A challenge for anti-immigrants

Posted 8.24.17

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | The spectacular media circus created by, largely, alt-Trump supporters in the US has caught our attention - - how could it not? But less attention, as usual, seems to be on events and issues closer to home. Specifically, in Quebec - - and not that our province has a worse record - - the mosque shootings in Quebec, the anti-Muslim cemetery campaign, and more recent demonstrations of anti-immigrant feelings by groups, like La Meute, "the pack", or individuals who put up large anti-immigrant banners outside the venues housing immigrants make it clear that we Canadians still carry old fears and prejudices.

It's a platitude to point out that all non-indigenous citizens are ancestors of immigrants. If "immigrants" are so bad, if they are "taking over," is that how we see our own forefathers? First Nations people likely think, yes, and may wish their own forefathers had been less welcoming when faced with the Euro-immigrants. What do the anti-immigrants among us respond to this? Is everyone with a European name ready to pack up and return "home"?

There is also an important distinction between immigrants and their religions. It is unfortunate that they are so often confused. No question that Canadians don't want sharia law here - - just as in earlier eras citizens feared Catholic immigrant "papists" imposing direct rule from Rome. Given our popular belief that religion and government should be kept separate, why should religion play any role whatsoever in this discussion of immigration and population growth? It confuses the debate.

Most importantly is the question of our humanity. If, as British cleric/poet John Donne advised, we diminish ourselves when we harm others, then this right-wing movement to cut off immigration from Muslim, Hindu, and other alt-race nations will have the effect of crippling our own society, circumscribing its future and freedom to grow.

This is not to say that we must accept everyone and give money to every poor nation. That, again, is thinking in black-and-white. The world, its populations, its history, and its historical trajectory are all much more complex than we can ever realize. The rule of thumb is to reject over-simplifications of today's problems. Bumper sticker slogans and media-bites are all lies, by definition, and we ought to treat them as such. We ought not allow our own leaders, let alone the leaders of extremist groups, to throw those slogans at us as if they had any explanatory value whatsoever.

In the end, the best means to limit immigration - - from anywhere - - is to give those peoples fewer reasons to leave their homes. Poverty, lack of employment, environmental degradation (eg., desertification), class oppression, anti-women cultures, lack of educational opportunities - - there’s a long list - - these are our problems because they push vast populations to move.

Anti-immigrant people would be more successful in their goal if they could devise the means to end some of these social disasters back in the immigrants' homeland. Why wait until their problems are over here?


Copyright © 2017 Fred Ryan/Log Cabin Chronicles/8.17