Australia may soon be welcoming a lot of new neighbors: white South African farmers.
The African National Congress Party in South Africa has proposed a constitutional amendment to take white-owned farms and “redistribute” them to black citizens, without compensating the landowners. Thousands of white South Africans could find themselves looking for new homes and jobs.
Peter Dutton oversees immigration as Australia’s Home Affairs minister.
He says Australia should grant emergency visas to white farmers from South Africa that would allow them to resettle in Australia on humanitarian grounds. He took some heat in Australia and South Africa for saying white farmers needed protection in a “civilized country.”
A spokesman for South Africa’s foreign ministry called Dutton’s remarks “regrettable,” adding, “There is no reason for any government anywhere in the world to suspect that any South African is in danger from their own democratically elected government. That threat simply does not exist.”
Whenever a government denies something like that, doesn’t it mean there absolutely is a threat?
As in many parts of the world, immigration is a hot-button topic in Australia. Thousands of immigrants, mostly Muslims from the Middle East and Southeast Asia, are being held in “offshore detention facilities” because of an Australian policy that denies asylum seekers who reach Australia by boat. And people think current U.S. immigration policy is harsh.
Dutton is accused of using race as a political tool because he supports the offshore detention facilities, and because he recently blamed rising crime in Melbourne on African immigrant gangs.
In an interview with Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, Dutton said, “We want people who want to come here, abide by our laws, integrate into our society, work hard, and not lead a life on welfare.”
South Africa seems determined to try to correct decades of injustice with more injustice, and create a new homeless class of white farmers. So, what’s wrong with Australia rolling out the welcome mat for those outcasts? Apparently, plenty.
For all the world’s progress, it never ceases to amaze me how much we’re still hung up on race.
GULSHAN KHAN/AFP/Getty Images