Sunday, December 17, 2006

Yes, it does work

A lot of people who oppose taking refugees tend to say things like "it's better to help people where they are", "it's better to give development aid to poor countries", "people should fix their own country rather than run away", etc.

Some even say that young Somali men should not be in Finland running away from the war, but should be back home, bearing arms and making Somalia a better place.

For fuck's sake. Isn't Somalia's problem exactly that it is full of young men with guns who are each trying to make it into their or their clan's version of a better place? Mind you, as I have said before, I understand - and totally share - some people's concern that letting them into Finland would lead to at least some of them doing a smaller version of the same in Finland, and fear that they might make Finland a worse place, but the idea that Somalia would become a better place if 1 or 5000 more guys run around there with a gun is rather preposterous.

I am sure all the delelopment aid would have helped Tutsis when they were being murdered by Hutus, the population of Cambodia while it was being murdered by Khmer Rouge or - sorry for the overused example - the German and Polish Jews during the Holocaust. I am sure it helps all the persecuted minorities now. You know, every dollar or euro you send to Iran makes the Baha'i minority so much happier and every cend you sent to Egypt makes someone see the light and stop persecuting Coptic Christians. Yeah, and the heroic warriors of the UN are gonna show up and rescue the people of Darfur real soon now. On white horses, you know, with Santa Claus and Tooth Fairy riding right along.

As for "fixing your own country" - sure thing. Normally said by people whose country is in no need of a major fixing. George-fucking-Bush has been at it (fixing Iraq to his liking) for three and a half years now, and spent quite a lot of money, and you see how well that worked out, and you seriously expect my old coworker Niddam (an Iraqi Christian) to transform Iraq into a fit place for a Christian to live?

Refugees are real, they have real problems that really usually cannot be fixed by giving more money to whatever country they are trying to flee, and they need a real place to live in a real country. We definitely can't take them all, we definitely have a right to put our interests first, and there is definitely no reason to take in the people who are going to cause trouble, no matter how much they need our help, but let's not pretend that the problem does not exist, because it does.

Taking refugees does help. It works for individuals, it works for groups, and if you do it right it works for the receiving country. I've seen it work (and experienced it, too). "Doing it right" involves choosing them well, showing them their place, kicking the working-age ones out to work as soon as possible and kicking the criminal ones out of the country, also as soon as possible.

Some things that follow directly from the fact the refugees are real, numerous, and in need of help:

1. There is many or them, and you can choose. You can choose groups that are less trouble than others, and you can choose individuals that are less trouble than others. If you don't know which groups are more trouble and which ones are less, study the example of other countries. (A hint for the really dense: if a guy has been persecuted in Saudi Arabia for being an Islamic extremist you probably don't want him. If he considers Saudi Arabia a godless secular society, imagine the kind of shock the poor dear will have in Finland. He'll probably drop dead out of pure outrage, or else you'll wish he did.)

2. You can and should expect them to be grateful, at least to the extent of living reasonably law-abiding lives and eventually earning their own upkeep if they are working-age.

3. For every criminal refugee that you choose to keep here there is somebody, somewhere, who needs asylum and is not gonna get it. I understand the argument that the ones already here are our responsibility to a higher extent than the ones who want in - I just happen to think that in this case the benefit of kicking them out outweighs the drawbacks by such a large margin that the argument does not hold. You may also say that the number of the refugees already here does not affect the numbers if the ones that we are going to take in the future, but inevitably it does. The quality does too, even more so. People's willingness to help refugees in general tends to go down when people see refugees committing serious crime and getting to stay in the country afterwards. People think "we'll rescued those guys from their hellhole, and see what we get for it" - and can you blame them?

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