“So much death… what can man do in the face of such reckless hate?” – The Lord of the Rings
I have been reeling all week from the shooting in Orlando, the shooting of a young singer in the middle of doing autographs, the appearance out of nowhere for such ability to inflict pain. The lists of the dead from Orlando, the faces and the words of love, have been entirely heartbreaking. I feared for my gay friends, their friends, their parents and siblings and loved ones. How could so many innocent lives be wiped out so suddenly, with such ease, with so little care?
Today that fear and horror and loathing were brought smacking home again. While shootings in America lose some element of surprise, if not shock, due to their ridiculous gun laws, shootings in the UK are less frequent. But today a colleague in my office spoke suddenly in total disbelief: a female MP has been shot. Three times. Then stabbed repeatedly.
Reading the story for myself I began to feel so sick. The man apparently said ‘Britain First!’ as he attacked her. I stared at the words and took almost no meaning from them. What did he think he would achieve? What is supposed to happen? What is to be gained?
I was on my way to meet my best friend for dinner. I walked around trying to find the restaurant and realised I was not well. Every little noise made my nerves shudder, I was dazed and lost and confused. I went to the restaurant and could not go in. I walked back and round and about trying to avoid people. I was shocked a little back to my senses hearing some men discussing the attack – “we’ve got to be very careful, now”, they said – and I wondered what they meant. Who were they, that they were so afraid too? Or were they talking about the country at large? We need to be very careful, now. How much lower can we sink.
Halfway through dinner my friend went to the bathroom and with great trepidation I checked my phone for news. Jo Cox had died. She is gone. Her two little children will grow up without a mother, a husband without a wife, perhaps, parents without a child. I burst into tears and wept in full view of a very crowded restaurant, but who cares. What better reason is there to cry than for the wasted life of one who was taken too soon, for no good cause, for nothing at all.
I am too shocked and sad and numb to be able to make this post about much else. I do not know what the man’s motivations were. I do not know what will happen. Is this to do with the EU referendum? I suppose it must be. How pathetic. As I said in my last blog, I simply do not understand the logic of those people who think we would now be better off on our own. I read a perfect analogy: that suggesting we leave the EU is like that friend who suggests leaving a bar, because somewhere else might be better, but once you’ve left you find that they don’t really have a plan and you wander for hours, cold and alone. People say they ‘want Britain back’, but the Britain they want back doesn’t exist and never has done. I studied Chinese migration to Britain and people have been making the same complaints about foreigners for the last hundred years; and if I’d studied British history further back, I’m sure they were complaining about it then too.
But how could anyone think it was worth killing somebody for? What thought process, what ideas went through their mind? To carry out a murder like this you have to be mentally unwell, but still the anger and purpose has come from somewhere. I am sickeningly angry with the media and the politicians for the lies they have peddled from the beginning of both referendum campaigns, but particularly Leave. Huge, stupid, twisted, dangerous lies. And now no matter what happens with the referendum it will be too late for them to completely correct the hate and disgusting selfishness of their ideas, because a woman is dead. Politics and leanings this way and that will vary over time, and if we leave the EU then there will be changes and I don’t anticipate them being immediately for the better. But nothing, neither leaving nor staying, could be worth killing an innocent woman for. Not even close. Not even an inch of a trillion miles. It is senseless.
I have studied history for a long time and I am idealistic and left leaning in my politics. I hope for equality and the end of ridiculous privilege and the realisation that we are all so similar to one another, that it is stupid and pointless to be so hateful towards other people. When you have these kind of ideas it seems so straightforward to you that everyone else should feel the same. Perhaps that is arrogant, I don’t know. It just seems so logical, rational, and obvious that I often can’t conceive of arguments against it. I have these ideas and I expect history to march forward, for progress to happen, for change to come and for everything to keep getting better. But I am having some hard knocks in recent years. I started listing all the depressing things and then it got so long I had to stop. There are too many to count.
There are some points of hope. I was heartened and warmed by the election of Sadiq Khan as London Mayor, a wonderful expression of trust in Muslims at a time when they are feeling particularly victimised for the actions of a small minority. I hope desperately that there will be more good news, that people will realise Britain is stronger within the EU and we will vote the right way next week.
But it has all paled into a far lesser significance for me now. I feel a desperate need to be close to everyone I love, to pull them close and tell them what they mean to me. A friend of a victim of the Orlando shootings said that they’d been planning to catch up, but they’d been busy – and now he was gone. Jo Cox, like all the people in Pulse, went out in the morning on just another day. Never to return. Because of the spread of senseless hatred and stupidity that is pulling our world back, trying to roll back history. We must push back and love and learn and pull together and turn the wheels back in the right direction. Like the ‘tiny fire’ ignited in the hearts of people around the world by the ridiculous sentencing of Brock Turner for rape, more fires will be ignited to fight homophobia, racism, selfishness and hate. RIP Jo Cox. You will not be forgotten.