Photo courtesy of the Daily Telegraph
The story of Australian children’s author Mem Fox’s (can we just call her Merrion already?) experience with U.S immigration has been beaten to death more than a baby seal during winter. Ironically that is how Fox has depicted herself, recently stating that the way she was supposedly treated was like “shooting the tooth fairy”. If that is what the tooth fairy looks like I will be telling my children to shove them back into their head as quickly as they fell out. Mem Fox’s story has snowballed so much that even now the general consensus is that this dithery old woman was basically strip searched and blasted with ice cold fire hoses.
The ABC institution Q&A recently stoked this fire by having Fox on as a guest panelist to capitulate her sob story, soaked with contradictions, hypocrisy and lies. Like with most stories about post-Trump America, if you ignore the liberal narrative and actually look at the facts, you can easily see that this is all one big, frothy-mouthed media frenzy. If you looked at what happened to Fox, from the horse’s mouth as well, you can see that this is simply a case of self-indulgence. The whole thing reminds me of a drunk, cross-eyed friend rambling on about this ‘crazy thing’ that happened to them down at Coles. Little do they know you were actually there as well and saw the whole thing. You can easily tell how a normal guy in a sweatshirt became a ‘7’ foot giant with a scar over one eye’, how a quick glance became a ‘death stare’, how two hands going for the same loaf of bread turned into ‘the beast ripping it from my grasp and shoving me away’ and how a muttered apology became a ‘yelling obscenity’.
Mem Fox was standing in line at the airport, but was pulled aside by immigration. The first example of her self-indulgence can be seen in this very first line of her article. I was pulled aside, “not because I was Mem Fox – the writer – nobody knew that – I was just a normal person like anybody else.” Fox was pulled aside because she was on a tourist VISA but was obviously working in the States. She was in fact on an all expenses paid speaking tour about her books, her sole career. That sounds like work to me and I have no problem in immigration questioning people on suspicious VISAs, especially in the United States, where currently there is an all-out war on terror. This is unacceptable however, because she is ‘Mem Fox – the writer’, not a ‘normal person like anybody else’. How dare this happen to me? Egocentrism abounds…
This is obviously when the strip-searching begins, right? Surely there was least some good old-fashioned water boarding? I am sorry to disappoint, but none of this happened, not even some electric clasps to the nipples. Fox was taken into a waiting room for under two hours and was actually interviewed for only fifteen minutes… For those of us used to holding on Centrelink for eternities or setting up campsites at Medicare, this comes as no shock. To ‘Mem Fox – the writer’ however, this would have messed with her system to no end. Anything less than being briskly escorted through security on a gold carriage carried by a dozen half-naked servants is mind blowing, which is why she states she started getting so irrationally emotional.
Mem Fox – the writer – mentions the alleged ‘living hell’ that was the waiting room. Again, for those of us that are used to it, waiting rooms are not exactly The Ritz. I personally feel more sorry for the workers. Imagine having to deal with inept people all day that cannot even choose the right VISA, working in a grey, boring room till five o’clock. Torture… It makes me faint even thinking about it. Mem Fox – the writer- describes the ‘horrifying’ ways in which people were being treated, making customs sound more like a scene from Hostel than a dreary airport back room. Examples included an elderly Middle Eastern woman being asked what language she spoke. The officers were asking, “Arabic?” to her repeatedly. Surely a Middle Eastern person would understand the word ‘Arabic’, and to be met with a blank stare every time when you are simply trying to communicate could easily lead to some level of frustration. Another example was a Taiwanese lady being asked what her primary source of income was, obviously having a similar issue to Mem Fox – the writer. The officer supposedly asked, “Where does your money come from? It does not fall from the sky? It does not grow on trees?” For the officer to be using such casual English, surely the lady’s understanding of the language must have previously proven to be adequate for him to do so. For a suspicious person coming from a lower socio-economic area such as Taiwan, again I have no problem with immigration being firm. The phenomenon of the ‘anchor baby’ is rife throughout the States and there may have had suitable reasons to believe that this person was attempting to enter the country illegally. These two problems are common and don’t exactly bring my blood to the boil.
Mem Fox – the writer- mentions how there were not any toilets or drinking fountains. You were there for well under two hours and only interviewed for fifteen minutes, were you not? How parched could you possibly get in that amount of time? Did you even ask to go to the bathroom? No, in fact the only thing Mem Fox – the writer – did was read a book, showing that she obviously was not as frantic as she makes out. If you are ‘nearly fainting’ in terror, the last thing you do is whip out a Penguin Classic and dive right in. In fact, when the officer called her name, she was so lost in her own little world she had no idea where to go, who was talking to her or what was happening. This lead to another complaint coming from the guilty party as an officer said to her, ‘No, not there. Here.” Fox’s response was simply to hold up the book she was reading and state that she was “so lost in it”. This officer is simply trying to sort out what is going on with Fox’s VISA. Like she said, there were over twenty people waiting to be questioned also. They cannot afford to indulge in pleasantries. This is why I have no issue in the officer saying, “Well, what do you expect me to do? Just stand here until you finish it?”
This brings us to the actual interview, itself. This surely is the bad bit, right? I mean, Mem Fox – the writer- even said that afterwards she ‘sobbed like a baby’. What could they have possibly have done? Well, it turns out the officers were simply trying to complete their task. They asked her where her income came from and how much money she made. Simple, standard questioning for someone who says they are not working on their trip, but obviously are. In fact, Fox breezes over this segment in her article. The only thing she does mention is her own self-importance. She states that she ‘only wishes she could open up her bag and show the officers her books’, the only goal being to separate herself from these ‘normal people’ around her, who she was supposedly so concerned with only a few minutes ago. Surely the officers would treat her differently if they knew she was ‘Mem Fox – the writer’. Fox proceeded to bring out her books, obviously shoving them in the officer’s face, which lead him to say, “I know… I can read.” This opportunity to plug her upcoming book did not pass Fox by though, as she spends a great deal of her article painting herself as a maternal saint, even though her husband was found guilty of child sex crimes.
Her goal of receiving special treatment was eventually achieved when one of the officer’s finally realised one of her books was given to Prince George as an official Australian gift. When this was found out the officer outstretched his hand and stated that it was a “pleasure to meet” Mem Fox – the writer. So what is Fox’s reaction after finally getting what she wanted? To be ‘close to collapse’ and ‘very close to fainting’, stating that this small token of acknowledgement and apology was “the creepiest thing of all”. This proves that all she wants is to have a winge. There is no winning. There is no appeasing this attention seeker.
Perhaps the most satisfying thing from this story is the obvious lackluster reaction she received from her friends and fans. On Q&A she had a go at people calling her “precious” and to “get over it”. Even one of her friends said, “Yeah, the same thing has happened to me. It’s not that bad. Just move on.” To reply to this, Mem Fox is still trotting this fairy tale out. This event happened months ago, but just a few days ago Fox was seen deploring Trump, criticising the immigration service and even bagging out The United States in general. She does not get met with backlash however. Fox does not get called out for fabricating such an obviously fake story. We rally behind her and all have a winge about it together in a public forum. There seems to be no authenticity in the media anymore. We will gladly share in recreational outrage over something that did not happen. How are we supposed to more forward as a society when we can’t even tell what is real anymore? We can only focus on genuine issues and share outrage about real things when we remove the cereal boxes out from the privileged feet of people like Mem Fox – the writer.