Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Ethical Dilemma (2)

Please re-read the introduction to the previous post, Ethical Dilemma (1), so you know what this one is all about.

The Dilemma: The Case of the Lying Refugee
A young woman, in another part of the world, faces an arranged marriage to
a man she hardly knows and does not wish to marry. She therefore
secretly leaves home to seek asylum on another continent. Fearing that
her family might trace her whereabouts and arrange for her repatriation,
she gives a false name and age in her application for citizenship in the
host country. When found out, should she be denied citizenship in her
chosen country of refuge?


Western culture tends to condemn arranged marriages. In addition, we are familiar with this case and she is upheld as an international hero and writer. Hence, most of us might almost naturally approve of her refugee application and discount her lies. My worldview takes the following into consideration and leads to the following decisions:

• The Bible does not condemn arranged marriages. A case might be made that the Bible would prefer such arrangements to those of the West, where marriage occurs in an extremely individualistic framework and breaks down much more frequently than in cultures where it is arranged.
• This person had a very rebellious attitude about her that did not tolerate the restrictions of her native culture. It was not a matter of religious or political persecution that endangered her life. Such a person might make a good immigrant, but refugee provisions are not meant to cover her circumstances. So here we have a person taking up refugee resources of time and money that should have been applied to genuine refugees.
• Since her entire refugee case is a bogus one, I would not accept her as a refugee. I would recommend she be deported to her native country and apply for immigration. I would insist on deportation to discourage others from making bogus application. I would advise her that, if she wants to come to this country, The Netherlands (NL), she apply from her home country as an immigrant. She might return to NL under bond to pay expenses NL incurred from her bogus refugee claim.
• Alternatively, in this particular case, while awaiting lengthy refugee proceedings, suppose her life style, ambitions and considerable ability had become clear. She demonstrated that she would be a valuable citizen. Hence, her case could be transferred to the immigration dept and treated there within NL. However, to qualify as an immigrant, she should be bonded to repay the expenses incurred in processing her bogus application.
• I will tolerate “lies” from genuine refugees whose lives are endangered at home for religious or political reasons. Here compassion would kick in as well as my conception of truth vs lie. I am a product of WW II, where people saved each other’s lives by so-called “white lies.” Such “lies” are used worldwide. I do not consider them lies but a life-saving device to be used in dangerous circumstances. The case of the KGB Russian in Vancouver who told the truth about himself, should teach us that truth is not always appreciated in the halls of refugee administration. In the murky circumstances of refugee culture the “white lie” is standard and needs our sympathy but not our unqualified approval or affirmation. It should be considered allowable in selected cases. That would not be the case in our example.

Neither life nor reason nor the Bible are always all black or white! The refugee in question, after being accepted as refugee and citizen, ended up chastizing her new country for being too tolerant of refugees!

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