I shudder these days when I read the news, especially online. I say news yet what I really mean is opinion. With all this talk of fake news it is difficult to separate the reporting of events from the writer’s perspective. Much of what I come across these days is little more than propaganda.
One thing that concerns me greatly is the use of catch-all terms to represent people. Terms such as Remoaner or Brexshiteer are the new racism. They define people into categories of us and them. We are like this and should stick together while those others are not like us and should be feared and distrusted.
Characteristics are added to these appellations to reinforce one group’s opinion of the other. These are the tricks that were used to support the rise of fascism in the last century where racial and religious groups were singled out to blame for the world’s woes.
Being suspicious of people who are different to you is understandable. Cultural clashes can be hard to swallow yet defining all people who happen to have the same background as having the same hopes, values and beliefs is dangerous and divisive. It is also simply not true.
All of us have different perspectives on life’s issues. For every issue we lie somewhere on a bell curve of opinion. Individuals can agree on one thing and disagree on another. People of the same political persuasion can have widely differing opinions. This is how you end up with parties within parties.
Not everyone that voted to leave the European Union is pink, old and stupid. Not everyone who voted to remain is a whingeing tree-hugger who doesn’t respect the will of the people.
Having differences of opinion is good. We need different views to drive our liberal democracy forward. Using these differences to divide society falsely into left or right, black or white, us or them is not good. It is the basis of fascism and we should all be careful in the language we use.
After all, each of us is a member of some minority group. Each of us has the potential to be some other group’s ‘them’.