Us vs. Them

There are a couple of words that I keep seeing crop up in the discussions of the Scottish referendum happening on social media that have really started to worry me: ‘them’ (and they) and ‘us’ (and we).

I know these terms have relevancy in a discussion about national identity, but so often when I see them used they seem to presage a kind of ugly, subtle but wildly pervasive xenophobia, a combative sense of circling the wagons and rigidly defining groups of people; us versus them. It’s there from Yes voters and there in No voters. It’s there from Scottish people and from English people. It’s not everywhere, no, but it’s there, and it’s horrible to see.

(I don’t, incidentally, get a vote in the referendum; I’m Scottish but I live and therefore vote in England.)

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