Nick Cohen Nick Cohen

The Brexit bunch are the real referendum whiners

In an age of fanaticism, it was always unlikely that the urge to censor would be confined to the left. If you think that the insults conservatives have thrown at liberals will not boomerang back to injure them, consider the following examples of right-wing invective.

Conservatives claim millennials are ‘special snowflakes,’ unable to handle criticism – a generalisation that crashes and breaks on the vast number of exceptions. To concentrate on specifics for once, it is a matter of fact that the world’s most special snowflake is Donald Trump. He and his supporters target judges, journalists and any other critic. No slight is forgotten or forgiven. Their skin is so thin a student union’s sociology-reading LGBTQ equality officer seems to have the leathery hide of a battle-hardened war veteran in comparison.

In Britain, we have seen the preposterous and faintly sinister spectacle of a triumphant right insist that those of us who think that leaving the single market will betray our country’s best interests must stay silent or lie about our true beliefs. If we do not, we are ‘enemies of the people’. That phrase was once associated with communists. Tellingly, the nationalist right has now taken it up. It is as keen on imposing group think as the millennial left. Right or left, the purpose is the same: to prohibit challenging arguments and reinforce the unquestioning acceptance of the tribe’s taboos. If you condemn one group of censors but not the other, you reveal yourself to be more than a hypocrite. You show you are an unthinking man or woman, who is incapable of self-examination. At moments when your tribe is in the ascendancy you are a danger. For the rest of the time, you are an insufferable bore.

Then we have the supposedly new phenomenon of ‘virtue signalling,’ which again is meant to be an exclusively left-wing vice.

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