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I guess we need to talk about the refugees at some point

by Shane Joseph (writer), Cobourg and Toronto, October 02, 2015

The global refugee crisis has got everyone expressing a view. Here's mine.

With Europe being flooded by refugees, and other wealthy countries like the US and Canada hemming and hawing about whether they should take in the displaced ones, and if so, in what numbers, one wonders how this all came to pass. I have some theories and recommendations, but these are mine alone.

Once upon a time, Western Europe was geographically insulated from the hungry hordes in the Third World by the Iron Curtain countries and by a string of dictators in the Middle East and North Africa. And of course North America had the vast Atlantic and Pacific Oceans as buffers, and the US even recently built a giant wall to keep the Mexicans out. Then the Berlin Wall collapsed and the aging population of Western Europe determined that in a globalized world it needed to replenish its labour pool with younger workers from the poorer former-Communist Bloc, so a second tier of EU membership was created, and suddenly Poles were serving in restaurants and bars in England. Then chinks in the larger barrier gave way: dictators were ousted in Libya and Iraq and another was sent into a bunker in Syria. The walls began leaking big-time, transforming this easy conduit for cheap labour into an uncontrollable flood, threatening the protected way of life of the incumbents.

Switch scenes for a moment to the human smuggling industry. Once upon a time, it was called slavery but that term went out of fashion after the American Civil War. “Economic Immigrant” became the new word. And economic immigration has been happening since time immemorial. It is a human imperative of survival to seek a better environment for one’s self and one’s progeny, and it applies to both master and slave. In recent memory, we have witnessed the boat people from Vietnam, the Indian migrant ships, Sri Lankan refugees coming over the US border into Canada in the trunks of cars, and Mexicans swimming across the Rio Grande. (Globalization and outsourcing are also forms of economic migration, for the rich and for their money, lest we forget). When you see the recent flood of refugees include people from places such as Gambia and Pakistan, you know that ISIS is not the only cause for this exodus. The marginalized had always been parked outside the gates of the privileged, waiting for a chink in the fence to make a rush for it. These “rushes” are “facilitated” by clever profiteers who extract money, sell dreams and put the vulnerable in life-threatening situations. And these vile merchants of flesh, saw a great opportunity when the walls punctured in Libya, Iraq and Syria.

Let’s also not forget the arms industry. Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan are export markets for military equipment, brand new or second-hand. And the Western and Middle Eastern allies pitched against rebel groups in these countries are lucrative customers too. These conflicts must continue in Big Guns’ view, despite the collateral damage.

While we can take short term measures to re-settle refugees in the west, despite the hemming and hawing, the real answers lie in six strong initiatives (IMHO):

1) Deal conclusively with barbaric throwbacks like ISIS. We did it with Hitler, why not now? To that bunch we can add all other extremists that fuel hatred. I can think of radical right-wingers and their Trump card—they should be sped onto their self-created isolationism and allowed their own tea party (or gun party), away from the rest of us, where they can pat each other on the back, draw their guns, and self-destruct.

2) Strengthen the war on human trafficking and include all nations in it. Let it not be as ineffective as the war on drugs that only focused on the perpetrators and not on the addicted.

3) Educate people in the developed and developing world in the art of tolerance and of accommodating one’s neighbour. Make them aware that the best chance of a person realizing themselves is in their homeland. And that if people still chose to go west, then teach them that being a good guest and integrating into the host country (that has attracted them with a better economic model) is a wise thing to do. And teach all this to immigrants before they leave, so that they can make an informed decision before they take the big leap.

4) Increase immigration to countries that can absorb newcomers and don’t hypocratize the act by saying that we are doing this only to be generous to refugees. We need young people. Canada’s seniors now outnumber its youth, and we have joined the geriatric club of the rest of the Western world.

5) After #1 and #2 above have been accomplished, dismantle or severely curtail the movements of the arms industry so that they do not facilitate mini wars that create future human exoduses. We did it with Big Tobacco, why not with Big Guns?

6) And face up to our collapsing climate. If not happening already, it will not only be mini-wars that create exoduses in future but droughts, floods and famines, forces that do not respect where they happen, whether in the developing or developed world.

I am sure many more fixes to our global refugee problem are required, but I’ll be content if we can eat the elephant in small bites and if we can crack the above six items for starters.

But now, where are the global politicians with the nerve to take all this on?



About the Writer

Shane Joseph is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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5 comments on I guess we need to talk about the refugees at some point

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By riginal on October 02, 2015 at 09:27 am

Where are the global politicians with the nerve to take this on Shane? Basically getting on each others quince, nerves,squabbling,bitching, backstabbing each other instead of taking a stab back at these coherent ideas you have presented. Take a leaf out of Australia's inconsistent book ends. a lot of pages missing? Seems to be whirl- wide like the environment..."let's all pull in a different direction" they cry "someone's bound to lead us somewhere...sooner...or later!" And the beat grows 'con.'

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By Barbara MacDonald on October 02, 2015 at 11:24 am

Some very good ideas there Shane....how about we learn that we really all are more alike than different and embrace the chance to learn about others culture...

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By Shane Joseph on October 02, 2015 at 11:34 am

Thanks riginal and Barbara for your comments. I'm glad that you got to say your piece before the floggers cloud this comment string, like they have clogged every other string, with their inane comments that resemble a Tower of Babel, or is it Babble?

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By riginal on October 02, 2015 at 10:48 pm

Shane for goodness sake! You are bagging 'replica' bags/watches? Life in the plastic extrusion lane itself? Those floggers may go on to become our future leaders. In fact i think they are employed as part- time advisers and some already are employed in the halls of power...they are quite astute and devious. Had to laugh at a doco on the share market collapse of yore. The narrator said that the machinations of invest were so convoluted and technical the bods in charge of the whole shebang didn't understand what was going on. Maybe they should have removed their 'replica' genuine leather bags off their heads. Never mind. When the brains work it out they'll let us know i'm sure...or 'offshore.' :>)

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By Shane Joseph on October 03, 2015 at 06:23 am

riginal, reading this comments string, I see that the essay writing floggers have already arrived. There is no escape. I feel like a literary refugee, seeking a safe haven, if ever there is one.

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