Vancouver Courier

September 19, 1999

As rust-buckets from China continue to arrive, the “how-dare-we-think-of-turning-them-back” carping that infests certain local and national newspaper columns becomes more sanctimonious and noisome.

Perhaps we should all try a bit of perspective.

First, these boat people are not bona fide refugees. Fujian province has not recently endured a war, famine or natural disaster to justify the exodus of hundreds—perhaps thousands—of its people to Canada or any other foreign country. The term “refugees” is a misnomer. More accurate is “willing indentured slaves” or “refugees of convenience.” The following excerpt from Tuesday’s Globe and Mail shows what I mean:

“Most Chinese who agree to risk being smuggled into North America pay a little money up front to the snakeheads, then work off their debt once they arrive. Their traditional target has been New York City, although some speculate that an increasing number are ending up in Toronto.

“If they are caught making an illegal entry into Canada, the practice has been for the migrants to declare refugee status, then quickly disappear once they are released to await their hearing. Last year, more than 75 percent of all Chinese refugee claims were abandoned because of no-shows.”

It’s only natural that snakeheads would exploit Canada’s farcically generous refugee policy. The easiest way to funnel illegal cargo—human or otherwise—into the United States is across the 49th Parallel.

Second, unlike legitimate refugee claimants, who apply from outside Canada, these boat people wash up on our shores, presenting us with an emotionally manipulative fait accompli. If we process their bogus refugee claims, we tacitly validate the intent of the smuggling. However, to send these people back after the ordeal they went through sounds unspeakably hard-hearted. We’re damned if we let them stay, and damned if we don’t.

Canada must act decisively, before this sad situation gets out of control. The navy should be sent out to interdict the rust-buckets before they reach shore; the captain and snakeheads arrested; and all boat people held for return to Fujian, which is rapidly being depopulated.

According to a BCTV report, some towns are devoid of all men. An estimated 600 leave every month for a better life somewhere else, often New York, and send money home. These towns are nicknamed “Australiatown” and “Americatown” after the countries where they went.

Does Canada really want to help destroy Fujianese families by helping male breadwinners sell themselves into slavery, just so they can send money to families they’ll likely never see again? Snakeheads tell the slaves they’ll each be able to work off the US$30,000 debt in three years. I’ll let you think about what that really means.

This sordid mess is sickening enough, but the moralistic caterwauling from the compassion fascists is maddening. These people don’t see the rust-bucket flotilla as a crime to be stopped; they just see pathetic Third World people, and anyone who suggests that Canada shouldn’t give them every financial and moral assistance is racist.

However, in all the criticism I’ve heard and read about the boat people, nobody has singled out the boat people for their ethnicity. Most British Columbians are simply incensed that people can come to this country illegally, claim refugee status dishonestly, and receive copious government services.

To rub salt into the wound, the public cost to house, feed, police and process these faux refugees has reached into the millions of dollars, and is only going to grow, because more boatloads are on the way. The compassion fascists speak as if Canada doesn’t have the right to control its own borders.

The knee-jerk “racism reflex,” perhaps the worst byproduct of multiculturalism, is sadly prominent in this case. No fewer than three columnists have suggested that those who object to the boat people show signs of “Yellow Peril” hysteria.

I suggest these people put up or shut up. If they can prove† racial prejudice, fine; otherwise, they should spare us such paroxysms of stupidity. British Columbians have a right to discuss or debate Canada’s refugee policy freely and not have their character impugned.

The same goes for the ill-informed analogy with the Komagata Maru, the ship that sailed from Calcutta via Hong Kong into Vancouver harbour in May 1914 with 376 Punjabis on board. After two months, the passengers were denied permission to land and were sent back to Calcutta, after which 20 died in a shoot out.

These Punjabis, mostly Sikhs, did face racial prejudice; the boat people do not. The Punjabis were attempting to immigrate; the boat people only claim refugee status if caught. Such fine distinctions unfortunately don’t go very far with those whose function it is to milk white liberal guilt for all its worth, and replace reason with sentimentality. Everything for them boils down to race; other considerations can be rationalized away: “It’s only 450 boat people. We’ve got plenty of room. What’s all the rumpus about?”

The rumpus is that trafficking in human misery is a crime, and Canada has been made an accessory. While the rest of us try to solve the problem, compassion fascists can do us all a big favour—shut up!