Thursday, 30 June 2016

THE POST THAT FACEBOOK BLOCKED

Fortunately a friend thought to take a screenshot, where I failed to.
24 hours later, the likes/shares had over tripled.

On Friday 24th June, I like many of the nation, was mortified.

After a full day of being around people openly discussing their views on the referendum result, and then getting home to see countless Brexiteers goading upon social media, both directly and passively (telling people to "move on" a mere 18 hours later was incredibly patronising, however nobly intended), something in me snapped. So I wrote a fairly visceral response on my personal Facebook page, not perhaps observing the same politeness and/or courtesy I would normally aspire to.

After years of writing and discussing political events on social media (and since late last year, this dedicated blog), the reaction quite literally blew my mind. It was nothing short of incredible. By the morning of Monday 27th, the post had been liked by around 27.2k people, and shared by 18k. I received hundreds of friend requests and follows, and the same of messages - a fair bit of hate mail amongst them, but mostly it was people thanking me and commending me for what I'd said, sometimes writing at length to tell me of their own experiences. It was very moving. Some of the messages can be seen here.

I also sadly lost a fair few friends, and clashed with a few more too - something that saddens me immensely. But that's the whole point of having principles: you don't alter them dependent on the company you keep, or who's listening.

For an aspiring writer and political commentator, one cannot hope for more than to be heard, or for our ramblings to be valued. Although I'd be lying if I didn't admit some of the unpleasant stuff unnerved me, the words that these kind, emotionally battered people across the UK and beyond offered in turn renewed my confidence, and gave me faith that perhaps all the hours of writing and pondering are not completely in vain. It was something to be grateful for amid all the insanity and fear.

Then Facebook took it down.

Unbelievably, the idea they'd do such a thing had not even occurred to me, so I hadn't even bothered to take a screenshot. (The best I have is a screenshot taken by an acquaintance of several years, a very sweet girl named Rebecca, taken almost two days prior to being removed.)

Yep, I'd been fairly rude to people who were taunting Remain voters: I'd called them "smug assholes" and had told them to "fuck off", and I did so quite deliberately. I also later described many of us as being "fucking outraged". That was it. Nothing else. Nothing obscene or gratuitous, not even the suggestion that ALL Brexiteers were prejudiced or xenophobic (the most touted criticism I received), I just simply wouldn't back down from my assertion that many are, or that those moved by other motives had been grossly misled. And I stand by that.

Ok... hardly courteous I'll concede, but I'm pretty confident there's far worse out there in public cyberspace that remains uncensored. And probably worse in just about any school playground up and down the country. I'm an adult for God's sake, and I can swear if I deem it appropriate! The fact there are hate-groups out there peddling their filth on social media, but my words should have been censored, is just straight up preposterous - but also incredibly worrying.

To be honest, I think it was perhaps exactly because it was such an abrupt/guttural response that it resonated. Those on the Left tend to argue more with reason, ethics, and cogent argument: tip-toeing around those of different opinions, attempting to remain respectful to all. We do not often offer such "fighting-talk", and those on the Right are certainly not as used to having it flung at them.

I've reposted here, and it has still provoked a reaction - but with no where near the same accumulative audience - not even the same playing field. Facebook quite literally decided to snuff out a political ideal gathering momentum, without tangible cause or justification. There's a lot more to say about this than I have time to offer right now, but I wanted to make note of this quite significant event on my personal blog (which I've been neglecting of late, in favour of mainstream social media), and to put another copy of the post out there (in case it's taken down again).

Here it is:


"To all the smug assholes now telling us we need to "get with the programme", "accept the result" and essentially "stop moaning", I have some words for you.
Fuck off.
Sorry, I can't be bothered to put it any more eloquently.
This is not some meagre general election, or a minor political disagreement. You have changed the world for the worse. You have categorically reversed progress, threatened the security and future cultural opportunities of our children, doomed this country to insular Tory government, and informed the world in no uncertain terms that we, the people of Britain, really are nothing more than arrogant, xenophobic supremacists and football yobs with outdated delusions of colonial grandeur. Nice one.
You have given resurgence to right-wing nationalism, you will possibly have broken Europe up into competing states (eg: the cause of centuries of war) and you've probably broken up our very own Great British union as well. Yet somehow have the nerve to call yourself "patriots".
On top, you've condemned the people of Gibraltar to a very uncertain, tense future too. (If you don't know why or what I'm referring to, you really shouldn't have been allowed to vote in the first place.)
But what I maybe take most offence at, is you've allowed an absolute monster of a man, Nigel Farage, to stand up and tell the people of Britain that we the rational and non-xenophobic... we who see people as human beings and not a country of origin, that WE are neither "decent" or apparently even supposedly "real" people. Whether you share his views, whether or not you yourself are racist etc, it matters not - the result is the same, and shame on you for allowing such a thing to happen. I for one cannot forgive that.
No - we're not going to just "be quiet". We are fucking outraged. The only difference is we're expressing our fury with words, as opposed to the violence and bigotry your side would no doubt have demonstrated if common sense had actually won the day. (I suppose the only saving grace is we've at least avoided that bit.) I actually dared to hope the tragedy of Jo Cox's murder might've woken "decent" people up to what was really going on here - but sadly not.
To the many friends I've made across Europe over the past few years, and European friends over here... to my friends in France and Germany (two of my favourite places in the world), Poland, Spain, Portugal etc, I apologise on behalf of my ignorant nation. I apologise for the fact we have learned no lessons from history, and I apologise for the fact we have told you you're not welcome in our country. Please believe that not all of us in Britain are so small-minded and full of misplaced bitterness/arrogance. If anything, please feel sorry for us: for the fact our nation is so easily manipulated and brainwashed by right-wing propaganda and subterfuge.
Btw, if you don't like this status, please feel free to delete me. (In fact, I think I'd prefer you did.) I don't care if it means losing 52% of my friends list. I am proud to stand by what I believe in, and will not "tone it down" to appease people who have violated my country and its humanitarian ethos. I am only standing here today because once upon a time, Britain actually WAS a noble and virtuous place, taking in Europeans fleeing for their lives - it certainly isn't any more."

Thursday, 16 June 2016

THE MARTYRDOM OF JO COX: A WAKE-UP CALL FOR BRITAIN?

RIP Jo Cox, 1974 - 2016
This is one of those terrible moments when something so awful has happened, I've instantly felt the need to commit thoughts to paper (or the 21st century online/screen equivalent), for fear my head might otherwise explode.

Only within the last hour have I read of the horrifying attack on MP for Batley and Spen of West Yorkshire, Jo Cox. The level of violence against this young wife and mother was just atrocious, utterly harrowing and beyond redemption, and in the last few minutes we've now learned she has in fact died from the inflicted injuries.

This is merely days after yet another gun massacre in America, at a gay club in one of the world's leading tourist destinations - Orlando. Prior to that, a few days before, a young singer from a U.S TV talent competition was shot dead whilst signing autographs for her fans. In recent weeks, we've seen passenger planes "disappearing" and getting shot down, nightclubs and music venues attacked by madmen - it's easy to understand why a good many people simply switch off to it all, and don't want to know. ("There's nothing I can do about it, so I'm going to enjoy my life - not rant or be miserable about things I can't change" is the type of argument often levelled at us, the implicitly criticised "ranters".)

However, sometimes there is. A misinformed and uninterested, spoon-fed populace has a moral and ethical responsibility to educate itself of the policies carried out in their name. In the same way, sometimes the misery and woe around us might seem senseless, but sometimes it isn't - sometimes it's a veritable symptom of what we, the populace, have mitigated and allowed to happen. The murder of this poor young woman in West Yorkshire today stands out in such respect, not only because it was truly heinous, but because it's the first assassination of a British politician in a very long time. (I believe there have only been about eleven in the whole of modern history.)

There is a lot going on in the world today. So many tragedies, so much violence, so many pressing issues. Such is always the case, but recently (certainly in the past few months), to many it seems the Western world is quite literally sliding to madness. Respectable, intelligent and well-meaning people we all know and associate with on a day-to-day basis are suddenly arguing in favour of dangerous and egocentric lunatics like Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen, Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage; it's hard to just sit back and watch that happen. It is giving strength to very sinister geopolitics. I can only imagine opposers of Hitler and his National Socialist party in 1930's Germany probably felt something similar, watching those around them shout and cheer in adoration of policies they recognised might take their nation to the darkest of places.

The similarities are all too disturbing, even for a rudimentary student of history. The right-wing media have whipped the UK populace into a frenzy, and what seemed unthinkable in recent years has suddenly become a populist movement gaining alarming momentum, for a host of allegedly "justified" reasons. The populists of 30's Germany... they too sought to be "unshackled" from the restrictions of Europe, they too blamed all their economic problems on foreigners, and immigrants. They too insisted Germany knew better, that they were superior, that they could stand alone, that their "powerless" leaders should be able to make decisions without being subject to the international community. And like National Socialism in 30's Germany, the movement's success has soared upon the shoulders of an outspoken "celebrity" politician's astute, almost Machiavellian opportunism (please see previous article: http://macs-mouth.blogspot.co.uk/2016/02/boris-johnson-affable-face-of-ambition.html). Boris Johnson's affable face on all this has proved catalyst to a populist landslide of "nationalism" that threatens to derail our economy, and renege on a mere 71 years of peace, prosperity and cooperation between Britain and mainland Europe. The importance of that cannot be overstated, and no potential repercussion dismissed as hyperbole.

Of course, if you point that out to those of the Brexit bandwagon, they condemn it as "sensationalism" - and will possibly go on to argue some cod-Patriotic dross about how our forefathers "fought against the corruption of Europe in the Second World War". (Yes, yes we did - you shortsighted cretins. We rooted out the weeds, and then we joined with them - that was the point of it all. We formed a greater international, European community. Now you want to tear that apart. Not because there's a tyrant annexing countries or murdering minorities or anything like that, but simply because you feel "there's too many bloody foreigners over here", and have been mindlessly herded into believing EU membership is the cause of all our economic problems.)

Jo Cox was a devoted Liberal, left-wing inclusionist and activist, as is her husband Brendan Cox. They were at the forefront of their local "Remain" campaign, and accounts suggest she was savagely murdered on the street by a far-right "Britain First" supporter: only days before this referendum that could change the world and international community as we know it. That is significant, and don't let any Brexit supporter tell you otherwise. This awful murder is very much a product of nationalist stirrings within this country, and whilst nobody would or should ever suggest all Brexit supporters condone such nationalist-inspired violence, those who do, will be voting for Brexit. In the same way, nobody would suggest all Brexit supporters are racists or national supremacists, but one thing is also true - all racists and national supremacists will be voting for Brexit.


Jo Cox's last Tweet, before her murder on June 16th, 2016.
Her Twitter page is filled with similar pro-remain sentiment.
Hopefully this horrendous incident will be Britain's equivalent of a rebellious teenager waking up the morning after a frenzied party, looking around in a moment of epiphany only to realise they're chucking their life away hanging out with ne'er-do-well, drug addled losers who'll inevitably drag them down to their level.

We should never blame an entire ethnic/cultural/political group for the actions of isolated terrorists, but neither should we acquiesce to their demands - even inadvertantly. At the very least, decent rational people should perhaps take stock and examine whether their own choices should share any common ground with such hate and malevolence. In other words, whatever the different reasons, justifications and/or motivations you may have Brexiteers, make no mistake - your decision will be pandering to people such as this "Britain First" psychopath. You follow and cheer the same voices, with the same mentality and same mindset - the only difference is they own newspapers and seats on the government. Many of you are our friends, family, our loved ones: we don't wish to offend you or imply you're terrible people - so we just tip-toe around the issue. But how or why your attitudes coincide is almost immaterial now, the point is we absolutely cannot and must not let divisive, aggressive nationalism have its way.

Though I doubt it would be of much consolation to Jo Cox's husband, children, or her family and friends she leaves behind, I cannot help but pray this horrible event might somehow shock the system and serve some greater purpose - perhaps prove the turning point and thunderous wake-up call Britain needs, finally impeding our steady spiral to division and potential disaster.

If it is, the late Labour MP Jo Cox will be nothing short of a 21st century martyr.