With the new deadline fast approaching for Brexit and the risk of no deal, I’ve decided to write a Brexit post. Not to advocate on the merits for remain or leave, because what would be the point? But for how Brexit is affecting society and my mental health. Thus, Brexit: Do you feel safe? Because I don’t.
Terrorism: Do You Feel Safe?
Let’s start with the big issue that a lot of people are worried about, terrorism. I don’t fear terrorism, even though it’s obviously a problem. I was born when The Troubles was happening and I remember seeing many reports and footage on TV of the IRA‘s terrorist actions, so it’s not really anything new for me. Terrorism has been with me my whole life.
“Terror is killing far fewer people in the UK now than it was in the 1980s”
In fact, fewer people are dying as a result of terrorist attacks now then there was when I was watching it happen on TV as a child. But that doesn’t make it any less worrying, and it is something that we as a country, and as a united world, need to tackle. But it’s not the reason why I don’t feel safe in recent years, especially since Brexit.
Although the risk that The Troubles will ignite again as a result of Brexit is something us Brits all need to be concerned about. Yet for some reason, our politicians pushing for a no-deal Brexit aren’t taking seriously. But that’s a debate for another time.
The perception that terrorists are coming into the UK to attack us was a reason some people gave for wanting to leave the EU. It was one of the reasons my mum gave me for wanting to leave the EU and to deny help to refugees fleeing places like Syria because there might become terrorists.
The Media: Do You Feel Safe?
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate the media, but I do take it with a heavy dose of scepticism. The media is a business like any other, and certain media moguls have questionable agendas. Thus, I get my news from multiple sources, left, centre, and right-leaning.
My mum’s unquestionable belief in soundbites and belief in the fear that was stoked up during the Brexit referendum, really grinds my gears, however. If you can get a white mother of a black child, who’s dad is an immigrant (from a British Overseas Territories – BOTs), to believe these fears, without question, then anyone can be made to believe these fears, the fear of others. The fear of anyone who doesn’t look like us mentality.
But the problem is, there’s little evidence that is happening, most of our terrorist attacks have been done by people with British citizenship.
“The threat from homegrown extremists has reached unprecedented levels”
Sky News (2017)
Harold D. Clarke, Matthew Goodwin, and Paul Whiteley used data from more than 150,000 voters to analyse the factors and concerns that led people to vote Leave. They found that of those Leave voters, immigration was the biggest factor in affecting their vote. But they also found that most of those voters also felt that remaining in the EU would increase the risk of terrorism. Even though the reality is that the majority of our terrorist attacks are homegrown, which is also a similar reality for the terrorist attacks across the EU.
A foreign policy think-tank called The Henry Jackson Society, carried out an investigation comparing terrorist attack data between 1998-2010 and 2011-2015. The think-tank found that 72% of all ‘Islamism-related offences’ were perpetrated by people holding British dual or single nationality. 47% of these were committed by people born in the UK.
“Recent jihadist attacks were committed primarily by home-grown terrorists, radicalised without having travelled to join a terrorist group abroad”
Homegrown terrorism is a problem, but it’s performed by a tiny fridge minority within a minority. Yet all minorities pay the price. But this isn’t exclusively a minority problem. But too many people keep acting like it is.
Hate Crime: Do You Feel Safe?
This is why I don’t feel safe. Minorities have become a scapegoat for the anger and fear of the majority. I’ve already experienced what it’s like for society to turn it’s back on racially motivated abuse when I grew up (Suicidal Child), I don’t want to return to times like that again.
But it’s not even the big acts of terrorism or far-right terrorist attacks that make me feel unsafe, it’s the low level everyday petty stuff that makes me feel safe.
When I was a child, and a teen, racially or religiously aggravated offences (hate crimes) wasn’t even a category of crime. Hate crimes became law in 1998 with the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. I was in my late teens then. It’s taken a long time for our communities to get the much-needed protection under the law.
The hero imam Mohammed Mahmoud of the Finsbury Park far-right terrorist attack who protected the terrorist from harm, found himself a victim of hate crime. A white male called him “despicable” and spat at him.
I don’t fear the terrorism going on at the moment because I’m statistically safer now from terrorism than I was throughout my childhood. Hate crimes, on the other hand, that’s what concerns me. I thought I’d left the worst part of my childhood (Suicidal Child) behind me as society seemed to had become more accepting of minorities and different cultures.
“In 2017/18 of the 394 individuals who received support from the Channel program to counter potential violent extremism, 45% were referred for concerns related to Islamist extremism and 44% for concerns related to rightwing extremism”
The Guardian (2019)
If fewer people are dying from terrorism now in the UK than there was during The Troubles, then the rise in hate crime is more concerning, for me at least. It seems that current events are just being used as an excuse for people to indulge in their built-up prejudices.
It also shows that facts don’t matter and that minorities are a convenient scapegoat for our country’s problems. When really, most of our hardships have been caused by such government policies as austerity.
This, and Brexit, has fuelled ideologies like the “Great Replacement“. The fear that the white majority is being replaced. Believing that immigrants and minorities are destroying their culture and seeking to replace them, which isn’t the case. People just want to be able to live safely and provide for their families. Furthermore, cultures evolve, that’s not something you should be scared of.
“The growing threat from “extreme right-wing” terrorism will be included in official threat-level warnings for the first time”
Public Figures: Do You Feel Safe?
Charlatan’s like Stephen Yaxley-Lennon aka Tommy Robinson, don’t help either. The former EDL founder riles up his base for his own self-interest at the cost of us minorities. He’s making money out of stirring up hatred in people who then lash out at those who get in the way of what they want.
I’ve had the police make Ali G jokes at me, saying “is it because I is black?” Let’s not drag the country back to those “good old days” being racist might be fine for the white majority, but it was awful for the rest of us.
I thought that would be the highest level of institutionalised racism I’d have to witness, but then Boris Johnson came along.
I find myself living in a time when our current Prime Minister’s comments about Muslim women looking like letter boxes and refers to black people as “piccaninnies” and having “watermelon smiles” not only goes unpunished by the political party he belongs to but is then rewarded with becoming Prime Minister beggars belief. This only gives ordinary people who hid such views validation, who then begin to show these views openly.
“It is said that the Queen has come to love the Commonwealth, partly because it supplies her with regular cheering crowds of flag-waving piccaninnies”
Boris Johnson (2002)
But I do fear the rise in the far-right in general and the increase in hate crimes that have come as a result of Brexit and what the leaders of the Brexit movement have said. Hate crime spiked by 44% in the month following the EU referendum (Brexit) result compared to the same month in the previous year. It has brought out a dark side in society that I thought had started to disappear.
There has been a steady upward trend in hate crimes record by the police since 2012/13 to 2017/18, having doubled in that time frame (from 42,255 to 94,098 offences. The police state that’s due to better reporting and recording of hate crimes, as well as the spikes that happen around such events as the referendum vote and terrorist attacks.
But it should be noted that between 2012/13 and 2013/14 there was a small increase in hate crimes, then it’s upwards tread suddenly started to run away with itself, with 2016/2017 jumping massively.
But what no one seems to be considering is the lead up to the referendum vote was incredibly toxic, as certain news media and politicians sought to dehumanise immigrants. We had people like Nigel Farage standing proudly in front of his anti-immigrant posters, and David Cameron, Prime Minister at the time, referring to migrants as a “swarm“.
You can’t have people in power or who have influence making dehumanising comments and not expect it affect people from certain parts of society negatively.
“People have been left suicidal and afraid to leave their homes because of a wave of hate crime “unleashed” after the EU referendum, MPs have found”
My fear isn’t just about myself, even though I fear that we’ll return to the small England mentality that made my childhood unbearable (Suicidal Child). It’s also fear for the wellbeing of minorities in school today and in the future. We’ve already seen the effects of what returning to a time like my childhood could bring with some children committing suicide. But even if it doesn’t get as bad as the “good old days”, theirs still the affects it’ll have on minorities education and risks of lifelong struggles with mental health problems.
“Eastern European pupils in schools in England and Scotland have experienced increased levels of racism and xenophobia since the Brexit vote, with some accusing their teachers of failing to protect them and even joining in”
The Guardian (2019)
My Mental Health
Not feeling safe due to Brexit has had an effect on my anxiety disorders (The Weirdness Of My Anxiety Disorders). Especially with the ideology behind some of the beliefs of the far-right. It potentially makes 87.1% of the population of my country a potential risk to my safety.
I know that in reality, I’m not at risk from 87.1% of the population, just like how minorities get persecuted from a fringe few, the same is true of the majority and my fears. It’s just that I’ve suffered so much at the hands of the majority my entire life, it’s hard not to be concerned about returning to the times when it was at its worse.
The abuse I suffered at the hands of my peers, teachers, adult chaperones, “friends” who do nothing to help, a parent who isn’t interested in supporting you emotionally (Awkward Phone Call With My Mum About My Childhood), and racist abuse and harassment from the police, it’s hard not to worry about being a victim. Especially when that is all coupled with the irrational nature of having not one, but two anxiety disorders, leaving you with a fear that’s hard to manage.
The world has always felt like a dangerous place for me as a minority, and when my partner talks about going on holiday somewhere, I always have to consider the risks of being a victim of a hate crime if I went there. There’s a resurgence in far-right populism at the moment, and countries like Russia and Poland I wouldn’t feel safe visiting at the moment. Which is a shame, because I’m fascinated by other cultures and other countries histories.
Recently, I’ve often sat at home and had my thoughts diverted to if I’ll be a victim of a hate crime if I leave my place. Something that’s never happened to me before Brexit.
“Racist thugs ‘tried to run over a woman in a headscarf’ after pelting her with eggs”
Birmingham Live (2019)
It’s not just the abusive people that are problematic, it’s the ones that don’t do anything to help those being abused too. The fear that people won’t care enough to help concerns me because I’ve experienced that too often in my childhood, as “friends” did nothing (Suicidal Child).
Also, I have concerns that the BBC show Years And Years, although fiction, could become some sort of prediction. That the UK (or what’s left of it after Brexit) and Europe as a whole doesn’t further slip to the far-right.
I just want to live a life where I can feel safe when I leave my place and can provide for myself and my family.
I love my country, but I believe it’s everyone’s human right to seek out a good life where they can provide for their families. More power to those willing to risk their lives to do so. They’re braver than I am. If people really want to stop immigration then invest in the infrastructure of the countries they’re coming from so they’ll be less of a need for them to have to go elsewhere to have a decent quality of life.
What makes all of this worse is the fact that the cuts done by the Tory government that’s the real cause of our countries woes, not the EU, not refugees, not minorities, and not immigration. These cuts have also lead to a rise in knife crime. That coupled with Brexit, fear of being targeted in a random knife attack or a hate crime, really isn’t good for my mental health.
The reality of the statistics might, however, show a different story to what my irrational fears show me. But the media is making sure to sow the fear, regardless of the reality, with help from politicians who get the most media coverage, who are allowed to make questionable comments.
Politicians need to be held accountable to a code of conduct that is enforced by an independent judicial body, rather than their own political party who are often too willing to turn a blind eye.
Whatever the outcome with Brexit is, the harm has already been done. It’s a neverending story that’ll most likely still be an issue being dealt with by the next generation when they’re all grown up. Leaving or staying won’t resolve this situation.
As always, leave your feedback in the comments section below. Also, feel free to discuss if Brexit makes you feel safe or not, and about how safe you feel in the world we currently find ourselves in at the moment the comments section below as well. If you want to stay up-to-date with my blog, then sign up to my newsletter below. Alternatively, get push notifications of new posts by clicking the red bell icon in the bottom left corner.
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Unwanted Life readers.
Stop Hate UK
Has a number of immediate advice and support line numbers for the UK. Anyone who is either a victim or a witness of a hate crime will be able to report the incident directly to the Helpline.
Helps people cope with the effects of crime through a helpline. It also gives information on local victim support groups.