Brexit, Racism and the European Blame Game
Monday, 18 July 2016 00:00
The United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union (EU) has sparked national and international shock as well as outrage. More than just a decision on whether the country should stay or go, it was transformed into a referendum on the continuing power of multiculturalism and toleration against the resurgent forces of racism and xenophobia.
However, this popular narrative misses how much of Brexit’s rhetoric and politics was fueled by the increasingly racist and conservative rhetoric of the EU over the past decade. In recent years, the EU has become a vehicle for spreading neoliberalism and austerity — forcefully if necessary.
Central to this project was the promotion of racist rhetoric scapegoating “lazy,” “inefficient” and “ungrateful”southern countries such as Greece and Spain for their economic woes. Adding fuel to this fire was the demonization of Arabs and Muslims as part of a “war against extremism” that supported European imperialism abroad and racial elitism domestically. [Read more]