This morning I was attacked by an anti-EU chap on the tube. I’ve been shaken all day by it, and I’m deeply frightened and worried, for all of us. We need to get very real about the societal unrest that is being caused by the Leave campaign, and the violence that this then causes in turn.
He was irritated that the tube was held in the platform. When the driver came on over the tannoy, with a non-British accent, he screamed loudly a call to arms, for everyone on the tube to go down to the front cabin and murder him. To MURDER the driver. He then proceeded to shout and yell about getting him out of our country, and that England is fucked because of foreigners, and they all lie. Make no mistake: this is Leave rhetoric.
I had my back to him the whole time, and specifically did not turn round or make eye contact, because I was already shaking. I then received a blow to the back of my head, which was his umbrella that he’d thrown in anger, having gotten himself worked up into such a state that presumably he couldn’t hold it in any longer. I froze, my mouth fell open, and I began to shake violently. I have no idea whether it was aimed specifically at me, though that doesn’t really matter.
Near me was a Hasidic Jew male. He was about seven feet tall and, thankfully, built like a brick shithouse. He slowly stepped behind me, and put his hand on my shoulder, which is when the tears began to fall uncontrollably (but silently, as I was FUCKED if that prick would know he had upset me). On my right was another man in his sixties, who moved closer to my side, muttered something comforting, and looked in my eyes steadfastly while keeping his eye on the chap behind me. It is an excrutiatingly long time between Barbican and Farringdon, by the way. The next stop was mine so I touched the Jewish man’s hand and bolted up the stairs straight into Pret. When I arrived at work I found out another colleague had been punched in the side on the tube as well, because she was apparently ‘in the way’. Another act of violence to a female by a male. The viciousness of this referendum is rife right now, it is cutting across all of society, and it is TERRIFYING.
A colleague said that the last time she remembers it being this bad in Britain was in the dark days of Enoch Powells seventies. Rivers of Blood was a stain on humanity. I was not alive yet then, but I have read it, and it made me feel physically sick. I am worried about this referendum to a level that makes it hard for me to fucking breathe. There are people that will suffer a lot more than I have today – people who will be specifically targeted because of their skin tone or even because they wear an EU Remain badge; people who are going about their day and hoping for a better future where we don’t recreate fucking Nazi propaganda and stand proudly by it, or target people based on their nationality, religion or political leanings. Jo Cox was fucking MURDERED by a violently anti-EU man. They are not just words; threats of violence that are sanctioned and encouraged by those at the top cause a tidal wave of shit and people ACT OUT THEIR THREATS. Please look after each other in the next few weeks. Watch out for violence in public and protect yourselves. Spread as much love and positivity as you possibly can. Write about it. Make art about it. Do whatever you can to channel the pain positively. Look after your loved ones and nurture them, and especially watch out for POC and Muslims, because they will suffer enormously from these tensions, WHATEVER the outcome of the vote is. Spread. The. Love. Even when it’s hard and all you want to do is hide. (Tbf though, I’m on my way home to do just that – hide under my covers until tomorrow which is a new day).
There are two redeeming features to this story. One is that Hasidic Jew males are generally forbidden from touching females other than their wives, so that hulk of a beautiful man transgressed religious norms in order to comfort and protect me. Another is that the lady in Pret (who was Eastern European – yeah I know right?) came out from behind the counter and held my hand, then gave me a free coffee. I later sent an email to their head office about her to make them aware that they have an amazing employee. You gotta pass this shit on.
In the words of Jo Cox, “we have far more in common than that which divides us.”
Please don’t let the EU divide you from your fellow humans. Vote with your heart, not with your hate.
Posted with permission of author