Jeff O'Handley, Author

Jeff O'Handley

The Doubting Writer Finds His Voice

Thoughts on the Brexit

The Brexit frightens me.

(In the unlikely event you have no idea what “Brexit” is, it’s the decision made by the United Kingdom last week to leave the European Union.)

What frightens me about the Brexit is not what it does to the stock market, or global trade, the value of the dollar compared to the pound, or the world economy in general. I admit to having little understanding of how all of that works, or how that impacts me on a daily basis. The Brexit may well be good for the UK in the long run, though I suspect it will not. But I’m no economist.

What frightens me is that it was a victory for racism and xenophobia. Much of the arguing over Brexit centered on the question of immigration. The UK has been hit over the last few years with a lot of immigrants from Poland and eastern Europe. And now, of course, there are all those Muslim trying to get in and turn the UK into the northwest corner of the caliphate. Pro-Brexiters like Nigel Farage skillfully played on the fears of UK citizens, with pro-“Leave” ads that bear a striking resemblance to Nazi propaganda (the black and white images are actual images from a Nazi film):

My apologies for displaying this vile stuff.

Much of the rhetoric from Farage’s UKIP (United Kingdom Independence Party) was about preserving jobs for real Brits, about protecting borders, about “taking back control of the country.”

Sounds a lot like what I’m hearing from a certain fur-bearing mammal on this side of the pond.

I’m not naive. Racism has always been a thing. It will always be a thing. We humans have a need to create divisions where they don’t exist, and to carve  them deeper where they do exist. I’ve come to believe (and maybe it’s because of my privileged position as a white, sort of middle class man) that it’s gotten better over the years, and maybe it has. But lately? It’s getting worse.

Some of it’s because of the economy. Bad times lead to finger pointing, and fingers are much easier to point at people who look and act different, who speak in funny languages, who come from other places. And some of it’s because of the times, which are troubled. But demonizing those people with the funny customs and clothes and accents is not the way to go. Pointing the anger and fear at one or two groups and releasing that pent up anger is a dangerous game to play, and it can all too easily end in some very bad places.

I’m hoping this is a blip, a hiccup, a momentary lapse of reason. And I hope we defeat it here.

Second image from Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Poland

6 Responses

  1. I'm a liberal and despise the fur-bearing rodent (mammal is too good for him) in the US. However, leaving a group of nations is both doable and un-doable. Let them lie in the bed they've made. They've already discovered that they were lied to by the "Leave" leaders. What other disappointing developments await them? Let them find out. It's possible that within the next 3-4 yrs they'll rejoin. The same thing happened in Egypt with the Muslim Brotherhood. The majority of the people understand nothing about economics, trade, tourism, subsidies, etc. They just believed "God" backed the Brotherhood. It's a big problem encouraging 3rd world countries to be democratic when the majority of their populations are uneducated, reactionary and overly religious. I'll never forget the story about Papau New Guinea burning the witch alive with the police looking on and doing nothing. And not just one. It happens a lot in that country. They believe in witches and you can't convince them otherwise. Imagine who those people would put in charge of the gov't if they could. Did you know the writers of the Constitution originally ruled that only male land-owners could vote? It was assumed they were educated and understood business and were the best people to make decisions about the country. So BRExit and the rodent's possible election are the downside of a true democracy where the majority can be wrong.

  2. Well, they're gonna find out, all right. Unless they find some way to back out of the back-out.

    The US Constitution also established rules preventing direct voting by the People with the establishment of what became the electoral college. Sadly, the electoral college doesn't seem a whole lot smarter that The People.

  3. That's what bothers me most about it. From an economic standpoint, maybe it will really work out quite well. The encouragement and enabling of racism is harder to recover from, I think.

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