Brexit and Scapegoating

  1. Hate and Xenophobia
  2. PEG on Scapegoating


The official version of Brexit relies heavily on words like “hate” and “xenophbia.”

Because that echoes the low-down, dishonest official version of traditional views on certain other contentious issues on this side of the pond, I withhold judgment of the pro-Brexit folks, resisting the reflex to assume they’re innocent just because the indictment is so vacuous and predictable.

George Will rehearses how lame the remain arguments were in Saturday’s Washington Post, and some wag hilariously mocked them in the run-up to the vote.

An interesting and pretty trustworthy cyber-acquaintance, Robin Phillips, cheers the move:

[T]oday’s vote is a culmination of a long process whereby some of the most sophisticated academics have gradually made the case for exiting, with more and more MPs from the Conservative Party gradually getting on board. Step by step the case for leaving has been effectively made from a purely cost-benefit analysis. And it hasn’t been a hard case to make. After all, Britain pays Billions of pounds every year to be part of the EU and in return Brussels sends them regulatory legislation at a rate of around 1 new law every 7 seconds. If Britain can make it through this period of short-term uncertainty, all the evidence points to the fact that today’s decision can only be beneficial to Britain’s long-term economic stability.

Generally, my bias is for “real” over “big” or “wealthy.” If that’s what the Brexit vote was about, kudos to the Brits.


Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry fell off my radar. So did Michael Brendan Dougherty. I suspect I know why, but I’ll keep it to myself except to say “It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there.”

They’re both consistently worth reading, so when I saw that “PEG” had written The shameful scapegoating after Orlando, I was eager to see how he would give those shameful scapegoaters hell.

He gave me something else instead. Excerpts:

When tragedy strikes, there’s a very well known psychological impulse to look for someone to blame. We can’t come to grips with the randomness and cruelty of the world. Deep within us remains the urge to make sense out of the chaos. Surely someone must be to blame.

What do you do about the cultural alienation and incredibly complex geopolitical, technological, historical, and socioeconomic phenomena that drive radicalization? Tough. But man, you can tweet angrily … That’s easier. The near enemy is right there. Fight the near enemy first, take care of the far enemy later …


The writers of Charlie Hebdo were my political “enemies,” but I proudly proclaimed “Je suis Charlie” because their massacre reminded me that what I have in common with them is orders of magnitude bigger than what divides us.

But it feels so good to lash out. It feels so good to blame the other side.

The problem is that it’s a distraction. By blaming whoever seems the juicier target, by looking for a scapegoat, we just obscure reality, feed what is worst in us and starve what is best. We all deserve better.

* * * * *

“In learning as in traveling and, of course, in lovemaking, all the charm lies in not coming too quickly to the point, but in meandering around for a while.” (Eva Brann)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.

One thought on “Brexit and Scapegoating

  1. Were I still living in the UK, I would have voted “”Remain.” But I wonder how many Brits were like my late parents, who did not live long enough to vote “Leave”: they were totally opposed to the Common Market even, but insisted on voting for the Conservative Party, which supported Britain’s entry into the Common Market. The Labour Party opposed entry into the Common Market, but for my parents “He’s Labour” was a major put-down. At last there was an opportunity for people to vote on an issue rather than for or against a particular political party.

    I think that requiring only a simple majority on such an important issue was a mistake. Can a US State secede from the Union on the basis of a simple majority vote?

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