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On making refugees work for us

ImmigrantTwo recent comments summarise the problem with responding to Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton’s base level Powellian dog-whistling racism with pictures of successful refugees.

Somayra Ismailjee‘s Engaging with Dutton’s Rhetoric is a Slippery Slope.

Somayra Ismailjee 19 May 2016
Somayra Ismailjee 19 May 2016

And this from Rise Refugee

RISE Refugee 20 May 2016
RISE Refugee 20 May 2016

This now happening in Australia reminds of the serious critiques of the I am an Immigrant campaign in the UK in 2015. Gurminder Bhambra, for example, wrote, “I am not an immigrant even if I may be treated as one. My family have held British passports for at least four generations, usually through no choice of their own. I am not now saying that my right to be here has to be justified on the basis of what I contribute to this society. I am here because you were there. Period. This is the basis on which I stake my claim & I defy your attempts to make me. justify my presence.”

It resonates in many places it seems, for example in this post by the brilliant Engbert Alejandro Martina I just came across.

From 'Playing the Numbers Game' by Englbert Alejandro Martina
From ‘Playing the Numbers Game’ by Englbert Alejandro Martina

And seems like I said something about ‘I Came By Boat’ in December 2015:

Screen Shot 2016-05-20 at 16.14.14But actually in hindsight I’d be less critical of these campaigns, often run by people of migrant origin, than of ‘well-meaning’ liberal and ‘left’ journalists who trot out success stories and economically-focused arguments for supporting the rights of asylum seekers that miss the antiracist point made by RISE and Somayra Ismailjee. More on that when I have the energy but here’s a taste of the problem:

From 'Ghosts at the Borders' by Jeff Sparrow, 19 May 2016.
From ‘Ghosts at the Borders’ by Jeff Sparrow, 19 May 2016.


Alana Lentin