A few years ago I was shocked to hear that a judge in the one of the states of the US had granted refugee status to a woman from China, on the grounds that her own country was oppressing her with its one-child policy.
To me it seems that nearly every person in the world would be eligible for immigration to that state if the oppression stemmed from the law in the applicant’s country. Who, nowadays, is not oppressed by some local law?
As we are in the weeklong celebration of the 800th anniversary of Magna Charta, I will delve into the question of what a right really is, and will argue against a “right” of immigration. The UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights has, as its 14th item, “Everyone has the right to seek in other countries asylum from persecution.”
I claim that imitating the Magna Charta by making lists of rights is not enough. Trying to sound generous about people in need is not enough. Trying to legalize a fact that goes against reality is not enough. I mean it not enough to make the thing happen. Better we should talk about tangible, palpable reality.
Global community? Forget it.
I scoff at any “universal” human rights. There is no global community – unless you want to stretch the word community to the point where it loses its normal meaning.
In Anniversary Essay #2, I claimed that COVENANTING is what can make a right come into existence. I said “If A promises to Protect B, then B may enjoy that protection as a sort of right.”
Does your child at school today in Australia have a right to be protected against bullies? Yes, I think so, since people talk about it a lot and since a Mum or Dad would have no hesitation to rock up at the school and see that the right gets enforced.
Does the editor of Gumshoe have a right not to be jailed if she reveals criminal behavior by our government? Well, at the moment No, since folks are not even banding together to tell Attorney General George Brandis to get stuffed for proposing the new (and flagrantly faked) “anti-terrorism” laws.
So, there are two things involved in a right. The first is the necessary covenanting, and the second is the existence of a community with a polity that can enforce laws. The entire human race, with its 7 billion souls, is no such community.
To allege that a global community exists, and whose members have rights, is in my opinion, 1. dreamy and just nor focused on facts, or 2, harmful, as it creates an unobtainable remedy in law (and leads to a generalized contempt for law), or 3. malicious.
Wah! How can something sweet-sounding be malicious? Easy. For the moment, I’ll just point to the historical example of Jan Smuts who spoke in heavenly tones abut international moral principles (around 1900, from South Africa) but who we now know was a snake in the grass. Ditto his Yankee contemporary, Elihu Root. (Can you think of others?)
Back to the lady who is oppressed by not being allowed to have a second child. If the law got somehow overruled, in China, that country, which is already amazingly overpopulated, would be even more so.
Maybe the decision to limit births was made in a dictatorial fashion, but I think if the whole community could have debated it they would have come to the same policy. Anyway, it’s their business.
And now back to the example of your child dealing with the school bully. The community can help her. But if you hear today that a child in a faraway country is being bullied you cannot help him, even if the moral sensibility on this one were subscribed to by 100% of the 7 billion humans.
Think about it for a moment. A child in faraway land is bullied and you know that there is no need to debate the subject, as everyone in her locale opposes the bullying of a child. What can you do to help him? I say you haven’t got a Buckley’s. You are unwelcome in the area of enforcing somebody else’s law (and you have no mechanism for carrying out your altruistic wishes).
Note: most likely you wouldn’t want Americans, Ugandans, or anyone else to enter Australia to police the problem of your child in Woolongong being bullied at her school. You may even be annoyed were you to read on a blog that some busybodies in Uganda are commenting in the subject.
Australia signed the treaty known as The Refugee Convention, and incorporated it domestically into the Migration Act. So let’s look at the signing of treaties. Presumably the Refugee Convention is meant to reflect an agreed-upon right such as Item 14 in the Universal declaration, quoted above.
But, as above, I have stated my opinion that there are no rights universally. The fact of a domestic law in Australia does make the thing more legal. Persons can go to a court here to ask that the domestic law be enforced. But now I want to go further in my denunciation of the whole idea of refugees expecting to be helped outside their own borders.
It’s cuckoo for the many suffering people of this world to think that their hope lies in travelling to a better land. Their better hope lies in fixing the problem at home. Can we be of help to them in that? Sure. We can help by example. We can show them how fearlessly we fight our own government if it gets oppressive. Ahem.
Also, we can stop oppressing those overseas people, either directly through our policies (such as our bombing of Iraq) or through – but this is not even on the cards yet – telling our secret global masters where to go.
Picture for a moment what rejoicing there would be in the Third World if a certain person, not mentioning any names, rhymes with Bissinger, were to be captured and dealt with for having run both sides in the 1964-75 so-called Vietnam war.
The South Americans in Boston
My other hometown, besides Adelaide, is in Massachusetts. Last time I was there (a year ago), I heard mostly Spanish spoken in the streets. Personally I am delighted by this. These folks are as nice as pie. Still, I don’t like the way the immigration policy came about.
As far as I can tell, a large element of malice was involved. I think the influx of persons who do not speak English is a transmigrasie job. Similar to what Stalin did in a perfectly calculated way in the USSR circa 1936. He moved ethnic groups around so people would lose their group-strength. Also they couldn’t talk with one another to draw up some covenants.
Very nice from Stalin’s personal point of view; it helped him sleep at night. But what a terrible thing to do. We all need our group strength. Get a load of where we are going today without it! We are being atomized and belittled. Do we even have a recognizable culture anymore? (Ask a 17-year-old what it is.)
By the way, I think Obama and predecessors have let the South Americans migrate to US under the table, while at the same time putting on some nice stir-em-up shows of anger at the “illegal invasion.”
Years ago I saw a march in California, with Mexicans carrying signs that said “robado” (stolen) meaning the US stole much of the land of California and Texas from Mexico. That is of course a fact. But the signs were printed so professionally that I got the feeling they’d been given out by the usual agents provocateurs, funded of course by Homeland Seguridad.
Please come at me in the Comments section. Take a devil’s advocate position if you wish. Anything goes at Gumshoe, for the nonce. Here’s a recap of my thesis, set it into the picture of the other 3 ‘anniversary essays’:
- The barons at Runnymede got King John to put his John Hancock on a document that helped strengthen the little guy against the power and might of royalty.
- John Adams put his John Lackland on the state constitution of Massachusetts, saying clearly that the whole point is for peeps to agree amongst themselves, and then carry out those promises at some later date when push comes to shove.
- Wouldn’t you know it, today’s US Supreme Court, being apparently controlled by the Upper Dogs, has lost the plot in regard to the Bill of Rights. “Justice” Anthony Kennedy would have us believe that Timothy McVeigh, who got pulled over for a bad license plate and thus got executed for bombing the Oklahoma City federal building (in 1995, a year before Port Arthur, but don’t get me started on Martin Bryant), is sufficient proof that a man who Drives While Black ought to be told to bend over please. Wouldn’t you just know it?
- Persons who are suffering in their own country can of course make an effort to escape, but they mustn’t be deceived into thinking they have a legal right to acceptance by other countries. Only the members of a given country, a working polity, have legal rights. They can only ever enjoy such rights as they sensibly covenanted for and are willing to enforce. To speak of more idealistic rights is, I think, mean.
Postscript. It’s hard to discuss anything intelligently anymore unless the really-big-fact-of-life gets admitted openly. Viz., the power structure of the world today is a hidden one. This leads to lies being told by all governments to the point where we can hardly negotiate anything with one another anymore. All the premises are “off.”
— Mary W Maxwell is co-author, with Dee McLachlan, of a new book, Truth in Journalism. It’s “on sale” for ten AUD.