Are refugees from 'Obamanation' heading downunder?
In the aftermath of last week's presidential election, some Republicans are also fantasising about making new lives in New Zealand. As I noted last week, many right-wing Americans were confident that Mitt Romney would thrash Barack Obama, despite a long series of opinion polls which suggested that the Democrats' man was on track win four more years in the White House. Now that Romney has gone down to defeat, the mood on many Republican blogs and messageboards has turned apocalyptic. A few bloggers have claimed, on the scantiest evidence, that Obama 'stole' the election through ballot-stuffing or some more high-tech form of trickery; others have blamed the result on demographic changes with have made 'takers' like African Americans, Hispanics, and young people into a majority of the population, and rendered the 'makers' who support the Republican Party powerless.
Islamo-communist who is well on his way to destroying America. Warning of the sharia law, nationalisation of all property, and slaughter of whites which are coming, many right-wingers have talked of fleeing the 'Obamanation' that their beloved homeland homeland has become for some remote arcadia.
Although it was produced before the election, an article at a site called Activist Post about the five best sanctuaries for refugees from America has been circulated widely over the last week by distraught Republicans. Activist Post ranks New Zealand as the world's third most desirable bolthole, after Uruguay and Costa Rica but before Argentina and Iceland. According to the Post, New Zealand 'might be the most isolated fully developed nation in the world', and boasts both 'friendly people' and 'many remote places to hide away'.
If angry Republicans do head our way, they won't be the first group of American refugees to seek sanctuary in the Pacific. When the Civil War ended with the liberation of slaves and the break-up of many big plantations in 1865, diehard Confederates tried to recreate their old lifestyle in other parts of the world. Thousands of Dixielanders tried to gouge colonies out of Mexico and Brazil, but others headed for the South Pacific, and began growing crops like sugar, cotton, and coffee in places like Fiji and Queensland.
In his fascinating but depressing book called The White Pacific, the African American scholar Gerald Horne shows how the Confederates brought their old racial attitudes with them when they fled to the Pacific. In Fiji, they put locals to work as virtual slaves on their plantations, and formed a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan to destabilise the government of the indigenous King Cakobau. The Klan's violent rhetoric and actions won it wide support from Fiji's white community, until Cakobau decided in 1873 to accept British sovereignty rather than risk Confederate hegemony.
Kendrick Smithyman remembered a couple of old men from opposite sides of the war who saw out their days at the retirement home his parents managed in the small Northland town of Te Kopuru. Whenever the two veterans ran into each other in the hall they would shout ancient insults and begin fencing with their canes.
In the twentieth century American refugees to the South Pacific tended to espouse left-wing rather than conservative politics. Back in 2008 I blogged about Robert Ford, the Spanish Civil War veteran and nephew of the famous film-maker John Ford who came here in the fifties to escape Joseph McCarthy's anti-reds crusade. In the sixties other Americans preferred a few years in New Zealand to a tour of Vietnam.
In its coverage of America's election, the Guardian found the time to mention the many Republicans talking about resettling in New Zealand. Britain's favourite liberal newspaper quoted a Kiwi tweeter called Ali Ikram, who doubted whether Republicans would feel at home downunder:
4 Republicans moving 2 New Zealand here Romney is a sheep breed, we haven't had a revolution yet & The White House is a strip bar
I can think of a few additional reasons why refugees from 'Obamanation' who wash up in New Zealand may be disappointed with their new home. Our healthcare system is considerably more statist than anything envisaged by Obama, our gun laws are relatively strict, our political representatives do not, with the exception of John Banks, take the Book of Genesis literally, and our premier summer game is, let's face it, a lot slower and more complicated than baseball. Perhaps those would-be refugees should think their decision over for four years or so?
[Posted by Maps/Scott]