Saturday, 21 November 2015

I don't yet know what Peter van Onselen

is going to say in his column today but there was an exchange between him and someone who tweets as "LaborFAIL" yesterday. 
Now I know you can't have a serious discussion in bursts of 140 characters but it seemed to me that neither of them was acknowledging the complexity of the issues surrounding "refugees as terrorists". 
Peter says he has read up on the issue and that his column in "The Australian" today has been written following on that. I'll get around to reading it when I get the paper.
In the meantime I would like to say that we don't know what the situation is with respect to terrorists posing as refugees.
Do they exist? Yes, of course they do. It would be naive and extremely foolish to suggest that they don't. ISIS/Daesh, or whatever else you care to call them, have claimed they do. While they are quick to claim responsibility for all sorts of things this is the sort of claim which should be taken seriously. The reason? It does maximum harm with no effort at all.
A claim like this makes every person asking for refugee status be viewed with suspicion. It doesn't matter whether you are young or old, parent or child, fit or sick you are going to be viewed with suspicion. I'll give you an example.
There was a young girl interviewed several times on our SBS recently. She was in a wheelchair and came from one of the most dangerous parts of Syria. Her command of English was interesting. It was competent and fluent. She told the interviewer she had taught herself English by watching television. She had not been to school. She is obviously highly intelligent and eager to learn. Her outlook was positive and determined and she was, with the help of her sister, attempting to join her brother in Germany. (Yes, she did get there.) 
But what happened? People around me made comments like, "Someone taught her English. She's probably a spy" and "When she gets there the miracle will occur and she will get up and walk" and...well, you can imagine the sorts of comments which were made. They should have known better but they still made those sort of comments.
They were made about a girl who can be physically examined and whose story can be checked in a number of ways but many people will still believe she isn't genuine. It's how ISIS wants people to behave. They want us to view all refugees with suspicion. 
And it is that sort of attitude that can breed the "home-grown" terrorist. These are the people who have been brought up in Paris or  London or Sydney and who have had all the "advantages" of a western style education. They "become radicalised". They are are seen as "misfits". They are being carefully groomed - and groomed so subtly it is often hard to discover what is happening until it is too late.
Our "politically correct", "multicultural", "human rights", and "equal opportunity", "let's accept everyone who claims to be a refugee" approach is equally bound to fail. I know. It sounds good. It makes us seem like nice, decent people when we say that sort of thing but it isn't a realistic approach either. 
You see, refugees have to be housed and fed and educated and employed - and that is just a start. They also have to helped to assimilate. If we really want them to be part of our country then we have to have expectations of them - big expectations. These are the sort of expectations it is difficult - and sometimes impossible - for them to meet. They have to accept our values, our way of life and our laws. It doesn't matter if they speak Babel at home they have to speak our language when they are at work, at school, and in the community. They have to accept that women don't walk down the street covered from head to toe in black and that young girls do learn to swim in a country where a lot of time is spent at the beach. They have to accept that marriages are not arranged and that girls have careers and that boys choose their own careers - not the one their fathers choose for them. They have to accept that our laws and our courts are what apply - not their version of the law. They have to accept a great deal more as well. They don't have to celebrate Christmas or Easter or Halloween or any other festival but they - and those who advocate for them - have to accept that we do. Calling Christmas something different or, worse, banning it - as a local child care centre did for fear of offending some - is not the answer.  
Yes, it is hard enough for someone who has chosen to migrate and is eager to assimilate. It is much harder for a refugee who has already lost everything. There is a natural tendency to want to cling. to the familiar and to keep reminding oneself of "home". Anything which might seem to allow a refugee, or the children of refugees, to cling to the past can seem desirable if you feel you don't fit in. It is a short journey from there to radicalisation, and from there to illegal acts.  
My sister's husband's parents came from Cyprus - as migrants. They wanted to come. It wasn't always easy. There are things their children do that are "very Greek" - but they don't flaunt those things in public. The girls don't wear black on marriage - not even their mother did that here. I asked her about it once. She shrugged and said, "Not here - in Cyprus, different." Her English was not good but her attitude was the sort that made them successful migrants.
It is much harder to be a refugee. I know refugees here who are law abiding, hard working citizens. They have made the effort to learn English and do all the right things. It has not been easy for them. And they still want to go home. If things were different in their home countries they would go back in a heartbeat.
I sympathise but I still don't believe that we can afford  the luxury of allowing them the right to things like a different legal system, a different language in the community, and different, more restricted ideas about respect and freedom for individuals. Allowing people to isolate themselves, encouraging them to do it through the process we call "multi-culturalism", making excuses for them is going to cause harm. 
No, we don't want everyone to be the same but if we allow and encourage them to be too different then we will have migrants and refugees who become terrorists.


jeanfromcornwall said...

I know someone who spent a year in a northern city with a great many immigrants from the subcontinent. So many of the parents were wringing their hands because the young men were running out of control and dealing and using drugs. I guess they are now worrying about them holed up somewhere with a computer - in many cases not even going to the mosque. So much of the present trouble is the result of natural teenage rebelliousness perverted by people who are older, and who are taking power and misusing it. I wish I knew some answers.

catdownunder said...

One "answer" is probably far less "screen" time - can't see it happening.