How many refugees do you think we should let in?
As questions go it reads quite simple, cliched and benign. But it’s anything but. It’s a tool designed to divide, patronise and categorise. Say a large number, risk been called a fool, say too few, risk been called a racist.
There is an answer, I believe, that deflects from the subversive nature of the question. An answer that, if we deal in reality, explains the idiocy of the question itself. Stick with me…
In 2016, we in the west, live in a privileged world. We have WiFi and enough comforts to be upset about the plight of penguins*. But in large swathes of the world, they aren’t so lucky. They have WiFi, but are more concerned with their own survival rather than penguins.
So a refugee, be they fleeing economic hardship or war, is technologically aware of a better world out there. They may be highly educated and skilled. They might just be driven to make it out alive. And they have Google Maps, legs and that determination to do outperform their particular hell-hole. Such a resolute individual is not restricted by the question, he does not care what fears George Hook has or stokes. He gives not one shit what the Far Right Blowhard’s say on the Irish Independents click-bait Comments section. And not one damn is given about the little islander, who thinks it’s perfectly acceptable to say, “Ireland for the Irish”.
No, our migrant has Google Maps on one of those fancy phones that Joan Burton felt should be the preserve of members of the Chumocracy, and he walks on. Now, I’m not stating our particular migrant wants to come to Ireland, there are many other alternative destinations, but if he does, then keyboard warriors, contrarian commentators and bigots won’t stop him. Nor should they be able to.
In any other facet of Western life, we fight intolerance, we legislate against discrimination. So forward thinking are we, that we now legislate for positive discrimination. If someone applies for a vacancy in my office, we cannot dismiss their candidacy on the grounds of Gender, Race, Age, Religious Faith, Sexual Orientation, Disability, Marital Status and Family Status. That’s the law! Yet the migrant, risking his life on dinghy from Turkey to Greece, is supposed to accept he can be discriminated against because of his place of birth? Please, you either believe in Human Rights for all people, or you do not believe in it at all!
Today, prevalent false ideas of what nationhood means and trite categorisations of people, are anathema to human rights. A recent Haaretz piece declared the Arab Spring had “devolved into chaos… restored autocracy in a bid for stability”. Yes, Fine Gael’s Stability v Chaos argument is been used to justify Dictatorship!
They also left out the fact that autocracy was restored with western (or imperial) help or tacit approval. A western backed strongman, to settle the populous. We don’t want those feckers with their fancy phones, Google maps and aspirations trying to impinge on our way of life. George W Bush got it a little jumbled when he said “They hate our freedoms“. We hate them wanting freedom.
So, how many Refugees do I think we should take in? As many as want to come. They will better themselves, our country and show those with fears, bigotries and or greed that they are wrong. I guess that makes me a fool.
Tony Groves Jan 2016
*penguin lovers calm down; I’m just making a point.