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The Killing of Jo Cox

by Frank Schnittger Fri Jun 17th, 2016 at 07:04:40 AM EST


Nigel Farage gesticulates in front of an anti-immigration poster entitled Breaking Point. Well, Thomas Mair broke all right. The question is, was he incited?

Jo Cox: an attack on humanity, idealism and democracy

The slide from civilisation to barbarism is shorter than we might like to imagine. Every violent crime taints the ideal of an orderly society, but when that crime is committed against the people who are peacefully selected to write the rules, then the affront is that much more profound.


The killing, by stabbing and repeated shooting in the street, of Jo Cox is, in the first instance, an exceptionally heinous villainy. She was the mother of two very young children, who will now have to grow up without her. It is also, however, in a very real sense, an attack on democracy.


Jo Cox: an attack on humanity, idealism and democracy

Jo Cox, however, was not just any MP doing her duty. She was also an MP who was driven by an ideal. The former charity worker explained what that ideal was as eloquently as anyone could in her maiden speech last year. "Our communities have been deeply enhanced by immigration," she insisted, "be it of Irish Catholics across the constituency or of Muslims from Gujarat in India or from Pakistan, principally from Kashmir. While we celebrate our diversity, what surprises me time and time again as I travel around the constituency is that we are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us."

The police are investigating reports that the assailant yelled "Britain First" during the attack. If those words were used, this would appear to be not merely a chauvinist taunt, but the name of a far-right political party, whose candidate for City Hall turned his back in disgust on Sadiq Khan at the count, in sectarian rage at a great cosmopolitan city's decision to make a Muslim mayor.

How ironic is it that one of Britain's leading campaigners for a more compassionate response to the Syrian refugee crisis should be killed, not in the midst of that conflict, but in the streets of her own home constituency, where she has just come from working on behalf of her constituents on the practical problems of their daily lives.  This was not some starry eyed idealist, but someone acutely aware of the difficulties faced by communities with large immigrant populations.

Jo Cox: an attack on humanity, idealism and democracy

We are in the midst of what risks becoming a plebiscite on immigration and immigrants. The tone is divisive and nasty. Nigel Farage on Thursday unveiled a poster of unprecedented repugnance. The backdrop was a long and thronging line of displaced people in flight. The message: "The EU has failed us all." The headline: "Breaking point." The time for imagining that the Europhobes can be engaged on the basis of facts - such as the reality that a refugee crisis that started in Syria and north Africa can hardly be blamed on the EU, or the inconvenient detail that obligations under the refugee convention do not depend on EU membership - has passed. One might have still hoped, however, that even merchants of post-truth politics might hold back from the sort of entirely post-moral politics that is involved in taking the great humanitarian crisis of our time, and then whipping up hostility to the victims as a means of chivvying voters into turning their backs on the world.

And that is what the Brexit campaign has become. A plebiscite on turning back refugees and immigrants that are coming for reasons largely removed from the EU, and if anything, more due to the aggressive middle eastern policies pursued by Tony Blair and successive British governments. Perhaps more than anyone, she was the embodiment of resistance to the xenophobia sweeping the land. As a European, I am ashamed that she was killed for her beliefs. I hope the vast majority of British citizens feel the same.

It is far to early to tell whether her killing will have any effect, one way or the other, on the outcome of the Brexit referendum. What it does highlight, however, is just how low the Brexit campaign has come to tapping into people's deepest and most atavistic fears. This isn't just about politics now, or the macro-economics of staying part of a larger Union - or not.  It is about basic human values, and about a determination to remain on good terms with people very different from you. Before the EU ever became a single market, it was a humanitarian project to end xenophobia and war between European peoples. If Brexiteers want to leave the EU to undermine those basic principles even further, then the EU is better off without them.

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Alleged killer of British MP was a longtime supporter of the neo-Nazi National Alliance | Southern Poverty Law Center
According to records obtained by the Southern Poverty Law Center Mair was a dedicated supporter of the National Alliance (NA), the once premier neo-Nazi organization in the United States, for decades. Mair purchased a manual from the NA in 1999 that included instructions on how to build a pistol.
by Katrin on Fri Jun 17th, 2016 at 08:09:03 AM EST
This morning in court when asked to confirm his name  he said it was "Death to traitors, freedom for Britain"

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sat Jun 18th, 2016 at 07:34:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's good for the markets....
EUR/USD - was trading down for most of the day, and came close to the support around the 1.1117 level, before seeing a sharp turnaround. This has been caused by a shift in sentiment regarding the Brexit vote in the aftermath of the assassination of British MP Jo Cox.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Fri Jun 17th, 2016 at 08:55:58 AM EST
Jo Cox was the embodiment of resistance to xenophobia - Independent.ie

How ironic is it that Labour MP Jo Cox, one of Britain's leading campaigners for a more compassionate response to the Syrian refugee crisis, should be killed, not in the midst of that conflict, but in the streets of her own home constituency, where she had just come from working on behalf of her constituents on the practical problems of their daily lives.

The Brexit referendum has become a plebiscite on turning back refugees and immigrants that are coming for reasons largely removed from the EU, and, if anything, reasons more due to the aggressive Middle Eastern policies pursued by Tony Blair and successive British governments.

Perhaps more than anyone, Jo Cox was the embodiment of resistance to the xenophobia now sweeping the United Kingdom.

As a European, I am ashamed that she was killed for her beliefs.

I hope the vast majority of British citizens feel the same.

Frank Schnittger



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jun 18th, 2016 at 05:04:05 AM EST
Why is it when a white Christian man commits an atrocity, it is the act of a mad loner. When a brown skinned Moslem  does the same thing, it is an act of Islamic terrorism?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jun 18th, 2016 at 06:37:13 AM EST
Stop asking questions that make sense, and just roll with the hate.  If you're a straight, white, Christian male, you're playing the Game of Life on its easiest setting.  If you're still failing, it's much more comforting to blame THEM than yourself.  The media pander to this and feed it, and it's hard to imagine political discourse in the US without it; it's been the go-to message of demagogues since Day One.  It was even the de jure system in the South until 1965.
by rifek on Sat Jun 18th, 2016 at 11:48:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As to the distrust of the EU and concerns about loss of sovereignty, I would think that the most effective line of action for those on the left would be to publicly criticize austerity and those proposing and enforcing it, the former primarily in the EMU, the latter particularly at home. Meanwhile publicly begin a process of collaboration of all left parties who whould support an end of austerity in the EU/EMU and a return to strengthening social values, social solidarity and 'social Europe'. If there is to be a breach, let it be threatened by multiple states on common grounds. And let it be known that it does not envision destruction of the EU, but fundamental change in the EMU, the ECB and of the common approach to economics.

All will say:"But the treaties..." They are a very effective Gordian Knot, whether by accident or design. The threat should be to cut that knot by action, not to attempt to unravel it by negotiation. Nations can always reclaim their sovereignty. This would focus some of the anger on the appropriate target and would wrong foot the European supporters of the Euro as it is.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere." (But it helps!)

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Jun 18th, 2016 at 09:26:27 AM EST
A 'Cut the Knot' campaign could have an attractiveness comparable to what Sanders evoked in the USA. The threat could be made more explicit by proposing that the dissident nations form an X-EURO monetary union which retains all of the desirable features of the EU but which pledges to emphasize 'Unionizing' of debt obligations of debtor nations and investment by creditor nations in debtor nations on terms that respect national sovereignty and with economic policies that work for all - not just the creditors.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere." (But it helps!)
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Jun 18th, 2016 at 09:33:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Firstly, if any national movements are going to band together in a common cause, it is more likely to be the extremist right wing nationalist movements in Eastern Europe Austria, Germany, France et al.

Secondly, once you still see democracy and accountability in national terms, you are skewing the pitch into nationalist terms - following beggar thy neighbour economic policies and seeing immigrants from other EU member states as welfare tourists or people taking "our jobs".

The problem with nationalism in general and the UK in particular, is that they have never accepted a European framing for anything, so it's always them foreigners who are the problem, Britain's net contribution but not its huge benefits, common regulations but not national regulations.

In that environment, pro-Europeans are always playing defence. In fairness, most Brits have never seen themselves as Europeans first (or even a distant second), so they have been consistent in this.  They probably should never have been allowed join, but leaving now they're in would be hugely disruptive.

It wouldn't be so bad if a remain victory would settle the argument, then we could all get on with our lives.  The problem is the Brits will go on whingeing whatever and forever...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jun 18th, 2016 at 10:07:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
These probable reactions on the right are ALL THE MORE REASON for a push from the left for international solidarity, especially in Europe and for reversing the austerity policies that are harming so many people and energizing the right. Point out who is benefiting and who is facilitating those benefits and at whose cost. Emphasize such destructive policies as a race to the bottom. Do not support a return to national currencies which, individually remain weak. Instead push for an alternative currency union run on progressive principles designed to help the average citizen in each member country. Do not believe that the right will not be fomenting right wing crazy anyway. Instead, try to preempt it.

The problem is two fold: the Euro is NOT being managed for the benefit of all and, at present, THERE IS NO LEFT ALTERNATIVE to this situation. Be that alternative.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere." (But it helps!)

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Jun 18th, 2016 at 02:39:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Stochastic Terrorism: Triggering the shooters.

Stochastic terrorism is the use of mass communications to stir up random lone wolves to carry out violent or terrorist acts that are statistically predictable but individually unpredictable.

This is what occurs when Bin Laden releases a video that stirs random extremists halfway around the globe to commit a bombing or shooting.

This is also the term for what Beck, O'Reilly, Hannity, and others do.  And this is what led directly and predictably to a number of cases of ideologically-motivated murder similar to the Tucson shootings.

---snip

The person who actually plants the bomb or assassinates the public official is not the stochastic terrorist, they are the "missile" set in motion by the stochastic terrorist.  The stochastic terrorist is the person who uses mass media as their means of setting those "missiles" in motion.

---snip

One or more unstable people responds to the incitement by becoming a lone wolf and committing a violent act.   While their action may have been statistically predictable (e.g. "given the provocation, someone will probably do such-and-such"), the specific person and the specific act are not predictable (yet).  

The stochastic terrorist then has plausible deniability: "Oh, it was just a lone nut, nobody could have predicted he would do that, and I'm not responsible for what people in my audience do."

The lone wolf who was the "missile" gets captured and sentenced to life in prison, while the stochastic terrorist keeps his prime time slot and goes on to incite more lone wolves.    

Further, the stochastic terrorist may be acting either negligently or deliberately, or may be in complete denial of their impact, just like a drunk driver who runs over a pedestrian without even realizing it.  

Finally, there is no conspiracy here: merely the twisted acts of individuals who are promoting extremism, who get access to national media in which to do it, and the rest follows naturally just as an increase in violent storms follows from an increase in average global temperature.  



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jun 19th, 2016 at 02:08:21 PM EST
Yes, this hits the nail on the head about how these people act.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Jun 19th, 2016 at 03:58:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Attorneys experienced in drafting legislation should be set to work to find a way to deal with 'stochastic terrorism' A good pressure point would be to define the term and then have a series of historical examples. The penalty could be in days for which the offending organization goes dark.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere." (But it helps!)
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Jun 19th, 2016 at 05:48:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think it would be difficult to draft legislation, precisely because of the random element in 'stochastic'. For instance, if a Catholic cleric rails against abortion, and then a loan wolf kills an abortion clinic worker.  Could you prosecute?

Most countries have incitement to hatred legislation, and broadcasting authorities which set a higher standard for TV and radio stations. That could be the model.  After all, access to the public airways is a privilege.  Freedom of speech doesn't give any one organisation the exclusive right to a broadcast frequency.

The withdrawal of a licence to broadcast would also be a civil matter, and so the burden of proof much lower than in a criminal trial.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jun 19th, 2016 at 06:10:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Excellent. I obviously had hit 'post' in mid thought. But that was what I had in mind. While it might not be possible to prosecute individuals, if it can become prohibitive for any media to repeat what was said that can be effective. FB, for instance, would not let its brand be threatened. A defense would be that there is little or no evidence that the speech in question has incited any violence. And when certain speech has been shown to have been a factor in two or more incidents then that speech would become a known factor which must not be allowed to be spread by media.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere." (But it helps!)
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Jun 19th, 2016 at 10:31:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Britain's rival EU camps resume campaign as polls show momentum for 'In' | Reuters

Campaigning for Britain's vote on EU membership resumed on Sunday after a three-day hiatus prompted by the killing of a pro-EU lawmaker, but pledges of a more respectful tone were quickly tested by a fresh row over immigration.

Three opinion polls ahead of Thursday's vote showed the 'Remain' camp recovering some momentum although the overall picture remained one of an evenly split electorate.

The murder of Jo Cox, a 41-year-old mother of two young children, shocked Britain, raised questions about the tone of campaigning and could yet prove a defining moment in what is Britain's biggest political decision for decades.

Both sides sought to adopt a more measured style on Sunday, paying their respects to Cox but sticking closely to the immigration versus economy debate that has defined the campaign.

"I hope, because of the tragic death of Jo, we can have a less divisive political debate in our country," finance minister George Osborne, a leading conservative 'Remain' campaigner, told ITV's Peston on Sunday show.

by Bernard on Sun Jun 19th, 2016 at 03:26:41 PM EST
The polls are all over the place. They simply don't have a model for doing it properly and so are effectively sticking a wet finger in the air.

Anyone who tells you what's going to happen is guessing. But, given that it's quite likely to be a close vote, I doubt anything will really be settled. the post-referendum politics will be a lot more interesting, but hopefully more civilised, than that which preceded it.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Jun 19th, 2016 at 04:02:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nope. The civilised will make a point of civilised and treating their opponents respectfully. The swill-eyed nationalist xenophobic racists won't be the slightest bit concerned. Net effect is to make the civilised unwilling to tackle the loonies robustly and the loonies aren't properly challenged. See "civility" in the US.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 20th, 2016 at 04:58:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think Warsi's defection is possibly a bellwether. She could, I suppose, be having a crisis of conscience, but it seems at least as likely that she's decided that Boris isn't going to have ministerial positions to hand out post-referendum.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Jun 20th, 2016 at 05:37:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
tbh I think we have chickens coming home to roost from 35 years of tabloids dripping poison into the public's ear about foreigners in general and the EU in particular.

UKIP and Britain First are only manifestations of that twisted public mood. It's odd, back in the 70s the UK was a horrid homophobic, misogynist and racist place, yet we saw ourselves as a tolerant and open society that gladly embraced Europe. As each of these strands have been increasingly challenged and we move towards actually becoming that tolerant and open society, we now see ourselves as closed and happily, even proudly, prejudiced.

As in the US, we see a large aging white population that sees its privileges fading away. they don't like being told that they shouldn't abuse foreigners, gays or women. They resent being told that the assumptions of their youth are no longer appropriate. And the EU is their scapegoat. The referendum campaign has given them license to wave their worst impulses around. And I imagine that, whatever the result this Thursday, we'll be dealing with the mess for years

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Jun 19th, 2016 at 03:55:58 PM EST
That is my fear as well.  Even if remain win, the Brexit campaign will go on.  And everybody else in the EU will become even more exasperated with the Brits and the economic and political uncertainty will do more damage to the economic and political performance of the Uk and the EU such that the benefits of membership will become even less clear.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jun 19th, 2016 at 04:04:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hence, Quatremer, not that the EU isn't capable of self-destroying itself without British help.
by Bernard on Sun Jun 19th, 2016 at 04:42:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Appalled as I am at the prospect of my country voting to leave the European Union next week, I am hardly surprised.

For 25 years our press has fed the British public a diet of distorted, mendacious and relentlessly hostile stories about the EU - and the journalist who set the tone was Boris Johnson.

I know this because I was appointed Brussels correspondent of The Times in 1999, a few years after Johnson's stint there for The Telegraph, and I had to live with the consequences.

Johnson, sacked by The Times in 1988 for fabricating a quote, made his mark in Brussels not through fair and balanced reporting, but through extreme euro-scepticism. He seized every chance to mock or denigrate the EU, filing stories that were undoubtedly colourful but also grotesquely exaggerated or completely untrue.

The Telegraph loved it. So did the Tory Right. Johnson later confessed: "Everything I wrote from Brussels, I found was sort of chucking these rocks over the garden wall and I listened to this amazing crash from the greenhouse next door over in England as everything I wrote from Brussels was having this amazing, explosive effect on the Tory party, and it really gave me this I suppose rather weird sense of power."

Johnson's reports also had an amazing, explosive effect on the rest of Fleet Street. They were much more fun than the usual dry and rather complex Brussels fare. News editors on other papers, particularly but not exclusively the tabloids, started pressing their own correspondents to match them. By the time I arrived in Brussels editors only wanted stories about faceless Brussels eurocrats imposing absurd rules on Britain, or scheming Europeans ganging up on us, or British prime ministers fighting plucky rearguard actions against a hostile continent. Much of Fleet Street seemed unable to view the EU through any other prism. It was the only narrative it was interested in.

Stories that did not bash Brussels, stories that acknowledged the EU's many achievements, stories that recognised that Britain had many natural allies in Europe and often won important arguments, almost invariably ended up on the spike.

Boris Johnson is now campaigning against the cartoon caricature of the EU that he himself created. He is campaigning against a largely fictional EU that bears no relation to reality. That is why he and his fellow Brexiteers could win next week. Johnson may be witty and amusing, just as Donald Rumsfeld was in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, but he is extremely dangerous. What began as a bit of a jape could inflict terrible damage on this country.

Fight back!!!!!!

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Jun 20th, 2016 at 06:11:16 AM EST
Johnson doesn't care about the truth, european institutions or the good of the UK; he only cares about himself and his ambitions, all the time, always. A total narcissist.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jun 20th, 2016 at 02:40:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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