One of the unexpected pleasures of parenthood is reading Brussels propaganda to your children. The material is unintentionally hilarious, and will soon have your progeny shrieking with laughter. Little ones enjoy The Raspberry Ice Cream War, which tells the tale of a group of intrepid youngsters who travel back in time to a barbarous age where there are still sovereign states, and teach the inhabitants to scrap their borders.
Older ones prefer Troubled Waters, a Tintin-style cartoon strip, whose heroine is a foxy MEP. Among the lines of dialogue are: “You can laugh! Wait until you’ve seen my amendments to the Commission proposal!” and, “I seem to spend my whole life on the train between Brussels and Strasbourg, but I’d hate to have to choose between mussels and chips and Strasbourg onion tart!”
First prize for silliness, however, must go to Captain Euro (see here).
Or is it pure silliness? Sometimes I wonder whether it has a more sinister side.
Look at the picture above, which shows the baddie, Dr D Vider, surrounded by his henchmen. What, I wonder, prompted the creators to give him a hooked nose and a goatee beard, like some anti-Semitic caricature from the Völkischer Beobachter? Am I being over-sensitive? Well, read the way he is described by the authors:
Ruthless speculator, curator and collector of ancient curiosities, DAVID VIDERIUS is a former financier. He is a multi-millionaire, used to making money no matter if it might involve the suffering of others. Banned and ostracised from the financial world for unprofessional conduct he managed to escape arrest despite his involvement in financial scandal. Having disappeared for many years, he reappeared as DR D VIDER. He manages a holding company, DIVIDEX, controlling hundreds of different businesses across Europe and beyond…
This may be perfectly innocent, of course. But imagine – just imagine – what the reaction would be if a Euro-sceptic group were to create a similar cartoon, with a Jewish-looking villain called David who made his money as a “ruthless speculator”.
What is the EU’s agenda here? Well, a few years ago, I stumbled across an internal Commission report that concluded as follows: “Children can perform a messenger function in conveying the message to the home environment. Young people will often in practice act as go-betweens with the older generations, helping them embrace the euro.”
The notion that the government should get at parents through their children is a characteristic of authoritarian states, not liberal democracies. One thinks of Orwell’s fictional youth organisation, the Spies; or of the revolting Pavel Morozov, who became a hero of the Soviet Union when he was murdered after shopping his father for hoarding grain. (Having decreed a state funeral for the boy, Stalin privately remarked: “He was a rotten little sh*t, ratting on his parents like that.”)
Not that the EU’s kiddieprop seems to be having much effect: in every country, younger voters are more Eurosceptic than their elders. Perhaps no amount of publicity can convince people of a bad idea.
Several readers have asked for more details about Brussels propaganda tracts aimed at children. I’ve already told you about Captain Euro, but the European Commission publishes plenty of other unintentionally hilarious cartoon strips.
There’s Julia and Steven’s Adventures, about how wonderful the Common Agricultural Policy is. There’s Hidden Disaster, about the EU’s speedy response to natural catastrophes. There’s The Healthiest Holiday (”Carlos, Maud and Klaus are going to have to change some of their bad habits if they want to take part in the Group Run!”) There’s Jump Start (”Find out how Alex, Nataline, Ivana and Dimitra managed to change the course of their lives. Discover how these four Europeans took on a new challenge, thanks to the support they received from the European Social Fund”).
What’s most striking about these comics is not their creepiness but their utter lameness. I mean, don’t any of these Eurocrats remember being children themselves? Do they seriously think that kids will become more pro-Brussels as a result of reading this piffle? Or is it simply that they’ve got to find something to spend their budget on?