Yesterday, I posted this on Facebook:
‘I’ve been pretty vocal about my opinion of the referendum result. Now I think it’s time to do that most British of things – no, that’s NOT winning world wars single-handed, armed only with a small fruit knife – but shrug my shoulders, say something like “Oh well, you’ve got to laugh or you’d cry” and just Carry On. I reserve the right to express my opinion, though. After all, this is still a free country. Isn’t it?’
But I find I have not yet been able to shrug my shoulders and let go of my anger. Partly, largely even, this is because I keep being told ‘It’s democracy. Just accept it and stop whingeing.’ Repeatedly I am advised on social media to stop throwing tantrums because I didn’t get what I wanted, as though the fact that it was a democratic vote means that I don’t have the right to disagree, to complain, to be angry with my fellow citizens for doing something which I believe is incredibly foolish and short-sighted, and state this out loud.
Well – that’s democracy. Get over it. I have the democratic right to disagree, to complain and to be angry, and to state my opinion freely, and anyone who does not like it should consider pissing off to some nice little dictatorship where tantrums, public dissent, free speech and opposition parties are outlawed.
I have a democratic right to be angry that the previously stable, powerful and respected country that I lived in has, overnight, been thrown into political turmoil and world isolationism – a vulnerable Billy-No-Mates near the top left hand corner of the map.
I see much to fear in Brexit. One of the things I fear most is the potential rise of the Far Right, whose xenophobic voices I hear whispering behind the debates on immigration and using the money we currently send to the EU to ‘look after our own’. I can see them in the corner of my eye, circling vultures, lurking, ready to swoop into the wounds that will open up in a divided kingdom in the times of polictical and economic instability that lie ahead.
The Far Right, the Fascists, have an intense fear of difference. They blame all their problems, and all the ills of society, on people they perceive as being not like them. They demonise anyone of different race or ethnic background, religion, skin colour, or political ideology, and see the world outside their narrow horizons as full of barbarians and bogeyman. When presented with the truth, or an alternative view, they close their eyes, stick their fingers in their ears and sing ‘laa-laa-laa’ at the tops of their voices.
As the parent of a disabled child there is much for me to dread in their ascendance. They view disability or impairment as a weakness to be rooted out, because (they believe) it cheapens the blood of mankind. Disability is not something that happens to them, they are too strong, but only to ‘others’ who lack their superior genes. To them, disability betrays a lack of moral fibre or some other defect in the blood line of the family. They view disabled people as ‘eaters’: that is, as bodies who comsume resources without contributing anything to society. Try to disabuse them of the notion and they suddenly turn into three brass monkeys, only the third one has taken his hands off his mouth and is singing loudly.
If the fascists ever do start marching through our streets in the aftermath of Brexit, then I am quite prepared go out to meet them with fire and fury and a family-sized box of petrol bombs. I may be rapidly heading towards old bat-dom, but I will be a fierce one. You won’t need to cremate me, you can send me to meet my maker on a burning barricade, and write my epitaph in the blood of my enemies. Because, unlike so many of the British electorate, my vision is clear. I can see who my real enemies are, and they are not in Brussels, or indeed anywhere in the EU.
They are the scaredy-cats in the playground covering up their fear by bullying anyone with a different skin colour.
They are the Facebook warriors posting memes urging me to ‘like if you think the Burka should be banned’ and sharing shit-stirring headlines from the red-top press declaring that use of the phrase ‘Easter eggs,’ and the wearing of England tops and crucifixes are to be banned for fear of offending Muslims.
They are the boorish blokes in the pub swapping stories about the Polish migrants who’ve stolen all the jobs (the ones offering a pay-packet so meagre that our pub pundits declare ‘I wouldn’t get out of bed for that’). The same migrants who only came here to fraudulently screw our benefits system. If they’d heard of Schrodinger’s cat they’d say it was a load of bollocks, but it seems they’re intimately familiar with Schrodinger’s Immigrant.
They are the people of my own country, my home town, my neighbourhood, the ones watching and judging, saying to themselves: ‘She shouldn’t have had that kiddy, he’ll just be a drain on our NHS’; the ones wondering how much we ‘cost’ them in benefits, how much of their tax money pays for us to have a decent house and car. They are also the ones who would question the ancestry of my black-haired, olive-skinned grandmother, but not that of my father — a freckly red-head — although on his side I’m only third generation UK. How many of them have bothered to look into their family history to see how Brit-ish they really are?
For the record , not that it’s anyone else’s business, it is my husband’s wage that supports the family, we cut our cloth accordingly and use what we have carefully. Not all disabled people need or want to claim benefits. Some have no choice because either their condition prevents them gaining employment, or, equally often, the discriminatory attitudes of society prevent it. My youngest son hasn’t been a hospital in-patient since he was six weeks old, and he rarely visits the doctor — he ‘costs’ the NHS less than many ‘healthy’ people.
So, I shall continue to exercise my democratic right to be angry at what has been done to my country, and to disagree with it and to complain. But that’s democracy for you, it’s uncomfortable on both sides. I have to live with the consequences of what others have voted for, and they have to live with my anger, my whingeing, and if necessary, my right to take direct action to change what I don’t like. Welcome to life in the Divided Kingdom.