The Brexit Witch Hunt
What terrified me most about Brexit wasn't the fact that we were cutting the UK off from trade deals, freedom of movement and security, it was the way the media used their power to shame those that felt their country was better off out of the EU, regardless of each voter's personal reasons. Blanket labelling millions of people as old, illiterate, xenophobic and racist and deepening the divide between an already heavily divided society. Giving a face to the leave voter as that of a 70 year old, uneducated, bigot, that everyone can rise up against with their pitchforks.
This seems to be a very common and popular tactic. A tactic that labels and shames anyone who has a view that goes against the view some organisations want you to have. The problem is, the overuse of these labels actually seems to be weakening their power. The constant shaming of people has become a bit of a habit, an addiction that provides a quick ‘feel good’ fix or allows us to get our own way, with the standard labels becoming an automated response of choice that attempts to top trump logic or rationality, without thought for what was actually said or done.
The whole argument that Brexit supports xenophobes and racists seems a little far from the reality of things. If anything it would be biased towards skill levels and education rather than towards a certain nationality, race or religion. The point system that is proposed to be put in place would open doors to people from Africa, Asia and the whole world. An example of this comes from personal experience.
I am a British white male whose partner is Indian. For most part of this year we have been 15000 miles apart due to the inability to secure a full-time, permanent job with the British government. She gained a master’s degree here in the UK, was earning a good salary, speaks English as her first language and has lived here for over eight years. Due to a change in her circumstances her visa at the time would not allow her to continue working here unless her company sponsored her. Unfortunately under current immigration laws her company had no choice but to re-advertise her job, meaning that she would have to reapply. The catch was, the company she worked for had no choice but to give her job to any British or European citizen who was capable. It didn’t matter if she was better at the job, more experienced or better qualified. The current system states that if a British or EU person can do a job, then someone with more experience or better qualification will not stand a chance or even be considered. In her case the law came first, not the skills, so as expected under the circumstances things didn’t go as we had liked them to. So as a backup we spoke to an immigration lawyer and researched the possibility of us moving elsewhere. It turns out both of us have a very high chance of gaining permanent residency in New Zealand, Australia or Canada due to our skills, experience and education.
Anyone that argues that the current system is any less xenophobic than the proposed point system either clearly doesn’t know the facts, or chooses to ignore them. With regards to ethics, giving Europeans the freedom to wander around Europe and restricting everyone else is exactly the same as giving British citizens the freedom to roam around the UK whilst restricting others, the only difference is, the size of the land.
Media companies, celebrities, politicians and the powers that be have managed to cause a divide just as big, if not bigger than the Brexit result did. The cheap shot of constantly labelling and shaming has managed to divide generations, classes, faiths and cultural backgrounds into two opposing camps. The truth however is that both the remain and leave camps had voters from all ages and backgrounds. The real divide seems to be in who was personally benefitting from Europe and who were suffering under the system.
There is no denying the fact that the EU has a lot of great things to offer and it is no mystery why many people are sold on the idea and want to be a part of it. Within all these great things however there is one glaring thing we should be concerned about, the EU’s obvious desire to become a superstate. Operating as one army, bank and government. All this seems lovely if it was run by Yoda and the rest of the Jedi council, imagine however if that power got into the wrong hands and was exploited. Seem unlikely? Think back to a certain party in 1930’s Germany.
The individual countries are what makes Europe great in the first place. The beauty of the continent resides within the diversity of its cultures and different ways of life. It seems however that this is a little messy for the leaders of the EU who seem to have the kind of OCD that people suffer from who need all their baked bean tins facing the same way in the kitchen cupboard.
There just seems to be an impression that the leaders of the EU want a continent where the masses think like them rather than them working for the people. Even if this is in the best intentions it's hard to get everyone in society looking at things the same way. Surely it's more realistic to trade with each other and live in peace without having to be forced into one political stronghold - with a system that tells us how we should live, think and feel. Maybe what we really need are leaders that can make things happen without egos getting in the way.
The EU in some way seems to act like the in-crowd portrayed in films like Mean Girls. You can be part of the gang, hang out with us as long as you don’t socialise with anyone and you act and dress like us.
Of course racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia exist, there is no denying that. Those that think their culture, faith or race are the only ones that should exist have always been around. They were there before Brexit and they will continue to be afterwards. The problem is the constant, flippant use of these shaming labels is weakening the power they once had, the power to bring attention to the these issues. The bigger the party of people labelled with these accusations, the more resentment they have and the more power and support real racists and xenophobes feel they have.
The fact is, nobody really knows what the true short term or long terms outcomes of Brexit will be. No celebrity or journalist has any idea of what is going to happen. They are just speculating and possibly have an opinion based on personal interest, like everyone else. This is a simple case of sticking with the popular option over simply stating the truth that they don't know. Now that the decision has been made, they should be more concerned about the effect their messages are having on the masses.
Maybe Brexit couldn’t have happened at a better time, with the obvious divide in the UK and the reported rising support of the far right across Europe, imagine how things could have been if the rift had gotten deeper.
This is a time where we need to build and work together. Focussing on moving forward to a better place not fuelling resentment, fear and anger by loosely branding and shaming anyone who doesn’t think like the other. At the moment there is a big hole in our society and our politics, it is up to us to work together to make sure this hole is filled with something good and not hate and fear.
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