Cannibalism lurks in the island fortress

When you get out of the plane having landed at Heathrow terminal 3, you see a little patch of concrete England through the picture window and then you start walking hundreds of meters down a featureless glass corridor.
Since this is the UK you know how this story is going to end: you're going to walk hundreds of meters up a different featureless glass corridor going the other way.
But at the turnaround point, there's a security screening. You know the drill: liquids out, laptop out, belt off, raise your arms, naked scan. And the whole time you're thinking, why are we doing this? We did this in Helsinki. I have literally spent the past three hours since then inside an airtight aluminum tube*. When was I supposed to have had the opportunity to acquire salacious materials for nefarious purposes? Duty free?
That much of it is the part that's simply stupid. This is the part of it that's both stupid and evil: you have to check in at the ticket counter again
Depending on which airline you're lying this might come before or after the security screening. Either way you wait in line, you go up to the desk, and the airline agent asks you where you're traveling from.
Then, if you're me at least, they ask how long you've stayed there (I live there), what you do there (I'm a math teacher). what school, how big your classes are--you know, the empty questions immigration officers ask to put you on the spot and check if you're lying.
The arbitrariness and racist potential of *that* process aside though, hang on a second: you're not talking to an immigration officer. You're talking to the person at the airline counter who asks if you packed your bags yourself.
Now, I've made the point before, the UK is in a formal sense far closer to fascism than the US is, and the reason is, the UK over the past several years--a lot of this comes from Gove & May but it's hardly unique to that Laurel & Hardly dyad--has been willing to delegate or even force responsibility for decisions about the lives of migrants onto the private sector.
So landlords are supposed to check whether anyone foreign-looking has the legal right to rent an apartment, doctors' offices are supposed to check immigrant elements' right to health care, bank manages are supposed to assume non-EU residents are preparing to engage in money laundering until proven otherwise.
And now Sharon at the ticket desk is apparently given the authority to determine whether I should be allowed to continue on my flight to see my parents at Christmas.
Now bear in mind: while geographically I am in London, legally I have not entered the UK nor do I intend to. I am only here to change flights, within the same terminal. I have not come within sight of an immigration desk.
"Hmph. Yes. Well. Brexit, what what? Bad show," many of you will respond, as you tug on your pipes in your comfy armchairs. Brexit is for the UK what Russia is for the US: no discussion about politics will catch fire unless it can somehow be six-degrees-of-Vladimi Putined-back to it.
No. This British project of criminalizing anyone with the wrong passport started in the 90s, under Radical Remainer Tony Blair, and it's proceeded apace under Brown and Cameron. In a twisted way it's *part* of the EU "freedom of movement" ideal, by establishing arbitrary castes within the non-British population to help foster the sense of a "common European identity" i.e. the white Christendom of the Christian Democrats.
But now it's plumbed the depths of making potential migrants feel unwelcome simply for looking at the UK through a window, and normalized this distributed terror by giving the job not to a uniformed jackboot but to the smiling everyperson behind the desk.
The treatment of immigrants is the UK's bellwether. Years of mainstream opinion ignoring the plight of non-EU migrants let Theresa May know she could strip citizenship from the Windrush cohort and get away with it.
Fear-your-neighbor Britain is next.
* Not "aluminium." A-LOOM-IN-'EM. We discovered it, we get to name it.

Edmund Schluessel

No comments:

Post a Comment

Instagram