Immigration, Emigration, Migration: Culture, Citizenship, Conflict

Raising Awareness on Immigration, Emigration, and Migration
By Dr. John Strudwick, Head of School

When, in April, I selected the theme for this year's Head of School Symposium - Immigration, Emigration, and Migration: Culture, Citizenship, and Conflict - I didn't realize how the topic would burst onto the international news this summer. I anticipated that it would be an issue raised in the US Presidential debates, but I did not anticipate the speed and severity of the migrant and refugee crisis in Europe. These developments strengthen my hope that the symposium will help the LFA community learn more about the current issues facing the global community and will provide a platform for informed discussion and debate on a fundamentally crucial issue. It is in the hope of sparking discussion that I share my opinion.

As students and faculty are aware, I am a self-proclaimed "global citizen". Yes, I hold a British passport, I would like nothing more than to see England win a second World Cup in my lifetime, and I am a proud resident of the United States, but I fear that the current obsession - especially in the developed world - with nationalism and the rights and the powers of individual nation states is not a feasible philosophy for the future of the world. The rights and lives of all people must be placed above some insular notion of nationalism and moral superiority.

LFA prides itself on being a school that holds to pluralistic beliefs, the idea that although we must recognize and honour differences in race, religion, gender, sexual-orientation, and nationality, we must do so without bias or hierarchy. It is mutual respect and support at its finest. What we are currently witnessing in Europe in particular is a clear violation of that principle. Yes, there are politicians and organisations who are standing up for human rights and imploring European nations to put aside their fear and their animosity towards the refugees, but it is apparent that the underlying voice of the majority of people of the European countires is one that says to the migrants: "We do not want you here".

The current rhetoric being espoused in the US Presidential race as well as the current US policy appears to be similar as so-called "Western, developed, and civilized" nations turn from the crucial problems at hand. Instead of seeking ways to stem the refugee crisis by intervening in areas of the world where specific peoples are persecuted, threatened, and killed, governments embrace isolationism and a doctrine of denial. Instead of championing a pluralistic and empathetic approach to the refugee crisis, leaders endorse claims of job loss, wage reduction, terrorist threat, and cultural anarchy to defend their policies.

Now, it is clear that the issue is a very complicated one and that its solution requires great thought and precise execution to safeguard all involved, but I do hope that the voices of pluralism can win the day because if not, we are facing an era of rising nationalism and intolerance which will not serve any of the local, national, or global communities positively in the future.

*This article was originally published in the September 25, 2015 edition of The Spectator, a student-run newspaper.

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