February 3, 2018 | Shooting of immigrants in Italy

The UN High Commission for Refugees estimates there are currently over 70 MILLION people who have been forced to flee their homes: anti-immigrant/refugee backlash is growing as well.

WHERE ARE YOU? By that I don’t mean where you live now or where you were born (at least not necessarily). No, what I am getting at is where does your family originate? And by that I mean if you go back as far as you can where do your ‘people’ hail from?

If you live, like me, in Canada, there is a very good chance that if you peel as few as one or two layers you will find that you are not ‘Canadian’. Your parents, or grandparents, or great grandparents, settled here from somewhere else. The fact that you now consider yourself Canadian – and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that (quite the contrary actually!) – is not at issue. But we all come from another land.

I grew up in 1960s London (Ontario) and am classified as the tail end of the post WWII baby boom. My classmates were a dog’s breakfast of second generation Canucks: Italians, Portuguese, Polish, Dutch, the list goes on and on (for the record I am third generation: my grandparents emigrated here from Poland and Ukraine around WWI).

None of this mattered at the time. I do not recall any significant racism directed at my friends and their families. We were all just ‘Canadian’.

That is changing fast.

In the wake of the Arab Spring and other international crises the numbers of people from a long list of countries in many continents (Africa, Asia, South America) are rising significantly. These people are fleeing civil war, dictatorships, climate disasters, socioeconomic inequality and other less than ideal situations to make a new life in the so-called ‘First World’ (i.e. the West). And the welcome mat that used to be laid at their feet has been yanked away.

In a lot of Western nations groups have arisen that dislike immigration. These individuals see immigrants (and refugees) as criminals or terrorists – all undesirable. And they are putting pressure on their governments to slam the door. We even have a US President who has undone centuries of America as a haven for the poor and needy (“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free..” – the words on the Statue of Liberty) by implementing immigration ban after immigration ban.

Anti-immigrant forces trot out wacky ideas like ‘replacement’ theory – the notion that ‘true’ ______ (Americans, Canadians, Europeans, whatever) are being swamped by these dirty immigrants. Harassment and racist discrimination against these sectors are rampant.

On occasion the hate turns to violence and death.

Shooting of immigrants in Italy

On this day two years ago, Luca Traini shot and wounded six black immigrants in the city of Macerata (none died thank god). He had targeted black migrants as he drove around the town, eventually hitting nationals from Ghana, Mali and Nigeria, before abandoning his car and making a fascist salute.

Later that year he was given a twelve-year sentence for his acts, despite having apologised for his actions. It should be noted that Traini did not appear in a vacuum: he was a failed candidate for the Northern League, a virulently anti-immigrant political party in Italy. Interestingly, the March 2019 Christchurch (New Zealand) mosque shooter had inscribed Traini’s name on one of his guns.

There is little sign that this hate-filled animosity will dissipate soon. Immigration is seen as a negative, not a positive in many countries. This is indeed unfortunate as immigration has long been shown to constitute a net benefit (social, economic, cultural) for receiving nations. States absolutely have the right to decide whom to accept for a variety of reasons, including security, but locking the doors is a dumb idea.

If you disagree with me ask yourself a simple question: where exactly do you come from?

February 2, 2006 | Anti-Christian massacre in Philippines

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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