January 16, 2019 Tas Britas

Michael Gove, you are encouraging the fascists, not fighting against them.

Dear Michael Gove,

In your speech today defending the government, you rightly pointed out the reasons for Jeremy Corbyn’s unsuitability for the post of Prime Minister, namely his shameful and dangerous support for crazy stuff. His inability to take a strong position against Putin’s fascistic tendencies is especially worrying for me, because I live in Lithuania.

I am also British, and engaged to an EU citizen. Our families enjoy multilingual, multinational and multifaith Christmases. We don’t like fascism, obviously. I am in full agreement with your premise “fascism is bad”. The bit you did about fascism was good.

My dislike of fascism led me to campaign for ethnic minorities and LGBT equality in Vilnius, the capital of the Republic of Lithuania, especially in relation to Holocaust history and memory. As a permanent resident of nearly 15 years I learnt the languages and read about the history of the city I love.

I made new friends here who wanted to see Lithuania adopt more European-style policies and attitudes, including human rights and principles such as “fascism is bad”. I have spent a lot of time protesting against fascism fanboys who call themselves patriots and go on night marches with burning torches, carrying portraits of nazi collaborators.

To cut a long story short, I was elected as a City Councillor, I am the first non-citizen to hold office in Lithuania, I am the only non-citizen ever sworn in to defend the Lithuanian Constitution. I like the EU, freedom of movement, freedom to collaborate with UK companies without worrying about stupid crap.

Before the Brexit referendum I received abuse as a foreigner, but now it’s much worse.

I have always been a public person campaigning for controversial things like gay marriage and sensible regulation of narcotics. So sometimes loonies write stuff about me, death threats, accusations that I am a gay Jewish enemy of the state, stuff like that.

I hope you don’t like the sound of that, Mr. Gove, because that sounds a bit fascist, and fascism is bad.

Since you and your crew started all this Brexit nonsense, I get more hatecrimes committed against me and they always sound a bit fascist. These people are also great fans of your work, which must be an embarassing coincidence for you.

You are actively emboldening fascists and loonies all over Europe, intentionally or otherwise.

I’m an immigrant politician who campaigns against fascism, for example to change a streetname which honours an ambitious Lithuanian guy, Kazys Škirpa, who tried to build a nationalsocialist dictatorship in a Jew-free ethnically pure “New Lithuania” in collaboration with the nazis, whom he praised enthusiastically and poetically.

You can guess his supporters are not very welcoming to immigrants.

Since Brexit, what changed is this: I get attacked more, and now they often incorporate the word “Brexit” into their rants, expressing joy at the idea of my impending deportation “back to Brexitland” because, in the parlance of our times, my forced deportation is “the will of the people of Britain” and threats of violence against me are part of the transition period towards rounding up foreigners and checking residence permits at gunpoint.

You have encouraged that vibe. You have ratcheted up that feeling. You’re fuelling this. The darkest Lithuanians are feeling that it’s their time to shine, it’s open season. They are convinced that they have a “democratic right” to “express their opinion” that immigrants should “f*** off back home”, especially if black or gay or muslim. Or British.

The angry fascist fanboys are only a tiny minority of the population, but you are emboldening them. Please don’t.

Isn’t it beautiful, that a fellow citizen is addressing you from the other side of the fallen Berlin Wall as an elected City Councillor in a far-flung foreign land? Isn’t that a fantastic triumph of good over evil? What’s actually bad about this situation, that you have to threaten it so? And how is this helping Britain?

You said it would be easy to leave the EU, we are Britain, we are amazing, we can pick and choose the terms of the deal. You were completely wrong and you all messed it up.

In response to the Mayor of London’s kind and much-needed reassurances about Lithuanians and other EU citizens in London, I have proposed a resolution in Vilnius City Council declaring support for UK citizens in Vilnius and Lithuanians in the UK. Vilnius is, on the whole, an open and welcoming city for foreigners, a great place to live and a growing economy. Because fascism is bad.

I am proud to serve Vilnius, and I take my oath of office very seriously. I defend the interests of my fellow inhabitants. I am on their side, even when some of them don’t understand or believe that. Representing them is my job.

It is your job, and Theresa’s job, to defend Britain’s interests above all else, especially above advisory referendum results.

Brexit is a sad, irresponsible and unworkable idea at its very core.

It is not in Britain’s interests to build barriers where generations fought and died and worked so hard to tear walls down.

The best deal for all of us is the one we already have, not the one Putin wants us to have, not the one rampaging heiling thugs want to have, not the one racists want to have. That should be very obvious to both you, your leader, and Mr. Corbyn.