Guest post: A seething morass of racial animosity

Originally a comment by Claire on A noxious brew.

When I moved from the UK to the US, several years ago, I was genuinely shocked at the amount of open racism I saw from just people on the street right up through the rhetoric of politicians. I was appalled and admittedly a little complacent – I didn’t think the UK was some racism-free utopia, but it seemed considerably better by comparison.

The EU referendum campaign has opened my eyes to a seething morass of racial animosity that apparently was right there beneath the surface the whole time. It’s horrifying – what has happened to my country of birth in the years since I moved away? I hadn’t even planned to vote in the referendum since I’m living in the US permanently and have no plans to return to the UK to live. So it seemed perhaps I should just let the people who actually do live there to make that decision.

The campaign changed my mind, and I have now voted Remain. I actually do think we are better off in Europe than out. But even if I did not, I could not stand idly by and let racists and demagogues annex and corrupt democracy into an exercise in beating up Johnny Foreigner.

Maybe I feel it acutely because I myself am a foreigner now, and know something of the challenges that face a person who decides to emigrate. And I’m ‘lucky’ to be white and come from a country my adopted nation has a very favorable view of, so I don’t face the kind of crap that some immigrants encounter.

Maybe the Donald Trump effect has thrown it all into sharp relief. But I barely recognize the Britain where an MP can be assassinated in the street, where campaigners can stand up and say blatantly racist things or where images of refugees fleeing for their lives can be turned into a fear-baiting poster about intra-European movement of people.

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