I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.
That quotation has always seemed to me to sum up democracy in our country. So I was deeply shocked recently to be told on my Facebook site by one of my friends (and yes, he was someone I considered to be a friend, far more than a casual acquaintance) that he would consider me traitor if I voted to remain in the EU. This was after I posted a plea for less hysteria and more respect on the referendum debate. Worse was to come. When another post was so bigoted that I asked this person if they approved of racism, I was promptly banned from his site. So instead of, as I had hoped, provoking a thoughtful answer, I had to accept, sadly, that yes, he is a racist.
My father gave his life in the fight against fascism – or racism, if you prefer. What has happened to our great country that these thugs think they have the right to shout everyone else down? How dare they make this referendum about persecuting others! Of course there are arguments for and against the EU, but not as far as these thugs are concerned. They don’t want to listen to anyone else, respect for other people’s views is not on their agenda. Stirred up by the Murdoch press (and yes, Mr Murdoch knows exactly what he is doing, I am sure) for them it is totally about immigration, which is all bad. They don’t actually use the word ‘Aryan’ but they do throw around words like White and Christian. Christ, of course, was not white, but Middle Eastern, and preached loving our neighbour, but never mind such details.
I believe we British should be defined by our generosity and our kindness, not our blind bigotry. The murder of Jo Cox yesterday may not be anything to do with all the hatred and anger which has been stirred up by this referendum, but that it is hard to believe in the present climate. For God’s sake, reinstate democracy and respect for each other before it is too late. And we wake up one day to find the fascists are at the gate. Or already in Westminster.