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Fri Jan 1, 2021, 02:04 PM

Britain Has Lost Itself

My grandparents, who fled Nazi Germany for Britain, would be heartbroken to see the country today.

By Peter Gumbel

At long last, it happened.

Shortly before midnight on Thursday, Britain completed its exit from the European Union, replacing a close 47-year long relationship with the continent with something far more distant. Now it will have to live through difficult years of separation that will sap its political vibrancy and diminish its role on the world stage. Though a trade deal was belatedly agreed, the economic fallout may be dire, too.

Yet for many, it’s also a deeply personal moment. My grandparents, who escaped Nazi Germany on the eve of World War II, found a home in Britain — to them, it was a beacon of light and hope. But they would be heartbroken to see it today. Inward, polarized and absurdly self-aggrandizing, Britain has lost itself. In sorrow, I mourn the passing of the country that was my family’s salvation.

My grandparents arrived in England in 1939 as stateless refugees. They felt not just gratitude for their immediate safety but also a deep attachment to the values of openness, decency and tolerance they found in their adopted homeland. Once the war ended, they became naturalized British citizens as soon as they could. In a letter to a friend, my grandfather praised the “generous hospitality and nearly unrestricted freedom” they enjoyed as migrants. They never shed their German accents but switched to speaking only in English.

My parents’ generation, in turn, gave their all for the country that took them in. They inevitably faced some anti-German sentiment in the early postwar years, but simply ignored it. My uncle, who arrived in Britain on a Kindertransport train when he was 15 years old, joined a commando unit of the British Army composed of German refugees and was killed on a Normandy beach on D-Day, aged 21. In the 1980s, my father, a businessman, and my aunt, a radiographer, were both decorated by Queen Elizabeth II for their contributions to the country. “After all the trauma of leaving Germany I had struck fresh roots in England,” my father wrote in a private memoir. “We had found a new home in every sense of the word.”

But the openness and tolerance that made the country a safe haven for them are in retreat. The vote to leave the European Union in 2016 and the surge of national exceptionalism that accompanied it revealed deeply held prejudices about migrants. Xenophobia and racism, presumed to be banished to the margins of public life, made an ugly return to the mainstream. And anyone with an international mind-set was suddenly at risk of being tarred, in the words of the former prime minister, Theresa May, as a “citizen of nowhere” — an ominous phrase not just for a family like mine that was once stateless.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/01/opinion/britain-brexit-europe-germany.html

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Arrow 35 replies Author Time Post
Reply Britain Has Lost Itself (Original post)
Zorro Jan 2021 OP
secondwind Jan 2021 #1
luv2fly Jan 2021 #2
hlthe2b Jan 2021 #3
RVN VET71 Jan 2021 #28
brush Jan 2021 #4
denvine Jan 2021 #10
appalachiablue Jan 2021 #5
TheRickles Jan 2021 #11
wnylib Jan 2021 #16
appalachiablue Jan 2021 #20
stillcool Jan 2021 #6
tiptonic Jan 2021 #7
RVN VET71 Jan 2021 #8
erronis Jan 2021 #18
wnylib Jan 2021 #19
RVN VET71 Jan 2021 #23
wnylib Jan 2021 #24
RVN VET71 Jan 2021 #25
wnylib Jan 2021 #26
RVN VET71 Jan 2021 #27
wnylib Jan 2021 #29
RVN VET71 Jan 2021 #30
wnylib Jan 2021 #31
RVN VET71 Jan 2021 #33
wnylib Jan 2021 #34
RVN VET71 Jan 2021 #35
CaptainTruth Jan 2021 #9
Politicub Jan 2021 #12
paleotn Jan 2021 #21
Mosby Jan 2021 #13
paleotn Jan 2021 #14
mdbl Jan 2021 #15
GoneOffShore Jan 2021 #17
Skeptical Thomas Jan 2021 #22
Hekate Jan 2021 #32

Response to Zorro (Original post)

Fri Jan 1, 2021, 02:08 PM

1. This is very sad to read.... and troubling....


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Response to Zorro (Original post)

Fri Jan 1, 2021, 02:08 PM

2. Largely sums up the US too

Barring a few details, sounds like the US as well, unfortunately.

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Response to luv2fly (Reply #2)

Fri Jan 1, 2021, 02:10 PM

3. Exactly. My grandfather, & uncles fought the Nazis & would be heartbroken to see OUR country today

My father entered WWII at the very end, but he would have felt exactly the same. They are all long gone, but I don't have to guess how they would perceive the rise of white nationalism, neo-Nazism, authoritarianism, and hate in this country.

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Response to hlthe2b (Reply #3)

Sun Jan 3, 2021, 09:53 AM

28. My Dad was a Navy Chief in WWII

Ashore for supplies, he and his companion EM stumbled on a group of Nazi soldiers, their rifles stacked, a campfire burning, eating their dinner. The Nazis saw them and lunged for their weapons. Dad and the other sailor, armed with what Dad referred to as “Tommy guns” got the drop on them and killed all of them, I think he said there were 7. Dad was not proud of what happened. Just happy to be alive. He never mentioned this to me until after I’d returned from Vietnam.

Were he alive today, I’m afraid he’d be staying out of bars for fear he’d kill somebody -- many frequenters of such establishments being racist and authoritarian (no, I didn’t say “most”, just many). He’d be home with a bottle and a case of beer watching the news through teeth ground down by the gritting of them, beyond depressed and in despair for the world and mankind.

My point is that my father had to kill Nazis to stay alive, and now we have millions of “Americans” whose loyalty to that erstwhile “lost cause” is on public display, overtly in the form of parades and attacks on protesters, subtlety in the form of viewers of Hannity and Ingraham and the rest of the Fox sty of fat, rich,Murdoch fed pigs.

(Sorry for the rant.)

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Response to luv2fly (Reply #2)

Fri Jan 1, 2021, 02:51 PM

4. That's the US under trump. Biden will re-establish our relationships with...

our allies. This whole Brexit move seems short-sighted and backwards looking as if Britain was still the premier naval power on the world with its vast empire. It is not.

And how long will there be a UK now as there are rumblings in Scotland of a schism developing as many there wanted to remain in the EU. Also Britain seems increasingly isolated from advantageous geopolitical developments as it is not a signee to the new trade agreement with the EU and China.

Too bad. The EU including the UK has a population larger than that of the US (some 360 some million), along with the strong bargaining stength such a power brings. Britain by itself has 68 million people, far short of that.

This whole move portends much more complicated travel, trade and monetary documentation which will only slow the British economy. Sad.

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Response to luv2fly (Reply #2)

Fri Jan 1, 2021, 04:25 PM

10. That's exactly what I was thinking as I was reading the article.

Very sad!

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Response to Zorro (Original post)

Fri Jan 1, 2021, 03:04 PM

5. BoJo's Father, Stanley Applies For French Citizenship: Brexit Divided Johnson Family

BBC News, Dec. 31, 2020. BoJo's Father, Stanley Applies For French Citizenship: Brexit Divided Johnson Family

The father of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he is applying for French citizenship now that Britain has severed ties with the European Union. Stanley Johnson told France's RTL radio he had always seen himself as French as his mother was born in France. The 80-year-old former Conservative Member of the European Parliament voted Remain in the 2016 Brexit referendum. His son Boris spearheaded the Leave campaign and later took the UK out of the EU as prime minister.

Stanley Johnson explained his reasons for seeking French citizenship in an interview broadcast on Thursday, hours before the UK was due to leave EU trading rules. "It's not about becoming French," he told RTL. "It's about reclaiming what I already have."

He pointed out that his mother was born in France to a French mother. "I will always be European," he added.

> Brexit issues have divided the Johnson family. The prime minister's sister, the journalist Rachel Johnson, left the Conservative Party to join the Liberal Democrats ahead of the 2017 election in protest against Brexit. Their brother, the Conservative MP Jo Johnson, resigned from the cabinet in 2018 to highlight his support for closer links with the EU...

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-55499773

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Response to appalachiablue (Reply #5)

Fri Jan 1, 2021, 04:27 PM

11. And Stanley's grand-father, Boris Johnson's great-grandfather,

was a prominent Turkish politician named Ali Kemal Bey. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ali_Kemal

So Johnson's anti-immigrant stance is just as hypocritical as Drumpf's.

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Response to TheRickles (Reply #11)

Fri Jan 1, 2021, 04:48 PM

16. Yes, Trump's mother was a Scottish

immigrant. His paternal grandfather was a German immigrant who left Germany to escape military service and set up a brothel in the US, from which Donald apparently got his family values and attitude toward women. Trump has favored immigrants in his choice of wives, 2 out of 3 times.



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Response to TheRickles (Reply #11)

Fri Jan 1, 2021, 05:11 PM

20. Boris also has American, Jewish & German ancestry, a

'one man melting pot' as he's said. Yet still a bigot and ultraconservative.

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Response to Zorro (Original post)

Fri Jan 1, 2021, 03:29 PM

6. citizen of nowhere..

just can't believe where we are. Still.

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Response to Zorro (Original post)

Fri Jan 1, 2021, 03:37 PM

7. Putin

Putin wins again. Wonder what he does next, to rule the planet.

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Response to tiptonic (Reply #7)

Fri Jan 1, 2021, 04:04 PM

8. I doubt if Putin envisions himself as world emperor.

He wants to be dominant, surely. But ruling the world would be an intractable nightmare. better to stay on the sidelines and profit from the continuing, and mystifying, stupidity of others. Britain and America are just the 2 most obvious examples currently, but I trust that the skinhead Neo-nazis in Germany and Marine Le Pen in France still wield power among segments of the populations. The divisions caused by these factions must give Putin sweet dreams as he contemplates the future of the resurgent Russia as a world power, maybe as THE world power.

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Response to RVN VET71 (Reply #8)

Fri Jan 1, 2021, 04:57 PM

18. Agree. He'd much rather pull the strings from a distance. Plenty of stupids out there: Bolsanaro,

Orban, Modi. And lots more to train and infiltrate.

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Response to RVN VET71 (Reply #8)

Fri Jan 1, 2021, 04:58 PM

19. If Russia as THE world power is Putin's dream,

it will never happen. The next world power will be China.

Russia will fade. Putin is not building a world power nation. He is building up his criminal contacts who, like Trump, care only about themselves.

Even if the US declines in world status and power, the idealized US model that we claimed to represent but did not always live up to is what other nations will admire, not a nation of criminal oligarchs like Russia.

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Response to wnylib (Reply #19)

Fri Jan 1, 2021, 10:45 PM

23. You're right about China.

America has all but given up in that fight. But while China will take the title, Putin, with his ice-box of a country and an economy that is unstable to say the least will maintain a significant place on the world stage. He’ll do it the way he became a strong influence in American politics since Trump’s arrival on the scene: by manipulating behind the scene, often visibly. He’ll push a little further into Ukraine and . . .I think you see my point, eat up Eastern Europe, maybe Finlandize Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania. He’s slippery, sly, and determined.

America will regain its role eventually -- unless Georgia votes Republican next week in which case America will quite possibly continue to sink into 2nd world status (despite Biden/Harris and the House) -- but that resurrection is years, maybe decades away. The real rebirth -- even were the Dems to win in Georgia -- will not begin in force until age and ill health takes Trump off the stage because he has pretty solid control over 70,000,000 of us, and they will continue to provide a drag on progressive action as long as he continues to stir them up.

Still, China. Militarily and economically they are going to dominate. The ruling clique has treated 100s of millions of smart people well, allowing them to prosper financially (and capitalistically) while keeping the remainder of the populace under close watch and in tight rein. The favored capitalist-communists are taking care of the economy -- hell, they have practically free labor guaranteed by the government, for one thing -- while the military grows in prestige, power, and ability. I wonder how Vladimir feels about sharing a border with China and what schemes he may try to hatch to keep from being neutralized or swallowed up?

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Response to RVN VET71 (Reply #23)

Sat Jan 2, 2021, 03:17 AM

24. I used to think that Trump would keep

a strong hold on American politics, but now I think it's more likely that he'll fade away as younger, smarter people take his place. He'll leave a legacy, but he, himself, will dissolve into nothing, especially if he is prosecuted for his crimes.

The world is onto Putin so I don't think his manipulations will be as successful in the future as they were with Trump.

The Chinese people continue to push for more rights and I think that China will move farther in that direction. Their culture is more community oriented than the individualism of western cultures, but they will gradually embrace more human rights.

But these are just perceptions of mine. I'm far from being an expert on geopolitics.

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Response to wnylib (Reply #24)

Sat Jan 2, 2021, 05:33 PM

25. I doubt there are many "experts on geopolitics"

The situation in the world is changing rapidly and unpredictably.

The certainty is that, for America, if the GOP remains in power (via control of the Senate), America is just going to stumble along for the time being. (C’mon, Georgia! Uncle Same needs a new pair of shoes!)

For Russia, whatever Putin has sucked out of America had better satisfy him -- at least until 2024 -- because that spigot will be closed on January 20th -- regardless what happens in Georgia.

For China -- Hong Kong remains a mystery. Will it be allowed to maintain it’s semi-independent economic status? How many encroachments will the Chinese Communist Party make on that status? The economic ramifications can either be neutral or very serious for the Chinese government. Neutral if they back off -- at least somewhat. Serious if they just decide to incorporate HK lock stock and barrel into their communist system. But regardless of Hong Kong's situation and how it evolves, China is an economic juggernaut and will continue to be so. China, not America, has been involved in infrastructure and other economic development throughout Africa. (I’m not all that conversant on the topic, but it seems we send Special Ops soldiers and assassins, China sends engineers.) And she already manufactures most products that carry America labels. And militarily she’s become a mammoth, a sword-rattling, boundary-pushing mammoth. So far I think she parades her military might just to keep other nations (like the pre-Trump U.S.A.) from even thinking about confrontation. Her moves at expansion have been contained within a relatively small geographic sphere, I think, because she doesn’t want land so much as dominance and power.

(So much for any resurgent optimism, on my part, for the new year.)

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Response to RVN VET71 (Reply #25)

Sat Jan 2, 2021, 06:17 PM

26. These scenario projections remind me

of one of the dystopian classics that I read many years ago and can't now recall which one it was. The world was dividrd into 3 or maybe 4 main spheres of influence, e.g. Europe, the Americas, and Asia. Not sure where Africa stood in this system. People rooted for their own spheres like spectators at a sports event, according to whom they were instructed was their most recent enemy, and then were told that this sphere had always been their true enemy, without regard to reality.

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Response to wnylib (Reply #26)

Sun Jan 3, 2021, 09:42 AM

27. That's the very structure of Orwell's 1984

For what its worth, Anthony Burgess wrote a tome which, among other things, disagreed with Orwell’s portrait of the “proles” as mindless spectators. He felt there was a possibility, at least a possibility, that the proles would rise up against the Party and bring down the dystopian government. Too bad Burgess wasn’t around to see America’s 70,000,000 willing, all-in Trumpers not only accepting Trump’s and Fox’s alternative facts but actually looking forward -- even praying for! -- a Trumpian dystopia.

70,000,000 praying for, in some cases literally praying for, an authoritarian dystopia, for a dictator to tell them what to believe and what to do.

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Response to RVN VET71 (Reply #27)

Sun Jan 3, 2021, 10:25 AM

29. Thanks. I couldn't remember if it was 1984

or Huxley's Brave New World. I read both of them over 50 years ago so I didn't trust my memory on which title belonged with which plot.

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Response to wnylib (Reply #29)

Sun Jan 3, 2021, 10:33 AM

30. I first read them both more than 60 years ago

but have re-read several times since then. The two novels are like fraternal twins in my mind: so different and yet so similar.

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Response to RVN VET71 (Reply #30)

Sun Jan 3, 2021, 10:58 AM

31. Oh dear. Your memory functions

better than mine, or perhaps I should have re-read them a few times.

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Response to wnylib (Reply #31)

Sun Jan 3, 2021, 02:51 PM

33. That's my secret!

It’s interesting to re-read something after years -- interesting what you recall as you read, interesting what you completely forgot.

If you have Kindle, it’s easy -- and relatively cheap -- to purchase copies of tings you may have read a while ago. Personally, I have Kindle but still prefer paper copies, something I can hold in my hand and write on, but I also read e-versions of things.

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Response to RVN VET71 (Reply #33)

Mon Jan 4, 2021, 02:33 AM

34. I"ve re-read a number of books

and agree about gaining new insights and checking what I remember from them. For some reason those two are not among the ones I went back to again. Perhaps I found them too disturbing or depressing. Not sure.

Agree on hard copies vs. online. I was married to a bookseller and accumulated quite a collection at discount, besides books I've acquired on my own since then. My little retirement apartment looks like a library. I've run out of space in the 4 large bookcases in my living room, so some shelves are stocked two deep. The rest of the books are in boxes in a closet. Every once in a while I go through them and pull some to donate to my local library for their fund raising book sales. Trouble is, I often come across other books at those sales that get my attention and buy them so that the numbers on my shelves never seem to diminish. LOL.

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Response to wnylib (Reply #34)

Mon Jan 4, 2021, 10:15 PM

35. Books are burdens we all must bear!

I bear mine gladly. Like you, my den is crowded with them. I have four overstuffed book cases plus two shelves (one on a wall, the other atop a magazine case -- which is filled with mags). Additionally, there are 8 plastic crates filled with them in a storage unit. They’re the major reason I’m developing a paunch in my dotage -- trading physical for intellectual exercise comes with a cost!

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Response to Zorro (Original post)

Fri Jan 1, 2021, 04:07 PM

9. Truly sad, & they will pay a heavy economic price.

Until recently my BIL was a VP at a large international bank that had European headquarters in London. He says basically every large international financial company had major offices there, many were their EU headquarters. With Brexit pending, they moved out. He managed to find a job that he likes better, less hours & less travel, for a dad of 2 young ones.

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Response to Zorro (Original post)

Fri Jan 1, 2021, 04:35 PM

12. I have always imagined how amazing EU citizenship would be.

So many countries with so many experiences and possibilities.

It amazes me that it was so easy for the UK to vote itself out of the union. Citizens who were once citizens of the continent today are now citizens of an island.

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Response to Politicub (Reply #12)

Fri Jan 1, 2021, 05:25 PM

21. Too many Karl Pilkingtons on the island.

Nothing against Karl. He's hilarious. But he does represent a certain segment of British society. Raise that to a factor of 100 and you've got the US.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/An_Idiot_Abroad

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1702042/plotsummary?ref_=tt_ov_pl

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Response to Zorro (Original post)

Fri Jan 1, 2021, 04:35 PM

13. Or they found themselves.

Guess it depends on your perspective.

Regular people haven't learned yet that countries and nationalism are bad.

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Response to Zorro (Original post)

Fri Jan 1, 2021, 04:36 PM

14. The only good thing to come of this....

Is the continent is starting to get its act together. Economically, politically and militarily. They've really had no choice, with Covid-19, the UK out and the US being unreliable. Further consolidation may be a pipe dream, but then again, I never dreamed the EU could ever exist in its current form.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/31/world/europe/brexit-eu-advantages.html?searchResultPosition=6

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Response to Zorro (Original post)

Fri Jan 1, 2021, 04:43 PM

15. It's passed time to shame the anti-democratic morons out of the government

in Britain and especially the U.S. before we are all living in Gilead - and don't think there aren't the weirdo cults out there trying to do it.

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Response to Zorro (Original post)

Fri Jan 1, 2021, 04:49 PM

17. I keep hearing this from multiple people in the UK

And English people who have moved to France.

If you have FB look at Paul Taylor's 'Letter to Louise' - https://fb.watch/2Lg_M8AdfS/

And check out David Knopfler's FB page and feed.

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Response to Zorro (Original post)

Fri Jan 1, 2021, 09:28 PM

22. They Were Warned

 

Before the 2016 referendum:


And after:

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Response to Zorro (Original post)

Sun Jan 3, 2021, 11:06 AM

32. "Inward, polarized and absurdly self-aggrandizing...". Sounds sadly, tragically, like America. nt

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