Brexit Racism? Say It Isn’t So

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Shocking, I know, to see an almost instantaneous spike in racist incidents following Britain’s Thursday vote to leave the European Union.

After Thursday’s referendum on a “Brexit,” a wave of racist incidents have been reported to British police and documented in widely shared social media posts. Through the weekend, #Postrefracism has been trending, and its contents provide a disheartening view of how Britain’s vote to leave the European Union may be emboldening those who harbor virulent racist sentiments.

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Those campaigning for a Brexit offered clear assurances that a new immigration system would not affect E.U. citizens already living in Britain: “There will be no change for EU citizens already lawfully resident in the UK,” the campaign noted on its website. But despite the assurances, many immigrants to Britain are unsure of their future.

Racism isn’t exactly an unexpected outcome of the victory for the Brexit camp at the polls, either. Nigel Farage, the leader of the U.K. Independence Party (UKIP) and the most hard-line proponent of a Brexit, has spoken of the “n—– vote” and told reporters that he would use a racist slang term to refer to Chinese restaurants. But he and other “Brexiteers” have said that their concerns are about increasing immigration flows perceived as coming at the expense of the British-born and have nothing to do with prejudice.

Of course everyone will profess to be shocked, shocked I tell you, that such incidents are happening. This, of course, is utter and total bullshit. This is how bigots always roll

But just in case I’m being a smidge too cynical, here’s how it always works: The bigot’s interpretation of any event imaginable is that it’s time to exercise his God-given right to lash out at The Enemy.

Don’t get what you want? Attack. Do get what you want? Attack. Not sure you’ll get what you want? Attack. Not sure what you want? Attack. Troubled by vague stirrings of anomie? Exactly.

As is so often the case, this situation is very likely to get a whole lot worse before there’s any meaningful chance of it getting better. And it may well be that the chance of “better” is essentially zero.

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