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Hard to believe

November 28th, 2006

Writing in the LA Daily News, in a piece full of harrowing stories of flight from Iraq, Pamela Hartman states

The United States has not liberalized its refugee policy in response to the worsening crisis in Iraq. More than 1 million Iraqi refugees of all religious backgrounds have poured into Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. In fiscal year 2006, just 202 Iraqi refugees were resettled in the United States.

The 1 million figure is broadly consistent with other estimates I’ve seen, but there’s no source for the amazingly low figure of 202 refugees. (If anyone can point to a data source that would be great.) I assume this excludes people like many of Hartman’s clients who’ve found some other route such as a family relationship, but that can’t change the fact that the US is ducking a central responsibility here.

Of course, the same is true in spades for Australia. At the same time as promoting the disastrous Iraq venture, many of our local warmongers have enthusiastically backed the view that we have no obligations to the refugees it has created, and are entitled to turn back any asylum-seekers who have not travelled here directly from Iraq (I’m sure that if any direct routes were feasible, a way would be found to block their use, so please don’t bother with legalistic defences of this disgraceful hypocrisy).

There’s no real way to salvage the disaster we’ve created in Iraq. But we must at least accept the responsibility of providing a haven to those fleeing the carnage we have created.

Update Judging by the comments, the pro-war view is that our obligations to take refugees extend only, or at least preferentially, to Christians.

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  1. December 11th, 2006 at 18:01 | #1

    Hal9000 Says: December 7th, 2006 at 11:32 am

    Do these ingrate refugee-bombers exist outside fevered imaginations fuelled by kids-overboard slanders?

    False, not that a Wet would ever let an inconvenient fact get in the way of a politically useful fiction. I was never deceived by Howard’s lies as regards kids-overboard, although I did not regard this as a “deal-breaker” when it came to voting for him (once). Hal 9000 should retract false claims when unsupported by evidence.

    Hal 9000 says:

    None of the 7/7 bombers was a refugee.

    Not quite right. One of the London bombers did get in by using (bogus) refugee credentials.

    “”He changed his name to Osman Hussain when he arrived in London. He falsely declared he was a Somali citizen to obtain the status of political refugee and economic assistance more easily.”

    So the asylum-seeking system is open to exploitation by terrorist-minded crack-pots, especially when the guard is let down by people whose good intentions are not matched by common sense. This is a good enough reason to keep a close eye on asylum-seekers.

    Hal 9000 says:

    Prof Q’s post notes and Dave Surls’s posts illustrate, the flint-hearted policy being adopted by the nations whose military adventure caused the refugees’ flight seems to be based on this racially-charged farrago of lies and bigotry.

    Hal 9000 might try to keep his rhetoric-to-reality ratio down below the red zone if he wants to get a grip on the world. For a start Arabians are from the same race (Caucasians) as Europeans. The ratio of sectarian terrorists to the total asylum seeker population is likely to be higher than what a random sample of any given population would predict.

    A fairly large bit of anecdotal evidence supports this conclusion. The ideological seed-bed of Islamic sectarian terrorism in England seems to be in Londonistan where

    the granting of asylum in the aftermath of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan to several Islamist militants…helped London acquire a reputation as a safe-haven for extremists and the nickname ‘Londonistan’.

    I have been to London twice recently and noticed plenty of refugees from various Islamic wars are hanging out there. Their rhetoric, egged on by Ken Livingstone and some of their leadership, leads me to suspect that some of them are more likely to abuse the freedom granted to them by the Mother of Parliaments.

    Experts on international terrorism say the heartland of violent Islamic extremism is now none of the official fronts of the war on terror. They say its center is Western Europe — mainly, but not exclusively, Britain, which granted asylum to a stream of Muslim militants during the 1990s and where the tradition of freedom of expression that once sheltered Karl Marx has now extended to the widespread, and very open, cause of jihad.

    After all, both Lenin and Khomeni were asylum-seekers of sorts. Although alternative government-in-exile would probably be a better description. So not all refugees have their sanctuary’s best interest at heart.

    We should let the more Suunis and Shiite asylum-seekers in as refugees to Australia. We owe it to them since we gave them democratic freedom when their country was clearly not willing or able to use it wisely. Even a Wet would agree that, in this case, despotic tyranny was better than democratic anarchy.

    But we should not kid ourselves that all asylum-seekers are all likely to be model citizens of a liberal democracy. Going by past experience, abroad and at home, there is likely to be quite a few ratbags amongst them who will need to be carefully screened and watched.

    “Be alert, not alarmed” as the wise man says.

  2. December 11th, 2006 at 18:55 | #2

    James Farrell Says: December 9th, 2006 at 10:57 pm


    I retract the suggestion that you believed children were thrown overboard,

    Thankyou, although you might try mixing a little contrition with correction. It does the soul no end of good.

    James Farrell says:


    The London bombers were not refugees from anything.

    One of the London bombers was a bogus refugee. “Londonistan” is full of refugees with some pretty serious sectarian axes to grind (see above). Be accurate, for a change.


    Hal9000 was calling you on was the claim that refugees from current wars are likely to be terrorists.

    Hal 9000 couldn’t call a one horse race. His brain is paralysed by the powerful neuro-toxins of political correctness.

    I did not say that all “refugees from current wars are likely to be terrorists”. There is a subtle distinction between “some are likely” and “all are definitely”. It is a fact that those refugees flowing from South West Asia are more likely to be unruly than typical refugees eg those from conflicts that pre-dated the ascension of the Wets to political heaven eg the WWII Displace Persons.

    One reason for this is that contemporary refugees are all doused in multicultural oxymoronism when they step off the boat. After which they are ready to believe anything, as a visitor to Finsbury Park could testify.

    James Farrell says:

    The rest of your catalogue concerns the link between immigration and unrest generally. What you’re really arguing is that, if a given asylum-seeker is statistically likely to breed children and granchildren with a propensity to participate in crime and riots, his application should be rejected irrespective of its merits. maybe you’re right, but it’s a bit hard to enshrine this principle in policy or legislation.

    No, I am not arguing that given asylum-seekers “application should be rejected irrespective of its merits”. Or for a special case of discrimination to be enshrined in the law for any nation, race or creed. Your assumption on this, like all your other assumptions about my position, is unfounded [said testily, through gritted teeth as to a particularly obtuse person].

    The claims of genuine Suuni asylum-seekers should generally be allowed but they should be carefully scrutinised and perhaps granted residency rights after a long period of probation eg TPV’s. If the authorities find any really dodgy ones they could be off-loaded to a more sympathetic jurisdiction, together with appropriate compensation to tertiary destinations. (eg “Pacific Solutions”).

    As regards the selection of standard immigrants the state should follow a race-neutral policy of taking in high IQ and high EQ applicants. People who have smarts and can be trusted, whether black, white or brindle should be given a guernsey.

    The bar should be set rather high though, on account of the tendency towards regression towards means for cultural and racial groups. This unfortunate tendency is not helped by our enlightened cultural policy makers who are always insisting that aliens should hold onto all their ethnic traditions no matter how barbaric. No names, no pack drill.

    James Farrell says:

    though I can’t see that a sincere belief is any less creditable than the Machiavellian argument. Incidentally, are lies easier to jusify when they promote nationalist goals than internationalist ones?

    The fact that you can’t see something is insufficient to establish that it is not there. If you find Machiavelli to salty to taste you might find it illuminating to read Max Weber’s discussion of the eternal dilemma of statesman versus preachers. You would benefit taking in his advice to academics who trade on the rhetoric of moral prophecy and are ignorant of political security:

    To the person who cannot bear the fate of the times, one must say: may he rather return silently, without the usual publicity build-up of renegades, but simply and plainly. The arms of the old churches are opened widely and compassionately for him. After all, they do not make it hard for him. One way or another he has to bring his ‘intellectual sacrifice’–that is inevitable. If he can really do it, we shall not rebuke him.

    For such an intellectual sacrifice in favor of an unconditional religious devotion is ethically quite a different matter than the evasion of the plain duty of intellectual honesty, which sets in lacks the courage to clarify one’s own ultimate standpoint and rather facilitates this duty by feeble relative judgment. In my eyes, such religious return stands higher than the academic prophecy, which does not clearly realize that in the lecture-rooms of the university no other virtue holds but plain intellectual honesty.

  3. James Farrell
    December 12th, 2006 at 11:38 | #3

    Thank you for clarifying your position, Jack. I’m relieved you agree that

    The claims of genuine Suuni asylum-seekers should generally be allowed but they should be carefully scrutinised and perhaps granted residency rights…’

    I’m also pleased that you would now reserve the Nauru and Manus concentration camps for the ‘really dodgy ones’. If I err in recollecting that you previously supported sending the non-dodgy there too, I will respond with proportionate contrition.

    Your comments about immigration policy in general don’t have much to do with the original post.

    The question about the London bombers still hasn’t been settled to my satisfaction. Which of them was a refugee?

    By the way, don’t hesitate to include more of those stage directions (‘through gritted teeth’ etc.) in future comments. They are a particularly original and entertaining device.

  4. December 13th, 2006 at 01:33 | #4

    James Farrell Says: December 12th, 2006 at 11:38 am

    I’m also pleased that you would now reserve the Nauru and Manus concentration camps for the ‘really dodgy ones’.

    If I err in recollecting that you previously supported sending the non-dodgy there too, I will respond with proportionate contrition.

    Save your sorries this time around. I dont have a problem with off-shore processing of asylum-seekers of whatever credibility. If thats what it takes to arrest the lethal traffic in people-smuggling then thats what should be done.

    I do have a problem with lengthy incarceration of same, especially of children. Justice delayed…etc. But its not enough of a problem to make stifle my last remaining cheer for John Howard.

    The Pacific Solution also includes re-locating marginal cases to alternative jurisdictions, with appropriate compensation. I can’t see this as a humanitarian disaster. It is administrative argy-bargy at worst.

    Calling the Pacific Solution a policy of “concentration camps” brings up notions of Hitler’s gas chambers. If so then Curtin and Menzies were crypto-Nazis. But these camps were designed to do people in, rather than keep them out. I suppose this absurdum is a small price to pay for another item in the Howard demonology catalogue.

    My father was incarcerated in Bonnegilla, a genuine “concentration camp”, run by the Australian Army after war for the processing of Displaced Persons fleeing chaos and tyranny. I understand that it was no bed of roses, much tougher than the Pacific Solution.

    Yet the Australian government’s policies towards aliens in those pre-multicultural days had a good result. “New Australians” fitted in to the community, to the satisfaction of native and adoptives alike. This was according to Australian folk Enlightnenment norms: “have a go” (liberty), “fair go” (egalite) and “mateship” (fraterite). I own that this is still my nightmarish vision of the future.

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