Sunday 26 June 2016

Brexit racism?

As to the outbreak of post-referendum racism, I think it is to an extent overstated. Much of what we are told reaches us through Twitter which is hardly the most reliable source and people have been known to lie about such things, not least Stella Creasy.

But I don't doubt some of it is true. There are some rotten people with some rotten ideas about what Brexit entails. But then I think it is only to be expected. We are seeing the end of a political order where such thoughts have been suppressed rather than challenged.

Yesterday I took a rare day off to take time to smell the roses. It was a happy day. Just me, the car and and open road. I stopped in a village pub for a bite to eat and a pint only to be told I couldn't use my vape stick in the pub. But the landlady piped up "that won't last long now we're out the EU". I laughed in sceptical agreement.

And that to me really says something. It's the little micro-oppressions people associate the EU with. Along with that goes political correctness and those things you can think but not say. So I rather suspect folks rather felt the same way I did yesterday. That we are going to be free of this invisible pettifogging harassment.

So as I defiantly continued to suck on my vape stick I imagine there will be little acts of defiance happening all up and down the country. I don't see it lasting but it pleases me to think that we could become a more relaxed society less bound by the ever present threat of fines and forfeitures. And I can also see how that might mean more overt expressions of racism. But I'm ok with that too.

You see, we have never really overcome our fear of words as the Americans have. In the US it is commonplace for Americans to call eachother po-lock, spic, nigger or whatever. It is not said with racist intent and in some regards is viewed as a sign of friendship that one can venture such a taunt without offence being taken. It is a bond of trust. Britain was quite like that in the eighties. We didn't have these hang ups and nobody saw it as racist. Though we did call out genuine racism when we saw it and it was just as hated then.

The truth is we haven't become a more tolerant country. We have always been tolerant. But we have become intolerant of free expression. We did not tackle racism or racist ideas. We simply repressed them. And how could we tackle them if we couldn't even openly discuss it? We have drifted into a state where we cannot separate word from intent and word from deed.

And so if Brexit has lifted the lid on those micro-oppressions then we should consider that as an opportunity. Brexit has opened up a Pandora's box of questions that have yet to be resolved and this is one of them. The left wing approach was always to challenge the language and not the thought behind the language. Little wonder that people now feel enabled to act in defiance after two decades of conditioning. We can change that.

As I said earlier, now we have lanced the boil a lot of puss will seep out before we start to heal. Oh and one other thing. That little anecdote about the vape stick? That didn't happen. I just made it up to make a political point. A lot like those tweets claiming racist incidents.

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