What if boat people were white?

Forget racism.


This has got nothing to do with the colour of people’s skin. I am sick of talking about racism.  Let’s talk about gardening.  No one gets angry about gardening.

Let’s talk about spades.

Imagine a lot of white people holding spades. Millions of them. They are driven away by other people holding guns. Some kind of super-sized Zimbabwe. Desperate families trying to escape a war zone. White mothers trying to save their white kids from being killed. White fathers wanting to escape to a better life.

If boat people were white people, we’d still lock them up. Right?

I am being divisive. Our refugee policy has got nothing to do with race. I am accusing the government of racism. I am indulging in reverse racism. Our refugee policy is supported by people from all backgrounds. No one should be labelled a racist for doing their job.

If boat people had long blonde hair, we’d still lock them up. Right?

I am being provocative. I am advocating open borders. A flood of refugees will enter our country. Our way of life will be destroyed. People will die. Our current policy is saving lives. We have to be tough to be kind. We are already being kind.

If boat people had gorgeous blue eyes, we’d still lock them up. Right?

I am playing the race card. I am introducing race into a debate that is really about law and politics and economics. This is not about the colour of refugees’ skin. Boat people are illegal. The law applies to all, regardless of religion, race or country of origin.

If boat people were white and Christian, we’d still lock them up. Right?

I am being emotional. My arguments are thin, I am dealing in hyperbole. The law is there for a reason. We must deter people from making dangerous journeys to enter our country illegally. We have the right to decide who comes into this country. We have a right to enforce our laws.

We really should talk about gardening. No one gets angry about gardening.

Imagine white men and women sewing up their lips. Blonde teenagers searching for sheets and rope. Pretty blue-eyed kids staring out from behind wire fences. Lots of would-be Australians who look exactly like most other lucky-to-born-here Australians.

I am stirring the pot. The law is the law. I am encouraging people to play the victim. I am over-simplifying. I have an agenda. I am playing the race card. People are always playing the race card.

If boat people were white people, we’d still lock them up. Right.

This is just my point of view. I am an armchair critic. This just another opinion piece that will never make any difference. I am not making a difference. You are not making a difference.

Let’s talk about something else. Let’s talk about gardening.

A spade is a spade is a spade. You and I are both holding a spade and we are all digging this hole together. Let’s just not call it a spade, or a hole. Let’s not have the courage to call it anything.

Let’s just keep digging.

Shourov Bhattacharya is a technologist, writer and singer-composer with The Bombay Royale.

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