Across the world minds are narrowing. We must fight back | Molly Crabapple

Against signs of global intolerance such as Brexit the proper answers are cosmpolitanism, art and solidarity

Jo Cox. Amjad Sabri.

This may seem like an unrelated pair. One was a British MP, one a Pakistani singer. But within one week, the two were killed by their countrymen. They were humanists. They faced outwards, at a moment when fascists are trying to shove us into cages of religion or race. They stood up for universal values, not exclusionary tribalism.

Exclusionary tribalism is making a comeback. In America, the Cheetos Fascist rallies the crowds with promises to Make America Great Again, a feat he intends to accomplish by kicking out Mexicans and Muslims, and kicking black people down. Never mind that his Great America never actually existed. And though the Brexit was a 17.4-million-vote fuck you to David Cameron and the austerity-loving EU, it was also a self-destructive convulsion of xenophobia. Within days, eastern Europeans and people of color reported over a hundred instances of racist abuse. A letter reading Leave the EU. No more Polish vermin appeared in the mailboxes of Polish families in Huntingdon. To many Leave voters, taking Britain back meant more than booting out the EUs technocrats they wanted to purge their island of foreigners and brown people too.

There are other, more obviously violent fetishists for purity. Religious fascists such as the Pakistani Taliban and Isis imagine a return to some glorious Islamic golden age if they can just murder all atheists, intellectuals, artists, uppity women, religious minorities, journalists, bloggers, gay people and anyone with a thought in their heads.

Is this our grim meat-hook future? Will we wake up in five years to see a world where notions such as universal human rights elicit snickers, and humanity is a benefit afforded only to members of ones group?

What can guide us through this cesspit? Cosmopolitanism. Art. Solidarity. Universal ethics. These might seem like fragile concepts, but they are ones that people have died for.

Jo Cox was killed on 16 June. As an MP, Cox fought for refugees, for Britains Muslim community, for Palestinians under siege in Gaza and for Syrians under barrel bombs in Aleppo. She took brave, unpopular stands, even breaking with her own party, because she did not believe that a foreign life was worth less than a British one.

On 22 June, the Taliban gunned down Amjad Sabri. Sabri was famous as a master of the qawwali, an exquisite, 800-year-old form of Sufi devotional music, whose complex, lyrical beauty brings listeners closer to God. Born on the subcontinent, the qawwali is one of Islams great contributions to culture, but to the Taliban, religion is only legitimate if its stripped of art. To them, qawwali singing represent a dangerous impurity so they murdered one of it great practitioners.

They are dead. Worse, their deaths seem part of a great shrinking of the world, into one crueler, pettier, stupider and more violent a world where machine gun towers seal off borders, kids drown in the Mediterranean, fanatics murder artists and orange jackasses trade in fear.

If theres one note of hope, its this. History keeps moving. Tomorrow always comes, and we help shape what that tomorrow will be. An MP and a singer made the world larger just by living. We build the world by living too. In spaces large and small, we can fight for universal ethics, cosmopolitanism, art, solidarity. On the beaches of Lesbos, across the mud of borders, in the streets of Chicago, against our lovers lips.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jun/27/global-intolerance-donald-trump-arts-solidarity-inclusion

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