It All Seems Perfect From the Outside

In The Art of Travel, 4. Politics, Sydney by Sim Tumay1 Comment

Growing up, I would’ve never imagined that any place in the world could be as politically corrupt and unjust as the United States of America. However, upon arrival in Sydney, I was surprised to learn more about the political and foreign policies that are prevalent in this distant country. Two issues that are particularly corrupt in Australia is the immigration issues and the issues regarding race and equality. Initially, it was extremely striking to learn about these foreign problems that I was never aware of in the United States. Then I realized that every country has their own flaws and corrupt issues; however, they keep to themselves and manipulate the propaganda to their best interest. Everything seems so perfect from the outside and you can’t truly become exposed to the reality of a nation until you fully immerse yourself in the culture and surroundings.

The issue of immigration that is prevalent in Australia was quite horrifying to learn about. Last summer, I had the opportunity to intern at an Immigration Law Firm in Florida in which I was exposed to all of the immigration laws in the US. I learned about the injustices that most immigrants were treated with and how the law often times dehumanized them. The immigration laws and policies in the United States were quite disturbing to learn about and be exposed too. When I first became aware of these unjust policies I thought that the US was the only unsympathetic nation that turned their backs on innocent immigrants who were begging for asylum. However, I soon found out that Australia has even worse immigration policies and treats the incoming refugees as if they are criminals.

From the outside, Australia seems as if it is a multicultural country that embraces and celebrates its widespread diversity. However, in my classes I learned that the government officials and politicians are trying to change this multicultural structure that is prevalent amongst the country. There are now strict laws that are being enforced regarding immigrants who are arriving by boat to seek asylum. These individuals who are traveling to Australia in hopes of a better life, are facing life-threatening situations back in their hometowns. It is truly devastating for me to learn about the harsh treatment that these refugees were being faced with because they were extremely vulnerable and desperate upon arrival. Instead of Australia welcoming these individuals with sympathy, these poor refugees get locked up in modern day “concentration camps” on bordering islands. They then have to live in these institutions with terrible conditions and illnesses. These refugees are dehumanized and are treated like criminals just because they needed help.

Another issue that particularly surprised me was the fact that several members of the Australian parliament and government are racist. I recently learned about the old “White Australia” policy in which immigrants and members of various other races were looked down upon and treated as less than human due to the color of their skin or their ethnicity. Although this policy was abolished, it is still prevalent in certain situations.

Today, certain radical members of the Australian parliament are racist against members of the Islamic community. These racist members of authority are trying to ban any Muslims from entering the country unless they have had a substantial amount of education and have a valid reason for entering the country. This is very similar to the travel ban that President Trump on the United States is trying to enforce. This just proves that these issues are prevalent all over the world; however, you only become aware of them once you experience them within a certain culture. For my media class, we went on a field trip to ABC studios to watch a political debate talk show on national Australian television being broadcasted. This show was called Q&A and it consists of politicians from opposing views and opposing sides engaging in discussions regarding topics of race, equality, etc. One particular issue that I found surprising was that the issue of same sex marriage and racism towards Muslims were continuously being brought up. This also reminded me a lot of the political debates that we watch on TV back in America.

Overall, I have come to the realization that every country has their own political issues and corruptions deep within its government. However, the only way to truly be exposed to these issues is to spend a significant amount of time in a country and to fully emerge yourself in a new culture. The one hopeful thing that I have learned amongst all these corruptions is that a majority of individuals in Australia are standing up for what they believe in. A majority of the members amongst the younger generations are raising their voices by protesting on social media just as many citizens of the United States do in order to make a difference in the world.

(Image: Protest Australia; Source: https://maas.museum/magazine/2016/02/is-there-a-right-to-protest-in-australia/)

Comments

  1. Hey Sim, thanks for the post! The anger I’ve encountered among Australians towards immigrants has been very surprising. Specifically, it seems like the Chinese middle class purchasing tons of housing in major cities is a major issue. People feel like they’re being priced out of their own towns, and the racial response is real. As you mention in your post, Nauru and Manus are crazy to consider in the modern age: prison islands, where many people are stuck for years!

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