The irrational fury over the Jamaica deportations

The frenzied opposition to a routine deportation suggests the cultural elite has no understanding of citizenship.

Brendan O'Neill

Brendan O'Neill

Topics Politics UK

There is so much confusion, not to mention outright disingenuousness, over the deportation of Jamaican offenders. Listening to anti-deportation campaigners, and reading the more woke sections of the media, you would be forgiven for thinking that a grave injustice was taking place. That the planned removal from the UK of 50 Jamaican citizens who have committed serious offences is a vile, racist act that violates liberty itself. But this is not true. To make such arguments is to demonstrate a flimsy understanding of the idea of citizenship and of the importance of nationhood and democracy.

First, the disingenuousness. Much of the discussion about the deportations amounts to little more than fake news. The idea that the deportations prove that Britain is racist is yet another defamation against this country, its current government and its people. The truth, which is wilfully ignored by those determined to make political mileage from the deportations by bending them to their racially myopic PC agenda, is that the majority of foreign offenders deported from Britain in recent years have been white. In 2018, 68 per cent of the 5,391 FNOs (foreign national offenders) who were deported were EU nationals, primarily from Romania and Albania. The 50 Jamaicans currently subject to deportation orders are a tiny proportion of the FNO population, which is predominantly white.

More disingenuousness can be glimpsed in the breezy dismissal of the gravity of some of the Jamaican deportees’ crimes. Politicians and commentators act as if the crimes are not really a big deal. In parliament yesterday, Jeremy Corbyn likened Boris Johnson himself to the Jamaican criminals. He wondered if an American-born white person who had admitted to having ‘dabbled in Class A drugs’ should be deported – clearly a reference to Boris, who was born in the US and who has admitted to taking cocaine in the past. This is quite outrageous. The men being deported did not ‘dabble’ in drugs. Two of them are rapists. One is a serial offender with 24 convictions. Another was sentenced to nine years in jail for possession of a firearm and conspiracy to rob. The more ‘minor’ offences relate to the sale of drugs, not ‘dabbling’ in drugs.

There is something very odd, and worrying, when the leader of the opposition makes light of such serious offences that have caused great harm to British citizens and to Britain’s social fabric. Indeed, there is something almost nihilistic, or certainly irrational, in the passion with which campaigners have sought to keep foreign-born rapists and drug-dealers in the UK. To present these people as victims of prejudice, as individuals worthy of our sympathy, confirms the extent to which sections of the left have had their moral and political anchors completely destroyed by the impulse of identitarianism and the cult of victimhood. They now feel more attachment to the so-called rights of FNOs who committed rape and armed robbery than they do to their own society that was negatively impacted upon by these crimes.

Perhaps the worst aspect of the disingenuousness has been the race-baiting. This is unforgivable. It has come from Corbyn himself, who suggested in the Commons that the Jamaica deportations prove there is ‘one rule for black boys and another for white’. He must know – surely? – that in recent years most FNOs deported from the UK have been white. So why is he making it about race? Because that connects with his constituency: the race-obsessed identitarian left. It doesn’t matter to Corbyn, it seems, that his cynical, opportunistic and wrong racialisation of the deportation issue could have detrimental social consequences, such as by making black Britons feel insecure or by intensifying multicultural tensions. No, all that matters is winning affirmation from the middle-class identitarian left. This is deeply irresponsible.

Likewise, David Lammy has asked in relation to the deportations, ‘When will black lives matter again?’. To which the only reasonable response is to wonder why Lammy never asked when Romanian, Albanian or Hungarian lives will ‘matter again’ following the deportation of vastly higher numbers of offenders from those countries over the past three years. Again, it’s because in the highly divisive and socially destructive cult of identitarianism that passes for ‘progressiveness’ these days, mileage is more easily made from claims of racial injustice and racial unfairness than from understanding the reality of how deportation in this country works. It is shameful that a fairly routine removal of foreign-born offenders has been turned into a libel against the nation and its citizens, who are presumed by so much of the woke elite to be open or secret racists.

This is why it is so wrong to compare this deportation exercise with the Windrush scandal. The reason the deportation or threatened deportation of Windrush people from the UK was so immoral and horrendous is that these people had leave to remain in this country (so they had every single right to be here) and they were good citizens who had worked and raised families in Britain for decades. Most of the Jamaican FNOs, by contrast, do not have leave to remain, and rather are residents, and they have committed grave offences. It is utterly demeaning to the people of the Windrush generation to compare the terrible injustices they have faced in recent years with the attempted deportation of non-citizen grave offenders. (Lammy says six of the people facing deportation do have leave to remain, which would certainly raise some specific legal and moral issues.)

And then there is the confusion around the big issues highlighted by this deportation discussion. The greatest confusion is over the nature of citizenship, over who is and isn’t a citizen. None of the Jamaicans who are being deported are British citizens. They are residents in this country. I am of the opinion that Britain should be fairly generous with its granting of residency to people who are keen to visit and work here. But residency is not citizenship. Residency is not an unconditional right. Residency comes with conditions, prime among them being that you obey the law of the land. It is known, and always has been, that residents who fail to do this can be removed from the country they are visiting. In the case of the UK, if a resident commits a grave offence, entailing a prison sentence of longer than 12 months, he is automatically slated for deportation. Everyone knows this, or ought to.

One of the arguments being made is that because some of these individuals came to this country when they were young, then surely they have become British citizens, even if they don’t actually have the paperwork. This is wrong. It is true that the government too often treats citizenship as a bureaucratic exercise, as being about little more than paperwork, but the notion that citizenship happens by default, after a period of time, is similarly bureaucratic. It represents an entirely passive understanding of citizenship, as if just happens, almost accidentally, almost thoughtlessly. But it doesn’t. Citizenship is a relationship, a sense of purpose, an active striving to change and to belong.

Both officialdom’s overly bureaucratic treatment of citizenship and anti-deportation campaigners’ view of citizenship as a default development following a period of time drains away the key elements of citizenship. Namely, the aspiration to loyalty to your new home; the desire to assimilate and belong; the urge to contribute; the ambition to become something different to what you had been previously. In this case, to become British. Citizenship is both an active embrace of new values and a process (the process of officially becoming a citizen). Reducing it to one or the other, or believing it can happen without either of these developments, is to misunderstand what citizenship entails.

The real problem exposed by this deportation discussion is not foreign criminality. There will always be criminals, most of them British, some Romanian, some Italian, some Jamaican. And, as the law stands, if the person who has committed a serious offence is a foreign national, he could very likely be removed from the country. No, the problem exposed by this debate is the cultural establishment’s own dearth of attachment to the ideals of nationhood and citizenship. In equating residents with citizens, they denigrate citizenship. In seeking to use judicial review to block a government action – in this case the deportation of some of the Jamaica-born offenders – they demean the democratic process. And in siding with serious offenders against the citizens they harmed, they advertise, once again, their complete moral removal from the values of most ordinary people. The political rot is here, at home, and it needs to be addressed.

Brendan O’Neill is editor of spiked and host of the spiked podcast, The Brendan O’Neill Show. Subscribe to the podcast here. And find Brendan on Instagram: @burntoakboy

Picture by: Getty.

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.


Bella Donna

16th February 2020 at 1:04 pm

I’d be happy if we could deport Lammy someplace, anywhere but here!

Melissa Jackson

17th February 2020 at 12:51 pm

I mean, every article and video from the man is grossly offensive, at least to me. Surely the fuzz will be down on him like a tonne of bricks!

After all, the UK is (as Lammy points out) institutionally racist and loves to oppress BAME people like him. So you’d think any opportunity to crack down on him would be taken.

And yet…

In Negative

15th February 2020 at 8:07 pm

“The greatest confusion is over the nature of citizenship, over who is and isn’t a citizen. None of the Jamaicans who are being deported are British citizens. They are residents in this country. ”

I’m not keen on this neither. There’s something a little off about considering people that have spent most of their formative years here as ‘residents’ rather than ‘citizens’. I can’t really think of a non-bureaucratic or non-racist way of justifying that position.

We don’t know an awful lot about the individuals here involved, but here is a hypothetical that I’d find pretty outrageous: Assume one was 2 when they got here, committed a drug dealing offence when they were 17 cos they were selling Boris and his mates dope (it helped them get through all that Latin), they go to jail, serve a sentence, then 8 years later, they’ve got ’emselves a family and Boris has a majority. Next thing they know, they’re being deported cos they’re resident criminals and a stain on the british moral fabric. That doesn’t seem so great to me and from what I’ve heard, such could be the situation for some of them.

Melissa Jackson

17th February 2020 at 1:01 pm

You have to apply for citizenship. That’s just how it works. If you weren’t born in the UK, you only get citizenship by going through the official channels. That is exactly as true for a 17 year old as a 70 year old.

Given that you only need to be resident here for 5 years to become a full citizen, it’s hard to feel too much sympathy for anyone who arrived at 2 and is still not a citizen when they go into prison.

To be blunt – If you can just fill in the forms and become a citizen, why did a surprising number of people not bother, either for themselves or their children? Because they couldn’t be bothered.

And now they get deported because they never valued the citizenship of their home. Maybe if they were more civic minded people they would be citizens and not be in prison. But hey-ho.

In Negative

21st February 2020 at 7:06 pm

Like I said: ” I can’t really think of a non-bureaucratic or non-racist way of justifying that position.”

You just made the bureaucratic case. Not really for me that. I got the impression from BON’s article that it’s not really for him neither. Citizenship runs deeper than having your papers in order.

In Negative

15th February 2020 at 7:42 pm

“The more ‘minor’ offences relate to the sale of drugs, not ‘dabbling’ in drugs.
There is something very odd, and worrying, when the leader of the opposition makes light of such ”

As one working class lad to another, I’m not sure rich-kid “dabbling” and “poor kids” selling are that different. I’ve lived within spitting distance of white dealers for most of my life (probably all of my life). Having been out with middle-class well-to-do white kids, going round the estates of dealers waiting whilst they got their weed or whatever, I don’t think Corbyn’s outrage is so off the mark. There is something a bit disgusting about rich kids buying from guys on sink estates, reaching high office and then deporting the same kinds of characters they scored from in their youth. This social fabric that these dealers are besmirching, these British values that they’re failing to assimilate, well, different places seem to have different fabrics and values.

Korina Wood

15th February 2020 at 9:08 am

We are here to be bled by Politicians, no other reason. Yet we have the power to remove them and put in good people who have the same morals and beliefs as we do. If we do not want them then we should stop voting for them or vote for someone who does care about us. That means someone that does not support some ideology. This is about people having individual rights to choose, not be forced to fall in line with Political thieves and robbers in Parliament.

Asif Qadir

17th February 2020 at 6:52 am

Hi Korina. God bless you.

Graham Knight

14th February 2020 at 4:26 pm

Too many do gooders in this country, send them all back. What about human writes for all us normal people.

Ann Ceely

14th February 2020 at 4:17 pm

Becoming a citizen of a country is joining an exclusive club of people who decide the Government of the Nation.
Our Government has the responsibility of ensuring new citizens are worthy and understand the people whom they will be joining.
Obviously, this noise from agitators shows us that some of our residents don’t care at all about the nature of our fellow residents.
This is NOT conducive to building a nation worth living in.

Neil McCaughan

14th February 2020 at 2:43 pm

Any felon not deported should be billeted on Mrs Justice Ingrid Simler, fat Lammy, Johnnie Cluck the battery Henley, creepy Christopher Tyson, and the rest of the chorus of virtue signalling dolts. An excellent opportunity for these people to demonstrate their moral superiority to the rest of us, in a wholly practical way.

Neil McCaughan

14th February 2020 at 2:31 pm

The BBC, the Guardian and the Labour Party will prefer a convicted Jamaican rapist to Rishi Sunak any day of the week.

harry briggs

14th February 2020 at 10:43 am

“And in siding with serious offenders against the citizens they harmed, they advertise, once again, their complete moral removal from the values of most ordinary people.” Labour display their contempt for the mainstream values of the British people time and time again, without even checking I would guarantee that most of the towns involved in the grooming gang scandals were Labour run, it is who they are now, there is no changing what they have become, the saddest fact from the general election was that there are 10 million voters who don’t realize that the once great Labour party has changed so significantly that they would sweep such things under the carpet rather than admit their culpability, we need a socialist alternative to the Labour party urgently, the voters can then dump these idiots for good.

The Killgrave

16th February 2020 at 11:18 am

Sorry to be a pendant but they were and are rape gangs not grooming gangs.

James Barber

17th February 2020 at 4:51 am

My first thought was that you meant “pedant”. But then on reflection I realised that you cannot be a pedant if you call yourself a “pendant”. So I suppose pendant it is.

Puddy Cat

14th February 2020 at 9:36 am

How would you construe racist? We have seen with the terms sexist and bullying that they have no boundaries and can be applied to a broad swathe of inferences which, eventually, cannot avoid the downright bogus.

A declaration that Gt Britain is racist or not has to be purely speculative and cannot possibly construe what the understanding of what every individual might be. People are moulded by the their experience and for one individual to take issue with another and then for that interaction to be seen as racist may only be sticking plaster. The more words we invent to cover the vagaries of human relations there is a trading in freedoms which gratify some lives and detract from others. The old way used to be far better where people rubbed along in their normal bumbling along in their old unreconstructed way. The terms on which we name offence are subject to being stretched to any limit that the those taking the offence can insinuate and therefore with the issue being one, largely, of temperament there is no accounting for it. We might as well say we are racist and the deport the miscreant anyway, it proves in an odd way that all we do is apply the law.

Arthur ASCII

14th February 2020 at 10:05 am

The essential question is whether racism is embedded in the laws of a country, and to some extent how effective is the rule of law in that country. On both counts the UK is not guilty, and many organisations ultimately accountable to the State (e.g. the BBC) openly discriminate in favour of ethnic minorities. Some, perhaps many, individuals are privately “racist” but you can’t legislate for that, although the lefties do try to via “hate speech” laws and the like.

Echo Romulus

14th February 2020 at 8:22 am

“Likewise, David Lammy has asked in relation to the deportations, ‘When will black lives matter again?’. To which the only reasonable response is to wonder why Lammy never asked when Romanian, Albanian or Hungarian lives will ‘matter again’”

As I have said before David Lammy is fundamentally a black nationalist. He doesn’t speak about anything that doesn’t revolve around African or Caribbean minorities. Why would you think he cares about people who aren’t black?

Arthur ASCII

14th February 2020 at 7:04 am

On a point of fact, Albania is not (yet) a member of the EU, although that seems to have been no obstacle to relatively large numbers of them entering the UK and being somewhat over-represented in our crime statistics

Roger Jago

14th February 2020 at 3:29 am

Windrush scandal was identified as part of a ‘deliberately Hostile’ immigration policy in the vain attempt to meet an impossible maximum immigration figure. A Filipino relative was twice refused a brief visit UK visa on absolutely contrived grounds, compared to the open door for thousands of benefit tourists and illegals that flood in every year. Get the Net immigration total down by deporting criminals.

Jonnie Henly

14th February 2020 at 1:22 am

” (Lammy says six of the people facing deportation do have leave to remain, which would certainly raise some specific legal and moral issues.)”

I like how hidden amidst his usual bluster and rage against the evil middle class lefties etc Brendan is forced to concede they actually have a legitimate point.
But only via a brief clarification sentence stuffed in brackets.

jessica christon

14th February 2020 at 6:06 am

Brendan is wrong; there are no “legal issues”.
From the guidance on :

“If you are deported from the UK your indefinite leave will be invalidated.

Indefinite leave can also be taken away (revoked) if you:
are liable to deportation but cannot be removed for legal reasons, such as the UK’s obligations under the Refugee Convention or the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).”

Ven Oods

14th February 2020 at 9:25 am

You can’t have it both ways, Jonnie. He’d have deserved your censure had he omitted it, but he didn’t. I attributed the use of brackets to the requirement of separating something Lammy had said that might not be bollocks from the rest of his utterances.

Michael Lynch

14th February 2020 at 12:33 am

Another great article that points to the insanity gripping the Labour elite. But who really gives a toss what Corbyn thinks or says anymore. Remembering back to the ludicrous Parliament pre the election, Boris had to face a mountain of jibes and attacks yet he stood firm, calm and dignified in the face of it. Paula Sheriff’s laughable accusation, that all the world’s ills could be blamed on him for simply using the word humbug, was the clearest indication to us all of how far down the rabbit hole Labour had gone. The people saw and the people acted accordingly. Corbyn’s Labour is now dust and Boris and the vast majority of the electorate don’t give a stuff.

Ven Oods

14th February 2020 at 9:22 am

The bit I loved most about Sheriff’s rant was that it was about hate-inciting speech, delivered by a woman with an expression replete with hate and loathing. Priceless in its lack of self-awareness. I wish I’d recorded it so I could watch it repeatedly.

Geoff Cox

14th February 2020 at 9:39 am

Jim Lawrie

14th February 2020 at 12:16 am

“They now feel more attachment to the so-called rights of FNOs who committed rape and armed robbery than they do to their own society that was negatively impacted upon by these crimes.” Just like Clare Fox and many others continue to do with their unstinting and unrepentant support for all IRA atrocities. But not UDA ones.

Jim Lawrie

14th February 2020 at 12:05 am

If Ireland becomes united we can send back all their drug dealers, IRA, UDA etc … men and women. And their drug dealers.

steve moxon

13th February 2020 at 11:52 pm

We can see here the votes piling up against Liebore in the next general election five years out.
Talk about an own goal.
One thing’s for sure: nobody wants to deport David Lammy when he is such a well-honed machine for losing elections.
Let’s hope Kiera / Wrong-Daily appoints him in a woke crusade to render themselves even more naff and ‘identity politics’ totalitarian nutsville than already they are.

Glenn Bell

13th February 2020 at 10:42 pm

Corbyn, Lammy and their ilk have nothing else to offer, their policies, if policies they be, are divisive and full of hatred, racial hatred of the worst kind. How dare Corbyn claim this governments actions are racist after he did nothing to stop the racism within his own dysfunctional party? As for Lammy, hes just a chancer with no concern about anything other than his own self. Yes, lets take action against all those who deserve to be deported and start putting ALL decent, law abiding citizens before criminals.

Brandy Cluster

13th February 2020 at 10:04 pm

Why are they continually referred to as “elites” when they’re clearly just CLOWNS?

Asif Qadir

13th February 2020 at 9:57 pm

None of us have seen a worse creep on here than Jerry Oven-Kraut. Don’t worry, l fully expect to have to creeep her out.

jessica christon

13th February 2020 at 8:57 pm

Lol @ Lammy – he knows the police in Jamaica would have capped those fools in the streets, but we spend millions on them and he’s still complaining. The only thing they like about Britain is that we’re a ludicrously soft touch, and a magnet for criminals from every-freaken-where!


13th February 2020 at 8:36 pm

UK is a messed up country anyway – no written constitution, no bill of rights, etc. no democracy – just monarchy, aristocracy, capitalism and ethnonationalism.

Jerry Owen

13th February 2020 at 9:08 pm

Why won’t you answer my question I have asked you a dozen times about your dislike of empires yet you support the expansionist EU empire as confessed by Verhofstadt.
Any chance of an answer soon?

Asif Qadir

13th February 2020 at 9:31 pm

Hey Jerry Oven-Kraut? The way you regard ZP is what I’m doing to you, apart from the fact that I’m actually exposing you as a weirdo.

Ven Oods

14th February 2020 at 9:18 am

“UK is a messed up country anyway”
Hard to disagree. Which makes it all the more difficult to understand why people in France (that beacon of Egalité) are willing to risk death by all manner of means in order to arrive in the UK and make a life here. Do they just not get what they’re travelling toward?

The Killgrave

16th February 2020 at 11:27 am

Bye Felicia

Danny Rees

13th February 2020 at 8:04 pm

Pretty much anyone who opposes these deportations sympathises with violent criminals.

That’s the repeated refrain and it’s such a great argument that shuts up the leftists every leftist should delete their account.

Danny Rees

13th February 2020 at 7:57 pm

Having read Luke Gittos’ piece on this matter, if his piece had been published prior to Mr O’Neill’s piece I can see why Mr O’Neill wrote it.

He doesn’t want Spiked’s most loyal readers thinking Spiked have gone soft.

Mark Houghton

13th February 2020 at 7:07 pm

I wonder if the ‘cultural elite’ would be quite so generous with our resources if they had to feed and lodge these criminals for all time?

Danny Rees

13th February 2020 at 8:04 pm

Yeah like Owarrrn Jawnesssss!!!

Norman Baker

13th February 2020 at 6:24 pm

I wish Lammy (a retard of colour) would stop promoting white supremacy (by Shutting the F up).

Christopher Tyson

13th February 2020 at 5:08 pm

The Labour Party has not won an election since 2005, they will not have a chance to win one for the next five years, possibly they will never win an election again, we can take some small comfort from that.

Brandy Cluster

13th February 2020 at 10:06 pm

We have the similar situation here in Australia, and they JUST DON’T GET IT. Meantime, they and the media are busying trying to destroy “loser consent”, which is fundamental to a working democracy. Tyrants, aren’t they!!?

Jerry Owen

13th February 2020 at 4:39 pm

The lefts marked increase in support for criminals rather than victims could be referred to as ‘Begum syndrome’ . Presumably the rather captivating Priti Patel is racist for wanting to expel these criminals, who incidentally have amassed a total of 300 years worth of prison time between them, dabbling.. I think not. Times 300 by whatever it cost per yer to house an criminal it’s an awful lot.
Patel wont be drawn on the question of curtailing legal aid which so many solicitors rely on to bring spurious and absurd claims, but legal aid abuse does need addressing which could of course open another can of worms in that it could be detrimental to the less well off / less powerful.

Jerry Owen

13th February 2020 at 4:40 pm

I do miss an edit facility!

Asif Qadir

13th February 2020 at 9:21 pm

Hey Jerry Oven-Kraut. Just what language is it that you’re attempting to employ?

Asif Qadir

13th February 2020 at 9:23 pm

Guess what’s happening to you, Oven-creep ?


13th February 2020 at 10:56 pm

Agreed JO. I should like to edit out some of the puerile comments and silly name calling.

Asif Qadir

13th February 2020 at 11:42 pm

I’m glad that there is someone apart from Oven-Kraut.

The Killgrave

16th February 2020 at 11:29 am

Asif they would allow us to edit out the idiots :/

Asif Qadir

17th February 2020 at 6:55 am

I wouldn’t be taking sides on this so hastily if l were you two.

David Webb

13th February 2020 at 4:36 pm

Er… no the Windrush people did not have “every single right” to be here. That assumes the government has the right to give our country away. In fact, our politicians had no right at all to invite the Windrush lot in.


13th February 2020 at 8:26 pm

‘Give our country away’. Let me know once you’ve established your pure Aryan homeland, David…

Jerry Owen

13th February 2020 at 9:11 pm

How funny ZP you support the EU with a vengeance which is ..racist against black people with regards to it’s immigration policies, do explain?

Asif Qadir

13th February 2020 at 9:26 pm

Ummm, it’s about time you explained how lame you are, Oven-creep?

The Killgrave

16th February 2020 at 11:31 am

You do realise the ‘oven’ pun is neither funny or clever right?

Jerry Owen

16th February 2020 at 4:07 pm

The Killgrave
She’s the resident bunny boiler you just have to laugh at her I do!

Asif Qadir

17th February 2020 at 6:53 am

You do realise that you haven’t been asked, Killgrave?

texal texal

13th February 2020 at 4:32 pm

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David Webb

13th February 2020 at 4:31 pm

Brendan, your main problem is your conflation of citizenship and nationhood. An ethnic person with a GB passport is a citizen, but the government can’t hand out nationhood – which implies someone is a member of our nation. Nationality is not the same as nationhood. The Bataclan terrorist were Belgian citizens, but hardly members of the Belgian nation.

Ven Oods

14th February 2020 at 9:10 am

That’s a nice definition you’ve pointed out. But you don’t say whether you think they deserve to stay here and offend again. (I’m not sure how serial offenders, who spend long periods in prison at great cost to society, are the father figures that their children need. How much less efficient a father is someone who has been repatriated than one who is a serial prison inmate?)

K Tojo

13th February 2020 at 3:30 pm

How many of these militant identarians are influenced by Frantz Fanon’s “Wretched of the Earth” I wonder? It has been described as the Mein Kampf of anti-white activism.

Christopher Tyson

13th February 2020 at 5:06 pm

Very unfair to Fanon, have you read any? Fanon looked at things in a psycho-analytical and existential way. He was concerned with the psychological unravelling of oppressed people and the consequences of that, I’m not an expert or apologist for Fanon but it’s gross to put his work in the same category of Mein Kampf. Fanon never promoted violence or racial theory, and it had no political program. There have been black chauvinists, but Fanon was not one of them.

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