A possie in Aussie

October 23, 2009

Winning the asylum seeker war of words part 3: Honesty

Filed under: asylum,asylum seeker,boat people,refugee — Nayano @ 7:47 am
Tags: , , , ,

Here’s a novel idea to battle to asylum seeker war of words: honesty.

Keane Shum, previously an asylum officer with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says that when he interviewed asylum seekers who had used people smugglers and asked them how much they paid, they would inevitably say “Everything, everything I had.” Only honesty will produce the best asylum seeker policy

Keane asks us to imagine if these people he interviewed were Caucasian women and children, fleeing Zimbabwe.

“Imagine hundreds of white faces behind bars on Christmas Island who had done nothing wrong but for being born white and fleeing the people who hated them because of it. Ask yourself if you would feel comfortable about that.”

‘Be honest with yourself”, Keane says.

A very useful thought experiment.

(I remember enjoying the scene in the Day After Tomorrow where Mexicans were building fences and turning white Americans away at the border. Memorable, because it was such a new twist on an old problem.)

I also believe, however, that we need to be honest about our own negative reactions.

The local paper, the Adelaide Advertiser, published this yesterday:

“A man harassed by anti-war mail after his son was killed in Afghanistan says immigrants who can’t adapt to Australian life and values should live elsewhere.” Immigrants ‘who can’t adapt should leave’

My honest reaction? I was exasperated because this item is contributing to the anti-immigrant lobby. And immediately recalled statistics about how many immigrants are an overwhelming positive for the Australian economy and culture- not to mention food.

And? Well, a whole lot of me agrees that ‘people like this’ should go home.  And doesn’t give 2 cents for the argument that this is their home.

This is honesty of emotion. We are being honest when we quote correct statistics, (see Invaded by boat people: Let’s build barricades with statistics!) but the honesty of emotion always counts for more.

What was your reaction to Wilson Tuckey’s stupid remarks about terrorists coming by boat to Australia?

Kevin Rudd gave an emotionally honest reaction:

“To go out there and to smear asylum seekers in the way in which Mr Tuckey has done I say again is divisive. I think (it) is disgusting,” Mr Rudd said. Wilson Tuckey rocks boat on border protection debate

See all posts on the asylum seeker war of words How to win the war of words about asylum seekers and Winning the asylum-seeker war of words, part 2

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