In the U.S. the propagandists are out in force, spinning the British non-binding referendum election vote to leave the EU.
The main propaganda messages in the U.S. are:
- The Brits who voted for the EU split are stupid, uneducated, unsophisticated, old white people.
- The Brits who voted for the EU are racist xenophobes (and have the same qualities as #1 too)
Update: Breathless news reports noted a spike in UK residents searching for “What is the EU?” on Google, according to Google Trends. This, of course, confirmed the meme that the Brits who favored leaving the EU were stupid. Except the trend spike was caused by all of about ~1000 people doing a search. From this small number, the media generalized to all of Britain. From a propaganda perspective, this “fake news” (widely reported) set the tone, even though it was essentially a false news report.
There are other explanations – as Pew notes, below, a lot of people in Europe are displeased with the European Union:
The “stupid” and “racist” memes are the propaganda method of “name calling” and do not contribute to meaningful understanding or dialogue. But “name calling” is a surprisingly effective and simple way to motivate one’s followers (on social media) to adopt your agenda. (Of course, racism is an issue, but there are many potential issues at play. When we focus on one, highly charged item, such as racism, the propaganda aspect becomes apparent.)
Of course there are elements of truth in such statements – some people are not sophisticated and some are racist – which enables the target to generalize a subset into “the majority are dumb and racist”.
Pew Research finds that euroskepticism is high across the EU amid a feeling that the EU in Brussels is micromanaging the states and people of the EU, without listening to their input. In some countries, like Britain, the “right wing” disapproves of EU membership more than the “left wing”; but in other countries, it is the opposite. In Spain, the left wing is opposed to the EU while the right-wing supports the EU. In the U.S., we would probably call this a “states rights” issue.
“Europeans are divided along ideological lines in their views of the EU, but this division is not a simple matter of left versus right in each society. In some nations Euroskepticism is a right-wing issue, in others it is a left-wing cause.”
Social media propaganda messaging is bombarding us on this topic, with posts, comments, likes and shares from people who may know little of the nuanced issues but who certainly have their own ideology to promote. Be very skeptical of what is crossing your social media timelines right now!
There is significant opposition in key European countries to an ever closer EU.
Source: Euroskepticism Beyond Brexit
Right or wrong, #Brexit is about leaders that stopped listening to their constituents. Personally, I have no idea what the British should have decided regarding this referendum nor should I – I am not British and do not live in Britain. This is their decision, for better or worse for all us, unfortunately.