A Brave Woman in Washington
The British Home Secretary points out the core problem about mass-migration in her latest speech.
The straight-shooting British Home Secretary Suella Braverman has caused another controversy: this time with a speech in Washington, D.C., during which she declared that the multiculturalism of British cities has failed and that we should tackle the root causes of mass migration. Otherwise, it will destroy Western civilization as we know it. Braverman is often the cause of heartburn among the liberal sophisticates. This time wasn’t any different.
One of the most midwit rebuttals was what Times columnist Hugo Rifkind (son of Sir Malcolm Rifkind) wrote over twitter: Braverman, an Indian child of the Empire in Africa, married to a Jewish man, currently a Home Secretary of a former great power—all that to say, the walking, talking exemplar of multiculturalism—is bafflingly opposed to it. It is an absurd argument on its face, even if one ignores the latent assumption that Braverman, due to her skin color, is supposed to toe the liberal-internationalist line. Rifkind cannot seem to comprehend that someone who is in fact an Indian child of the Empire from Africa has assimilated enough to see the danger of turning Britain to the place that her family had fled. If a British Indian whose family suffered due to the collapse of imperial order and return of ethnocentric tribalism in Africa doesn’t want Britain to look or feel like either India or Africa, that is actually a very understandable position. Opposing that is pure intra-elite virtue signaling. And it is poisonous in the long term.
Braverman’s speech is worth reading in full, but an interesting point stood out—one that is often unstated, but is the crux of the problem.
“It is therefore incumbent upon politicians and thought leaders to ask whether the Refugee Convention, and the way it has come to be interpreted through our courts, is fit for our modern age or in need of reform,” Braverman said about the 1951 Refugee Convention designed by America and a near peer British Empire, from the smouldering ashes of a Nazi hegemony in Europe, to protect not just decent people and genuine refugees from future genocide, but also to be a rhetorical cudgel and geopolitical tool, opportunistically usable against the growing Soviet threat.
“Article 1 of the Convention defines that the term ‘refugee’ as applying to those who, ‘owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion’ cannot safely reside in the country of their nationality. Elsewhere the Convention speaks of ‘life or freedom’ being threatened,” Braverman says, adding that would logically mean that around a billion people are eligible to relocate to a country of their choice on just some vague pretext of persecution.
“In these instances, most are simply economic migrants, gaming the asylum system to their advantage,” she continued. “In Europe we’ve added through the European Convention on Human Rights additional human rights laws. The global asylum framework is a promissory note that the West cannot fulfil.”
Braverman concludes, “We will not be able to sustain an asylum system if in effect, simply being gay, or a woman, and fearful of discrimination in your country of origin, is sufficient to qualify for protection.”
Here it is: the original sin of geopolitics. The human rights regime, designed at a radically different time for a radically different order in a system which had radically different values, is unsuitable for our age.
Put plainly, simply feeling persecuted isn’t the same as being actively persecuted. Further, even persecuted people don’t get to choose where they want to go, given that there are other safe countries outside of Western Europe, Britain, and the U.S. for them to go. Finally, “having dreams of a better future” or “being gay” isn’t enough to claim asylum.
But the West, especially the Anglosphere, is unable to stem the tide, and the answer lies in the structure designed by them at an earlier age. The mass looting in Philadelphia and other American cities, the post-2020 violence and disorder, as well as the migrants storming American borders and European beaches, are all links in a single causal chain: Our post-religious worship of “human rights,” the new theology for the prophets of humanism and liberal internationalism, and a vague series of rights often ascribed to those who unironically do not show any signs of civilized humanity in their conduct. Our elite’s worship at the altar of human rights has managed to push the state towards a greater ethical failure—the failure to provide order for those who entrust them with enforcement of civility and law.
A giant mass of Ethiopian migrants tried to forcibly enter Saudi Arabia and found out that not every state, even in 2023, believes in universal human rights. Some states get away with that.
The fact is that forces in the Anglosphere operationally can stop this mass-migration, or restore order in cities and borders. They are not allowed to, because of the various Europe- and America-wide “human rights” legislations and the NGOs taking advantage of them. It is an unequal settlement, where we are chained to the ghosts of the past. Nothing is going to change unless the “human rights” regime collapses.
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That is of course, doable but difficult, as Braverman understands and explains.
So why has the international community, so far, collectively failed to explore any serious reform of the global asylum framework? I think there are two main reasons. The first is simply that it is very hard to renegotiate these instruments. If you think getting 27 EU member states to agree is difficult, try getting agreement at the UN. The second is much more cynical. The fear of being branded a racist or illiberal. Any attempt to reform the refugee convention will see you smeared as anti-refugee.
If we need permanent pre-1945 type solutions to the questions about the use of force in extremis, the post-1945 legal and theoretical framework needs to be gutted; improvement will not come through attempting to reform institutions. It must be done unilaterally. The use of force to solve the questions about using force might seem circular, but it is often the only way to cut the Gordian knot.