Friday, 17 June 2016

A letter to those in my family who would vote to leave Europe

The tragic death of Jo Cox has been very disturbing. One has to feel terrible for her family. But here we have a humanitarian who has been slain. As such, it is a terrible attack on British liberalism.

The attacker is alleged to have shouted Britain First. Whatever his motive, or mental state, this is a party that when Sadiq Khan was elected London Mayor, had their candidate on the platform turn away as Mr Khan was pronounced as mayor.

Whatever your views on staying in or out of Europe, I feel following this attack, the need to articulate the kind of people who want us out, and the thuggery aligned to them. There has been a propaganda campaign in the majority of the press to exit Europe. It goes back to the days of the Daily Mail claiming Europe vetoes certain banana shapes, human rights, rules and interference. It goes to the heart of the press and politicians using any immigrant, asylum seeker or migrant bad news story as a representative of all foreigners. But think, when was the last time you associated any criminal act by a white person, as representative of all white people?

There is an incredible humanitarian disaster going on in Syria and Libya as a direct result of our short term planned foreign policies. These are refugees escaping war, or economic realities so appalling that people would risk losing their children in rubber boats bouncing across the sea. Can you imagine if dad had made us cross the Mediterranean or Aegean Sea in his boat, to escape war, persecution or dire economic circumstances. Would it have been a lightly taken decision, or one of absolute desperation?

The wider causes need addressing. The very real threat of ISIS needs addressing, but of course it has to be remembered that the worse you treat others, the more likely one is to create people who are disillusioned with our way of life.

Ask yourself, would you be better of dealing with these issues as a united Europe, or a fractured one?

The problem with the In and Out campaigns has been mis-information on both sides. When it comes to it though, it is obvious that as a nation, we will lose significantly in Economic terms. But we will also lose the unity of a continent that fought itself twice in the last century with millions of deaths. Europe has many faults, and I don’t like it as it is, but we have to make it better, not fracture unity among people. Europeans know their immigration policies are not working, but these need addressing, not running away from. Leaving Europe will not make these issues go away.

Back to my original point. Nigel Farage yesterday standing in front of a poster of refugees is comparible with Nazi propaganda in World War 2. I play basketball. I am the only white English player in the mens or womens teams. Many are muslim, including many of the women…. No they are not wearing veils, they are wearing basketball shorts and kit like everyone else. Do I feel under threat by the fact that everyone else is different to me, or that I am in a minority of one? Or do I go out with them after games and laugh with them like anyone else. There is no “them and us”, there is only “we”, and you have to get away from the decades of propaganda that has fed you to believe that English white people are better than anyone else. We are the same. Start thinking that people are the same as you, and then why does any national or cultural difference matter.

What old England are you trying to preserve? The England that invented concentration camps in the 19th century, the England that caused millions to die in famines in India and Ireland by denying food aid. The England that took land from the people of the Chagos Islands as recently as the 1960’s. The England whose justice system covers up the deaths of Hillsborough. The England that ruled the slave trade and stole, murdered and raped 16 million Africans. But you won’t read that in the Daily Mail, the Times or the Telegraph. And because you won’t, your view of our superiority over everyone else, will reduce your ability to empathise with people who don’t look like you.

The thuggery from the England football fans which has risen in Europe recently, having improved for many years, is a direct result of the wave of racist xenophobia which has come about from the Out Campaign. Farage, Johnson, Gove and all have thrived on this misinformation about others. They are creating and living off your fear of people who don’t look like you, whose culture and religion is not like yours. This fear is what will make you vote to exit, as it is what drives football fans to do what they do, and very possibly what drives people like Britain First, and the murder of a humanitarian that saw everyone as her equal.

What scares me most, is who we are handing our power to in this country if we vote out. The only way forward for humanity is to keep coming together, resolving our differences, and correcting what doesn’t work. Isolationism has traditionally led to trade wars, conflict, 2 world wars and immense human suffering. Look how it’s driving the farce around Trump. Do we keep adding to it, or keep a cool head and say, we have to make humanity work.

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