Guest column: With Brexit, the shackles of EU tyranny are severed |

Guest column: With Brexit, the shackles of EU tyranny are severed

Martin Cooney
Guest Column

Roger Marolt wrote his July 1 Aspen Times column during the immediate aftermath of an astonishing and unprecedented democratic referendum. He chose to add his voice to the fast-developing hysteria with a particularly insulting attack on my fellow countrymen and women, my culture and therefore upon me.

Brexit is a very big subject, and The Aspen Times readers’ deserve a more insightful and balanced Brexit appraisal than Marolt’s ill-tempered and accusatory Trumpesque rant.

During the dozen or so years that I have called Woody Creek my home, I have come to learn that the name Marolt is well-respected around Aspen and carries a lot of clout. But with the prestige, privilege and power comes responsibility, and a regular feature in the region’s biggest, most influential newspaper appears to me as a generous reward for someone whose contributions include such spiteful wrath.

I initially chose to sidestep his usual diatribe, but “Britiotic”? — well, this time around I just couldn’t. My interest in Brexit stems from the fact that I am actually one of the few, if perhaps the only, resident Brexiteers living in the Roaring Fork Valley who actually have voted for Britain to remain in the European Union — or, as it was then, the European Economic Community. In 1975, the electorate expressed significant support for membership, with 67 percent in favor on a 65 percent turnout, according to Wikipedia.

As a young man, I along with many looked to the European Economic Community with a sort of awe. We were “real” Europeans now, and our grudging acceptance of the nonsensical Common Agricultural Policy was the price we were readily willing to pay. But over the years, something profoundly sinister replaced that optimism with a feeling of utter helplessness as the EU began to take control of practically every aspect of our lives.

And so we watched on as Europe basically began to fall apart.

I would like to ask Marolt one question: Were you aware this referendum was taking place prior to when sensationalist headlines grabbed your attention? And if so, surely you were aware of the great deal of angst, turmoil and confusion this historic decision has presented to my nation.

This most momentous of decisions has been dominating the U.K. for months now. And yes, everyone thought the Remainers would win. The outers resolutely stuck to their principles and voted out. I thought that is what democracy is all about.

How did ordinary individuals, who were outspent 10-1, organize themselves at the grassroots level to pull off the democratic coup of the century?

I adamantly and firmly believe that Britain, and Britons, have actually melded quite well in recent times to waves of immigration. In his “Britiotic” column, Marolt establishes which side he is on. Brexiteers are branded “shameful,” “polarized,” “weak” and “lousy cowards.” We have clearly made a “foolish decision.” And so a fairly contested, flawlessly executed, democratic decision to withdraw U.K. involvement with the EU is simply, according to Marolt, about “racism,” “religious intolerance,” “irrational fears,” a “lack of compassion” and, wait for it — an “abundance of hatred.”

Next he goes on to accuse us (the Brits) of, bizarrely, “sending suckers to the surface of our soil; millions in fact.”

Just what sort of commentary is this? Further along in the column, we become “evil,” “emotional,” “irrational” and eventually “dangerous.”

But the fact is that Britain has not left Europe. The recent referendum pertained to a set of values that many Britons have come to view as cumbersome, outmoded and ultimately unfair. Back in 1975, globalization was a new word full of promise. But when the European Economic Community, then mainly focused upon the implementation of agricultural tariff-free trade — a small but significant sector of the economy — morphed into a vast, bewildering and quite contradictory United States of Europe, most of my fellow countrymen and women fell into a state of reluctant acceptance. The EU, like the U.N., was a vast, imposed juggernaut.

Then Brexit came along, and well over a million votes separated those who voted in and those who grabbed the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get out.

Try to imagine that 20 miles down the road from Aspen, a security barrier existed to prevent thousands, often tens of thousands, of missile-throwing men from gaining entry to Aspen before heading beyond. Every doorway, every public place, the Marolt Open Space — all of it full of homeless immigrants. That is the on-the-ground reality facing tiny ferry communities such as Dover and Folkstone.

Just who in their right mind would want to see their lovely homes, villages, towns and cities reduced to this? Remember, the Earth’s population appears to be on the move right now. Very soon, if migrant numbers in the Mediterranean this year are anything to go by, we could be talking of millions or even a billion — who knows?

“Why did they do it?” might have been a more rational starting point, but Marolt leads straight in with “Britiotic.” Pretty soon it’s all “pissing” this and “pissing” that. But one salient point I would like to pose to Marolt is: Why the outrage when all Britons have done is dare to exercise their democratic right to vote in a referendum?

I thought America, and Americans, would be thrilled, the revolutionary lot that you are — or perhaps were.

After all, the straight fact of the matter is that we Brits simply voted to leave a trading system that tied us hand and foot to a market of only 27 countries, or a mere 7 percent of the world’s population. But now that we are back within the 93 percent, we are free to enter into trade negotiations directly — not via Brussels — with countries such as the United States, Canada and Mexico, all of Central America, the Caribbean and beyond.

With the shackles of EU tyranny severed forever, we are free to embark once again upon our own future. Nothing has been lost.

And so, Mr. Marolt, just who here is being emotional, irrational and weak? The intensely protectionist and authoritarian EU? Or those simply wishing to go about their daily lives without having their every deed sanctioned by a remote and faraway European Union?

Brexit deserves far more introspection than a column consisting of copy-and-paste headlines and accusatory commentary such as Marolt’s.

Mindless centralization is once again losing out. The Russians found out the hard way when they were Communists. The Chinese are relearning the same lesson once again.

The EU simply got too bossy, too centralized and too big for its boots and ultimately has paid the price. The EU might sound to the uninitiated like a really great idea, but crackpot legislation emanating directly from Brussels leads to vast amounts of waste, stagnation and unemployment.

I suggest that all parties give Marolt’s mean-spirited article another read, including Marolt himself, and try to imagine for a moment just why I find his words so openly hostile and offensive and why I feel the paper’s integrity was lessened when it published his column. Such purposely antagonistic, outright racist and ill-informed opinions should never again be splashed across the pages of The Aspen Times.

Martin Cooney is a British citizen and stone sculptor who lives in Woody Creek with his wife, Kris, an American born, British-American citizen. Their son Joseph lives in Aspen and also holds dual citizenship.


See more

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.