The question and our efforts to answer it reveal something unsettling; that civilisation and culture provide only the most fragile layer of defence against the encroachment of terrible darkness. This thin veil of security and freedom and rights is held in place by the flimsiest of pegs — intellectual and political freedom, respect and civility, and tolerance and the rule of law. When any one or a number of these pegs are compromised, weakened, or removed the structural integrity of the whole system that guarantees our safety and security is damaged...
As if on cue, no sooner was Brexit Day over than news began circulating of a notice posted for residents in a Norwich tower block telling people to speak English or go home. ‘We do not tolerate people speaking other languages than English in the flats,’ said the notice, before going on to encourage immigrants to return to their own countries and free up housing for white English-speaking British people. Monika Wiśniewska, a Polish author living in England, took to social media to describe how Polish people were now being described as ‘vermin.’
There are plenty of open calls for violence against Muslims. “Punish a Muslim Day” was not a one-off, it was merely a call to action from the far-right that, thanks to the internet, came to more people’s attention. Theresa May and Boris Johnson know about these calls for pogroms and acts of violence. In fact, they are no longer threats. Muslims all over the United Kingdom are regular targets of violent attacks and routinely subjected to Islamophobic hate speech.
Cat Boyd – writer and “internationalist” – gave us another horrifying example of this pitiful self-loathing attitude at the weekend when she posted to her Twitter page a short video featuring an ad by the Scotland Is Now campaign, a campaign designed to attract tourism and foreign investment to the country, with her own comment: “peak nationalism.” As small-minded, xenophobic, and potentially violent supporters of Brexit were marching through the streets of London trailing effigies of hanged politicians behind them, Boyd was doing her best to smear an effort to project Scotland...
The common belief that Britain, acting as the policeman of Europe, went to war with Hitler to stop the Holocaust is an ex post facto justification. The Nazis’ “Final Solution” – the beginning of systematic murder as a solution to the “Jewish Problem” – did not begin until the Wannsee Conference of 20 January 1942. Adolf Hitler’s opinions regarding the Jews were well known long before the war. He wrote a book outlining his antisemitism and his plans to deal with the Jews of Germany. Britain may or may not have been comfortable with this development in Berlin, but it did nothing.
Where does this mindless obedience lead us? We know fine well where this behaviour leads; history teaches us all we need to know, and this is precisely why we refer to the defence of “only following orders” as the Nuremberg defence. This leads to the deprivation of civil and political rights, the creation of categories of political crimes, and to the exact same thinking that brought us the re-education camps and concentration camps of the totalitarian and authoritarian régimes of the not so distant past – and this is no facile comparison.
If you are thinking what I am describing here is apocalyptic, you’re right. This is apocalyptic. Not in the modern sense of an end of the world, but in the proper sense; an unveiling – a cataclysm between the ages, a laying bare and an unleashing of the aggressions that the dying age has stored up in sowing the seeds of its own destruction. Yes, I fear we are about to reap the whirlwind.
England’s tabloid media has made a tradition of being on the wrong side of history. It has been so consistent in this that one is almost led to the conclusion that being wrong, especially when it isolates and hurts minorities, is the point.