Saturday, November 16, 2013

Let's face it: We're probably racist.

Let’s face it. 

If New Zealand was under attack and boatloads of predominately white people from New Zealand came to Australia, our ‘stop the boats’ policy would change instantly. They wouldn't be sent to Nauru, Manus Island, or anywhere else with the promise of never being resettled. They wouldn't be perceived as a threat; as selfish individuals who have come to our country as economic opportunists. We wouldn't seek to deter ifrom asking for our help.

They would be welcomed.

If they were ten, twenty, or thirty percent of our net migration in a given year, we would not flinch. We would welcome support from governments, churches, and charities whether it be in solidarity or in substance. Our preachers would not preach hate. Our teachers would teach us to hear their stories. 

Our lives would be mutually enriched.

If they came to our country we would give them the right to work. We would allow them to have a dignified existence in our midst, and seek to know them in a deeper way than as ‘the other’. Ungracious metaphors would have no place in our language. They are not a flood, a drain, or a wave. They are people. They are real people. They have names. They have stories. They have suffered.

They would be heard. 

If they came to our country they would not see signs saying ‘go away, we’re full’, or ‘don’t like it? get out’. They would be encouraged to express their culture, to teach their histories, to share their food. They would not be looked upon suspiciously. There would be no neighbourhood alarm to ring when one of them steps foot on to a particular piece of land.

We would choose to embrace them.

Why would our reaction be different if they were from a predominantly white country? 

Because we are racist.

People who believe the spin that says ‘they’ have malintent and are out to get us are racist. People who think that asylum seekers fleeing persecution are somehow gaming the system are racist. People who think that suffering and vulnerable people who need our help should be shown the door are racist.

Let’s not use colourful ‘diplomatic’ language and call them ‘rationalists’, ‘conservatives’, or ‘patriots’. It’s time we called a spade a spade, a person a person, and a racist a racist.