As millions of British citizens wake up still draped in a soaked Union Jack, smelling of scotch and various English beers, thoughts of regret begin to creep into the minds of so-called “Brexit voters.” Not only are there thoughts of remorse with the amount of alcohol consumed throughout the weekend, but the new reality and very bleak future for the United Kingdom are just setting in.
Those who voted to leave the European Union are in disbelief over how quickly Thursday’s referendum results wreaked havoc on the British economy. One of Britain’s leading publications, The Independent, reported of voters feeling “conned” and lied to after leaders of Ukip, a pro-Brexit and anti-immigration party, promised economic stability following the break up.
— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) June 24, 2016
“I feel horrible,” Ryan Williams, a 19-year-old Essex student, told Metro UK. “I didn’t realize so many people my age thought it was a bad idea. I thought change would be fun, now the pound is dropping I really regret it!
“I feel sick and wish we remained. I hate myself.”
Similar to their English counterparts, Americans are also feeling the urge to rebel against the establishment, with populist sentimentalism winning out. Unlike the American left’s inclusive, European-style reform politics, which are embodied by Bernie Sanders and the youth movement, a large contingent of neoconservative extremists are out-doing their Brexit compatriots by championing a misogynistic far-right candidate in Donald Trump — a demagogue that will likely “Amerxit” the US from the rest of the world.
Trump’s rise, while unorthodox, is not hard to figure out. According to Vox, the former reality TV star understands how to effectively manipulate the media, use controversial statements and veiled racism, and spark feuds with other candidates and celebrities to keep the spotlight directly on him.
His nativist platform, opposition to immigration, hostility towards foreigners and the media,mirrors the attitudes of the 52 percent of Great Britain’s electorate that voted to separate from the EU.
However, the Brexit movement and Donald Trump are only the symptoms of a right-wing extremist pandemic in the West.
Several conservative parties in Europe are picking up traction since wars in the Middle East are flooding refugees into western cities and local governments are struggling to support the influx. As a result, the BBC warns of large chunks of the electorate in Italy, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Greece, France and the Netherlands are veering to the right and fueling the resurgence of extremist populism.
The migrant crisis has also sparked fears of terrorism throughout Europe. Following the terror attacks in Brussels, RT reported a large backlash against Muslims and immigrants that prompted the “worst level of anti-Muslim bigotry ever.”
“The political climate in Europe and in the US has taken it to the worst in terms of the level of anti-Muslim bigotry,” said Nader Hashemi, director of the Center for Middle East Studies, in an interview with RT.
“It has never been this bad. Part of it however can only be attributed to the increase in terrorist activity, such as the one that we saw [on Tuesday in Brussels] and in Paris [last year].
“Underlining this attempt to scapegoat and blame all Muslims, are a set of socio and economic vulnerabilities that are at the root of this rising level of hysteria and paranoia and anti-Muslim sentiment.”
Unfortunately, it is not much different in the United States. Those same levels of fear, hysteria, and paranoia that crippled much of Europe are also leading to violence in American cities. The Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security reported that law enforcement agencies are now considering anti-government and anti-Muslim extremists, not radicalized Muslims, to be the most severe threat of political violence they face.
According to Newsweek, anti-government militia members have been conducting surveillance on Muslim schools, community centers, and mosques in nine states. Federal law enforcement officers said they’ve learned that the Mississippi militia discussed kidnapping and beheading a Muslim, the FBI has even learned of right-wing extremists creating law enforcement and diplomatic identifications for positions in a “government they’ve created within the U.S.”
While these instances seem extreme in their own right, they are growing everyday. Donald Trump’s bigoted and racially charged rhetoric emboldens their actions and fuels the flames of rebelling against diversity.
Like their British cousins, the American people must also decide their future in a life changing referendum. Do we give into our fears and “Make America White Again,” or will we let Brexit serve as a sobering reminder that some mistakes may never be undone?
[Photo by Chris Carlson/AP Images]