07 July 2016

Brexit and the Rise of the Racists

Two weeks ago the United Kingdom held a referendum whether they would leave or remain in the European Union. As you all probably know by now, they voted to leave. And that had repercussions not only in the UK but in Europe as well. While I am not a UK citizen, nor resident, sometimes reading the news makes me appalled at the mindset of these people, especially those who voted to leave. And as a non-white minority, I am especially sensitive to these things.

First there are the people who wanted to vote Leave because there were too many immigrants. They thought that their little quaint village in rural England and Wales were being overrun by Polish and Romanian and other eastern European immigrants. That may be true, but sometimes it is baffling to see villages like Ebbw Vale who don't have immigrants at all, and yet they all strongly think that they need to leave because of the rise of the immigrants.

I wonder what they would think if the EU decided to expel all the British citizens living here in the continent, sending them back to Britain to suffer their nasty and deplorable weather?

Jokes aside, what I find worrisome is the fact that half of a country's population seriously thinks that it is better to leave a political and economic union (that have supported them over the years) just because they cannot think in collective terms, but only in individual terms. I see a regression to the thinking popular decades and centuries earlier, where it is the common persuasion to think that one's own race and ethnicity is of course way better than the others.

As a foreigner, that scares me.

It scares me that half of the UK seriously failed to consider what benefits they get when they have been part of the EU. It scares me that they were okay with loudly proclaiming that they want to take back control of their country, based on unfounded reasons scapegoating immigrants. And we're not even talking about the refugees that have been coming into the European mainland, rather, the influx of other EU citizens moving to the UK!

The thing is, if we reject the idea that a society can flourish even when there are members of it that look different than you, then we're pretty much racists, plain and simple. And as a foreigner, I find that sad and disturbing.

We'll see. It's curious to see what will happen next. For better or for worse.


  1. I must admit I didn't follow the process closely, and from this side of the Atlantic, it felt like a non-event. I was... let's say, mildly surprised by the outcome. Surprised in a way that something big was happening, but yet I felt that the UK was a fairly loose member that had expressed its displeasure of many EU politics over the years.

    The racist/xenophobic component bothers me, of course. It's silly too. I mean, what is it going to change? Not being a member anymore doesn't mean they will build a wall, a fortress, that immigrants will stop dreaming of a better life in the UK...!

    1. Zhu,

      Yes, the UK has always been stand-off-ish, not wholeheartedly joining the EU from the very beginning. And sure, I do agree that every country should have the choice whether they would want to be a part of a larger multi-national entity, or whether they would want to play by themselves.

      I guess what I should have made clearer is that while I am not bothered by the fact that the UK opted to leave the EU, I am bothered by the fact that this occasion made racism quite condoned, and if you see the news, you see how xenophobic attacks have increased after the referendum, as more and more people think that they now have permission to blatantly display their hatred of everything foreign.