Monday 11 November 2019

Murder of Jo Cox a shocking attack on democracy

THE shocking murder of British MP Jo Cox last week is an appalling attack on democracy that deserves the strongest possible condemnation.

It is also a symptom of the culture of spite and vicious hatred that has become a pathetic and grotesque part of our political culture.

Last week was the 25th anniversary of the day the Internet arrived in Ireland, a development that was supposed to foster a new era of education and understanding in a globally connected world.

To a large extent it has but thanks mainly to the growth of anonymous social media, it has also provided peddlers of uneducated hatred with a platform through which nameless/faceless keyboard warriors can freely stalk and harass everyone from popstars and politicians to the victims of rape and terror.

It has brought a new and extremely unpleasant side to politics the world over.

This can be seen from the vitriol and thuggery of a small minority of anti-water charge protestors in Ireland, to the persecution of gays in Russia; the demonization of Muslims and the disgusting treatment of refugees fleeing the horrors of Syria and Afghanistan.

Ask yourself this. Without our new political culture of hate and mistrust would we have seen the rise of Donald Trump in the United States or the likes of Nigel Farage in the UK?

The brutal slaying of Jo Cox, an act that has rightly horrified the world last week, is the latest and one of the most awful examples of our nasty new culture.

Yes, the man suspected of killing the talented and respected young MP - robbing her children and husband of a mother and partner - has a history of mental illness but it seems clear he was motivated in his awful actions by fascist, lunatic ramblings he found online.

What does it say about the dark depths of our new political culture when a man whose family claim he had no history of violence or even any real interest in politics, can be motivated to brutally slaughter a politician by the trash he finds online?

Thankfully, Irish politics has not descended to this appalling level but there has been an unpleasant sea change in how we deal with our politicians in recent years.

Joan Burton's treatment in Jobstown during the water charge protests is in no way comparable to the utterly appalling fate that befell the tragic Jo Cox.

However, it is a symptom of this new, nasty aspect of political life and discourse in this country.

Many of our politicians have also been the targets of horrendous and unjustified abuse - even rape and death threats - in recent years. It is a disgusting trend that badly needs to be stopped.

MP Jo Cox - by all accounts a most dedicated servant of democracy and the downtrodden - was horrifically cut down as she went about her most important job, looking after the needs of her constituents.

The fundamental principal of democracy is to respect the opinions and rights of all. Sadly that is something many people - most who would profess to be democrats - seem to have forgotten.

It is a shameful indictment of the world we live in that it has taken a young mother's murder to remind them.

Wexford People

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