February 28, 2017

Author who writes about tolerance and acceptance comes to US to talk about tolerance and acceptance, is detained at LAX


Mem Fox reads at a library in Sydney. Via Flickr.

Celebrated Australian children’s author Mem Fox was detained by immigration officers at Los Angeles International Airport earlier this month and “aggressively questioned about her visa status,” Nora Krug reports for the Washington Post.

“The manner in which we were interrogated—in public view about really private information—was terrible,” she said. “It was the insolence that was beyond mind-boggling.”

If this is how a seventy-year-old grandmother from one of our country’s most trusted allies is treated under the new regime (Fox felt the interrogation revolved around an insinuation that she was “coming here to work”), it’s not difficult to imagine how officials might act toward visitors they perceive as less innocuous.

Fox was here to promote her latest book, I’m Australian Too, which includes the lines “We open doors to strangers. / Yes, everyone’s a friend,” and comes on the heels of her beloved Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes. “No matter where someone is born and what a child looks like,” Krug writes, “the book reminds us, we all have ‘ten little fingers / and ten little toes.’”

Good Lord.

“The difference between her message of tolerance and her experience in the United States,” Krug paraphrased Fox as saying, “was too stark to ignore.”



Taylor Sperry is a former Melville House editor.