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The Assassination of Jo Cox

For those who haven’t been following the news today: Jo Cox, the MP for Batley and Spen, was assassinated by a man who allegedly shouted “Britain First” as he stabbed and shot her.

This is the first murder of a sitting MP since Ian Gow in 1990. Excluding those killed in the context of Ireland, this is the first assassination of a sitting MP since 1812.

Jo Cox was an activist for the campaign to keep the UK in the European Union. Prior to becoming an MP in 2015, she was head of policy for Oxfam, and an anti-slavery campaigner.

Britain First are a fascist/neo-Nazi group strongly opposed to EU membership, immigration, multiculturalism, and (in their own words) “the islamisation of the United Kingdom”.

While some people are at pains to point out that the assassin may not have had any direct ties with Britain First, evidence exists that he was a supporter of the Springbok Club, an organisation that defended and supported the white supremacist apartheid regime in South Africa.

The whole thing has left me feeling a weird mix of anger, outrage, and despair. What has happened is so utterly abhorrent that I can’t process it in real-time.

The UK is currently embroiled in a war for the Conservative party leadership, being played out via the proxy of our membership of the European Union. Funnily enough, the people who want out of the EU tend to be white billionaires who can buy the laws they want in the UK but not the EU, or racist idiots. Up until a few weeks ago, I could agree that there were intellectually-coherent reasons for people on the left to vote to leave the EU. The exit camp has gone out of their way to demolish all of those reasons. Leaving the EU could allow us to make a better UK, but that’d require us also dismantling our current system of government. As that’s not going to happen, if/when we leave things will get worse. Even the thinnest pretence has been swept away and subtext has been rendered into text. Anyone on the left who thinks exiting the EU is a good thing is putting ideological purity over the lives of vulnerable people, and can thus hurry up and fuck off.

Make no mistake: this is a vote for the flavour of Tories who are going to fuck us, and the exit camp are the greater evil.

Both sides of the official referendum campaigns are totally useless, mind. Both sides have played up the fear of “immigration”, but the leave camp has gone further, going on about “closing our doors” and “taking our country back” from said immigrants. For those reading along in foreign climes, it’s a barely more subtle class of racism than pronouncing ‘negro’ with two ‘g’s.

Here’s Nigel Farage, someone who really should have been just a stain in his dad’s sock, deciding that he’s quite happy taking PR lessons from Josef Goebbles:

The campaigns to leave the EU, then, have used straight up racism and Nazi propaganda. They encouraged the mindset of the assassin and his allies — hell, they normalised it. But it’s not like this is a recent thing. The history of racism in the UK is tied in to immigration, after all — our black and Asian populations are almost all migrants. “Immigrants” has been the go-to dog-whistle for racists since the 1940s, soon joined by “Political Correctness gone mad!”

We’ve made a hell of a lot of progress as a society since then, but at the same time the Overton window has shifted right. This has mostly been driven by newspapers, with the Sun and the Daily Mail and the Daily Express blazing a trail of screaming about evil immigrants stealing jobs and getting unemployment benefits at the same time somehow don’t think just hate hate hate hate. That message sells newspapers, which puts advertisements in front of eyes and generates revenue, despite the message being total shit.

People — mostly white people in England over the age of 50 — say “you can’t talk an honest talk about immigration these days” before going off on exactly the racist tirade they’ve just informed you can’t be said. And you can try saying that to them, you can try saying “Dad, you just said we couldn’t have the conversation we just had, how’s that supposed to work?” but he’ll just repeat “You can’t talk about it.”

As a society, we made it taboo to be racist, and people like to challenge taboos. It makes them feel put upon, they’re the kind of person who claims that middle-class white English men are the last 'oppressed minority’. Because it’s taboo, people rise up to challenge those taboos at a larger level. They claim that they’ll say what nobody else will, ignoring that a whole fuckload of people are saying just that while claming they can’t say it. Which is almost as confused a sentence as it is an experience.

What we ended up with, in the UK, is a far-right party — UKIP, the United Kingdom Independence Party — who shot into the media spotlight. For the past six years they’ve had near constant coverage on political programming. The Green Party in England had an elected Member of Parliament in 2010. UKIP did not. Yet if you looked at political television, radio, and print media you’d think that UKIP were as important as the Conservative or Labour parties and the Greens didn’t exist.

The Overton window progressed right, and UKIP was there waiting. They didn’t just normalise racism, they legitimised it. It wasn’t just this thing that everyone thinks but nobody says. They had a political party! They had people on Question Time! Britain First and their ilk saw their views (albeit watered down for middle England) represented as a legitimate position in the mainstream.

Then, come the election last year, it got worse. The Tories did their own legitimising. They were bricking it about losing seats to UKIP, so they tacked right. Parts of the Conservative party — notably, many of proponents of leaving the EU — took up the same racist rhetoric in order to capture the votes of people who would have gone to UKIP. What do our neo-Nazi cunts think then? It’s not just a third party saying what they’ve been saying, it’s one of the big two!

A combination of the legitimisation of fascistic views and the frenzy of racism spewing from this idiotic referendum directly lead to the assassination of a sitting MP by someone claiming affiliation with a fascist group.

This whole thing scares the living shit out of me.

Originally posted at Dreamwidth, where comment count unavailable people have commented. Please join them. You can log in there with your Livejournal account.

Comments

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nelc
Jun. 16th, 2016 11:17 pm (UTC)
As a white English guy over the age of fifty, I have to say you can drag me out and shoot me if I ever start a conversation by saying "You can't have an honest conversation about...".

We've been having a conversation, nationally, about immigration ever since Enoch bloody Powell's 'rivers of blood' speech, and the thing that makes it dishonest is all the bloody xenophobes saying that they're not xenophobes, all they want to talk about is the economic or the culture issues or whatever but they're not allowed to. It's us Lefties (usually), you see, who persist in making it all about racism (or nationalism).
heron61
Jun. 17th, 2016 10:15 am (UTC)
I'm sorry you folks are having to deal with your fascist scum this year. We certainly are - I don't expect Trump to get elected, but for someone who is openly and (very) loudly running as a fascist bigot to be the presidential nominee for one of our political parties is pretty darn horrifying.

National level Republicans have all been obvious scum for the last 20 years (was opposed to merely most of them being scum for at least the last 50 years), but I'm shocked to see someone openly celebrating this fact rather than merely taking in racist dog whistles and fundy code.
( 2 informants — We want information! )

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