A British court recently declared a comedian guilty of a hate crime for posting a “grossly offensive” video on YouTube. Mark Meechan (a.k.a. “Count Dankula”) is currently facing a jail sentence for training his girlfriend’s dog to raise his paw, mimicking a Nazi salute.
“My girlfriend is always ranting and raving about how cute and adorable her wee dog is,” said Meechan in the introduction to his viral video. “And so I thought I would turn him into the least cute thing I could think of, which is a Nazi.” Meechan later apologized for the video, expressed his hatred of racism “in any way, shape or form,” and reiterated that the whole purpose of the original video was to annoy his girlfriend.
Obviously, this is a gross miscarriage of justice. Considering it was the dog that committed the crime, shouldn’t he be the one sentenced to prison by the kangaroo court? The Walt Disney Company could even make a movie about it.
Regardless of whether one finds the video offensive, it is very hard to argue that this “Nazi” pug poses much of a threat to anyone. What should be considered very concerning is the fact that anti-Jewish bigotry currently stands at a record high in the United Kingdom.
According to the Community Security Trust (a group that monitors anti-Semitism and provides security to British Jews and institutions), there were 1,346 recorded anti-Semitic incidents in 2017. This stands at a 3% increase from 2016 and a 34% rise in violent assaults against Jewish people. In 2016, the CST recorded 1,309 anti-Semitic incidents nationwide, while the previous record was 1,182 incidents in 2014.
The British Labour party under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn has been instrumental in making the U.K. unsafe for Jews. Prior to being elected Labour leader, Corbyn referred to the Islamic terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah as his “friends.” It was also revealed that Corbyn was part of an anti-Jewish Facebook group that contained Holocaust deniers, as well as another group that accused Jews of trafficking organs and controlling the media.
Corbyn has allowed anti-Jewish bigotry to grow among the thousands of supporters who joined Labour in support of his policies. Over 80% of British Jews believe that the Labour party is too tolerant of anti-Semitism, while almost a third of British Jews have considered leaving the country to escape the rise in hate crime.
Unless that dog is somehow elected the leader of a major British political party, Corbyn is the one who is actually in a governmental position to make life considerably worse for Jews in the U.K.
With the impending downfall of the Islamic State terror group, threats to the safety of British Jews will only worsen. According to The Soufan Center, at least 425 British ISIS members have returned to the U.K. These militants are not alone. According to British intelligence, there are 23,000 identified jihadists living in the U.K. as potential terrorist attackers. This is not only a dangerous development for British Jews, but every peaceful citizen living in the U.K.
The rise in anti-Jewish bigotry in the U.K. is no laughing matter. However, the fact that Meechan is being convicted and thrown in jail with real criminals is nothing short of a sick joke. To be jailed over what can accurately be described as a video that mocks Nazism and fascism, sets a dangerous precedent for freedom of speech in the U.K. Rather than do something substantive against the rise of anti-Jewish bigotry throughout the country, British authorities instead chose to go after an easy target.
Bradley Martin is a Senior Fellow with the news and public policy group Haym Salomon Center and Deputy Editor for the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.