the three which were aligned on the display stand allotted to the far-right parties in front of Lausanne’s beautiful palace of La Riponne and which to me at least conveyed a message even more evil than what emanated from any of the three posters if viewed only individually.
A bit like Spinoza and the ghastly vision that assailed him and led him to change his life, this highly disturbing, quasi traumatic vision of pure evil (racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia and some overtones of hatred of women) haunted me for many days – in fact, until the Paris attacks and the subsequent ‘tsunami of Islamophobia’ [my coinage] this event (I would be lying to myself if I did not write ‘predictably’) unleashed in the so-called West.
So I was so shocked when I saw a similar demonic poster near a school more or less in the centre of the city where I live (i.e. Lausanne) roughly a fortnight ago. The more so as the rhetoric this time had been ratcheted up to include a blatant lie: ‘terror’ [‘It is time to remove the veil from our eyes: immigration, criminality, terror, plundering of the welfare state’]. As I noticed a couple of days later that one such poster had been ‘neutered’ (most of the surface of the poster having been torn off) and as I was wanted to take a picture of this poster as an example of the Islamophobia that is being imprinted on our minds, I set off early Sunday morning on a tour of Lausanne to take photographic records of the public’s rejection of this example of a highly nefarious, divisive and dangerous ideology.
I cannot explain how relieved I was that every single poster I saw had received some degree of ‘doctoring’: it would seem that somebody had been so outraged by this extremely despicable attempt at scapegoating Muslims for problems (whether real or imaginary) with which they have nothing to do that, in one instance, they went so far as to leave from this terrible poster (as well as from the one showing the two right-wing contenders for seats at Lausanne’s municipality) not more than an inch or so of the poster.
Elsewhere, the ‘amendments’ meted out to this awful poster (as seen on the right) are a (justified) allusion to what is likely to happen with such an ideology when it is pursued to its extreme point: dehumanisation, physical abuse and sometimes even murder, as was the case in an infamous jail in US occupied Iraq (Abu Ghraib) – to which I reckon the black hood is a subtle allusion.
Just before that, I brightened up when I sung to myself some of my favourite tunes from David Bowie’s hits when I passed in front of the house where he had lived during his 14-year long stay in Switzerland.
I think that I can contend that the effects of this ghastly vision dating back to mi-October have now been flushed out of my psyche – thank God for that.