UK PM Boris Johnson’s “dangerous” language while addressing MPs is just a symptom of the wider societal culture of violence.
Speaker of The House, John Bercow, was quick to point out during the session on Wednesday that the recent culture in the Commons between the Prime Minister and MPs was “toxic” and the worst that he has known in his “22 years in the House”.
After returning from the UN General Assembly to answer to his illegal prorogation of Parliament, the Prime Minister summoned the memory of murdered MP Jo Cox during a speech against his Brexit opponents.
He said that if any MPs wanted to stop receiving death threats, they must back Brexit (Pro-European Labour MP Jo Cox was murdered during the EU referendum in 2016 by a man shouting “Britain first”).
Mr. Johnson’s remarks were in response to MPs testifying that they received death threats laden with the prime minister’s words against those who opposed his Brexit strategy – such as “surrender” and “betrayal”.
Unfortunately, the PM’s dangerous choice of words in Parliament is simply a reflection of the general societal malaise, where such vitriol may embolden even more hate crimes and violence.
Recent statistics have revealed a surge in the use or threat of action involving serious violence against a person in the United Kingdom.
The problem is exacerbated by an online world where people say whatever they like about whomever they like, without impunity.
And amid the ongoing Brexit fiasco, as Britons are divided over whether to stay in or leave the European Union, it is the prime minister’s duty to unify the nation and reduce the level of poison in politics.
But the controversial prime minister has repeatedly received backlash regarding his poor choice of words.
Last month, Mr. Johnson’s cabinet was criticized for a Government campaign on boxes of takeout fried chicken that was meant to discourage knife crime. Johnson’s campaign rather pushed the ridiculous stereotype that black people not only love fried chicken but are also committing the most serious crimes in the UK.
Angry responses quickly followed on popular social networks, as some claimed that ‘#KnifeFree watermelons’ were soon to follow – referencing Boris Johnson’s 2002 article in which he called black people ‘piccaninnies with watermelon smiles.’
Besides being labeled a racist, Boris Johnson has also attacked the Muslim community on several occasions.
The Guardian unearthed a 2007 essay written by Boris Johnson, which further incited Islamophobic attitudes. He said that Islam has caused the Muslim world to be “literally centuries behind” the West.
Moreover last year, Johnson compared Muslim women wearing burqas to bank robbers and letterboxes. (Dear Johnson, let’s respect the fact that your own great-grandfather Ali Kemal, a Turkish politician, had been a Muslim.)
Are these vitriolic comments simply a means to gain independence from the EU, as many politicians are justifying? Do these attacks by prominent figures simply go unnoticed by the educated masses?