We seem to be living in an age of ever-increasing fanatics, people who believe that they are always right and are intolerant of other views. I am talking about the abusive treatment of Anna Soubry. This government is ridiculously split over Brexit, and the referendum which many thought (wrongly, in my opinion) would put an end to the debate over Europe has actually fanned the flames of a possible bitter split. Views have been further polarised by this incompetent government and their mismanagement of Brexit. In general, the printed press has supported the case to leave Europe and they continue to make their crude case to leave. The printed press has been reluctant to objectively understand or discuss any opposing view, resulting in opinions being sharply divided. We are right; You are wrong – fanatics.
But why the abuse or violence from people who otherwise are educated and usually quite rational. This trait isn’t only being displayed against politicians but is also manifest in sports and social media. We seem to have acquired common values to a cause, opinion or a team and shut the world out to the rest. The real danger is the reluctance to consider other views, to ponder opportunities and respectfully acknowledge differing opinions.
Yesterday was another example of the abuse. It was sad to see these guys, most of whom, were also filming the abuse on their mobile phones to share on social media. In the main, it tends to be aimed at female MPs and mainly by people who are not from their constituency. Friends in Scotland reminded me of the abuse people faced during their referendum from those who wanted to leave; they particularly recalled Charles Kennedy being a target.
Maybe Gandhi was right when he said, “Intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit.”
* Tahir Maher is the Wednesday editor and a member of the LDV editorial team