Can you recall that specific moment in time when, out of nowhere, the world suddenly became really, really rubbish?
Me neither. That’s because the world’s always had it in her. Shittiness is by no means a novel phenomenon, regardless of how many ‘2016 sucks‘ comment pieces try and convince you that this year’s been the start of something freshly unbearable.
You can sympathise, though. Navigating through the last 12 months has been a bit of a toughie, there’s no denying that – especially for young people. Our bright eyes have been dimmed somewhat, our bushy tails clipped uncomfortably short. The 18-25s of 2016 have unconsciously formed some kind of platoon-esque blood bond; “shit son, you were in 2016? Terry, pour this man a drink – it’s on the house.” Scarred and hardened, we be snowflakes no more.
The year 2016 has outgrown the boundaries of noun and set up shop as a proud and potent adjective; sitting pretty as a synonym of bad, weird and bonkers. If something is negative, it’s “soooooo 2016“, if something is inconceivable, it’s “classic 2016!!!“. The date has come to embody the mood as well as the events, utilised as a verbal coping mechanism through which we – the hapless population – seek to desensitise. Desensitisation, however, is the fuel that helps feed the fire.
Earlier this week, when Nigel Farage accused Brendan Cox of supporting extremism, he was rightly condemned. Prior to his remark, he had blamed Angela Merkel for the suspected terrorist attack in Berlin. Cox – widower of murdered MP Jo Cox – took issue with such a claim, leading to Farage’s aforementioned retort. As the rest of us caught on, the former UKIP leader was condemned, yes, but was there outrage? I’m not sure. It was more of an exhausted criticism, as opposed to shocked denunciation. Why? Because it was so very, very 2016. The Year of the Farage. We were all well used to this, by now.
And here lies the problem: this kind of toxicity has gradually become the new normal. Awful people have always existed, but the events of the past 12 months have provided them with a veil, of which they’ve used to crawl out of the cracks. Our collective acceptance of 2016’s recurrent improbabilities have only accelerated the whole process. Farage, the horrible, smug lizard bastard, understands this – and he isn’t alone. Unknowingly, we’re opening the door for the language of hate and allowing it into the mainstream dialogue.
This isn’t alternative politics, nor is it populism. It isn’t radical, and it certainly isn’t an uprooting of the traditional, either. To paint this as something modern and anti-establishment would be to tell a blatant fucking lie. There’s nothing forward-thinking about this; it’s bigotry at its most unshakeably archaic. You can polish Farage as much as it pleases you, but he’ll never be shiny new. He’s the old guard encapsulated. To allow it isn’t a promotion of free speech; to challenge it isn’t an exercise in political correctness gone mad. It’s a simple case of differentiating between right and wrong.
The more we reduce such rhetoric to a Sign O The Times, the sooner we allow it to become comfortable. It’s setting up camp as we speak. These kind of beliefs have no place here – let’s send them back to the cave, and fast.
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Words by Niall Flynn