No one does refugee quite the Palestinians and their sense of entitlement, has now become the default position for the world refugees. No longer does security of person, shelter and a hot meal satisfy. Now they demand the right to pick and choose where they will claim refugee status. It boggles my mind.
This week the world's press found a poster child representing these new world refugees when a little boy met a very tragic end on a beach but he didn't die because his family had no safe harbour from the scourge of war. He did not die because affluent countries had immigration and refugee laws. He simply died because his parents had an exaggerated sense of entitlement and thought they could risk all by gaming the system in their favour by feeding the innate greed and criminality of human smugglers.
In Canada, the debate has everyone and their Grandmother invoking the rejection of Jewish refugees from WWII, and point to Canadian response to the Vietnamese Boat people as our guiding light to deal with the Syrian refugee crisis. Oddly enough, I cannot find a time when Jewish refugees or the Vietnamese Boat people said, ‘No to France, but yes to England, No to Serbia but yes to Germany’ and so on. Perhaps they did, I am just too ignorant.
During the 1979 Vietnamese Boat People crisis, Canada successfully settled close to 50,000 people but the Canadian government did not do it alone by any means. Canadian families and churches were at the forefront for sponsoring the Vietnamese refugees. The economy was in far better shape at the time and we possessed a strong manufacturing base which could easily provide employment to those with little skill level, education or language issues. But we do have to take into account the nature of the Vietnamese who settled so successfully in Canada and give them due credit. Basic English and French language skills were common among them, a large number were Christians or familiar enough with western culture which helped them integrate into the larger Canadian community. I cannot recall any sense of entitlement from the Vietnamese boat people, and remember only the deep heartfelt gratitude for any opportunity which was extended to them.
I have been following the European refugee crisis unfold for months. I am struck by the overwhelming numbers of relatively young and able bodied men. I am not suggesting there are no women, children or elderly, but I would expect to see women, children and the elderly represent 60% of the refugees rather than 15-20% mix. I suppose this means; ideas like protecting or fighting for one’s family, home or country are hopelessly old-fashioned and passé.
We have the opposition leaders on the campaign trail, demanding the country absorb huge numbers of Syrian refugees, Thomas Mulcair leader of the New Democratic Party insists we can settle 10,000 Syrians in Canada by the end of the year. Liberal leader Justin “Just Not Ready’ Trudeau insists we can easily assimilate 25,000 by January 1, 2016. No one has a plan but they do have tear ridden heart- felt pleas to do better than Conservative party leader, Prime Minister Harper has. Of course, where are we going to house 10-25,000 refugees, is anyone's guess. I expect this will be the new norm.
So let’s talk about Canada in 2015, our manufacturing base is in ruins, unemployment remains high across the country. Our tax base is high; the purchasing power of our dollar is low. We have very little employment opportunities for those with poor education, language or employment skills. Our IT, customer service and banking class has more or less been outsourced to the third world. We should be thinking seriously about the kind of Syrian refugees we will accept in our country, but this is the debate no one wants to discuss...because we are Canadian, and consequently, far too polite in public to have an open and honest debate. Instead, the Canadian public will collective stick our heads up our collective arses and cling to the irrational belief that any refugee from any culture, is not only deserving of an opportunity to come to Canada but can assimilate successfully into Canadian mainstream society because the Globe and Mail and The Toronto Star has said so.
The International Business Times ran an article showing the plight of one Syrian refugee who made it to Germany and tells his tale. ( Benjamin Hiller)
Monther recalls the moment he decided to leave Syria with perfect clarity. The Syrian shop owner, who declined to provide his full name, citing threats to his security, was driving home with his sisters from the eastern city of Deir ez-Zor -- a stronghold of the Islamic State group, commonly called ISIS -- when members of the militant group stopped his car. The militants accused his sisters of flouting the group’s strict dress code for women. Monther spoke out. “This is not how women should be treated in Islam,” he told the men. He paid for his outburst with a public beating, receiving a sentence of 50 lashes. Monther had already seen the Syrian war claim his livelihood when a bomb dropped by Syrian regime forces blasted his mobile telephone shop to rubble last fall. Six months on, his life -- and the lives of his family -- were threatened too. This has become the stark reality for many Syrians, who live in fear of the regime’s aerial attacks even as they face the onslaught of ISIS. With such odds, 4 million Syrians have fled the country since the uprisings began four years ago.
When Monther receives asylum status, he will be able to join his brother in Alpen, a quiet town 370 miles west of Berlin. He won’t have to worry about evening airstrikes or kidnapping by the Islamic State group -- but he won’t go to sleep without thinking of those left behind: his sisters who could not face the journey through ISIS-held areas; his wife, heavily pregnant with their third child, who thought the trip too risky.
This man knows exactly how ISIS operates, he's allegedly paid the price for speaking up about the horrendous treatment meted out to women in ISIS held territory, but he leaves his two sisters and pregnant wife (with two small children) behind while he saves himself. But no reporter asks the obvious - like how are those women to feed themselves or scrabble out a living when they cannot even leave the house without the presence of a male relative? Monther's narrative isn't singular, there are plenty more refugees just like him.
But bring on the refugees, cause truly, how can this not be a win-win feeling for all Canadians?