Entertainment TV ‘They weren’t there’: Author Mem Fox hits back at ‘get over it’ critics

‘They weren’t there’: Author Mem Fox hits back at ‘get over it’ critics

mem fox
Author Mem Fox says she's not going back to the US any time soon. Photo: ABC
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Best-selling children’s author Mem Fox has hit back at critics who told her to “get over it” after she was detained and “insulted” by US border officials last month.

Fox has previously detailed her two-hour ordeal at Los Angeles Airport during which she faced aggressive questioning about her visa while en route to a conference in Milwaukee.

The 70-year-old, who was eventually allowed into the country, was pulled out of the immigration line and “interrogated”.

Speaking on Q&A on Monday night, Fox responded to those who have criticised her response to the incident.

“People have said, ‘Get over it. Don’t be so precious’. I was in that room and had been through that. They were not in the room that I was in,” she said.

“They were not there after [Donald] Trump came into power. They were not interviewed by the man who interviewed me, who was much younger than I was and who was absolutely terrifying, and [who] humiliated me from the first sentence.

“The person that says ‘get over it’ was not there with me.”

In the special artists’ episode, hosted by comedian Tom Ballard, Fox reiterated she would not return to the United States. She has previously visited the country more than 100 times.

“I won’t. Absolutely not. It wouldn’t be safe for me to do so. I don’t think I’d be allowed in … I couldn’t even stand in the immigration queue,” she told the Adelaide audience.

“I would just faint with fear.”

The panel had been asked to address US President Trump’s immigration crackdown and the border policies, and the rhetoric of former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott.

Former News Corp chief Kim Williams weighed in on the Bill Leak debate. Photo: ABC
Former News Corp chief Kim Williams weighed in on the Bill Leak debate. Photo: ABC

Fox said she would not comment on “Tony Abbott and our own border protection because there are not enough expletives”.

The panel also discussed the controversial The Australian cartoonist Bill Leak, who passed away last week.

The debate was briefly interrupted by a protester who was shouting off screen.

Kim Williams, a former chief executive of News Limited, which publishes The Australian, said he believed Leak’s cartoons were not deliberately outrageous or sensational.

“He may have done some things in haste, but he never did things for reasons of deliberate [exaggeration], I don’t think he meant it that way,” he said.

The “impact was quite different”, Mr Williams added.

Theatre director Neil Armfield respected Bill Leak but thought his later cartoons were "despicable".
Theatre director Neil Armfield respected Bill Leak but thought his later cartoons were “despicable”. Photo: ABC

Actress Ursula Yovich, who is Aboriginal, said she was “mortified” when she saw “that particular cartoon”.

Leak faced criticism for a cartoon last year that depicted an Aboriginal man who did not recognise his own child.

Theatre director Neil Armfield, who knew Leak, said though he “respected him”, the cartoonist had “narrowed into a corner” later in his life.

“And I thought that he was playing into an attitude which was completely the attitude of the racist and the powerful,” he said.

Fox said she loved Leak’s work but looked at his much-criticised later cartoons and thought: “Bill, Bill, no, please, no.”

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