Sometimes, Americans can feel like we’re the only modern democracy that allows fascist nitwits to infiltrate its politics. It’s both sad and oddly comforting when we come across examples that demonstrate we are not alone. The site electoral-vote.com issued the following report featuring proto-Nazi Robert Jenrick, who looks like he might appear in ancestry.com as the creepy across-the-pond cousin of Matt Gaetz. This story is both disgusting and heart warming at the same time.
It is not just some Americans, like Eileen O’Connor (see above), who are hostile to immigrants. It happens in other countries too, of course. For example, we give you the U.K.’s Minister of State for Immigration Robert Jenrick. It’s probably just a coincidence that his last name has all the letters you need to spell J-E-R-K.
Jenrick has a long list of controversies he’s been involved in while serving in government, as he appears to be something like the Greg Abbott of England. We’re just going to limit ourselves to (a part) of his anti-immigrant activity, or we’ll be here all day. The Secretary’s dislike for refugees and other foreigners is well known and is not in doubt, and his preferred approach to dealing with the matter is to make refugee accommodations as unpleasant as possible, so as to discourage as many people as possible from heading to the U.K.
Now let us pause to say that one can reasonably argue that immigrants are fine and well, but that they put strains on a nation, and there is a limit to how many people can be absorbed at one time. Is this where Jenrick’s is coming from? Let’s check his remarks in favor of the Illegal Migration Bill, which became law in July. He warned that the problem with immigrants is that they “cannibalize” the communities they settle in, by bringing “different lifestyles and values,” thus undermining “cultural cohesiveness.” He also declared that “a nation has a right to preserve itself.” We don’t know how Britons would describe such verbiage, but on the U.S. side of the pond, that sort of rhetoric is right out of the white supremacist playbook.
So, it’s pretty clear where Jenrick stands and why. And that brings us to an absolutely petty thing he did in service of his “let’s not make the accommodations too nice” approach. In Kent, there is a center for unaccompanied children who are seeking asylum. Obviously, these kids are blameless, and are going to be quite uncomfortable and scared to be in a new country, all alone, very possibly unable to speak the language. So, in order to make them feel a bit more at ease, an artist painted a large mural featuring a bunch of animated characters, including some from Disney, like Mickey Mouse. That Disney did not try to enforce its copyrights probably tells you something about how icky it would look to do that at a refugee facility. Jenrick, however, has no problem being even more cutthroat than the House of Mouse, and so immediately after the Illegal Migration Bill was passed, he ordered that the wall be painted over. Remember that line about J-E-R-K?
The good news is that there are also some very decent folks in Britain, including some rather notable artists and cultural figures like Guy Venables. Venables, for those who don’t know him, is a prominent cartoonist, somewhat along the lines of a Garry Trudeau (of Doonesbury fame). As an insider, Venables knows everyone, and so was able to rally a gaggle of prominent folks to help bring his idea to fruition.
So what was that idea? Well, private citizens have no authority over a wall at a government facility. However, they do have the power to produce their own art in the form of, say, a coloring book. And so Venables and 50 of his friends produced The Great British Colouring Book, which has 68 different pages to color, like this one:
Among the other contributors are Tony Husband, Quentin Blake, Adam Hargreaves and Terry Gilliam. The activist group 38 Degrees has raised enough money to give every refugee child who arrives in England this year a book and a set of coloring pencils, and lift their spirits a little bit. Additional efforts are underway to do the same in the other realms of the United Kingdom.
So, a salute to Mr. Venables; if fundamental decency qualifies a person for knighthood, then he should be in line for one tout suite. Or, perhaps better yet, how about appointment as Minister of State for Immigration? That’s a job that could use some new blood.