In the last three days alone, I’ve been called a traitor, a moron, and condescending, rude and bitter; simply for expressing my views about Britain leaving the European Union. I’ve also been encouraged to do unpleasant things with my own bodily fluids.
It saddens me that there are individuals, some of whom I had thought I could count as friends, who are not able to engage in constructive debate on so important a subject as this. But that sadness is eclipsed by the depth of my disappointment that I am no longer shocked.
No longer am I even mildly surprised that there are a blinkered few (is it a few?) who are not able to listen to opposing points of view – perhaps on any subject – without resorting to crude, personal insults and cheap untruths. These people do a disservice not only to themselves and the arguments for which they purport to stand; they also damage the cause of civilised democracy as a whole.
Nevertheless, throughout the difficult last year, and as the United Kingdom begins what will undoubtedly be a difficult and dangerous journey, navigating an uncertain future; I have attempted to remain objective and dispassionate.
I have put forward verified, factual arguments. I have sought to debunk myths. And yet a combination of myths, half-truths, ‘fake-news’, and occasional outright lies won through. I think I’m allowed to be bitter.
I think I’m allowed to be emotional.
On Tuesday evening, I tweeted:
It may only be 140 characters and a GIF, but I truly believe each and every single one of them.
The United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union, on 29th March 2019, means that I will lose my EU citizenship, a part of my identity, a fundamental element of who I am as a person.
I am, I know, one of a lucky, privileged, few in having had the opportunities that I have to travel, and to live, in other countries and other cultures. But what is happening to the country of my birth – to me – is not an act of politics, or economics, or international relations. It is an act of barbarity. The stripping away of citizenship – a mutilation of identity – however democratically determined and arrived at, which I will never be able to forgive.
Article 15(b) of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights says that:
No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.
My nationality is European. I’m being deprived of it. You may argue that it’s not arbitrary but take it from me, it certainly feels that way. It is an act of savageness and barbarity unworthy of our United Kingdom.
So, next time I post something about #Brexit, if you honestly think I come across as “condescending, bitter and rude,” to use the words of one of yesterday’s comments, hopefully you will understand why.