Monday, May 21, 2012

Immigration: Scary For Racist Idiots

Why do we have immigration in New Zealand?*

What is our immigration policy? Why is that our policy? What is a New Zealander? Does that concept even exist outside of pop culture? Should there be a common language or does it matter if there isn't?

I'm absolutely sick to death of the current level of discussions revolving around immigration. It is couched in nothing but emotive language. "The proliferation of non-English signs in Auckland is making some Kiwis uncomfortable", a study showed. This inevitably lead to comment sections where grotty little xenophobic barbs were thrown in along with "You're uncomfortable? You must be stupid and the head of the Klan!".

When I was born Auckland had around 750,000 people. Now it has 1.5 million, mostly due to immigration. One in three people are born overseas. That's a massive change in a fairly short time period. Some people are uncomfortable? Holy crap, no wonder. Don't forget, some people are wired differently - did you know that conservatives tend to have a larger fear centre in their brains? Don't you think rapid change might scare them? Don't you think that by not talking about this other than throwing around retorts about racism etc, that this fear induced ignorance will never be allayed which can turn to anger, and then eventually leads them down to the rocky path of being a NZ Herald/radio talk back commentator?

If you don't engage with people, if you don't actually listen and respond to what they're saying (and I don't mean the Crimps of this world, the only engagement with them should be a strong sedative and a quiet room) then their mindset can never change because you're not offering them facts to counter emotions. You want to win an arguement, bring more than putdowns to the table (I find a gun helps).

You know what media can and should do (or politicians for that matter, but there's too much interest in some parts in keeping voters scared), is to start answering the simple foundational questions above and then build on it. Actually set down WHY people are nervous or worried about this issue and then address this - what does research say, what have been the experiences of other countries such as Canada trotting down the path of multiculturalism, what have been the mistakes and the successes and what could we incorporate, what should the population level be? Should we be offering further English language help or is there no need, should there be mandatory classes in schools on learning about other cultures (that one seems a no-brainer), should learning a second language be strongly encouraged, should every citizen be forced to watch rugby while eating bbq food smothered in watties tomato sauce, when do we gently break it to newcomers that sheep love is mandatory?

More facts, less gut reactions.

*In 2050 the answer will be 'so we can replace the entire population which has migrated to Australia'.

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