It's so rare to get a chance to talk things through with open borders people that I took the opportunity to engage them in a discussion. There were two women, an older, very warm-hearted Anglo woman and a younger, well-spoken Persian woman from Iran.
I told them that I opposed the current refugee system because it took people from very different ethnicities and put them all together in Australian cities which would make it impossible for any group to keep their own tradition and culture going. There would be a melting pot in which no particular culture would survive. A better alternative would be for the wealthier nations to contribute to a fund which would be used to settle refugees in whatever country was closest both ethnically and in living standards to the country the refugees were coming from.
The Anglo woman was receptive to these arguments. She told me she had noticed that the Somalis she worked with in Melbourne seemed to be culturally dislocated here. But the Persian woman disagreed. She said she had no problem with all the cultures and peoples of the world merging together. I asked her if she really had no problem with people living only as individuals rather than belonging to a particular culture and people and she replied that it would be OK as long as everyone obeyed the law.
Now, that's an easier position to take if you belong to an ethnic group, like the Iranian Persians, which is growing quickly rather than facing decline. If you're in this position, the idea of losing your own tradition won't seem as real.
But here's another problem with the position taken by the Persian woman. At the same time that she was making these arguments to me she was distributing a pamphlet called "No place like homelands". It was about the importance of Aborigines having their own homelands in which they could retain their own traditions and culture rather than having to assimilate into the mainstream.
Here are some quotes from the pamphlet:
"Living on homelands allows Aboriginal people to ... raise their families within their traditional culture ... Having a strong connection to culture, family and land allow Aboriginal Peoples to have more control over the lives... language and culture can be passed down to future generations."
The pamphlet also quotes an Aboriginal woman who complains that without a homeland Aborigines will "lose our identity".
So Amnesty wants different things for white Australians and Aboriginal Australians. Aborigines need a homeland, an identity and a traditional culture. But, according to Amnesty, white Australians don't need the same things. Apparently we are so different we can just accept life in a melting pot of different cultures, rather than preserving one of our own.