“In the Nazi era they flew the red swastika flag – but only when it became too dangerous not to.”
This is a quote from Rowan Rheingans – interviewed in Songlines about her excellent debut solo album The Lines We Draw Together (see my Top of the World review of the album in My Latest Work), based on her stage show, Dispatches On The Red Dress.
She is talking about her German grandparents. It’s a revealing little line that rang a bell for me. We again live in turbulent times. Many people in the current Brexit debate in the UK are keen to compare their adversaries with the Nazis of 1930s Germany.
While the N-word is unhelpful, the atmosphere of the times has been personally revealing for me. On more than one occasion since Brexit, when confronted with close neighbours, members of my community, espousing pro-Brexit and anti-EU opinions, I’ve remained silent.
What price my freedom?
I have become aware of how uncomfortable it is to contradict a prevailing view. Living in Herefordshire, where Brexit swept the boards, I felt compelled, by my own cowardice, to avoid saying I disagreed with them.
The prospect of being ostracised in your own community, rejected by your own neighbours, cuts deep. Silently going along with their statements allows you to carry on being accepted. How far does that go?
You may scoff
Brexiteers aren’t Nazis, I hear you splutter. They don’t carry a threat of violence. That’s certainly true of the Brexiteers I’ve listened to. But it’s one thing to be a loud and proud Remainer from the safety of inner London.
Out here the LEAVE billboards have only just about come down in the fields and on the side of pubs. I never saw a Remain poster in the entire referendum campaign.
Oi, mate! Come over here and say that…
And now I’ve mentioned the B-word, fancy some Brexit and Morality?