Migrant Do My Dishes!

by Rob Wipond, August 16, 2010.

The problem isn't any one story--it's all of them together.

A lot of the coverage of the ship of immigrants from Sri Lanka has been predictably prejudiced and inflammatory. But one of the more rational stories I saw appeared on CBC TV--one expert noted that these 490 immigrants represent less than just an average week in Canada's normal refugee processing activities. Which made me wonder, so then, what is it that is driving news editors to think this situation is worthy of such extensive, constant coverage? Because these refugees arrived on a boat instead of a plane? Because they came in one day instead of over several days? Because the initial point of landing was Victoria instead of Vancouver?

And it also makes me wonder, what's the cumulative emotional impact over the past week of seeing 3-4 pages regularly in the local daily and untold minutes on all local broadcast stations covering these particular immigrants?

The fact is, I realized, even if all the stories were affectionate and caring in tone, the cumulative impact on most people's feelings about the situation is almost entirely negative. After all, it's not unlike a spouse who constantly reminds you about the recently washed clothes you have yet to hang up in the closet. "I know it's not a huge deal, and I don't mean to criticize, or sound pushy, sweetie, but I notice your clothes haven't been put away." Five minutes later: "I still love you, dear, of course, but have you noticed that pile of clothes in the bin? Doesn't it make you think about our responsibilities to behave rightly around the house?" Five minutes later: "Hey, I'm not trying to start a fight or sound like I have an axe to grind with your attitude, honey; I'm just fairly and objectively pointing out that those clothes still haven't been hung up in the closet." And this 'fair and balanced' reporting on the state of the bin of clothes continues every five minutes all night ad nauseum... Sure, there's nothing deliberately hateful in any of those words, but is that the kind of home anyone would feel comfortable in, except maybe a self-righteous nag?