Re-few-gees or re-phew!-gees?

Wasn’t that the question till Brexit boiled over? The respectful Indian way of addressing a ‘refugee’ is, of course, ‘Refu-ji! How are you? How is Refu-Aunty? When did you come to Blighty?’ Be that as it may, there are some interesting developments afoot. I have rarely seen so much of schadenfreude directed against one nation – actually two, since the nation in question is divided between the Leave and the Remain camps like the Little-Endians and the Big-endians in Gulliver’s Travels – shudder to think what Swift would have done with this lot!

To return to schadenfreude, schon längst an English word, it means feeling pleasure or satisfaction at the discomfiture of others – in its mildest version. At its rabidest, one can see it in the hircine gloating of the Remain supporters over the possible consequences of Brexit for Britain. And this schadenfreude is expressed in Facebook as well as on Twitter in some of the most atrocious punning in the history of the English language, as if not just Britain but English itself was taking leave of the EU! But a much more disturbing trend, to my mind, is to be detected in reports of ‘scumbags’ racially abusing persons of colour in public parks & on public transport in the (still) United Kingdom.

In the midst of all this, Nigel Farage had to take the stage in Brussels & curse the hon’ble assembly in no uncertain terms! A perfect example of democracy & parliamentarianism. And I suddenly found myself asking why in the name of all that is unholy the European Union had to get so excited/involved in the very legitimate process of the government & the citizens of the United Kingdom trying to decide whether they want to stay in the EU or not. Let them decide one way or the other, and then let them tell us what they want – the famous Article 50 – only then will there be any basis for discussion or action.

Till that point is reached – the point of no return – the govt. & the people of UK can hold as many referenda as they like – how does it concern the rest of the EU, pray? To give you but one example: when Spain is having trouble forming a government, the rest of the EU waits politely, do they not? It’s not as if Spain is running around like a chicken with its head cut! As a matter of fact, democracy means the painfully gradual process of determining the political will of the people – by various methods & instruments such as elections & referenda, even opinion polls may be included in that category. Why couldn’t the EU tell Britain, hey look, you find out what you want first and then come and tell us and we’ll see what we can do for you and for the rest of the EU. Why did the EU have to assume just what the British folk was going to decide and then go into a huff because they decided the other way round? It’s the way elections are held in some countries: the polls are valid only if I & my party win, otherwise there are accusations of skulduggery and the other side is always to blame. In countries with a certain tradition the army takes over till both sides have cooled down a little. And the EU doesn’t even have an army.

Why should it? It’s left wars behind and turned into a ‘family’, with the usual amount of bickering & drama. In that sense, Article 50 is like filing the divorce papers. The Brits have said – after much heart searching & heartburn – that they do not love the EU any more. Should the EU start crying Divorce! Divorce! right away? This is worse than Kramer vs. Kramer, I say! Britain is only 52% sure – or rather 52% of 72% of the Britons are sure that love has died – and the EU is behaving like hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Now Britain – the party that was unfaithful to begin with – is dragging its feet when it comes to the divorce. I suggest the EU shacks up with Turkey, gives Turkey the EU membership on an emergency basis just to spite Britain.

On a more serious note, isn’t it absolutely obvious what is going on in more than one country in Europe? UKIP and Brexit in Britain, Front National in France, AFD in Germany, the Freedom Party in Austria, Orban in Hungary, Kaczynski in Poland – it’s the same pattern everywhere: the European losers of globalisation are turning against the even poorer, even more desperate global losers of globalisation while the winners… Forget it. Entire generations of hard-working Europeans are seeing their lifetime’s work, their lifetime’s achievement, their lifetime’s savings being reduced to a worthless heap – this is the Great Depression in slo-mo, the death of a culture & civilisation without the advent of war.

Remember who the Brexit supporters were railing against? The fat cats of Brussels. Know who they will end up bashing in tubes and trains? People of (identifiable) colour. No wonder our Refu-ji uncle is talking of going back to Jullunder with Refu-Aunty. And I think I shall join them.