A daily blog on the thrills, spills, and frequent absurdities of the world's one and only 'non-imperial empire' - as Barroso himself called it - the European Union.

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Monday, 27 June 2011

Opposition to the European Union is Not Racist

Denying the existence of Europe: a lot harder from space.

Sometimes I wish I was anti-European. It would be far more amusing and far more productive to argue against a landmass, than it is to argue against the people and institutions that make up the actual object of my criticism, the European Union. Some of the words that they deploy make my brain ache: Europhobe? What is that, irrational fear of said landmass? How can you be racist against an organisation? That is what the European Union is, right? I never realised that the College of Commissioners comprised an ethnic group in its own right, that nomination to one of the twenty-seven seats changed your nationality or your skin tone. Euro-denier is my favourite one. I am well aware that Europe exists; in fact, I'm continuously told that I'm a citizen of it.

In short, I'm tired of all the deliberate misrepresentation of opposing views by people who have no other argument. Supporters of the European Union continually misrepresent both themselves, their opponents, and the EU itself. Definitions change as soon as policies do; and, when policies fail, a new word is coined, the opposition is denigrated with a new insult or accusation, and the whole thing starts again. I often wonder where Eurosceptic parties would be were it not for such misrepresentation: how many people, for example, would vote for UKIP if it was not labouring under unsubstantiated allegations of racism and chauvinism, and even Nazism? Probably a lot more than do now, that's for sure. The intellectual dishonesty of EU supporters has turned what was once a reasonably honest and open debate into a farce, where questioning the right of people you have not elected to make decisions that affect you makes you some sort of Nazi, and calling for greater transparency makes you a fascist.

It is a logical fallacy to suggest that all those who oppose Britain's EU membership are 'racist' or 'xenophobic.' How many times do we have to say it - getting along with other nations and peoples does not equate to being ruled by them. Opposing the EU is, by definition, not racist - for the EU is not a race. It is a political institution. Being racist against the EU is like being racist against NATO or the Scottish National Party - impossible. And the accusation that the only reason that people oppose the EU is because they are Brits still clinging to the notion of empire? How, exactly, do EU supporters explain non-British, non-imperial nations being far more Eurosceptic than Britain itself? Did the Greenlanders, the only people ever to leave the EU, vote to do so in the hopes of restoring their ancient empire? I doubt it. What of the Icelanders, where EU support has dropped to below 40%? Are they planning to invade the United States of America? No. No, they are not, yet they are still far more Eurosceptic than Britain or Britons ever have been. The usual narrative of 'all opponents of the EU are imperialistic bigots' doesn't fit with reality. Yet it still sticks.

And what of the remarkable claim that the European Union is really all about being good neighbours, and that Eurosceptics don't want Britain to have good neighbours? What do good neighbours do? They let you retrieve balls from their garden, and don't let their dogs poo on your lawn. That is 'getting along with your neighbour.' However, you do not let your neighbours rearrange the furniture, take down fences, or withdraw money from your account to pay for their porch, do you? That's exactly what the EU does - there are now one hundred and seventy thousand pages of EU law on British statute books that you can't do a damn thing about, the EU allows almost unrestricted access to the UK for EU citizens, and we - as net contributors, i.e. people who pay more in than we get out - are required to subsidise improvements to infrastructure and civic projects from our public funds. The claim that the EU is merely about being a good neighbour is yet another misrepresentation.

And Nazis? Fascists? Please, calling for greater transparency does not make you a fascist. I highly doubt that Bob Crow is a fascist. He's not far-right, either. 50-60% of the population of the UK oppose European Union membership in every poll ever taken, by any source - BBC, YouGov, Daily Mail, Eurobarometer, etc. Are 50-60% of the UK electorate Nazis or ethno-nationalists? No, I don't think so. Populist? Maybe that one's accurate, but there's nothing wrong with espousing the people over the elites, is there? Of all the EU supporters, Andrew Duff, Liberal Democrat MEP, has came the closest to describing what its opponents actually are. He characterised them as the 'generally pissed off.'

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