Saturday, July 23, 2016

Film: Continuous Journey by Ali Kazimi

I first heard about Continuous Journey by Ali Kazimi on Democracy Now!.

The movie is a wonderful introduction to immigration and white supremacy in the settler-colonialist societies of the Americas. You can stream it from Vimeo.

Of particular interest for us today is the amicable relations between Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus in Vancouver. The majority of Indians in Vancouver and on the Komagata Maru were Sikhs, but there were Muslims and Hindus as well. The solidarity was heartening.

I had also never heard of the Ghadar revolutionary group, which sought to boot the British out of India. The Indian authorities, upon the migrants' return to India, sought to send the migrants to their villages of origin because they feared the migrants would use their experience to agitate for revolt against the British Empire. When the migrants resisted, many were killed.

Another critical point in the movie for me was a description of the court case which resulted in denial of entrance to the Indian migrants. The representative of the Canadian government used Canada's treatment of the aboriginal inhabitants of North America to refute the plaintiff's claim that British law forbade racial discrimination. The original sin of ethnic cleansing of the First Peoples is fundamental to the history of the Americas.

I'm considering using this film as part of a public outreach campaign to shift attitudes in Augusta, Georgia towards immigrants. The powerful, subliminal message is "When you hear how stupid Canadian white supremacists sound 100 years on, why don't we spare our descendants the shame of listening to our stupidity and eliminate our biases today?" I've always been a believer in the Arabic proverb:

اللبيب من الإشارة يفهم 

A person of intellect understands a hint.

But perhaps the people who are denying asylum to teenagers fleeing violence in Central America and who want to deny rights to people who clean their offices and pick their vegetables aren't people of intellect.

Ali has also written a book entitled Undesirables: White Canada and the Komagata Maru.

Continuous Journey from Cinema Politica on Vimeo.

Yvonne Gall and the Canadian Broadcasting Company has also produced an audio documentary of the incident.

Other resources which may be worth reviewing are White Canada Forever: Popular Attitudes and Public Policy Toward Orientals in British Columbia by Peter Ward and The Voyage of the Komagata Maru: The Sikh Challenge to Canada's Colour Bar by Hugh J. M. Johnston. Professor Johnston appears in Continuous Journey in interviews.

Lyrics to the popular Canadian beer hall song "White Canada Forever" from the early 20th century CE:

This the voice of the West and it speaks to the world: 
The rights that our fathers have given 
We'll hold by right and maintain by might, 
Till the foe is backward driven. 
We welcome as brothers all white men still, 
But the shifty yellow race, 
Whose word is vain, who oppress the weak, 
Must find another place. 

Then let us stand united all 

And show our father's might, 

That won the home we call our own, 

For white man's land we fight. 

To oriental grasp and greed 

We'll surrender, no never. 

Our watchword be 'God save the King' 
Here's the court case which decided the fate of the migrants on the Komagata Maru.