The thin fabric
Well this has been a shock. I don’t know why I wasn’t more prepared for the Brexit win – just a foolish trust in people’s reluctance to vote for unabashed xenophobia, I guess.
I thought the UKIP poster, above, that coincided with the murder of Jo Cox last week would be a turn-off, for one thing.
A nasty smug-faced git pointing at desperate refugees in order to stir up fear and loathing among the voters – a little too reminiscent of Dr Goebbels, wasn’t it?
Well, no, it turns out it wasn’t.
Many of my friends have been sharing their dismay on social media for the past 16 hours or so. The writer George Szirtes for instance –
Let me make it clear, dear Leavers.
You are not bastards but you have voted for bastards.
You are not racists but the result will be more racism.
You are not stupid but what you have done in this case is stupid, not just for this country but for Europe and beyond.
The founder and director of the women’s rights charity Making Herstory Onjali Rauf:
Woke up with a gasp … that still hasn’t ended. Am in mourning for a UK that once was and will never again be. The rhetoric of racism has won. Lessons of the past ignored. And the future security of our human rights laws, our ability to tackle our government on injustices, and the EU funds which have helped thousands of charities survive to do our government’s dirty work, is in jeopardy. Oh Britain … what have you done?
The political scientist Ishtiaq Ahmed:
So, finally the British people have expressed their choice. The European Union has been a great experiment in peace building and economic prosperty but now nationalism has struck back. I am afraid we are all going to see such a backlash in the rest of the EU.
Britain created a world empire and rule over several continents but now when power is to be shared with others in the European Union they want to separate.
Reminds me of the Muslim League’s stand that in a democracy the Muslims would be in a minority so we want a separate state – FOR THE 7 CENTURIES THE SAME ASHRAF ELITE only wanted to expand as much as they could in India but when it came to democracy they wanted separatism. The British attitude is the same.
The nasty brew of nationalism, racism and xenophobia is on the boil again, with the hideous possibility of a Trump presidency hiding around the corner.
I would like to be able to think Donald Trump couldn’t possibly win the election, but I’m not. It’s not safe to assume things like that. It’s true that even many Republicans detest him, but it’s also true that many people think he’s the best thing since Hitler, and they are feeling empowered by his shameless racism.
We know from history that people can take inspiration from demagogues like Trump, and we know what kind of horrors ensue.
I try to derive some consolation from the thought that we’re all getting a Living History lesson – hey girls and boys, this is what it was like in Germany around 1929 or so! Now do you get a sense of how an advanced country like Germany, with a famous philosopher on every corner, managed to let itself be seduced by a screaming mediocrity like Hitler?
Now do you see how in just a few short years they were looking hard in the other direction while the SS pushed most of the Jews in Europe into gas chambers? Now does it seem less baffling to you that Yugoslavia could collapse into a genocidal nightmare practically overnight? Now do you feel with your own fingers how very thin and weak the barrier is between a functioning society and a howling wilderness of murder and torture?
The physicist and broadcaster Jim Al-Khalili was the lucky recipient of some xenophobic tweets this morning, a few of which he retweeted.
Phoenix on the Right ?@BigButterNutJoe 11 hours ago
@jimalkhalili You should absolutely leave. What kind of Brit has a last name like Al-Khalili? Your people have a home.
TJWP ?@Hriob_Zagel 11 hours ago
Well with an attitude like that you should probably leave since you don’t seem to support the county to begin with. https://twitter.com/jimalkhalili/status/746207671515123714 …
Randolph Carter ?@occidissident 11 hours ago
Randolph Carter Retweeted
That’s a start. Then self-deportation. Take your skill set and benefit your own country, your own people #brexit
Brittany StGermain ?@brittykittybrat 10 hours ago
@jimalkhalili Maybe if immigrants showed more respect to their “foster” countries instead of trying to bring what they “ran” from…hmmmmmmm
Spectre X Retweeted
Yes. And then get the fuck out. Go home, kebab.
Now, of course, it’s “just Twitter” – it’s just pseudonymous people taking the opportunity to act in a way they wouldn’t act anywhere but Twitter. It doesn’t mean anything; it’s pillocks being pillocks; it’s hardly the first step to Auschwitz or Srebrenica. Maybe – but we don’t know, do we?
The first step to Auschwitz or Srebrenica isn’t going to look like the first step to Auschwitz or Srebrenica, is it, because then it would just be Auschwitz or Srebrenica. In other words genocides don’t start out as genocides, and the first step is something much smaller than mass murder.
I wouldn’t have thought something like the murder of Jo Cox could have happened in the UK, either. That is, if you’d asked me, I would have said sure, that could happen – but I would never have expected it. I’ve learned to expect it here, in my hideously violence-prone country, but not there. And yet it did happen.
It’s been a sad day.
Editor’s note: Over 1.2 million people have signed a petition calling for a second EU referendum:
We the undersigned call upon HM Government to implement a rule that if the remain or leave vote is less than 60% based a turnout less than 75% there should be another referendum.