Boat people

18 04 2009

What is it about migration that causes people to get their knickers in a twist?  The simple act of moving house over the bridge to the other embankment where the grass is greener, rainbows appear routinely every morning and no one wearing military garb or carrying an RPG is trying to shoot you is something evil.  And so are the people that provide the bridge, according to Kevin Rudd.

Yes, more boats of refugee’s have showed up on Australian shores and the whole continent goes up in arms.  Conservatives, nationalists and all sorts of others have speculated this and that, the Liberal party has gone on public record saying that the Labour governments ‘soft’ stance on illegal immigrants is giving incentive for these people to come here and so on.  What is it about boatloads of people fleeing from areas of war, destruction and persecution gets these people up in arms?  The only answer that comes to mind is the obvious; they’re afraid these rag tag boats of asylum seekers are going to pull a tactic used by the British when they used to own the world.  You know, way back in the day when ‘settlers’ arrived at Botany Bay and all that, turned to the native people and said, “You, you and you. Fuck off.  You don’t exist.  This is our land now.” and ‘settled’ the place.

People smuggling, is something universally condemned.  But what about the people choosing to enter a country illegally?  Little attention is ever paid to the circumstances these people are fleeing from in the first place, which ties into the old Anarchist argument that red tape is red precisely because it’s dripping in blood.  The only comment that is properly given is that “they should have waited in line.”  Strictly speaking, getting on a rickety old boat and venturing onto the high seas is a fairly desperate solution, so you can only imagine the intensity of the circumstances these people are running form.  Something in these people tilted the balance away from politely waiting patiently in line while bullets whizzed over head, and tipped the scale in favour of doing something illegal to get out of harms way.  But mention this to a champion of tighter border security and watch the response that follows.  They simply don’t care.

Then we get onto the issue of people smugglers.  The ones providing the bridge to greener pastures.  Kevin Rudd, our fearless leader, even went on record saying, “People smugglers are the vilest form of human life because they trade on the tragedy of others.”  Funnily enough there is no mention to the cause of much of that tragedy, possibly because it can almost, always be traced back to the actions of a government.  And I suppose a portion people smugglers must be of a rather unpleasant character.  If you break it down, tighter regulation on anything tends to introduce an action to the criminal elements of society.  Just look at the drug trade.  There are notorious criminal gangs dealing just as there are small, independent entrepreneurs just looking to make some cash and get stoned.  You can’t fault them for that.

While I will concede that people, especially young women, may not end up in their final destination and that the smugglers themselves may be charging exorbitant prices, they are filling a need that governments don’t.  They provide these people with transportation, albeit not always in the best condition, and the chance to escape their immediate circumstances, while a government bureaucrat would prefer to make them wait.  But how can you wait if you are being persecuted?  I can personally guarantee that if an individual believes there is a significant threat to his or her life and that they are not safe, even if they have gone underground, they are going to find some way to get the hell out.  Legally or not.  It’s a fact of life.

Even still, migration is natural.  For centuries human beings have naturally known that if you are suffering in one place, maybe it would be a good idea to move to another place where you won’t suffer.  For centuries humans have done this freely, until government decide to place a lock and chain on the natural act of human migration and, by consequence, another fundamental aspect of individuality.  It is criminal.

But of course the great defenders of tight border security argue that these people could be terrorists!  Slipping into our borders to attack us at home.  Needless to say that nearly every major terrorist attack performed on the domestic soil of America, Britain and elsewhere were performed by people who entered the country legally.  If you’re looking to perform subversive activities, do you really think you’re going to risk having your operatives captured mid-mission by asking them to board a rickety old boat to sneak into a country illegally.  The risk is too great.  Either you’re going to recruit citizens or you’re going to have them do the paperwork so they appear legit.

Then there’s the argument that these people, speaking in general terms, come to a country, park their ass on a couch somewhere and become a burden on the system.  This neglects two facts.  Most refugees want to get away from terrible circumstances and want to start a new life.  They’re not the lazy or parasitic caricatures of human beings portrayed by conservative types because to build a new life for you and your family you need to work for it.  Yet even then there are always a minority who fit the stereotype, as it has to be born somewhere.  However these people wouldn’t be a problem if the welfare state didn’t exist to enslave people via dependency in the first place.  All too often centrelink cheques come with a catch and because money’s being handed out without any real work, there is an incentive to maintain that state in order to bring in the free money.  The problem lies not with people, as it’s a direct result of human nature (give a man a fish a day and there’s no reason to go out and catch fish).  The problem lies with the system handing out fish.

Oh and the last argument to always be levelled and this people is the traditional and timeless, ‘they’ll steal our jobs’ by-line of xenophobes.  I need not mention that it’s all too often illegal immigrants that wind up doing the shit-work that no natural-born citizen wants in the first place, allowing them happily to apply themselves to some other occupation that requires more training.

And for what it’s worth, if this is how the country reacts to a couple boatloads of people fleeing adversity, I hate to imagine what the reaction is going to be when Kim Jung-il kicks the bucket.  North Korea will open up and people will flood out into the surrounding regions in the thousands.  I’d like to see the government justify deporting North Koreans.

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11 responses

2 05 2009
Mike Gogulski

This is on Strike the Root today, and quite deservedly so.

2 05 2009
Royce Christian

I was wondering why people were actually visiting my blog.

Thank you Christopher Lempa. Wherever you are.

And also thank you Mike. Just for being you.

12 05 2009
Sire

My only issue with the boat people is one of national security. What if we let them in open slather and they decided to smuggle in terrorists acting as refugees that may at a later date cause another September 11?

That and the problem that if you let it be known that we are an easy target, instead of getting a couple of boats every now and again, we get a couple of hundred.

12 05 2009
Mike Gogulski

You’re welcome, Royce! The feeling is mutual; I have pulled so many new perspectives out of your writing over the past year or so that I could not recall them all, but I have been influenced nonetheless for the better.

Sire: “National” security? For me, but not for thee? Who is the “we” to whom you refer?

12 05 2009
Sire

To Aussies in general Mike, I assumed you were an Aussie. We, as in the Government, as the general Aussie public hasn’t much of a say in it other than to winge when the Government isn’t doing what we want it to.

12 05 2009
Mike Gogulski

Sounds to me like an argument for revolution.

Still, the quibble about that inclusive pronoun is important. Is that the “we Aussies” in general, including the descendants of the native people who were displaced, dispossessed and killed by British colonizers? Is it the “we” which includes people of perhaps better conscience already in Australia who would prefer these folks be let in? Is it the “we” which somehow emerges as a moral agent through the folk alchemy of representative democracy — ignoring all the subsidiary “wes” who don’t vote, or who vote for the losers?

12 05 2009
Sire

I just worry about the security issue in general which would include all the ‘wes’ you are referring to. If proper measures are not in place and insurgents are enabled to settle our shores without securing that they are legitimate refugees without an ulterior objective, and something does happen, who are we to blame but ourselves for being too trusting.

12 05 2009
Mike Gogulski

But there are two different sorts of security in play here, in my mind. The first is the security we all practice in doing things like locking our doors and not walking around with all of our cash in our hands. It is a matter of practice in personal protection against J. Random Somebody who might wish to harm our persons or property.

But this national security is an entirely different matter. National security is a matter of placing armed guards in a line somewhere and telling peaceful people who might like to cross it that doing so will result in their deaths — unless, of course, they happen to have the right talismanic paperwork to make the guards stand down.

12 05 2009
Sire

I suppose we will continue to have our different views. I did not comment for the purpose of changing any ones view on the subject, but merely to state my own. Whether or not anybody agrees with it does not bother me in the slightest. The fact that I was able to freely state my views was enough and for that I thank you.

12 05 2009
Mike Gogulski

Agreement, though I do state mine for reasons of persuading others to reconsider their own. Cheers.

12 05 2009
Royce Christian

Sire:

I would ask that at what point do ‘they’ become ‘us’?

The borders we draw in the ocean, on land or anyway are but lines upon a map. While I can understand your issues concerning domestic security, the precise reason we are in danger in the first place is because of intervention by the government’s of our Allies in the affairs of others overseas. Under John Howard, we aligned ourselves closely to the Bush administration and we became part of the ‘coalition of willing’ in events most Australians never supported. And if you remember back to the days in the lead up to the invasion of Iraq, Australians demonstrated widely against the invasion, yet the numbers in the media were scaled down and our government saddled up and charged in along with the Americans. Our potential threat from terrorists would be non-existent if we had never taken those steps in the first place — although something needs to be said for the fact that America did exert undue influence on us by crippling the export trade of Australian farmers. The solution to safeguard our security is to discontinue our involvement, as it seems we are doing (although we are leaving behind a whole number of Australian soldiers in advisory or training positions and we will no doubt be asked to help if America conducts some kind of military campaign inside Pakistan).

It’s also a certain irony that a number of these boat people are asking a conflict that our country is militarily involved in and another conflict that our government has been quite passive in response to.

Regardless, thank you for taking the time to post your thoughts on my blog. I greatly appreciate it.

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