J.K. Rowling has released a blistering statement on her website denouncing the hateful rhetoric surrounding the Brexit referendum on Thursday and comparing it to Donald Trump’s malign fear-mongering in America.
“Look towards the Republican Party in America and shudder. ‘Make America Great Again!’ cries a man who is fascist in all but name. His stubby fingers are currently within horrifyingly close reach of America’s nuclear codes. He achieved this pre-eminence by proposing crude, unworkable solutions to complex threats. Terrorism? ‘Ban all Muslims!’ Immigration? ‘Build a wall!’ He has the temperament of an unstable nightclub bouncer, jeers at violence when it breaks out at his rallies and wears his disdain for women and minorities with pride. God help America. God help us all.
Donald Trump supports the break up of the EU. The inheritor of a family fortune, he has never needed to cooperate or collaborate and he appears incapable of understanding complexity or nuance. Of foreign leaders or would-be leaders, Trump is joined only by Vladimir Putin and Marine le Pen in urging Brexit upon the UK. Other than those three, there is no major political leader who isn’t begging Britain to stay put, for the political and economic stability of Europe and the wider world. “
In the Brexit referendum, British voters will decide whether the United Kingdom will leave the European Union (EU). The “Leave the EU” campaign is headed by Nigel Farage, leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP). UKIP has come under regular criticism for openly racist attitudes towards immigrants, especially refugees. The “Leave campaign” has spun a web of lies so thick it could almost serve as a raft for the refugee children it wants to leave to drown in the sea. Their most recent outrage is a Leave poster depicting masses of refugees waiting to enter the EU with the caption “BREAKING POINT,” implying that the UK is overrun with refugees. Actually, the UK has only accepted a total of 1,000 Syrian refugees, and using pictures of the most vulnerable people in Europe has prompted a top government official to compare it to “Nazi propaganda.”
Like Trump, Farage exploits the lives of migrants fleeing unimaginable violence for political gain, using them as a pawn in his racist, nationalist rhetoric. Farage creates a spectre of evil forces outside the EU to perpetuate the lie that the UK must turn inward to defend itself. Concerns about the safety and economic effects of immigration – which even go so far as to suggest that Syrian children could be threats – are a thinly-veiled excuse for xenophobia and a desperate attempt for Farage to seize power.
Trump has been doing his best to outdo Farage in spreading hatred and fear about immigrants, from the day he began his campaign by calling Mexican immigrants “rapists,” to more recent calls to ban Muslim immigrants and implement a system of racial profiling. Rowling connects the dots between Trump and Farage because they both represent the rise of fascist nationalism that feeds off of demonizing anyone who can be deemed ‘other’ in society.
Rowling argues that this despicable nationalist sentiment is just “a retreat into selfish and insecure individualism.” We could not agree more, and we could not be stronger in our opposition to the ugly nationalism espoused by Trump and Farage. Although these are trying times in international politics, we must not succumb to Trump and Farage’s brand of xenophobia, which does nothing more than divide societies and spread hatred. The way forward in an increasingly global society is tolerance and building bridges with other peoples and cultures, not tearing them down.
Marisa completed her undergraduate degree in 2013 at the University of Wisconsin with a double major in creative writing and media studies. She is an advocate of progressive policies and focuses her interests on gender equality and preventing sexual and domestic violence.