Last year, during the second election (which I hoped Labour would win) one of my friends started sharing Britain First posts on her Facebook page and making comments on them. She did this more than once and they were obnoxious to say the least, racist to be more honest.
I couldn’t tolerate such racism on my timeline. When I was a young teenager I witnessed an act of racism aimed at a friend of mine and it both shocked me and scared me.
These posts and their comments came from a woman who goes to church every Sunday and is well known and liked in her community. It was disturbing to think that she would act the way she did. Even though I didn’t know her in real life we’d spoken on the phone more than once and we sent each other texts often.
Instead of challenging her I quietly blocked on her on all the social media platforms that we had interacted on and left it at that. We have one mutual friend and I mentioned it in passing to him.
Today I had an unexpected text message from her asking how I was. I thought about confronting her head on or fudging it then I thought that I’d have a chat to the person who was a mutual friend.
He told me I was overreactiing and that I was judging someone on a couple of posts. His take was that just because you make a few racist comments it does make you a racist.
He and I are on opposite sides of the political centre shall we say. I thought I was much further left that he was right but it turns out not. I always thought that he wasn’t as hard right as he admitted to being and that he was a good man at heart.
But a few racist comments on a Britain First page doesn’t make you a racist according to him and that wasn’t the end of it. He intimated that he thought that it was acceptable for her to voice her opinions but it wasn’t acceptable for me to challenge her and that I should just let it go.
I’ve ignored her text message and, stupidly, deleted it before I could block her number.
The harder decision was realising that I’ve got to let a friend go. I’ve loved this friend for many years, he has been there through some very rough times but I can’t have someone who excuses racism in my life.
It’s not because of politics, it’s not an overrreation or that a friend has made mistakes it’s because, by defending a racist and telling me I’m in the wrong he’s exposed himself both as a racist and a bully.
I’m not going to make a big deal of it, I’m not going to out him, I’m not going to confront him but I am in a position to let us drift apart until one day he’ll look up and find that I’ve disappeared from his life. His loss.