The brave man

Oct 9, 2023
London, United Kingdom. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak meets Secretary of State for the Home Department Suella Braverman.

There was a time not so long ago, especially after the Vietnam War, when leaders in the advanced countries such as the United States, Britain, France and Germany gave us hope that the mistakes of the past had been learnt and that we were heading for a fairer and more ethical system: when Nelson Mandela led negotiations to end apartheid ended in South Africa; when the Soviet Union ended in 1991; and when Angela Merkel led Germany as Chancellor (2005 – 2021); and when China opened up its economy (1978) to the world.

From the mid-1970s to the mid-1990s, one could sense a geopolitical move towards a greater acceptance of the “other” (people who are racially and ethnically different). Although the White Australia policy was abolished in 1966, the Whitlam Labor government in 1973 did much to open the doors of migration to Asians and other non-White people from around the world. From the Whitlam to the Frazer, Hawke and Keating governments, understanding across cultures was promoted through encouragement of second language learning, especially that of our neighbours, Indonesia and China. Today, we are witnessing a walk back on these good neighbourly measures, not just in Australia but around the world, especially by people who should know better. An example is the recent speeches by UK’s Interior Minister, Suella Braverman on migration to the United Kingdom. In her speeches, she addressed the undocumented migration problem by denigrating every social decency that matters: multiculturalism, woke, opposition to racism, transgender and gay rights or political correctness. One of the most offensive remarks reported was her description of her critics as “Guardian-reading, tofu-eating wokerati”! Eating tofu is innocuous and quite palatable compared to her act of crossing the bridge, and burning it so as to deny others, however deserving, of access.

The article reporting on her speeches at the recent Tory Conference says: “Braverman, whose own parents of Indian origin emigrated to Britain in the 1960’s from Kenya and Mauritius …” One would assume from her denigration of multiculturalism that her parents immediately became dinky di Britons on arrival. Multiculturalism is a natural phenomenon even if it were not government policy. As a policy, it is a kinder way of allowing ethically different people time to adjust to mainstream life. She even justified her parent’s presence in the UK by saying that “the winds of change that carried her parents across the globe in the 20th century was a mere gust compared to the hurricane that is coming”.

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn accused her of sounding like Enoch Powell of the 1960’s parliament who “warned of racial civil war if mass migration from Britain’s old Empire was unchecked”. The irony is that not only has no racial civil war broken out, but that Rishi Sunak has become the Prime Minister of the UK, Suella Braverman has become the Interior Minister and Sadiq Khan has become the Mayor of London. If a mere gust can spawn such illustrious people for the UK, she should be welcoming the hurricane.

As for her blaming of past politicians from all parties for being “too squeamish about being smeared as racist” to control immigration, she missed the point that they were intellectually and spiritually disinclined to behave in a manner that meets her approval.

Britain itself should take a share of the blame for undocumented migration. Many of the migrants were either from the erstwhile colonies; or from the countries in the Middle East; victims of interventions committed in order to keep the oil flowing to the industrialised West. The same could be said of the African continent and its nations that are rich in natural resources. The same could also be said of the South American countries that were treated no better than proverbial banana growers for the US markets. They were also subjects of American hegemonic oversight under the Monroe Doctrine. The encounter was a reflection of Julius Caesar’s “Veni, vidi, vici” (I came, I saw, I conquered). To which must be added the final epithet “I left” – without reparations. The people of these countries remain poor. Poor people are attracted to two big promises – communist utopia and migration to wealthy countries. The Cantonese Chinese still call the United States “Kam San” (Mountain of Gold). They would have been there in greater numbers had they not been prevented by racialistic laws.

If it is obvious that poverty drives migration, then a solution must be found to help the poorer countries develop a decent livelihood for their people. What the European nations don’t seem to see is that if the African and the Middle Eastern countries were not visited upon by wars and poverty, the uninvited migration problem would be greatly ameliorated. For that, they have the Chinese President Xi Jinping to thank for brokering the peace treaty between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran. He also thought up a fairer exchange system with the countries of Africa, Asia, the Middle East or South America for the commodities China needs in his “Win, Win” formula; and his Belt and Road Initiative. What China does is not altogether altruism because it too needs to benefit from the exchange in order to provide for her people; but it is certainly pragmatism.

The near zero-sum and Manichean games played in adversarial politics in Western democracies have resulted in ruthless blaming of undocumented migrants for political gain. In her talk, Braverman has the distinction of blaming and playing the victim all at the same time when she is quoted as having said that the Conservatives stand with the “law-abiding, hard working, common sense majority against the few, privileged woke minority with their luxury beliefs who wield influence out of proportion to their numbers.

No one would object to proper control of migration, which is intricately linked with a country’s sovereignty, with equanimity and a measure of fairness.

What disturbs is the cruelty in the ruthless pursuit of votes.

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