When terror lives next door

Alright. That “victory” speech of Nigel Farage.

“This war was won without a single bullet being fired”

The obvious reaction to that has already been widely covered. Shots were fired, the ones that killed Jo Cox. He kind of apologised for that one.

Look again. Farage won his “war” without violence. However, implicit in his statement was the idea that if he and his supporters had not “wonpeacefully, then bullets may have been required. He was already on record in an interview saying that if the UK borders were not closed to migrants then “violence would be the next logical step”. That was widely shared in the context of the murder of Jo Cox, as being some kind of endorsement of the idea people that might use violence as a legitimate measure within the context of the referendum campaign. I want to take it back out of that context and suggest it was a veiled threat. “If we don’t get what we demand – there will likely be violence.”

This has a name. Terrorism. The implied threat of violence in the event of defeat, or opposition. Fascism/terrorism. Same difference.

We have a standard response to terrorist threats in the West. Don’t give in. Don’t say “OK if you are planning to hurt people then you can have what you want”. There is a real possibility that UK parliament can and will refuse to ratify Brexit, for complex constitutional reasons. A frequent response to this idea is

“My God there would be riots”

Probably, yes. People might get hurt. One acquaintance of mine went so far as to muse that “people would be killed”. Possibly. So are we saying that our Members of Parliament should refuse to act in accordance with their conscience because some people have threatened to punch them, or others, if they don’t do what they have been told to? Really? What then? What if UKIP then demand the forcible repatriation of existing immigrants or “violence would be the next logical step?” What do you do then? I would much rather draw a line here and now and prevent all of the unnecessary shit-storm that would ensue from the economic meltdown triggered by an actual Brexit, involving a dawning realisation on “Leave” voters that they were duped and all those things they were promised were not in fact real. That’s just another set of potential riots.

I read today that a series of anti-Brexit marches and demonstrations planned in our major cities have been cancelled because of “fears for the safety of the participants”. It was not clear from the report I read what exactly was meant by this.

If it was concerns about health and safety; well, much of the health and safety law that protects us might well be brushed away by a post-Brexit government without the “interference” of Brussels. At a time when so many of the protections we enjoy as a result of our membership of the EU are on the brink of being washed away, I would suggest that worrying about health and safety now is at the very least deeply ironic.

If it is out of fear that fascists might show up and inflict violence on the demonstrators, I would suggest that is a terrible reason to choose not to publicly oppose fascism. They have already fire-bombed a halal butchers in my home town, so hey, cancel the demonstrations because they might fire-bomb us?

There is a psychology of blame at play here. The idea that protesting, opposing, doing the right thing, might lead to violence and murder somehow makes the opposer responsible for that violence. If we had kept quiet than there would have been no violence, so the opposition – even peaceful opposition – is the cause of it? Wrong. Let us be clear where the violence emanates from. From the heel of jackboots. Do not let them guilt-trip you into believing that if you oppose them, the mayhem is all your fault.

We have had peace for seventy years. We have not had to deal with this in living memory. Do not write them off as a deranged minority, because minorities have a habit of getting bigger if you leave them be.

All it takes for evil to triumph, is for good men to do nothing. On the street. On the bus. In the pub. In your workplace. Do not keep silent.

 

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