What does it mean to be illegal in Britain?

It means nothing.

There are no illegal humans, for starters. How can it be illegal to be a human being?

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The phrase “who don’t have the correct documents” is often used in all sort of documentation, such as this PDF by Global Justice Now, but there is no such thing as “having the correct documents” for foreigners and their descendants in Britain.

Also, in the past few years, the British government has changed the definition of “who are here legally” for EU citizens so many times, often retroactively, that I’ve lost count.

Most of the time in recent years, I didn’t know whether I was still here legally or had become an illegal. I have one letter that states that I am here legally but it contains various typos. Would that be accepted? The Home Office’s most recent announcements appear to indicate that I am currently seen again as being here legally and will also be allowed to stay after Brexit.

Thousands of people who had official “leave to remain” – that and the British nationality, I think, are the only “official documents” that in theory mean that you are not an illegal immigrant – have also been detained, deported, threatened with deportation or stopped from entering Britain, as have even a few people with British passports. Way too many EU citizens have too.

Every time I travel back to Britain, I don’t know whether I will be allowed into the country.

(Dutch people living in Holland who tell me that I will be allowed back into Britain – as after all, I am an EU citizen – in doing so only reveal their unfamiliarity with what is going on in Britain.)

The last time I travelled back, the French wanted me to open my suitcase because when they scanned it, they had seen that it contained a hard disk and they wanted to know what it was, make sure that all it was was a hard disk. Fine. No problem. They were, although in something of an urgent hurry, pleasant enough about it. Nothing wrong with it whatsoever.

The British customs officer, on the other hand, for a second pretended that he wanted to confiscate my passport. This would normally be simply a form of British humour, but he was not smiling and it came across as having been intended in a different way. But then again, British humour can be far from hilarious. So, what should I make of it, this odd gesture from this customs officer? I have no idea. “Nothing” is the most practical response.

Once Brexit has been in existence for three years or so, we may finally be able to prove that we really are here legally. Until then, it is going to remain a hit or miss thing. Whether you are here legally or illegally seems to depend on which person in power you run into, on whether that person hates you or likes you, or likes the current government or not.

But that is immaterial.

There are no legal or illegal humans. Period.

Other than that, I have no solutions.

But here is someone who does: Cleo Wade

How Theresa May’s hostile climate policy divides us

It does not only pitch Brits against foreigners and indigenous Brits against ethnic Brits, the English against the Welsh (who are also occasionally told to go home now when they speak Welsh around English people) and the Scots, it also divides us as migrants and descendants of migrants.

A few days ago, I heard a Caribbean-African British woman dismiss everyone who is brown or black but has no Caribbean-African heritage – which applies to many people in Britain in view of its history – and not realize it at all. It wasn’t her intention at all. She was merely trying to build a strong wall around herself and stand up for herself and the people in her life.

(Nobody protested against it either because we weren’t there to dismiss each other’s feelings and opinions as valueless. We wanted to acknowledge and respect them, honour them, accept them instead of dismiss them.)

The way many people in Britain are being targeted and made to feel vulnerable by the British government makes us want to build high walls around ourselves to protect us. Because that is what you do when your own government milks you and plunges you into poverty, the way it does with millions and millions of indigenous Brits.

It can also be what you do after you have seen friends and relatives being ripped away from their PhDs, their families, their jobs and their businesses and being sent to a country they may never have even been to before, after first having been detained in a concentration facility.

Unlike what many people think, in itself, British intolerance is nothing new, though. It was certainly already in full swing when I arrived in Britain in 2004. Back then, it was still neither condoned nor imposed by the British government.

But vicious targeting of foreigners was already occasionally condoned and encouraged by British police, for instance in the case of, off the top of my head, an Iranian man who was vilified by police as a crazy nut case and later found not to have been a crazy nut case at all and the case of a French translator in Devon.

The mere fact that foreigners have different habits, customs and histories (or have a higher education because education is much more accessible in some other countries) does not make foreigners “crazy”, just like it does not make all Americans “daft” either and just like being British does not make all Brits wear bowler hats and Burberry coats, while swinging umbrellas or walking sticks.

In recent years, the British government has increasingly made intolerance mandatory and has now cranked it up so many notches that many people are scared and angry and emotional and no longer certain of anything in life.

Theresa May created this explosive mixture because the Tories needed something to help them beat, particularly, UKIP in elections. There is no other explanation for it, is there?

If you are British and would like to combat government-imposed hatred – or learn more about it – then here are a few links for you:

  • docsnotcops.co.uk (Health professionals and patients fighting to protect the NHS, its patients and health in Britain in general from the government and its attempts to push foreigners – including the UK’s 3.5 million or so EU citizens – away from healthcare)
  • This video by Bare Life Films:
  • Haringey Welcome, the London Haringey Borough initiative that quickly evolved from openly welcoming Syrian refugees and among other things managed to get its council to abolish the expensive (40,000 a year, I think) Home Office migration employee who was there to make the lives of foreigners as difficult as possible.
  • The hostile environment for immigrants. How Theresa May has created an underclass in the UK. (PDF, Feb 2018, by “Global Justice Now”)
  • As every British voter voted for an MP, not a border guard who rats out foreigners to the Home Office to achieve their detention and deportation, most of you will want your MP to pledge “MPs not border guards” (by “migrants organise” and “Global Justice Now”)
  • And here is some background on that, in an article in The Independent
  • You can also sign this petition: Sajid Javid create a fair and compassionate uk immigration policy
  • The border controls dividing our communities (by Liberty, May 2018)

Thank you.

 

Waarom de Britten ons haten – en wat we eraan kunnen doen

Tuurlijk, “de” Brit bestaat niet. En er zijn ook massa’s Britten die ons helemaal niet haten. Maar Britten die ons wel haten, waar komt dat door? Ik heb het eens op een rijtje gezet.

    • Een rotsvast geloof dat andere EU landen arme lage-lonenlanden zijn waar productie naartoe is verhuisd waardoor Britse fabrieken moesten sluiten. (Men denkt ook dat uit de EU stappen betekent dat die fabrieken terugkeren.)
    • De overtuiging dat EU burgers naar het VK komen omdat ze denken dat ze daar meer kunnen verdienen maar er de lonen laag houden omdat ze voor minder geld werken dan Britten. (Men concludeert dus dat uit de EU stappen tot hogere lonen in het VK gaat leiden.)
    • Het idee dat de meeste EU burgers laag zijn opgeleid en hier banen inpikken die laag opgeleide Britten zouden moeten hebben. (Men concludeert dus dat uit de EU stappen betekent dat er in het VK meer banen vrij komen voor laag opgeleide Britten. In werkelijkheid is het niveau van de Britten zelf niet zo hoog en draaien veel faciliteiten hier op buitenlanders omdat de Britten het zonder die buitenlanders simpelweg niet zouden redden. Een vaak genoemd voorbeeld is de Britse gezondheidszorg. Zonder buitenlanders zou de National Health Service instorten en de uittocht van de nu al door Brexit verdreven buitenlanders heeft de problemen binnen de Britse gezondheidszorg nog veel groter gemaakt.)
    • Het idee dat de Britse gezondheidszorg van een dermate hoog niveau is dat buitenlanders in drommen naar het VK toe stromen omdat ze in het VK niet voor gezondheidszorg hoeven te betalen en dat dit de reden is dat de NHS in grote problemen verkeert. Health tourism. (Het gaat in werkelijkheid om 0.3% van het budget van de NHS. Het bestrijden van dit vermeende enorme misbruik kost veel meer dan het kan opleveren en leidt er soms ook toe dat Britse kankerpatiënten, zwangere vrouwen etc. de deur wordt gewezen. Dat lossen de Britten dan op met crowdfunding.)
    • Het in oktober 2017 en februari 2018 door James O’Shaughnessy (Health Minister) heel geniepig gesuggereerde idee dat buitenlanders in het VK geen belasting betalen. Helaas namen de media deze uitspraken klakkeloos over en gaven ze geen tegengas.
    • Het idee dat het onderwijs in alle andere landen veel slechter is dan in het VK.
    • De overtuiging dat buitenlanders er altijd op uit zijn om je een loer te draaien. (De Brit Richard Lewis, in When Cultures Collide, noemt dit “British insularity”.)
    • De overtuiging dat EU burgers naar het VK komen om hier te luieren en van uitkeringen te genieten. (Dit gaat volkomen voorbij aan het feit dat EU burgers niet meteen aanspraak kunnen maken op uitkeringen; je moet daarvoor al een tijd in het VK hebben gewoond en gewerkt en ook dan kun je minder rechten hebben dan Britten. In werkelijkheid dragen EU burgers bovendien gemiddeld 2 miljard per jaar bij aan het VK, en dat is netto.)
    • Soms ook de overtuiging dat sommige landen in het midden Oosten deel uitmaken van de EU en/of dat buitenlanders vaker terroristen zijn.
    • Omdat Theresa May mensen doet geloven dat dat is wat goede Britten doen. (Donald Trump gaat in de praktijk minder ver dan de Britse regering. Hij respecteert bovendien, voorzover mij bekend, de Amerikaanse wetten en de rechtbanken. De Britse regering doet dat beslist niet en lapt zowel de rechters als de wetten nogal eens aan de laars.)

Politici, de Britse overheid en media liegen hier aantoonbaar over en worden desondanks geloofd. Het is namelijk de emotionele respons die de overtoon speelt, niet de rationele.

Er is veel diepe armoede in het VK, dus veel angst, stress, onmacht en wanhoop.

Er is dus hoop nodig.

Het is voor veel Britten makkelijker om te geloven dat hun ellende door buitenlanders komt dan te accepteren dat hun eigen regering hen voortdurend uitmelkt en een poot uitdraait.

Dat leidt namelijk tot de hoop dat het ooit beter wordt.

Daar ligt dus de oplossing. Hoe voeg je hoop toe op een manier die de haat juist minder maakt? Niet door het rationeel aan te pakken maar door de emoties aan te spreken.

Dat zou bijvoorbeeld kunnen doordat buitenlanders met genoeg geld in de arme wijken Britse steden structureel (een keer per maand?) briefjes geld gaan verspreiden en er publiciteit aan wijden zodat de associatie tussen narigheid en buitenlanders wordt doorbroken.

Er is al iemand geweest die zoiets heeft gedaan, die in een stadsdeel her en der geld had verstopt.

Je zou vliegtuigjes kunnen laten overvliegen met een lange banner (“Holland/The EU/Poland/France/Italy/Spain/Germany/Denmark/… loves you!”) en van waaruit briefjes van 5, 10, 20 en 50 naar beneden dwarrelen.

Je kan ook vanuit het buitenland enveloppen met bijvoorbeeld een briefje van 20 pond erin anoniem gaan sturen aan adressen in arme Britse wijken met daarin bijvoorbeeld ook de tekst “The EU loves you!”.

Voedselpakketjes sturen mag natuurlijk ook.

(Voedsel vanuit vliegtuigjes droppen raad ik niet aan vanwege de eventuele schade.)

Het trieste van het bovenstaande is dat het Britse regeringsbeleid de mythes in realiteit aan het omzetten is. Door rijbewijzen en paspoorten in te nemen, mensen te pas en onpas op te pakken en voor onbepaalde tijd vast te zetten (en na vrijlating identiteitsbewijzen in beslag genomen te houden), het vinden van werk en woonruimte te blokkeren en Britten zeer hoge boetes te geven voor collaboratie met verdacht gemaakte buitenlanders (zoals het verhuren van kamers) en buitenlands gedrag te criminaliseren worden buitenlanders (maar ook soms ethnische Britten evenals Britten die een vreemde achternaam hebben of met een buitenlander zijn getrouwd) de ellende in gedreven.

Tegengas is dus hard nodig.

Hieronder staan wat linkjes naar Engelstalige informatie. Continue reading

Can you stop watching this?

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Humans and other animals

I used to be quite fond of people in general, but I no longer like humans as much as I used to.

Humans have been on the planet only a short while, but no other species has managed to wreak even a fraction of the destruction that humans already have.

Humans also hunt and incarcerate each other, and sometimes kill each other, for no good reason. (Guantánamo, anyone? Migrant detention centres, anyone? 9/11 anyone? )

Humans approve of it when other humans want to build unhealthy concrete, plastic, steel and brick homes yet tend to object when other humans want to build homes made from branches and wood, or earth, or straw bales and adobe, or live in a hole excavated in the ground where they keep their books and the other kind of stuff that we all tend to have.

More and more humans, it looks like, gather and gather and gather, and steal, and build up reserves that would last them many lifetimes. It has a name, I believe. Consumerism.

So-called progress that happens for no more than the sake of the drive for bigger bigger bigger more more more has become the norm. (Third Heathrow runway, anyone?)

Sales for the sake of sales instead of the sake of contributing something worthwhile to the lives of others is still a major driver for many, as is the accumulation of monetary value, often to make up for feelings of inadequacy and insecurity.

“It’s amazing! I have X euros/dollars/pounds’ worth of merchandise in my shop right now!”

Even a so-called stupid bird brain of a quaker parrot knows that in times of plenty, all that matters is that you have food in your hands – not how much someone else has – and that you should start building up a little stack of reserves for yourself when you notice that food is scarce.

This spunky creature, a quaker parrot called Sioux, was part of my household for 21 years  Her life and death have changed my life forever. She was still a youngster when she was brought to a wild-bird hospital in Florida where I was volunteering at the time. It was against the law to release her, and she was unable to fly, so she needed a home. I adopted her along with quaker parrot Mohawk. As I had noticed that these birds are never on their own in the wild, I wanted to adopt at least two of them, for increased well-being, and housed them together. Myiopsitta monachus.

Quaker parrots don’t round up other birds and their youngsters and put them in cages. They protect them, stand up for them (they stand up even for cats). In the wild, they share their amazing self-built homes that have separate spaces for various activities with other species, sometimes even predators. (Yet they are also highly territorial, protective of their homes.)

But many humans see them as “threats” and spread vile myths about them, mainly because their natural habitat was once limited to South-America.

Probably also because at some level, we humans feel threatened (challenged, made uncomfortable) by the intelligence and strong lively personalities of these birds. They can be highly opinionated.

Something similar goes for our city pigeons.

Birds have been on the planet so incredibly much longer than humans. They are highly aware of their own vulnerability (with to some degree the exception of birds of prey), so much that they will always try to hide it as well as they can. They don’t go around destroying their own habitat, and they tend to live quite peacefully with other species.

Humans are only one species. Homo sapiens.

We humans haven’t really learned a thing yet, have we?

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In defence of men

Isn’t today Father’s Day in the UK? Maybe the post below is a suitable Father’s Day gift.


Women often complain about or ridicule the phenomenon now known as mansplaining.

A typical and highly illustrative example is a man at a cocktail party explaining something to the woman he is talking to when the woman happens to be the world’s number one expert on the topic.

Is this really a feminist issue or could it be something else?

I am a feminist.

I am also Dutch.

Dutch men and women also do a heck of a lot of mansplaining. Dutch culture says that it is everyone’s democratic duty to have an opinion on everything.

The Dutch don’t say “I think that…” or “In my opinion…” and they don’t phrase their opinions in the form of questions either.

They make authoritative-sounding statements because they feel it is their duty to do so.

So I often get corrected and told that such and such is the truth and nothing but the truth. Also when it concerns topics that I have in my professional background and the other person does not!

When I go to the Netherlands, having been away from the country for a long time and having gotten used to a very different communication style puts me in the shoes of the average foreigner who is faced with the very direct and opinionated Dutch.

I too am now taken aback at first, but after a while, I fall into the familiar patterns again.

But it sometimes stays on my mind for a while when Dutch people seemed to be dismissing my professional background.

So then it hit me.

This is the same phenomenon as mansplaining.

It usually has nothing to do with wanting to take the other person down a notch or two, with wanting to convey a lack of professional respect or anything like that.

It is much more often a genuine effort to contribute to the discussion and do one’s very best.

That’s simply what men tend to do. That’s also what Dutch people do.

Emancipated Dutch women do it to me too. Mansplaining.

Of course, the old phenomenon of pissing contests does play a role in mansplaining as well. I am not denying that.

But maybe mainsplaining also happens because humans are really quite willing to help one another.

When someone offers to help you with heavy luggage at a train station, does that mean that the person seriously thinks that you’re not capable of carrying your own luggage or because he or she simply wants to be kind and give you a hand?

That this happens on the basis of outward appearances like apparent age, manner of dress, gender and hair colour (age) can be somewhat discriminatory.

Hey, tired young people wouldn’t mind a hand with their luggage either! And yes, the help often includes the assumption that women are less strong than men.

But these are snap decisions that people make, not decisions made after an hour of debate.

When you see a very young kid fall into the water, you rush. When you see a strong young man dressed in swimming gear fall into the water, you are a little bit less concerned.

That’s probably where it all comes from. Some people may say that this is the reptile part of our brain kicking in.

There is a difference between seeing someone fall into the water and having a conversation with someone, though. No life is potentially in danger during a conversation, so there is time for a quick thought or two before speaking.

Maybe the mansplainer and Dutch person could ask himself or herself “What is the other person’s background? Is it possible that he or she knows a lot more about the topic than I do?” before offering their opinions, which creates room for the option of asking a question instead.

But then, they also might not offer their unfiltered views and hold back what could be a genuine gem.

So, maybe the person on the receiving end of the mansplaining should simply listen and then provide a reply based on a wealth of knowledge.

It could lead to much more fruitful discussions.

This will go into my new book “We’re such animals!”

Police officers’ bullets, tasers, arms and bodies often kill people who are ill

Remember my taser reports? And the incidents in which innocent men become unable to breathe because they are being crushed to death? Here is another story that should never have happened.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/may/28/anatomy-of-a-police-shooting-the-final-hours-of-elijah-holcombe

Why do we often feel guilty?

Because we have been taught that something – whatever it is – is bad. If you let go of the idea that something is good or bad, you may feel a weight lift from your shoulders.

If you simply allow and observe the thing that is supposed to be bad, you may find that it is interesting – hence also good, right or even fun – all by itself.

Feeling depressed is bad, for instance. It is even considered a mental health problem these days. An illness. Feeling cheerful is good. Acting cheerful when you’re feeling depressed is good. Is it?

It can be, but there are times, after the death of a loved one for example, when we really have to allow feelings that are supposedly bad.

(Is mourning someone’s death truly “a mental health issue”? Or could it be a natural part of life?)

It is our resistance to “bad” feelings that often becomes the greater problem. As soon as you allow certain feelings and stop considering them bad, they can lose their power over you quickly.

And heck, even moping can be a heck of a lot of fun too.

What always comes to my mind when I say something like that is an image from the original Swedish Pippi Longstocking TV series.

Pippi is in a foul mood and goes around angrily stamping her feet, probably in puddles of water, powerfully indulging in her foul mood, full of energy. Acceptance. A foul mood is just a foul mood, not the end of the world.

Puddles of water? So it must have rained. Rain! Rain is bad.

I too have my personal good/bad hangups. Ideas that make me feel vulnerable or guilty or inadequate or unhappy. What are yours?

 

 

 

You thought animals we eat have no feelings?

Boiling water hurts them too.

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