Post-Brexit, white-power handbills blanket a north London street

Twitter user LDLDN posted this image of a racist National Front poster on a lamppost in Camden, a neighborhood in north London — a relatively affluent, diverse neighborhood dominated by a giant subculture market, two huge train stations (St Pancras and King's Cross), a university, and the British Library.

According to LDLDN, the posters lined a whole street, St Pancras Way. In itself, this doesn't mean much: one nutter with a bucket of wheatpaste and an inkjet printer could pull it off. But it's part of a wider trend of reporting on racist incidents in the UK where the aggressors cite the Brexit vote in their tirades against brown people, Poles and other eastern Europeans, and people marked as other in UK society.

Again, casual racism isn't new in the UK. Since the advent of social media, there's been a steady drumbeat of videos of racist ranters on public transit and street-corners, hurling abuse at strangers. It's unlikely that social media precipitated this racism. It's safe to assume that the racism existed before social media, but camera phones and Twitter and Facebook made it visible.

It's possible that the racists responsible for the post-Brexit incidents would have been shouting at racialised people even if no Brexit referendum had taken place, but without mentioning Brexit and that the reason we're seeing more reporting of Brexit-implicated racist tirades. Perhaps everyone else is just more on guard for manifestations of bias and xenophobia, now that the Brexit referendum has been won by the Leave side, which used literal Nazi propaganda in its campaign materials and whose supporters included a armed racist terrorist who killed a politician in the street while shouting fascist slogans.

That's an empirical question that will be hard to resolve. But one thing is obvious from the behavior of the racists themselves: Brexit has validated their worldview. They feel comfortable with the Brexit outcome. They are buoyed by it. Whether or not it emboldened them (I think it probably did), it certainly gladdened them.

If I were a migrant in the UK — as I was until I year ago, when my family and I got the hell out of London — I would be very nervous.

(Thanks, Noemi!)