The day after the referendum result David Chitty wrote a column with the headline
The Racists Have Won and it was not universally well received. Some folks felt quite offended. My intention was to counter that with my own opinion piece but, you know what, I sort of see where David is coming from. It is very hard not to see the leave vote as something corrupted by the stink of racial hatred.
Just after the results came in Alisdair Calder McGregor wrote (here)
The public have, throughout the EU referendum campaign, been systematically lied to, deceived and manipulated by the Brexit campaign.
I'm actually trying to disagree with David, but the fact of the matter is that isolationism and increasingly acceptable levels of casual racism was how World War Two got started. Most of Germany was made up of normal people, but they were lied to about who was to blame. The racists won then, without a doubt.
The only difference is that this time we are not talking about
the negro problem or
them damn Jews stealing our jobs (Germany, prior to the war). This time, the acceptable phrase is
refugee crisis and
immigration problem which has already resulted in "camps" to put them in. Camps that increasingly have high fences and armed guards.
I take the point that many of you made that it is inaccurate to suggest that 17,410,742 people are racists. I did not see David's article that way but, then again, I should have gone to bed two days ago. No honestly, under three hours sleep across two nights is really taxing.
Even so, it is now a fact that at some point over the last two years starting a sentace with
I'm not racist but... stopped being a thing that we laughed at and became a way to feel good about our own racism. And I say
our racism because, unless you were born after after 1990, to some degree or another we are all racist.
This background level radiation of own racism is so ingrained with who we are, and how we were brought up, that we don't even notice it. Not until we stop to listen to ourselves. Hands up anyone over the age of thirty that did not tell or laugh at a joke that started
what do you call an Ethiopian... (insert something weird to complete the set-up)?
That shit, right there, is racist. Not funny and cultural insensitive but out-right ethnicity bias. Don't sugar coat it - we are on the cusp of being certifiably xenophobic. Leave and remain voters alike.
Racism, it turns out, is subtle. It works by separating a group from the idea of real human beings, with the ability to feel pain just like you. Racism replaces that humanity with a generic "them". Some other that is just a caricature of human. "They" stop being individuals with hopes and dreams and become part of the mass enemy that all our ills can be blamed on. As in
they are taking our jobs and our benefits simultaneously, or
they should go home (even though we bombed the hell out of it), and
they are the reason I have no work and not because I am a bit lazy and all the easy jobs went after Torys and/or Labour screwed up our economy again.
The truth is, we are just making excuses for our own inability to elect a decent government that knows what it is doing and doesn't want to do unspeakable things to us, and/or our bank accounts, in a dark alleyway.
The "they" are rarely even capable of even being part of the problem, let alone the central cause of all your misery. Meanwhile, the bankers and traders that lost your money, and the government that let them and then imposed "austerity" (which was supposed to be for our own good but was actually just to pay for bailing out the idiots who caused all this), the ones who we should actually blame, they get off scott free. In fact, we have tended to thank them for bending us over and going in dry and then begged them to do it again.
What happened this week was, after voting for a government that promised to shit on us from a great height and then being surprised at getting shat on repeatedly, we somehow brought the idea that all the other kids in the yard were responsible and then we voted to take our ball and go home. All the while thinking that we are better off playing a team sport in our garden because surely all the cool kids would come and hang with us now that we are Billy No-Mates.
Are we all stupid racists?
Apparently, the answer to that is, yes we are. At least in part. All of us.
Well, I am sick of it. I'm sick of the casual racism. I'm sick of hearing uninformed loudmouths blaming nationalities; there is no reason for race to be a factor to consider in problems the government, that we voted for, created (like they promised they would). I'm sick of this ridiculous notion that some of us should get preferential treatment just because we happened to accidentally be born in the UK rather than, say, Syria.
We are all people. We all need sleep (I know I do). We all hurt. We all need food, water, shelter and a little love. It's not rocket science.
So when regular guest writer David Chitty says
the racists have won, is he saying we are all racists? I hope not, because we're not. Well, not completely anyway.
We are going to be talking about this topic and other issues of the post-Brexit vote for some time to come. Thanet Star will be accepting submissions from anyone from or connected to Thanet with thoughts to share on the subject.