November 12, 2018

In light of the attacks on Paris and Beirut, there has been a lot of talk about refugees, and people who are against allowing them to emigrate from the countries they’re living in. People have been fuming about refugees on social media, writing posts blaming them for the attacks and expressing the opinion that they don’t want to allow them into their countries.

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“… close borders, return so-called refugees. Process and return those allowed in so far, none deserve a better life in Europe,” read one tweet by @artronpumps.

Another tweet compared allowing refugees in from “the land that just bombed us” to drinking water poisoned with acid.

The question I’ve been asking myself is, why are people blaming the refugees of these countries for the actions of the extremist groups that they’re trying to escape from? They are people, just like you and I. Why refuse them? Because of where they’re from? Their religion? The fact that they may ever-so-slightly resemble the extremists who committed these acts? That is racist.
When will society fight back against the racist stereotypes that currently surround the Muslim religion? It starts with refusing refugees. Next, returning them? That didn’t seem to work well for Canada the first time the government targeted a certain ethnic group.

There was a time when Canada tried to force all Asian people out of the country. After the attack on Pearl Harbour in 1941, Japanese people in Canada were ordered to leave their homes for “national security” reasons, even though they posed no military threat. The government became completely discriminatory – Asian people were denied the right to vote, they were paid less, etc.

According to thecanadianencyclopedia.ca, “In 1942, 20,881 men, women and children of Japanese ancestry, 75 per cent of whom were Canadian citizens, were removed from their homes, farms and businesses. More than 8,000 were moved through a temporary detention centre at Hastings Park in Vancouver, where the women and children were accommodated in the livestock building.”

They were shipped to camps and sugar beet farms throughout Canada, and those who resisted were shipped to prisoner-of-war camps in Ontario. The government sold their homes and property without their consent. They had nothing.

For what? Being Japanese.

Looking back, compared to what our country has come to be today, that may seem hard to believe. It seems preposterous to think that Canada, as a country, would do something like that. And although the Japanese people of Canada had no ties to the attack, other than their race, society blamed them.

They say the past predicts the future, and if that’s true, you’ll see why we have to react differently this time. We cannot continue down the path we’re on, blaming the Muslim religion or all of the people who follow it for terrorist attacks. We cannot allow history to repeat itself.

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