One Rule for the West, Another for the Rest

Exetera’s Ruby Holley responds to reactions of the presidential election results. Amidst the ‘I’m moving to Canada’ commentary, Ruby questions western attitudes towards citizenship bidding.

Following the election of Donald Trump as the United States President, the future feels uncertain for many American citizens. Some commentators have remarked Americans have “out-dumbed” the British’s decision to leave the EU, by electing a President with a dubious history and a terrifying future.

It is certainly credible to draw a parallel between the two events. Outcomes of increased xenophobia set to a world backdrop that is petrified of terrorism. A further parallel between the two events is the overwhelming response from the public.

As a result of Brexit, many claimed that they would seek Irish nationality. Although for some it may be just a joke or a flippant political comment, applications for both Irish citizenship and passports have rocketed since. More than 37,000 people in the UK and Northern Ireland applied for Irish passports in the three months following the 23rd of June – this is 83% more than the same months last year. Evidently, many felt it necessary to seek nationality in a different country, in order to “escape” the current political situation.

A strikingly similar phenomenon occurred following today’s result. During the night, as the state’s results slowly rolled in, the Canadian Immigration website crashed as Trump’s victory reared as a real possibility. The sheer number of people trying to access the website may well have led to its crash, and the country’s twitter page addressed this, tweeting about immigration into Canada, detailing what Canada expects immigrants to bring with them into the country. A number of articles have since emerged titled, “How to move to Canada” and “The Ten Best Countries to Move to After American Election Result.” Although the crash of the website may have been a freak coincidence, there is no denying the immense public response suggests relocation as a solution to America’s tense political situation.

It works both ways. Trump supporters from outside America have taken to social media to boast indications of moving to the United States as a result of his victory. Notorious for outspoken and offensive comments, columnist Katie Hopkins tweeted ‘If Donald Trump wins the race to the White House I’m moving to America.’ This was met with plenty of encouragement from many British twitter users excited by the possibility.

I am left with a bitter taste from this joking commentary. The increase in dual nationality applications, the immigration website crash, media uproar and ‘humorous’ tweets have led me to question one thing.

Why it is acceptably amusing when citizens of non third world countries want to ‘flee’ their current country in order to seek ‘refuge’ to a country with a more desired political situation? But it is not equally okay when migrants from war torn countries such as Syria wish to live in a country with a better political situation such as the US or Great Britain?

It seems we are happy to joke about ‘relocating’ citizenship here in the west when our political situations are not favourable, but many find it uncomfortable to discuss citizens of Eastern Europe or the Middle East seeking refugee for escape in these same countries. This is an irony I find hard to stomach.