I’m an American, which I state upfront because I’m sure that some will comment I have no business speaking on behalf of what is occurring post-UK Brexit. I also say it because I know we’re having some current issues and don’t want to seem hypocritical. Now the future of the EU and the UK is still uncertain, and will only continue to unfold over the next few weeks-months. I’m not going to get into the “real” politics on the EU referendum, because that’s not where the blowback is occurring from. It’s also not the real reason behind many of the votes to leave. This has been made very apparent in the course of a short weekend as countless discriminatory acts have occurred over Britain. It isn’t new, but like the US, it has come out overtly, and infinitely damaging.
The US has a sad reputation for tolerating intolerance. One that we have even more sadly been living up to as of late. The rise of individuals such as Trump, Rick Tyler, and other politicians who collect votes and support through fear and us. vs. them mentality has been one of our nation’s great shames over the past year. These individuals hold us from moving forward towards equality for our women, our people of color, of LGTBQ+ community. They promote bigotry and separation by placing blame. For every wrong thing that has occurred in your life, you get a pass, it’s not your fault, it’s the fault of __X__. You see, the space is open for whoever you need to fill it. Women, Black people, immigrants, etc. And yes, historically speaking, a spike in nationalism(not to be confused with being proud of where you’re from), along with systematic concerns such as economy, war, or lower quality of life has led to some of the greatest atrocities in our world’s history. We saw the rise of Fascism, Nazism take root and destroy the lives of millions and resulting in a devastating war. What we always fail to learn is that this doesn’t occur due to an evil person, secretly doing this hoodwinking and mass genocide, it’s done by average individuals, swept up in hatred and fear, and wanting to believe that if only __x___ wasn’t here, their lives would be perfect.
I had a woman tell me this past weekend that despite having relatives that fled Germany prior to execution by the Nazis, that she understood that “this is different, you know.” I told her I didn’t know. In fact, that the difference is that people were just as against receiving Jews feeling they were inferior, and that she was lucky her relatives were able to get out, that the only difference is that now we see the past as different than what is happening right in front of us. The propaganda about Jews was the same, they’ll steal your money, take control, dilute your gene pool, and even strip you of your culture and beliefs. That they were dirty, animalistic, and unlike the “rest.” The only difference is that now we sit in judgment of another group and say the same.
The UK is an interesting and wonderful place, one that I’ve always loved, but one that forgets why it has such diversity. Your population is diverse because at one point, and until very recent history, you controlled half the world. And because of that, and many other reasons, you have many individuals of shorter heritages within the UK than others. The US is similar except our country was formed and forged by immigrants, yet we still fight against is. We still fight against the “others” of this decade. First it was the non-English, then the Italians, then the Poles, then the Irish, Armenians, Jews, Hispanics. We’re not talking about anything new. But the conversation grows sadder with each passing day because we’re not learning our lessons.
There are many who claim that the decision to vote “leave” was not based on immigration(a long standing debate in the UK), but due to other reasons entirely. And I can understand that there are legitimate reasons for wishing that, but the truth is that far too many were swept up in recent campaigns and voted against people, not policy. And the result is that just like post-Trump campaign, racism, prejudice, and outward discrimination and threats are seen as acceptable behavior. That a country would stand in silence, or worse, support these behaviors. That the burden of proof is on the individual attacked, to prove themselves worthy, or to gleefully be told to “pack and get out.” That police investigations are underway over massive letter postings towards Polish immigrants, or descendants. That people of color are targeted and verbally harassed. You might have had a good reason for voting “Leave” but you should now be speaking up against those who believed not in the betterment of the UK due to political or economic standpoint, but because of fear tactics and hate. The UK was one of the first and fiercest defenders against Nazi Germany, they understood that that tyranny, and eventually that hatred would bring down the world. And they stood against it. Stand against hatred now. We must, or we lose our own humanity. Terrorizing groups of people is what the rise in the militant conservative parties brings. They have and always have had great power, great wealth, and the ability to sway the average citizen. And if you believe that atrocities such as the Holocaust can never happen again, remember, they were average citizens just searching for a way back to the way things were. And they were given the group to blame and told to follow. We must remind the world “Never again.”
This year we will see either tyranny and fear take two great nations hostage, or we will remember and let our humanity survive once more. Above all, these actions can only continue when others remain silent against them. We must stand together and put an end to hate. If not, we’re all doomed to repeat our greatest failures. Stay, Leave, that’s up to the UK, but regardless…put an end to hate.