Yesterday, I was deeply saddened by the news that Jo Cox MP had been brutally shot and stabbed to death. Not because I knew her as a person, not even because I knew much about her work as an MP (although in hindsight I wish I had taken more of an interest in her activities).
No, I was saddened because something awful had happened and, somehow, I felt responsible for it happening. I’m not saying there was anything I could have done – had I known this exact situation would happen there would still have been little I could have done to stop it. But I did feel responsible – responsible because only three days earlier I had posted something on Facebook, an article I randomly came across that highlighted my worst fears and where I believe Britain is currently heading…
And it was pretty much right on the money.
I couldn’t help wondering – had I pushed it in front of more people’s faces, shared it more on Facebook and generally not stopped going on about it, could that have done enough to stop this terrible murder from happening…
And the answer, to my lasting regret is – No.
It wouldn’t have made a difference. Wheels had been set in motion long before I posted that article. We had created a society where it was inevitable that this would happen and I was little more than a stone against the waves of fate…
I have never felt so powerless in all my life.
But I can change that.
And I will.
This post has been titled, ‘Home Truths for Brexit and Remain Supporters Alike’ – not because it is political. Obviously I do have a political agenda (who can honestly say they don’t?) but that is not the point. I am going to be brutal to both sides here because enough is enough.
And maybe, just maybe, I can make the difference I failed to make before…
So, here it is. The Home Truth.
Fact: Jo Cox was doing what she thought was right. She was a humanitarian who was actively backing the Remain Campaign in the EU referendum.
Fact: She was shot and stabbed whilst on the way to one of her constituency surgeries.
Witness Report: There are witnesses that report that the assailant shouted ‘Britain First’ as he murdered her.
Family Report: The family of alleged assailant have reported that the killer was not politically motivated but has a history of mental illness, although nothing that would explain any violent outbursts.
Fact: As yet, there are no official comments about what his motivations were for the murder and, I imagine, there will be none until after the referendum to avoid pushing voters one way or another based solely off this incident.
Since this terrible incident I have seen people flinging blame back and forth.
‘It’s Brexit’s fault…’
‘Remain campaign will exploit Jo Cox’s death…’
It doesn’t seem to matter to people that no one knows yet why he did it. It doesn’t seem to matter that most Remain campaigners haven’t even mentioned the referendum in relation to this terrible act…
It doesn’t seem to matter to people that a woman has died. That her children, aged 5 and 3, have lost their mother…
And it doesn’t seem to matter that every single one of us is to blame.
For weeks now we have been slugging this issue back and forth. In or Out. Pro or against. We’ve had false information, misinformation, omitted information, lack of information – the works. And what’s worse is, it seems to bringing out the worst in people…
I myself got into a debate with someone recently because I read a racist comment and decided to make my position clear that I wasn’t interested in any racial slurs being banded around the referendum, only to have a Brexit supporter practically accuse me of being racist myself for pointing out that it actually was a racist comment….
In his words ‘racism gets banded around a lot these days…’
We all seem to have gone mad. I mean, since when was it racist to point out when someone was saying something racist? Just because I see a lot more racist comments than I’ve ever seen before, does that mean that the standards for what qualify as a racist comment are suddenly higher so that we can get away with saying more ridiculous things?
It’s absurd. Regardless of whether a referendum is running or not, a racist comment is a racist comment – it should not be judged based on whether you want in or out of EU…
This is the society we have created. It is now acceptable to make racist comments. It is now acceptable to lie about each other’s motives or information to get what we want. It is now acceptable to talk about the British Empire as though it was a good thing, ignoring all the centuries of brutality and oppression, because it makes a compelling case. People can say the most ridiculously terrible things and know that they have the protection of ‘I have a right to my say in the referendum’ and ‘if you say that what I’m saying is unacceptable then you are oppressing me’.
Our society is rapidly rotting at the core over this issue and, because everyone is too scared to be seen as oppressing someone else’s view, we are allowing people to think ill towards each other. We allow people to lie to us. We allow people to be cruel and heartless and immoral when we should be ganging together – not just in Britain, not just in the EU – In the World!
Think of it this way. The last time a sitting MP was murdered was by the IRA nearly forty years ago. By the IRA. During what the IRA thought of as a war…
Is that what we have come to now? Are we really fighting a civil war over this issue? What kind of monsters have we all become?
This morning a report emerged that said that Jo Cox’s (alleged) murderer was suffering from mental illnesses (or at least has been). Having worked with young adults with mental illnesses, I know how easily they respond to their environment. If they sense hatred and loathing, they reflect that in their own actions.
And we have a lot of hatred and loathing spilling around at the moment.
So take a minute and ask yourself…
Are you really surprised that this happened? Are we really being the best we can be? Do we really want to be defined by our intolerance of people with other views to ourselves…
Even as I am writing this, I can hear some of you now…
‘But Nick, like you said, no one is saying anything about his motives. No one is saying he was manipulated by anyone to carry out this terrible thing. So what makes you think it has anything to do with us squabbling over the referendum?’
And the answer is simple.
That’s the point.
I don’t know that this act of violence has anything to do with the referendum. It could just be one almighty coincidence. He might have been responding to Jo Cox’s anti-Britain First stance and it just so happens he chose now to strike. He might have been acting on his own…
But I do have a few questions in response…
How did a man suffering of mental illness, who had no prior extreme right-wing views (according to his family and friends), suddenly get it into his head to kill a politician known for her anti-right wing views a week before the EU referendum?
And who gave him the gun?
You’re right. This is not about the referendum. That’s not the point of this post. The point of this post is because I have come to the inevitable conclusion that something in our society stinks. The EU referendum is not the cause of it, but it has helped to bring it bubbling to the surface.
The society we live in is corrupt and cold and self-absorbent and intolerant and vicious.
And I, for one, will not stand for it!