In politics the battle is always to “frame” your opponent. “Framing” is the art of defining who your opponent is and perhaps more importantly what they stand for. Of course the goal for any person or organization is to frame themselves. This does not always happen. Framing is being done in the case of the Tamil refugee claimants who recently arrived on the BC coast.
Recent immigrants to Canada and the United States are being very effectively framed by the immigrants who came to Canada and the United States before them (read that as self-righteous Canadians or Americans who made it to North America sometime before the latest boat load of Tamil refugees arrived on our shore).
Let’s face the facts. Unless you are the member of a First Nations community, you or your family were immigrants to this continent. Perhaps your family has been in Canada for five generations, but at some point your family immigrated to Canada. So perhaps you might consider yourself an immigrant with more seniority.
Back to the framing issue; there are a number of ways that the refugees are being framed. The first is the link to the possible world of “TERRORISM.” The super scary boogeyman of our age; “There might be terrorists on that ship!”
The Tamils are on the losing end of a civil war. As such they are being framed as terrorists. The reality is probably far different. The Tamils, the losing side in the Sri Lankan civil war, are probably being terrorized by the victors and are therefore more likely the victims of terrorism.
The other way that the refugee issue is being framed is that by allowing these people into Canada we are “feeding organizations that profit from human smuggling.” The people that were on the M.V. Sun Sea probably paid ridiculous amounts of money to escape a horrible life. Just like the people who boarded the SS St Louis paid ridiculously to escape Nazi Germany. They had a choice to make and getting out of the country as quickly as possible was the choice they made. In times of crisis you make the deal that will save you and your family.
The final, and perhaps most disgusting way that the refugees are being framed is that “they might have diseases, like AIDS!” Disgusting words from disgusting people. News flash people; people in Canada have diseases too. And we travel all over the world spreading our disease and bringing home other diseases. It is okay for Canadians to travel to far-flung places and look on with wonder at the devastation that people are living in and be exposed to who-knows-what, and then return home. But we have to incarcerate these refugees, people who are simply trying to make a better life for them and their families?
I will say it again; remember the Komagata Maru and the SS St Louis when you are judging these people. Let’s not make the same mistake again.