Citizens of Nowhere

The Leader walks to the podium from the side of the stage as the audience applaud her arrival. She is regarded as the ‘Nanny of the Nation’ in some circles, sometimes positively but most often as an insult. Notes and info cards are resting under her fingers. Of course, these are only precautionary. She has rehearsed this speech and researched the topic in intricate detail. She is ready.

“Let us not mix words,” she begins, bringing a hushed silence to the auditorium. “Our nation is facing a serious crisis.”

A momentary pause in which the audience gives the Leader their full attention.

“Immigration is at an all-time high. Racial tensions are intensely felt in every community. It has been argued by some that our very culture is under threat.”

Fervent members of the audience respond with applause, clearly aligning with this rhetoric.

“While these cultural issues are unique in our lived experiences, we have looked to our history and determined, as a government, to restore our nation to what it once was, to hit the reset button, as it were.”

Another round of applause greets the break in the Leader’s speech, notably from a greater section of the audience. Some even cheer ‘Hail to the Nanny’ but she chooses to ignore them.

“Under this government’s leadership, we have resolved to bring about a direct end to racism in our nation. Our plan is simple-”

A brief pause for effect.

“-we demand that all foreign people leave.”

At this, pockets of the audience stand to applaud, such is the extent of their agreement with this policy proposal. The Leader holds out her hands, gently encouraging the audience to settle down. With order restored, she resumes her speech.

“This proposal is based on evidence rather than emotion. Our research indicates that racism and xenophobia will be significantly lower if we reduce the number of foreign people resident here. So it is the policy of this government, in our determination to end racism in our nation, that all people shall return to their place of origin.”

The Leader takes a moment to gaze into the auditorium.

“However, administering for foreign residents in our land is only one phase of our policy. There will, naturally, be further steps required.”

Certain people are visibly leaning forward, waiting in expectation of her every word.

“From our research and projections, we are not so naive as to assume that racism will end if we simply remove all foreign people from our country. Experts in-”

Someone in the crowd audibly jeers the word “Experts”. With a sideways glance in their direction, the Leader reclaims attention to her speech.

“Experts,” she resumes emphatically, “in human psychology advise that we are sensitive to difference, not only to changes in our surroundings but in differences among our communities.”

The Leader takes a scheduled sip of water, allowing the audience to process what has been said.

“In our nation’s own history, in isolation from foreign influence, we have disagreed with and discriminated against each other. We have fought and warred with each other. It would seem as though, without foreign residents forming a notable part of our society, we found ways to hate ourselves. The people that we now recognise as our own; we may only do so because over time  we have become less different to each other than we perceive foreign people to be.”

A smattering of polite applause with some shifting in seats greets the momentary pause that the Leader allows at this point.

“So, as already stated,” she says with a slow, deliberate pace, “it is the policy of this government, in our determination to end racism in our nation, that all people shall return to their place of origin. Including our own citizens.”

Gasps ripple through the audience as individuals begin to whisper to one another. The Leader presses ahead.

“Every citizen will return to their original home place, along with their families and peers. We will all return to our places of origin in order to begin again, to undertake a process of isolated introspection, to learn tolerance and respect for each other in the first place. As said, our crisis will not be solved by removing all foreign people from our country. This government are demanding that foreign residents leave, temporarily, until we learn to live with you properly, which can only happen as soon as we learn how to live with ourselves. After all, if our citizens do not welcome the citizens of the world, then we are citizens of nowhere.”

Parts of the audience are squabbling with one another, divisions among them serving to illustrate the validity of the Leader’s argument. She allows herself a thin smile as she brings the speech to an end.

“Finally, to those critics of this government, and of my leadership, particularly those who accuse me of presiding over a ‘nanny state’, I believe it is appropriate that I phrase this policy another way: We are sending your neighbour friend home and won’t invite them back until you learn to play nicely. Otherwise, you’ll only get to play with the cousin that you don’t really like either. We want you to think long and hard about how, maybe, your behaviour might be the problem. Is that understood?”

With that, the Leader steps away from the podium and walks off the stage by the same way she entered. Concluding by, as it were, going back to where she came from.