THERE was a time not that long ago when political correctness, in the UK especially, was so pervasive it was almost a joke with some people getting offended at the drop of a hat and others being crucified in public for ‘saying the wrong thing’.
That is what makes the spate of racist attacks in the past week, since the Brexit vote, all the more shocking. To be clear, it’s not about racist opinions, which are prevalent in sections of society in every country in the world, including as we all know, Cyprus.
What has been happening in the UK goes way beyond so-called ‘hateful opinions’. It’s as if the anti-immigration rhetoric of Brexit leaders Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson has allowed some people licence to think that it’s now ok to attack and harass foreigners on the streets whenever they feel like it.
According to reports from the UK, in one incident a BBC presenter was called ‘Paki’ in her own home town for the first time ever, two Polish men were beaten up in an East London park, Polish immigrants had flyers with the words ‘no more Polish vermin’ put through their letterboxes, banners with “rapefugees not welcome” were put up in Birmingham, Spanish and Turkish restaurants had their windows smashed, a man on a Manchester Metrolink was abused and had beer thrown on him by two yobs, and a man working at a halal butcher shop was injured after he was hit with Molotov.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. There are reports of Germans and Americans also being subjected to abuse, in fact anyone who is foreign appears to be a target. The irony is that for years Farage in particular has always accused the EU of being fascist, yet what is going on in Britain right now is reminiscent of the type of fascism seen on the streets of Berlin in the 1930s.
By playing on the fears of ordinary people who have for years had to supress their opinions about immigrants or be accused of hate crimes, the Brexit camp by its rhetoric has unleashed something far worse, not people simply guilty of ‘thought crime’ but actual criminals.
Clearly they do not represent the majority of the British people who live in one of the most multicultural countries in the world and who are appalled by what’s happening. The only hope is that police can nip it in the bud with a zero tolerance approach and hefty punishments. One enterprising woman has called on people to wear a safety pin so that immigrants in Britain know they have support and can safely sit next to them on a bus for instance.
Perhaps it will all blow over when the glow of the Brexit win has waned and those who want ‘foreigners out’, realise that nothing will change as regards immigration for at least two years, and that they were misled into thinking a Brexit would end in an ‘all-white’ Britain overnight, or ever really.