Who would’ve thought that Britain would be such an appealing place to come and live? You can’t set foot outside the door without a freshly christened weather front slapping you across the face with belting rain until it looks like you’ve been water-boarded in a US interrogation room, or braving howling gales that bowl unsuspecting pensioners straight off coastal promenades and into the North Atlantic like they’re discarded crisp packets.
We’ve got a government systematically trying to dismantle the greatest health system in the world, something that has made Britain the envy of other nations since the inception of the NHS. No-one can afford to buy a house, and thousands are trapped in a vicious cycle that prohibits them from ever being able to do so by paying rental figures higher than Vanessa Feltz’s blood sugar levels.
The exorbitant costs of further education mean that it’s again no longer practical for youngsters from poorer backgrounds to aspire to go to University, unless they want to get a job in Student’s Unions throwing buckets of sand onto late-night piles of vomit that have cascaded from the mouths of youngsters who happen to have been born into greater affluence.
Britain is heading towards a referendum on leaving the European Union, a move framed as an economic consideration but supported by a nationalist one and carried on an uneasy wave of burgeoning racism that is being propagated by increasingly mainstream parties like UKIP.
All of this means that the weather, and the mood, is a deep-seated grey, like the colour of John Major’s now defunct ball-bag, and Britain has all the cumulative cheer of a Dignitas waiting room. If there was an official emoji commissioned to reflect the British mood, it would be a sad face daubed in marker pen across a half-filled colostomy bag.
Despite all of this, there are actually a lot of people who want to come and live here. Thousands of them in fact.
They don’t seem to have any qualms about the inclemency of the weather or even give a shit about the incalculable number of pot-holes beguiling our crude road surfaces. Having a house or an education isn’t really a consideration, the only thing that matters to refugees fleeing from the brutality in war zones like Syria is reaching safe sanctuary.
They’ve undertaken journeys of unimaginable horror, travels that would make even RyanAir’s customer care team wince with discomfort. Some refugees are so desperate to make it here, they’ve even started posing as enormous sperm whales and washing themselves up on Britain’s beaches in the hope of covertly claiming asylum.
But the plight of the refugees hasn’t pricked the conscience of everyone in this country. Which is surprising, given that a show in which people are marooned in a camp living in squalid conditions and feeding off paltry provisions is one of the most popular on television. Perhaps if Ant and Dec were to present live from Calais and gratuitously film refugees in a challenge to see who can eat the most Pigeon dicks in 2 minutes, with the victorious contestant winning a 2-bed terraced house in Wimbledon and a shag with Michelle Keagan, this might attract more interest from the general public.
The tabloid newspapers have handled the crisis with their own customary sensitivity and compassion for humankind. According to the papers, Britain has no more room. It’s like an exclusive White-majority club, similar to the Oscars. We’re now operating a one in, one out policy, meaning that one peace-loving refugee can enter every time a disaffected Muslim flees abroad to join ISIS, or when we finally extradite perennial embassy-squatter Julian Assange.
The refugee debate sparked a particularly prickly exchange between David Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn in the Commons recently, which roused Cameron into declaring that Corbyn has been hanging out with ‘a bunch of migrants’, in the refugee holding camp at Calais.
This sentence was greeted with fierce disdain within the Whitehall confines and beyond, with critics claiming that Cameron was trivialising and dehumanising the plight of men, women and children fleeing conflict for the benefit of political point-scoring.
But why was the phrase deemed offensive in the first place? There is no recognised collective noun for migrants; but referring to them as a ‘bunch’ suggests a casual gathering of people rather than a genuine human crisis. When I think of a bunch, I tend to think of bananas, which may be appropriate after all given that both bananas and immigrants are routinely shipped over here in containers and are primarily distinguished by the colour of their skin.
Has anyone thought to formally coin a more appropriate noun to negate this from happening again? There are plenty of pre-existing options to choose from; for example, a collective of Pheasants is called a 'bouquet’, and if this was transposed to immigrants it might conjure a far less pejorative image, and how sweet would it be if we could all present David Cameron with a bouquet of immigrants on Valentine’s Day?
What sticks in the throat about Cameron’s cost-driven rebuttal over the paltry number of refugees Britain is willing to accept, is the simultaneous deference his Conservative party is paying to big corporations who operate their own Pay What You Like tax policy.
Indeed, many have suggested that Cameron’s 'bunch of migrants’ phrase was a deliberate move to deflect media attention away from the news that Google had agreed to pay back just £130 million of the estimated £2bn they owe in corporation tax to HMRC, a move that George Osborne scurried to quickly claim was a 'great success’, whereas in reality Google might as well represent a large besuited businessman who has hurriedly defiled a grateful George Osborne in a cheap motel and tossed him some spare change to go and buy some new tights and fix his make-up.
I doubt whether Osborne has ever used the services of Google. He can simply 'Ask Jeeves’, although this is in the form of an actual butler rather than an Internet search engine. He certainly is aware of the offshore tax haven being utilised in Bermuda by Google though, which given that this is home to the Bermuda Triangle, where things go inexplicably missing, presumably explains where nearly £2bn of unpaid taxes have gone.
I’d gladly see Cameron, Osborne and Jeremy Hunt disappear into the same void as Google’s tax bill. At least then we might save the NHS and start to redress the disparity of wealth balance in this country. And we’d have room for 3 more refugees.
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Bassem Youssefhas often been called “the Jon Stewart of Egypt,” and his show was known as the Daily Show of the Arab World. The comparison is no coincidence: Youssef modeled his show on The Daily Show. And as a result of his show’s success, he’s been a guest on The Daily Show. Youssef was a heart surgeon, when in 2011, after the revolution that overthrew Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, Youssef started hosting a 5 minute satirical YouTube series, shot in his home. He gave up medicine when he was invited to expand the webisodes into a weekly TV series. It became the most popular TV series in Egypt’s history. But Mohammed Morsi, who was elected president after Mubrak’s fall, didn’t appreciate being satirized. In 2013, Morsi accused Youssef of insulting the president and insulting Islam. A warrant was issued for Youssef’s arrest. He turned himself in and was interrogated for six hours before being released on bail. Youssef returned to political satire, but the leaders of the military coup that pushed out President Morsi, didn’t like being satirized either. Youssef’s show was terminated, and he got out of Egypt.
In 2014 Terry Gross spoke to John Oliver, who mentioned Youssef as an inspiration:
JOHN OLIVER: But I think about [Bassem Youssef], I actually think about him a lot, Terry, because I know him a little bit and, you know, we email back and forth sometimes. And what he does, you know, Jon Stewart will say the same thing, what Bassem is doing - he is at the pointy end of political comedy because he is not immune from consequences in the way that you almost entirely are when you live in America. It’s hard to overstate the difficulty of the conditions that he had to work under when that show was on the air.
So I feel, genuinely, that I owe him in a way. If you have the chance to do dumb things, you should do them. You shouldn’t be scared if you have nothing to be scared about. He wasn’t scared and he had plenty to be scared about. So I have no business even letting any of those concerns cross my mind, when Bassem did the kind of things that he did, and when being worried not just about him and his family, but his whole staff. So, yeah, I’ve got no real time for thinking about those kind of things.
It took a while, but Parker, Stone, and ‘South Park’ seem to have crossed the point where their dual central sympathies—their own self-righteousness and the righteousness of put-upon 'little guys'—are no longer one and the same. 'South Park’ is The Establishment at this point, and the 'little guys’ in perpetual danger of being trampled increasingly look less like the middle-aged Generation Xers who created it and more like the aggrieved rainbow of dissidents making noise on the likes of Tumblr (or out in the streets, for that matter). Season 19, by the end, felt like nothing so much as the creators gnashing their teeth at ascendant millennials moments after the realization of this finally smacked them in the face. 'Hmph! You kids today with your hula hoops and your social justice!’
The World According to Bernie Sanders, from Yanko Tsvetkov’s Atlas of Prejudice: The Complete Stereotype Collection. The map is currently available exclusively in the ebook edition on iBooks (Version 1.5). Those of you who purchased a previous version can update for free!