Britain's decision to leave the European Union—a decision inspired in part by a heavily anti-immigrant referendum campaign—has lead to a noticeable increase in racist incidents across the U.K.
Evidently, many of those perpetrating these sorts of attacks on minorities and immigrants feel emboldened to do so in broad daylight, in full view of the public, seemingly without fear of repercussion or condemnation. The success of Brexit appears to have given both people already harboring hatred and those whose ugly passions were aroused by the referendum campaign a sense of permissive vindication for acting on beliefs that might otherwise have been kept slightly more in check.
Perhaps nowhere is that more clear than in shocking footage taken on a tram in the city of Manchester on Tuesday morning. In it, three young men are seen viciously harassing another passenger, hurling slurs, and, at one point, beer while demanding their victim leave the country.
"Don't chat shit when you're not even from England, you little faggot immigrant" one assailant snarls, as his friends demand their target step off the tram.
"What are you, 18? 19? I've been here longer than you," the man calmly replies, as he rebuffs the trio's attempts to start a fist fight, citing his "seven years in the military."
All three off the Manchester assailants caught on film are being wanted for questioning by local police, who are investigating the incident as a hate crime.
Manchester Police Chief Inspector Gareth Parkin was blunt in his assessment of the incident. “This is a disgusting display of abuse which quite frankly has no place in society," Parkin said in a statement. "All hate incidents are treated with the upmost severity and this behaviour will not be tolerated in Greater Manchester."
In the United States, Donald Trump's political ascendency has seen its own version of this phenomenon. The presumptive GOP nominee's continued use of bigoted dog whistles and ambiguous flirtation with alt-right racism online has contributed to the incremental mainstreaming of sentiments previously considered well beyond the pale for the national discourse. This, in turn, has resulted in a number of violent altercations between Trump supporters and protestors at rallies and events across the country.
While it may be heartening to hear the three assailants on the Manchester tram called a "disgrace" by other passengers as they disembark the tram toward the end of the footage, it's hard not to wonder whether they would have felt emboldened enough to act out absent the ultra-nationalism of the "Leave" campaign in the first place.
Harder still, however, is knowing that in a post-Brexit U.K, incidents like this may not be likely to end anytime soon.