The photo of a face of a young blonde girl with a Roma man and woman who are accused of abducting her has dominated the media.
In Britain the image of an abducted blonde girl has an extra resonance. The story of missing toddler Madeleine McCann still routinely grabs the front pages of some of the tabloids.
It’s not yet clear how this particular child came to be with the Roma family but the coverage goes to the heart of racist scaremongering through history.
This portrays white people, in particular white children and women, as being the victims of ethnic minorities.
The objects of this scaremongering have been different over time in different countries.
In the US since slavery black men were portrayed as the main danger. In Europe in the first half of the 20th century Jews were the target.
Now in Britain and the West Muslims are regularly caricatured as a threat to civilisation.
Today across Europe it is Roma people who are represented as a threat and are persecuted in every area of life.
This nasty consensus sees Gypsy and Roma people depicted as beggars and law breakers. Such prejudice was used to justify the eviction of the Dale Farm Travellers.
It is also used to denounce homeless Romanians who have had to camp out in central London as being responsible for a “crime wave”.
Across Europe Roma people suffer discrimination, state repression and violence. In Hungary walls are being built around Roma communities to separate them from other people.
This week in France after mass evictions of thousands of Roma from camps the deportation of a Roma schoolgirl has caused an explosion of protests.
This shows that despite the onslaught of poisonous propaganda coming from politicians and the media, ordinary people can offer solidarity and defend those targeted by racist scapegoating.
The new immigration bill in Britain is part of the Tories’ own ideological offensive to encourage us to blame supposed outsiders for the problems in society.
Labour goes along with this, but claims it is about defending jobs and wages.
Labour shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said, “At a time when there is real pressure from a cost-of-living crisis, people are really concerned that low-skilled immigration is being exploited to undercut wages”
But it’s the bosses who pay low wages and unemployment is caused by the economic crisis not by people fleeing war and poverty.
We can’t let the bosses and politicians divide us. Socialist Worker says that all immigrants are welcome here.