Are responsible & critical leave voters culpable for the recent upswing in explicitly crude and racist behavior in the UK, post referendum?
Is it still possible to distinguish between responsibility and culpability? Perhaps accepting responsibility for the negative consequences of one's vote is substantively distinct from accepting blame or culpability? My responsibility is to strike a balance between the arrogant swagger of UKIP, and just hiding away in a corner. If anything, the crude and frightening rhetoric of Leaveshaming (see viral Facebook post by Alex McNamara) should lead Leavers to humility; avoiding both the arrogant, smug, complacent hubris of UKIP, and the timidity of 'Shy Leavers.'
Perhaps many people who voted 'Leave' will want to hide under a rock right now.
But I would argue that this does no good.
Both the opportunistic Leaveshamers and the similarly carpe-diem-ridden Remainbaiters will be hoping that those who voted for Leave out of principled scepticism and with a critical eye will just roll over and let the misleading narrative of 'Latte-guzzling Islington journos' and 'Knuckledragging pleb morons' dominate the future of the UK.
Wouldn't that be a tragedy?
Did you vote 'Leave' out of skepticism and with critical thinking, rather than anti-immigrant hostility and hatred?
Be proud that your vote was informed, to the best of your understanding and capabilities.
Did you vote 'Remain' out of legitimate concerns about the possible impact of Brexit, and because of the genuine benefits of remaining in the EU?
Then be proud of behaving honorably and with decency.
But sadly, the idea that 'there is only one kind of Leave voter' or 'there is only one kind of Remain voter' has been a big problem.
Leavers now, as much as ever (if not more so!) must have the courage of our convictions. Our lack of moral certainty may be a weakness, from a particular point of view; but it is also a strength. Like so many others in the UK and elsewhere, the role we have to play is a very special one. Can we set an example by refusing the false choice of privileged white populist hard-right racism and Remainbiting, and privileged white leaveshaming?
Note: this article is inspired by recent Facebook discussions; but the wording is largely original. Let's not forget the constructive role social media can play in our critique or activism.