Post-Referendum Thoughts- Intolerant Of Intolerance

To those who are ‘tired’ of hearing about the EU referendum: I agree that the news and social media have been saturated with it, both before and since June 23rd, but it is rather an important issue.

I have seen expressions from people on social media who have prefaced their intentionally dismissive posts by agreeing that it is important, however, they ‘would rather stop seeing and hearing about it now’, or anything to that effect and, some without the lead-in at all- to me and, I’m sure, to others who feel similarly, this comes across as either not understanding just how important it is, or wanting to not put your mind to thinking about the implications of leaving as you either don’t think that it will personally affect you, or you can’t be bothered to consider how it will affect you or the lives of those you proport to care about, to name a few things. If you wish to not be exposed to the discussions or viewpoints being thrown around about it, then you have, within your grasp, the power to unfollow or even unfriend people from who these points are coming, not read the paper or watch the news and close your eyes whenever you see an EU-related headline, stick your fingers in your ears to drown out discussions etc, by all means, go as extreme and as insular as you wish to. However, doing this and, more pressingly, asking indirectly for people to be quiet about and ‘shut up and get over it because it has happened’ (when it hasn’t yet, but other incidents as a result of the majority vote have) is part of the problem: the amount of ignorant and xenophobic vitriol that has surfaced as a result of the vote has done so for the reason of people with these attitudes believing that the ‘Leave’ vote has vindicated them, leading them to feel that they are allowed to express these things in public because the majority of the electorate ‘agrees’ with them. True, not everybody who voted ‘Leave’ will have done so for xenophobic or race-related reasons, however, the ‘X’ on the ballot paper does not itemise the reasons for voting as you did: because the people who are bigoted and racist would have voted ‘Leave’, this is the message and view that has been sent out of the UK to the rest of Europe and, I’m sure, the rest of the World, that we are an ignorant, backwards little island, full of people who are stuck in the so-called values and ideals of ‘the past’ (as wonderfully vague as that is, a past of which a number of people who voted ‘Leave’ do not have any personal experience or recollection, as it is, much like the ‘Leave’ campaign, based on lies and ignorance, misinformation and bullshit).
Regardless of how you voted, but it is more directly in your hands if you voted ‘Leave’, this is now how we are seen, represented by a narrow majority of who a percentage do think it is okay to treat others with aggression and violence and victimisation and, the fact that you would rather not hear about it or open your eyes and ears to accept that people are talking about because it is important and it is happening is exactly how mentalities like these breed and thrive to begin with. Politics may not be everybody’s bag because it can be incredibly dense and dry and complicated, but it is and should be more than malevolent mud-slinging as it encompasses an expanse of fundamental issues, ethics and human rights included- while you may not agree with the way that people are being treated due to the rise in more direct and open racism since the result of the referendum (and, in many cases, still can’t apply these two actualities to each other as they ARE linked), wanting to silence those who are concerned with it and are talking about it because they do think it is unacceptable is just as deplorable.

No matter how sensitive or tolerant or empathetic you may consider yourself to be in your life, wanting people to be silent about something that they are passionate about and is important as it will have an immediate effect on people’s lives and how they are treated and treat each other (unlike what colour your guitar is, for example) is an incredibly insensitive, unempathetic way to respond, especially when you have personally made no attempt to engage in these arguments and will not do, nor have you tried to find out more about what is going on because all you can think about is how ‘inconvenient’ these posts and discussions are, yet still want to be viewed as somebody who does care. Granted, there are people that don’t care who will have reacted in this way, but this mentality is not the way forward, especially not in mending the rifts that have been inflamed and exposed and risk becoming more embedded if we don’t discuss to conclude to do something about them as an open, integrated society. If you voted ‘Leave’ and did not do so for xenophobic reasons, then you have to work hard towards detaching yourself from those who did, unless you want to be defined by a group of people whose motivations are the reason why our national image has been tarnished and is received as such by the rest of our country and liberal Europe. If you voted ‘Remain’, but seem to be part of the factions who are suddenly disengaged and disenchanted with the whole thing, purely on the basis that ‘it has happened’ so we must ‘get over and stop talking about it’, then you need to wake up to the realities of what has transpired due to the result and accept that open discussion and addressing of them is the only way we are going to be able to stamp out these destructive mentalities before they gain any real momentum. It hasn’t ‘already happened’, procedures to move out of the EU have not even started yet, but what has happened is the lifting of the lid on these ignorant and racially-motivated attitudes due to the result of the referendum and, if we don’t rally together to eradicate them now, then we face further and more ingrained challenges if the next Prime Minister does decide to follow through with Brexit.

I am sick to the core of dismissive and apathetic attitudes, in my vicinity and in a wider surrounding, both relating to this subject and others and attempts to silence and incapacitate those who are passionate and dedicated to a cause that they believe in and that is important. If we get on and have a good time together, but you don’t think that fundamental issues like humanity and human rights are important enough to be discussed on a public platform, or anywhere, solely for the reason that you do not want to be ‘inconvenienced’ by their reality and the knowledge of their existence, then you are likely not the kind of person I want around me. Further to this, if you are part of a circle of people that comprises individuals who are inspirited and mobilised about important World affairs, conversely to trying to educate or engage yourself because it means something to them, you try to dampen and diminish them, then you are probably not a very good friend for your incapability to see outside of yourself, especially if what concerns them doesn’t massively conflict with your own points of view. The behaviour of wanting other people to not talk about significant issues just because you do not wish to engage with them yourself is also gravely disrespectful to the actions of those who have died fighting to right the injustices before them, anybody you might admire or read about who has dedicated their life to a cause they believe in. I think that people talking about politics is exactly what is needed, not only in terms of personal empowerment, but to democratise a concept that has, for far too long, been left to institutions by those who don’t believe that they can influence it, so they choose to leave the power and decisions that affect their own lives to people who they don’t trust or believe in anyway, which, to me, is inherently and woefully screwed-up.

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