An Assassination in Britain Calls Us to Recognize Our Duty to Keep Barbarism at Bay in America

The assassination of British parliamentarian Jo Cox is front-page news in the United States, and a subject of comment for American political leaders who recognize the vulnerable circumstance in which the world’s democracies find themselves. In an incredibly volatile moment where countries are rocked by debates about refugees and immigrant rights, about whether borders should be open and about the issues that extend from the globalization of economies, the political discourse has grown so intense, and at times so vile, that we have arrived at a critical juncture. It is no longer wise, or right, to imagine that threats to democracy are contained within individual nation states. They must be understood, and addressed, from a global perspective.

Hillary Clinton showed a good measure of this understanding in a statement issued Thursday, which began: “I am horrified by the assassination of British MP Jo Cox, murdered earlier today in her district in Northern England. By all accounts, she was a rising star. Her maiden speech in Parliament celebrated the diversity of her beloved Yorkshire constituency, and passionately made the case that there is more that unites us than divides us. It is cruel and terrible that her life was cut short by a violent act of political intolerance.”

“It is critical that the United States and Britain, two of the world’s oldest and greatest democracies, stand together against hatred and violence,” the Democratic presidential contender continued. “This is how we must honor Jo Cox — by rejecting bigotry in all its forms, and instead embracing, as she always did, everything that binds us together.”

Coming just days after what President Obama described as “an act of terror and hate” targeted an LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando, leaving 49 patrons dead and more than 50 wounded, the brutal slaying of Cox by an assailant who reportedly shouted the name of a far-right, anti-immigrant party as he shot and knifed the member of parliament, has sent another shock wave around the world. Much of U.S. media focused, appropriately enough, on the proximity of the British attack to next week’s “Brexit” referendum vote on whether the United Kingdom should leave the European Union – “U.K. assassination casts shadow over ‘Brexit’ campaigns,” read the USA Today headline. Cox passionately supported the campaign to “Remain” in the EU, while right-wing populists in Britain (who often sound a lot like presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump) have just as passionately promoted the so-called “Leave” campaign.

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