The results of the British referendum on whether to leave the European Union were unknown at the time this column was written. But it does not matter.
We all know the worst consequence of the Brexit (Britain’s exit plan) campaign: the killing of British MP Jo Cox.
According to witnesses, suspect Thomas Mair shouted “Britain First” before the murder. He also introduced himself at the court by saying, “Death to traitors, freedom for Britain.”
If some politicians in Britain had not embraced the language of hatred and xenophobia during the Brexit campaign, maybe Cox would be alive today.
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But the United Kingdom is not the only country that has politicians who veer into nationalism, isolationism and fury.
It appears xenophobia is becoming the new normal in world politics. From Europe to the United States, many politicians are acting the same way.
Take Germany. The far-right AfD (Alternative For Germany) is the rising political power in the country.
The party was founded as a marginal political movement but then became one of the three biggest parties in Germany in just three years. The AfD in March won major local elections in three states in the country.
AfD founder Bernd Lucke left the party in 2015 because it had become increasingly xenophobic. After he quit, Lucke spoke of the “infiltration of the party by xenophobic, racist, nationalist, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, homophobic, right-wing and left-wing extremists.”
The new leader of the AfD is Frauke Petry. She was born in East Germany, graduated as a chemist in Britain and became a politician during the EU’s financial crisis.
Petry does not like refugees, she does not like Muslims, she does not like German national soccer players who have Turkish roots and she does not like the media at all.
German media call her “Adolfina,” an insulting reference to her similarities to Adolf Hitler. In an interview she proposed shooting refugees at the border, saying, “German border guards must prevent illegal border crossing and even use firearms if necessary.”
Petry keeps saying that “Islam is not part of Germany” and she supports racist demonstrations by a civilian-led group, Patriotic Europeans Against Islamisation of the West (PEGIDA).
In a view similar to those of Brexit supporters, Petry and her party have a Eurosceptic point of view, opposing a unified Europe. She says her party shares common values with the far-right France’s Front National, Austria’s Free Party and Switzerland’s People’s Party.
She also praised Donald Trump in an interview in Britain’s The Observer, calling him a “refreshingly alternative apparition” who represented a new style of politics.
Indeed. They all represent the new style of politics in different tunes.
But Jo Cox’s death showed that the politicians who appeal to the language of fury and xenophobia help to extend that hatred all around.
It seems the voice of hatred will rise in the near future.
When the United States properly discusses gun control, maybe Americans also should talk about hate control in politics. Because it can kill people, too.
Gokce Aytulu is an Alfred Friendly fellow from Turkey. The Star will be his host between April and September. Twitter: @GokceAytulu