Today, the 11th of November, is Remembrance Day. It would also have been my Nanna’s birthday; she would have been 95. Even thought my dear grandparents passed away in 2001 and 2003, I still think of them every day. They were kind, generous and my golden couple; in love with each other for over 63 years. Today’s Remembrance feels especially poignant for me, as I type here in Spain, my current home. Today I feel like Europe and America are saying RIP to the rights so hard won by my grandparents and millions of others in the Second World War.
In Europe the far right is gaining popularity in the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Austria, to name a few. America has just landed itself the next Adolf Hitler as President elect, thanks in part to the almost 50% of voters who didn’t bother to vote at all. These people have no right to protest or be unhappy about the outcome, as their laziness/apathy/ignorance played a part in it.
The point which brings me to Remembrance is this: people died in the World Wars trying to secure their freedom and therefore mine. WWII especially battled against fascism, discrimination and genocide. While society back then was much less accommodating in relation to LGBT and women’s rights, Europe and parts of the US have come a long way since then. The country I now call my home, not too long ago ruled by a Fascist dictator for around forty years, was one of the first in Europe to legalise civil partnerships. Sadly, Spain too is swinging to the right, like the rest of Europe and apparently, the USA.
The fight against narrow-minded extremism is one we need to fight every day. The USA, ‘Land of the Free’ is no longer. There are parallels between 1930s Europe and the terrifying situation they have now. The rise of the right being preceded by a time of economic crisis; people looking for scapegoats and finding immigrants and refugees convenient to lay the blame upon. Ruthless megalomaniacs fanning the flames of people’s suspicion and fear to create hatred. Countries looking to close their borders to solve their problems, instead of looking at their own greedy governments and financial sectors.
This blog could go on forever at a volatile time like this. Voting may simply be a matter of putting an X next to the lesser of two evils. It may be something of a Hobson’s choice, but it is a choice we have the right to make. People died so we could live in the closest thing to a democracy we have a the moment. What has happened in the USA should be a lesson to all of us who are lucky enough to have the right to vote. USE IT, or risk hosting the frightening farce that is playing out now in America.