It's sadly ironic that it is exactly 70 years since the last time we made the mistake we seem to be making all over again.
In 1945, one of the biggest historical events of the modern world was only weeks from drawing to a close. Peace was a breath away. Years of fighting were nearly over.
New Zealand told itself it had done its bit in World War II. We had sent brave boys to their deaths. We had sent comfort parcels to Europe. We had rationed and scrimped like everyone else in the world.
But we didn't pull our weight in rescuing refugees. The US, England and even Australia opened their doors to Jews fleeing the Holocaust and we sat like a child with crossed arms at the end of the world refusing to participate.
Back then our immigration policy was aimed at keeping New Zealand white. It's ridiculous to think that now, when you consider our Asian faces, Indian accents and Pacific Island citizens. But as recently as the 1970s, this country was not keen on anything browner than an Englishman straight out of a Northern Hemisphere winter.
So, we took about 1,000 Jewish immigrants and said we had done our bit. We've copped it in the history books ever since. Paltry, insignificant and inconspicuous are words they use to describe our efforts at rescuing people fleeing the worst persecution the modern world has seen.
The worst persecution until now, of course. Who knows how bad Isis will get ? Take a look at the world section of any newspaper. Find the stories about Syrian refugees running from the war in their country. They're running from people who behead men and women and video it, who throw homosexuals off buildings, who rape children.
They're running to save their lives. They're tired and hungry and scared and they want to get somewhere safe.
Some say this is the biggest refugee crisis since World War II. Sixty million people are displaced.
This time, New Zealand should step up and offer to take some of those Syrian refugees. They're not that different to us. Not long ago they were jetting off to beach holidays just like we do. They bought designer clothes, repainted their houses, and wondered if it was time to upgrade the car. They may have even watched Lord of the Rings on the plane.
We're falling miserably short every year in how much we help refugees. We take only 750 annually. Sure, that number increases once they get permission to bring their families in, sometimes, but we haven't changed that quota since 1987. We could increase that by at least a third, as our population has increased by 30 per cent since then.
Lebanon has taken 1.4 million Syrians. Lebanon's population is almost the same as ours. Lebanon can't afford it, but it doesn't have a choice. It has been flooded by desperate people.
New Zealand may think it has a choice but it really doesn't.
We reckon we root for the underdog. You don't get much more underdog than this. We should help out. If only to make up for our miserable effort last time around.
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