THE torrent of hate and cruelty across the world on social media in response to the death of the Queen was astonishing in its ferocity and callousness. It speaks of something deeply damaged - ruined - within the souls of so many of our fellow men and women.

I felt ashamed yesterday not just as an anti-monarchist, but as a member of a species - the human race - which has among it those who hold such hatred in their breast. Anyone who cannot extend empathy to a fellow human being at the moment of their death has some terrible shadow on their soul. If they cannot be kind, then at least stay silent. Do not dance upon a grave. We must ask: what world have we created that there’s those among us who bear such deep wells of gleeful hatred, such proud sadism.

As an anti-monarchist, I’ve never held animosity towards Queen Elizabeth. It’s the institution of monarchy I’ve a problem with, not the fellow human upon the throne. The Queen was born into her position - indeed, that’s part of the problem many republicans like me have with monarchy - she didn’t seize her title or force herself on Britain.

The viciousness - the inhumanity - towards the Queen as she was dying didn’t just come from these islands. Far from it. The tidal wave of mockery and sick delight swept the world. It cut across all demographics of race, gender and age.

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Much focus has fallen Dr Uju Anya, a professor at America’s Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania. She wrote of the Queen, “may her pain be excruciating”, and said: “I heard the chief monarch of a thieving raping genocidal empire is finally dying.”

Like many citizens of this country, I detest Britain’s colonial past, and have long argued that as a nation we must confront our legacy of racism and empire with unstinting honesty. However, one cannot blame the Queen for the sins of empire, or the sins of Britain which took place during her reign. A constitutional monarch is a figurehead without power. She didn’t dispatch troops. Prime Ministers did. If there’s understandable rage, then direct it at the right people, not an elderly woman on her deathbed.

It’s quite something to say that there were indeed many more - millions in fact - comments which far exceeded Anya’s dreadful statement.

Yesterday, it chilled me as a human being - it still chills me - to think that there’s so many people out there filled with such devastating hatred, and prepared to aim it in any direction.

We can no longer claim that what happens online stays online. The people who post these terrible things live in the real world. They carry in their hearts the same words and hate which they serve up digitally. They’re free to speak as they please, but they represent something truly terrible in humanity.

What have we done to create this world? This is a matter for political leaders and philosophers to unravel, because we can no longer blithely accept a world which has such a cancer in its soul.

Yet Britain must also learn from this hate. Obviously, these terrible comments shouldn’t have been aimed at the Queen, but our nation is clearly widely despised internationally for our past actions. We must realise that, accept it, and respond to it. Perhaps, if we’d honestly acknowledged the dreadful things done in Britain’s name over the centuries and the decades, the cruel and soulless people who couldn’t even find it within them to keep a respectful silence as a woman died wouldn’t have found a platform for their terrible inhumanity.