HORNET’S NEST. When I wrote last week about the apparent inconsistency of collective Western policy toward eradicating all forms of discrimination from their societies, I did not realize the hornet’s nest I was about to stir.
Upon returning from office in the evening to check my personal mailbox, there waiting for me were a number of reactions from our readers.
All of them focused on the issue of immigration, which I had used as a specific example of what I call systematic discrimination.
Opinions were divided between those who were “victimized” by many Western embassies’ denial of visitor visa applications —some merely on the suspicion that the applicant has no intention of ever coming back home—and those who succeeded in immigrating, and have integrated themselves into Western society.
The former lot agreed with me, recounting their horror stories with strict consular officers dispensing their own brand of “deny first, ask questions later” justice.
Most emigres were of the contrary opinion, taking the side of their adopted homelands in saying that because immigration has become a heavy burden to the West, it is right to impose strict policies to stem the human tide.
THE POINT. The fact is I was drawing no conclusions, but merely stating well-known facts. And immigration was not even the central theme of the piece, merely a convenient and well-known illustration to support my point.
And my point was?
A country works hard at eradicating all forms of discrimination inside its borders, creating catchy slogans like “one country, many cultures,” “melting pot,” “cultural mosaic,” and every other synonym of the word integration that one could think of.
To back up their efforts, they sprout billboards and posters all over the place, bearing pictures of happy faces with all the colors of the rainbow you could imagine. And they expect the majority of their citizens to embrace their minority countrymen.
But hold on one second. The majority citizens they are trying to educate also read the papers and listen to the news. And there they see the debates about immigration policy, interspersed with pictures of would-be immigrants being turned away at their borders and ports of entry.
The faces of those being turned away, do they not resemble many of those with the happy smiles up on the anti-discrimination billboards? Oh silly me, of course they do!
This creates just a little bit of complication for our audience, does it not?
Okay, the happy face is a legal alien, the unhappy one being led away is an illegal immigrant. The distinction should be clear enough, shouldn’t it? Everyone ought to know that, right? Yeah right.
DISTINCTION. Racist white trash roaming the streets at night in poor and run-down housing estates are very conscious of this distinction.
Before they beat up their next colored victim, they ask him first for his British passport, and if he has one, they let him go away. But if the unfortunate bloke happens to whip out one from the Caribbean, then he may not be so lucky! Really, this is how they operate.
Okay, that’s an extreme example.
How about the olive-skinned MBA who comes in for an interview at an investment bank in the city? Why he looks like the guy stepping off the refugee boat from the Mediterranean as well, does he not? Could he really do this job? Is he good enough? Hmmm… Let me think.
Even to the most discerning and intelligent among us, the situation poses not a few complications. And let’s face it, the majority of us are not really that intelligent and discerning.
And that includes the countless consular officers in many of our Western embassies all over the world.
Published in Sun Star Daily, Saturday, March 20, 2004 (http://www.sunstar.com.ph/static/ceb/2004/03/20/bus/batuhan.emigres.defend.adopted.homeland.html)