The United Kingdom has been shocked by the killing of Jo Cox, a Labour Party member of Parliament, just one week before Britain decides whether to stay in the European Union.
Cox, 41, a mother of two young girls and a well-known human rights advocate, was stabbed and shot to death by a man who shouted “Britain First,” according to two witnesses. It appears to be politically motivated.
Britain is going to vote on Thursday to stay in or leave the European Union. There are two camps: Remain and Brexit (Britain’s exit plan).
Cox was campaigning to remain in the union. Others on her side say Britain will be stronger if it stays in the EU.
In addition, a stronger united Europe is good for America and the world. If the union starts to fall apart, the United States would lose influence on business, political and military issues on the continent.
But opponents in the Brexit campaign claim the referendum is a “once in a lifetime opportunity” and a chance to “take back control” in Britain.
Both sides are waging tough fights to win the referendum, which has taken an appalling turn into being a xenophobic contest.
As isolationists always do, politicians who support Brexit are appealing to nationalism.
Boris Johnson, one Brexit leader, said the EU has the same aim that Germany’s Adolf Hitler did — trying to create a political superstate in Europe.
Beyond this ridiculous comparison, pro-Brexit politician Nigel Farage has published posters with a photograph showing a crowd of refugees on the Slovenian border. The words: “Breaking point. We must break free of the EU and take control of our borders.”
The Brexit campaign is basically telling Britons that if they vote to stay in the EU, refugees will come to Britain and take their jobs. To prove it they used Turkey’s current bid to become part of the EU.
The campaign has put banners on billboards all around London that show a British passport as an open door with dirty footprints of Turks passing through. Written on the banners are these words: “Turkey (population 76 million) is joining Europe. Vote Leave, take back control.”
After Cox’s death, her husband, Brendan, said Britons needed to “unite to fight against the hatred that killed her.”
But the politicians who appeal to the language of fury and xenophobia help to extend that hatred all around. History has proved that time and time again.
The hostility of the Brexit supporters has gone too far.
Jo Cox’s death is likely to be one of the saddest consequences of that.