By MIA FREEDMAN
I want to stop the boats. But not for the same reasons as so many of the people and politicians I hear chanting that loathsome slogan.
I want to stop them because I want asylum seekers to be safe. I don’t want them to risk their lives on leaky boats and endure unimaginable hardship, terror and all too often, death.
I’m struggling with this though because for so many years now, the phrase ‘stop the boats’ – coined so effectively by the Coalition – has been used not as an argument for compassion but as the war cry of intolerance. Of hatred. Of bigotry.
Thanks to the way asylum seekers have been painted as rorters and fakers and terrorists and queue-jumpers, the Australians demanding we ‘stop the boats’ have been predominantly driven by fear, by ignorance.
I think I’m fairly typical of another type of Australian who believes we’ve boundless plains to share. While nobody is suggesting we open our borders unilaterally, Australia certainly has the capacity to accept more people
I know seeking asylum is not as simple as ‘joining a queue’ (that other phrase so beloved of the stop-the-boat crowd) because we’re talking about people in desperate circumstances; not boarding a Qantas flight.
In many many countries there is no queue. There may not even be any camps.
I know that I would do anything for my family and that includes taking great risks if that’s what it took to keep them safe and give them a chance at the kind of life we all take for granted.