November 30, 2021

MP David Amess’ Murder Shows That Identity Politics Intends Democracy

Political violence in the UK has been increasing over time as mass migration continues.

That the murder of Conservative MP Brian Amess represents an attack on democracy is not in doubt. That will violence against politicians has taken a disturbing turn is really a deeply unsettling reality existing in British public life.

Since the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox in 2016, we have seen far too many chaotic attacks on public figures. In previous times, the murder of a political determine was far easier to grasp compared to murder of Jo Cox, David Amess, or a parliamentary assistant by a man focusing on Liberal MP Nigel Jones in 2000.  

Until recently, the violent death of every providing MP– Ian Gow within 1990, Sir Anthony Fruit, 1984, Robert Bradford, 1981, Airey Neave, 1979 – was bound up with the particular conflict in Northern Ireland. No one was in doubt why they were killed and there is no need to debate who was accountable for their tragic death.

In contrast to the past, in recent times, acts of political assault often provoke a argument about responsibility and fault. One reason for this reaction is that it is difficult to understand the motives and the behaviour from the kind of lone wolf murderers who target public statistics.

What turned  Thomas Alexander Mair , a 53-year older fantasist into a cold-blooded great? Similar questions will be asked about the murderer of Amess. It was as if the 25-year old man  caught   on suspicion of his murder had not been interested in escaping the scene. According to reports, while waiting to become arrested he showed no remorse or offered simply no clues that could explain their behaviour.

What is unique about political violence in our time is its performative character. For someone like Thomas Alexander Mair, the murder of a politician, Cox, provided the medium to make a statement about who he was. That he, apparently like the murderer of Amess, was making a statement about who he was and his identity.

It seems that the politicisation of identity turns psychologically disturbed lone wolves in to murderers and terrorists. Cox’s killer was inspired by white nationalism while the suspected killer of Amess was allegedly drawn toward Islamist extremism. They are both emotionally disturbed lone wolves for whom the personal is political. People’s behaviour becomes extreme in cases, where they believe that their very identity is at stake and feel the need to affirm it.

It is not possible to understand the contemporary form of political violence without taking into account the influence of identity politics. Those drawn to the cultural politics of identity regard the views they oppose as not only offensive but in addition as a threat to their very existence. In the contemporary era, this sentiment is most consistently articulated by trans activists who regard the failure to affirm their identity as a form of violence. In some – thankfully rare – instances, a crisis of identity leads people down the road of violence.

Unfortunately, the influence of identity politics makes it difficult for society to know what lies behind the tragic deaths of parliamentarians. An act of political violence is often interpreted through one’s identity allegiance. Therefore the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox by a right-wing extremist was swiftly represented as the inevitable consequence of  Brexit . For many commenters, the real culprit appeared to be the politics of Brexit rather than the murderer.

No sooner did we hear reports of the Amess’ murder ahead of the politics of identity reared its ugly head. One man  tweeted :

The killing of David Amess was senseless & heartbreaking. But I feel quite upset at the term “ African appearance” for the description of his subject, and then the repetition of the on broadcasts & online. It’s depressing to me that a member of the public would use that phrase.

This statement was followed by numerous replies that suggested that they were more concerned about how the physical appearance of a murderer was described than by his deed. Sadly, it is unlikely that they would have had the exact same reaction if the suspect was described as someone with “ European appearance” or someone with “ white appearance”.

We live in a world where far too many people react differently to a white extremist murderer than to a radical islamist one. And that kind of reaction is very, very dangerous, because if we hold those who perpetrate political violence to a different standard, we create the conditions where its performance can flourish.

One final point. Amess was an ardent supporter of Brexit. Hopefully, no one will entertain the foolish thought that the action of his murderer was influenced by the politics of Remain.

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