Arts &
  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 2, No. 5, 2003

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Robert J. Lewis
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Bernard Dube
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Robert Rotondo
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Emanuel Pordes
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Mady Bourdage
Emanuel Pordes
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Rochelle Gurstein





Immigration Office

The latest to join the anti-immigrant, charge-of-the-bile-brigade is Switzerland’s Christoph Blocher. Pressing all the right paranoia buttons, Blocher, with hard money and hatred to burn, catapulted the SVP (Swiss People’s Party) into the biggest block of seats in Switzerland’s coalition government. He signs on with France’s Jean-Marie Le Pen, Austria’s Joerg Haider, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark and Italy in blame-the-immigrant for every woe on the block.

And we’re not talking about immigrant Koreans, Fins and Hungarians.

The fingers (on the trigger) mentioned above are pointed at Islam, especially at Arabs from North Africa. It seems that with every passing election more and more of our (Europe’s) best are falling prey to the virus of ‘immigrantitis’ because we don’t like the way Arab immigrants treat our virtuous (thong-accomplished) womenfolk, or their own (clitorectomied) women for that matter, turn our erstwhile safe streets into terror zones, and remain medievally unwilling to look and act like us – the good guys. And however true some or none of this may be, it’s an axiom of politics that the pointer, the j’accuser, almost invariably misses the point.

So let me introduce you to Mohammed Abdelwahid, a Saudi as proud as his country is large and prosperous. The great grandson of Mohammed III, a desert geologist who as a matter of course perfected his unsurpassed hygiene with the assistance of the ‘lone and level sand,’ Mohammed has been raised to expect his women, at the onset of puberty, to be clothed from head to foot and to keep their faces hid from public view for their entire lives. He has always understood that women are forbidden to vote, drive automobiles, attend university classes taught by men or participate meaningfully in Saudi life. Mohammed is not allowed to consume alcohol, is supposed to pray to Allah five times a day, has been taught to mistrust the infidel, especially the Jew. This is how it has been since the time of the Prophet, this is the world view that has been imposed on him since birth, so we shouldn’t be surprised that when he arrives on our shores he comports himself as described above. How could it be otherwise?

When Canadians -- for whom principle finishes runner up in pursuit of tax-free lucre -- come to pitch tent in Mecca, the prescient Saudi plutocracy recognizes that cultural differences are so incommensurate, it wouldn’t be prudent to allow them to mingle among the host population. Accordingly, they are quasi-confined (albeit happily) to compounds where they can partake of drugs and alcohol and practice their 47% divorce rate with impunity.

The reason we don’t grant students the license to practice medicine until they have undergone a long and arduous study and internship is self-evident: no one is born a doctor, one must become one. And yet immigration authorities insouciantly grant landed immigrant status to applicants despite their not having been taught how to be Canadian, or Swiss, or French or Italian. The homeland conceit that underwrites the expectation that the immigrant Pakistani, for example, should (will) act like a Canadian when he has been a Pakistani his entire life beggars the imagination. Then, when set free as an equal among us, we blame and scapegoat him for simply being himself, the inevitable product of the culture in which he was born and raised. We would never condemn Canadians for being themselves outside Canada. How could they be otherwise?

The double standard exists because the brain t(rust) that presides over immigration policy hasn’t even considered the possibility that neglecting to properly educate the new arrival is the root cause of the anti-immigrant rhetoric that has profaned especially Europe’s political discourse. The authorities assume that the granting of landed immigrant status is tantamount to educating immigrants to the way of life of the host country, all of which suggests the least qualified people are running their departments – into ignominy. As for the opportunistic politicians (the Blochers, the Le Pens) who scapegoat the immigrant for their own ends, it is doubtful that a lifetime of schooling would save them from their incorrigible hate-mongering.

Most immigrants will do almost anything to be accepted by the host population. Not fitting in (the cause and subject of much of our best recent literature) is often a lifelong source of anxiety and low self-esteem. Offer immigrants the opportunity, the educational tools on how to adapt to a host country’s way of life and you can be sure the majority will seize the occasion to its fullest. That immigration departments systemically fail to offer the basic adaptive tools reveals a disturbing lack of vision, the result of which has become an embarrassment to nations that purport to support the causes and principles of humanitarian values.

Just as any host population looks to the immigrant to enrich (culturally and economically) life at home, the immigrant looks to improve the quality of life in his new environment. Neither side wants to be blamed for the cultural and/or economic destabilization caused by flawed policy. Because it has always been an unquestioned assumption of immigration that the onus is on the applicant to adapt to the host nation’s way of life, perhaps we should seriously consider removing the arbitrariness from the process, especially if the hysteria that is turning Europe into one of the world’s worst intolerance zones is to be defused? If it’s a quantifiable fact that the system rewards especially immigrants who abide by home turf rules – to the benefit of everyone -- shouldn’t we be providing the means (the instruction) to facilitate that process of acculturation?

The time has come for immigration authorities everywhere to hold themselves up to scrutiny and make their own assumptions that which most needs to be called into question, for if the reforms upon which successful immigration policy depend are not seized upon, what’s bad in countries disgracing themselves on the backs of immigrants is only going to get worse.


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