Trump and Brexit have shocked—but we can't discount the possibility humanity is making an unwelcome return to formby Ahir Shah / August 7, 2017 / Leave a comment
As a self-styled progressive and socially-styled second-generation immigrant, witnessing recent political developments has been a sobering experience. (Albeit sobering in a way that makes actual sobriety next to impossible.) What once felt like my optimistic assumptions for the future now appear dangerously naïve; battles I thought my parents and grandparents had successfully fought and won seem as though they will have to be relitigated; my beliefs about the country I live in have come into stark conflict with the reality.
Importantly, this is in no way what I was promised. I am a 20-something, left-leaning member of an ethnic minority; I had been reliably informed by the Daily Mail that I was taking over. I am normally thrilled when the Mail is proven wrong, if only because it saves me from believing that everything in a three-mile radius of my flat has been engineered to give me cancer, but in this instance its inaccuracy has been galling.
Since Britain’s referendum on the European Union and the United States’s referendum on sanity, time seems to have elapsed in dog years. The two outcomes—Brexit and President Donald Trump—are seen the world over as different spasms of the same impulse, the main difference being that people in other countries see what Britain is doing to itself as hilarious, as opposed to America’s situation, which is hilarious and the apocalypse.
In the UK, we understandably seek to downplay the similarities between our current state and the predicament across the pond. Trump was elected on a campaign which rendered explicit things that were kept implicit enough during the “Leave” campaign to allow respectable types to pretend they didn’t notice them. Bigotry front and centre, we tell ourselves, is wholly different to bigotry that we feel comfortable dismissing as a regrettable aside. To acknowledge the commonalities now would be to own up to our own, comparatively genteel, Trumpism.
On both sides of the Atlantic, we are living through potentially generation-defining victories for reactionary identity politics. This is rarely spoken about and easily ignored, because the identity being asserted is the dominant one. It is, therefore, in some sense the only identity privileged enough to believe it doesn’t exist; the only identity lucky enough to go without saying.
It’s perhaps unsurprising that progressives…