Dishonest, Intolerant, Hypocritical: Brexiteers Are Trying to Stifle Debate
When Gary Lineker labelled the media’s response to the refugee crisis as ‘hideously racist,’ the response of the tabloids - and the typically anonymous trolls - was vitriolic. It was also a strong example of the distortion of the British values.
The front pages of many editions of the right-wing papers have often represented the lowest points of British discourse, but so many recent headlines have demonstrated just how far the bar has fallen in their attempts to seize the voice of the public in the wake of the Brexit vote and the refugee crisis.
We have reached a point in Britain’s public life where showing compassion is ‘treacherous’ and ‘treasonous.’ Calling the response to the refugee crisis racist or bigoted, even when it is racist or bigoted, makes those guilty right-wing voices really rather uncomfortable to the point where that concept of freedom of speech (which so many right-wing trolls supposedly support) vanishes if they’re perceived to have been outed or offended when free speech is exercised.
When the validity of views that are fervently against supporting refugees on the basis of age or the country’s capacit are questioned, the response is scarcely thought-out or measured. The most ardent and vicious are typically anonymous online trolls who often masquerade under the guise of 15th century crusaders - or similar - who ‘loves freedom, are anti-pc, anti-EU’ etc. Funnily enough, most keep their identity hidden because the way they conduct themselves online is nothing short of shameful.
Many people have stood up for refugees but the most rabid and scathing abuse is saved for any celebrity that commendably uses their position to espouse an opinion that is in any way compassionate. Not only Gary Lineker but also figures such as Lily Allen and Carey Mulligan have all been labelled ‘leftie luvvies’, the insult favoured by the impressionable bigots on the right who try to subdue and scare others into keeping their opinions quiet. Apparently, if you’re a celebrity then you are not permitted to show empathy, because apparently having money means that you can’t act like a decent human being. The way these figures have been treated by the right-wing press has ramifications when it transcends into daily life as demonstrated by the black cab driver who told Lily Allen to ‘’find an immigrant to drive you you stupid tart.’'
We have reached such a low ebb in public discourse that the media is instead arguing the man or woman, not the point, indicative of the complete absence of a reasoned counter-argument.
These are just attempts to stifle any kind of debate about the direction that this country is going
This decline in rhetoric and discourse is dangerous, authoritarian and echoes the chilling words uttered by Jo Cox’s murderer: ‘Death to traitors, freedom for Britain.’ We have learned nothing since that tragedy, and gutter tabloids, such as the Daily Mail, instead seek to profit from populist sentiment rather than being responsible and measured. We’ve even had aConservative councillor wanting to make supporting remaining in the EU a crime.
This annexation of the ‘British will’ runs contrary to the values that have helped to make the country the success it has been - tolerance, freedom of speech and liberal attitudes. The Brexit vote combined with the refugee crisis has empowered the right-wing press to seize the agenda and act as if they are the sole voice of the nation which has been represented as ignorant and bigoted, unwilling to assist others in need, and distorting British values to such an extent that in a matter of months, the tone which the front pages have popularised bare little in common with values such as tolerance, openness and acceptance. What a sorry decline.
If you exercise that freedom of speech which they supposedly so love and respect to make an argument counter to the line that the press has pushed then you are labelled a great number of things .Opposing Brexit (which 48% of voters did) is unpatriotic, display empathy for refugee children and you’re a ‘leftie luvvie’.
The gutter press and those right-wing, fanatical trolls who shout most loudly online are the ones really doing the damage to this country. The rest of us should feel not only angry, but empowered to continue to stand up and defend the values of tolerance that have made Britain a forward-thinking nation and not feel intimidated to stand up for what we think is right, even when the ‘crusaders’ try to bully us into submission.
About the author
Hailing from Sheffield, and now based in London, Checan is a politics graduate and freelance writer with a keen interest in equality, social mobility and mental health. Alongside being a columnist for Disclaimer, he also writes and runs partnerships for U-ZINE as well as blogging for the Huffington Post. He spends most of his time drinking tea and waxing lyrical about the world and society.
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