June 11 2016
My beloved British godfather, Lynn Perkins, always used to warn me of the manifest evils of Europe and beyond, “remember, Eric, the wogs begin in Calais (pronounced ‘Callis’ by the Brits.)” Wog is a nasty British term for oily, untrustworthy foreigners.
I recall the Perkins warning because of the upcoming British referendum to stay in the European Union, or pull out. Polls suggest Brits will narrowly decide to stay in the EU; my instincts say the same.
But then again, remember all those ‘wogs.’ Britons are often too well-mannered to bring up this issue, particularly in polls. But deep down, many of Great Britain’s people still think of Europeans (Germans, Swiss and Scandinavians excepted) and all Arabs and Indians as wogs. These are people who eat smelly food with garlic and don’t turn bright red in the sun like the Brits.
That old imperialist, Winston Churchill, patron saint of America’s neocon right, dismissed India’s great Mahatma Gandhi as a ‘half-naked fakir.’ He loved the British Empire and sneered, like many of his countrymen, at “the lesser races.”
Problem is, that the “lesser races” have poured into Britain since the 1950’s, changing its traditional character, politics, and rules. White Britons are losing ground in the new, multicultural United Kingdom, just as whites in California are headed for minority status. A lot of Brits, particularly north of London, don’t like it. Add now the flood of over a million Arab and African refugees into the Continent has many Britons in a frenzy that their happy little island faces growing troubles.
Hence the “Brexit” movement that wants Britain to ditch the European Union, bar the wogs, and sail off serenely on its own. They are whispering, “better be a full colony of the United States than another member of the do-nothing European Union.” To many Brits, it’s intolerable watching the hated French and Germans be the big dogs of the EU. Particularly the sneaky French who lust to get revenge for Waterloo.
Brexit partisans, taking a page from Trump’s book, ‘Presidency for Dummies,’ are becoming increasingly anti-Muslim, warning of fanciful terrorist threats and armies of lust-crazed Muslim dervishes coming to rape and pillage peaceful Britain.
The same contrived hysteria was whipped up when the British Empire was colonizing Africa in the 1800’s. And recently, when insular Brits quailed in terror before an expected invasion of Polish plumbers. Less sophisticated Britons just don’t like foreigners. I recall a Brit that I met in Paris who would only eat hard boiled eggs because “everything is filthy here in France.”
Brexiters assure the public that once the UK ditches the EU it will boom economically and establish close bilateral trade relations with the EU. In short, they will get all the benefits of the EU but escape its pesky requirements. Pork pie in sky!
The Continental EU members have long regarded Britain as an American Trojan Horse designed to keep Europe under Washington’s thumb. They don’t trust London and mock British pretensions of imperial grandeur. They also want a big slice of the City of London’s financial pie.
Europeans fear Brexit might very well create a domino effect, inspiring the EU’s weak sisters, like Greece and Italy – and maybe Spain, Portugal, or even Holland – to decamp and return to their bad old financial ways. The Russians and Americans would be pleased to see the EU founder, thus removing a strategic and economic competitor.
But a British departure from the union would be very unwise, even tragic. For all its blundering bureaucracy, over-expansion, stultifying regulations, and lack of full financial integration, the European Union was a majestic, historic achievement for war-ravaged Europe. Today, the EU is the world’s leader in human rights, education, more humane treatment of animals, transportation, environmental protection and universal health protection.
This is a huge, unprecedented accomplishment that must be safeguarded. I was again reminded of it while recently watching the commemoration of the frightful battle of Verdun that cost nearly one million French and German casualties.
If the Brits want out, let them go – but keep the Irish and Scots. The Brits never added much to the EU anyway beyond sneers and complaints. But they can’t go without paying a steep exit tax to discourage other potential deserters. An independent not so great Britain would likely become a giant American theme park in the North Atlantic while being mooned by the annoying French.
Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2016