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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Is intolerance stifling debate in mainstream Canadian life?

For some years now, there have been topics that are verboten in many Canadian social circles. The censure pro-life and anti-same-sex marriage groups often face are a couple of examples of what I mean.

More recently, we have heard that the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) faction makes life on our university campuses unpleasant for anyone who says something that implies sympathy or support for Israel.

Giving voice to virtually any political ideology that focuses on preserving traditional beliefs, attitudes and philosophy, is likely to be quickly shouted down or otherwise greeted with derision in the media. That is to say, Canada is becoming an unhealthy environment for social conservatives.

There was a time when this sort of mainstream intolerance extended to religious fundamentalism. Those believing in a literal interpretation of the Bible were considered outsiders to be distained. And as to those who wanted prayers in the classrooms of public schools? They were hicks, of course, who were not in step with the times. As to crosses or crucifixes anywhere on school premises, forget it. After all, Canadians had declared a separation between church and state, had they not?

Then there came a seismic shift in social progressivism. Suddenly, anything to do with religious fundamentalism was to be carefully protected, if not outright promoted. Anything, that is, so long as it is related to the Muslim faith and not to Christianity. Diversity was “in,” so long as it had nothing to do with white, Christian-European culture or practices. The term “old white men” became a slur.

Prayer in public school classrooms were good to go, only now we call them “prayer rooms.” As a matter of fact, any outward display of Islamic culture is commended. We are even seeing women who otherwise are ardent feminists, praising Muslim women who claim happiness and fulfillment in a cultural milieu that treats women as second class citizens from how they dress, to how they are segregated during religious services, to their testimony being worth only half that of a man’s, etc.

Moreover, don’t get me started on the mistreatment of the LGBT communities in countries that are predominantly Muslim. It seems intolerance among Muslins is okay (that’s multiculturalism and diversity), but is condemned when practiced by Christians, especially white ones. Go figure.

During the last general election, the Liberals benefitted greatly from the Conservative stance on the wearing of full face coverings during citizenship ceremonies and their proposal to establish “tip lines” to combat so-called “barbaric cultural practices.”

I can understand the latter proposal back-firing on the Tories, as Canadians, understandably, have a thing about neighbours spying on each other. That in itself is taken as being somewhat un-Canadian and puts many people off. But covering ones face at a citizenship ceremony that is central to our Canadian-ness? How is that so horrible an idea?

  Diversity, you see, is king and trumps all. That is the progressive way and—just as political correctness is king on the campus—so too is the moral certainty of progressives in mainstream Canada. And the moral certainty of progressives is absolute. They know what’s right—for all of us—and none dare question their “truths.” To question multiculturalism or diversity, for example, is secret code (dog whistle) for wanting to exclude people of colour, or at least that’s what the progressives want us to believe.

Which brings me to MP and Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch’s proposal to screen immigrants for “anti-Canadian values.”

Ms. Leitch’s proposal is new to Canada, but not new to Western democracies. Since 2010, the Danes have had a knowledge test that:

…contains questions about Danish norms, values and fundamental rights, e.g. the principles of democracy, an individual's personal freedom and integrity, gender equality and freedom of expression and religion. There are also questions about practical, concrete issues such as the ban on circumcision, ban on forced marriages, parents' responsibility for their children, education, health, work, tax etc.” [source]

The Netherlands has its Wet inburgering law, which requires many of its immigrants to learn Dutch and pass an exam within a few years of their arrival.

It seems to me that both Denmark and Holland have democratic records most nations would be proud to have. So why is it such a terrible, intolerant thing for Kellie Leitch to propose we screen immigrants for “anti-Canadian values?”

One blogger over at The Huffington Post said of Ms. Leitch, “She is nothing more than a closet hatemonger….” Mind you, after reading his piece I think you’ll conclude that he is a master of the overstatement. How about this dose of hyperbole he feeds us:

This kind of intolerance was what gave birth to leaders like Hitler, Stalin and Mao. It was what led to dark chapters in our history from slavery in the U.S. to injustices done to Japanese and others during the Second World War.

Apparently, we shouldn’t ever worry about the values newcomers bring with them. Why? Well, it seems that since we’ve never done it before, it is intolerant of us to do it now. And, apparently, doing so will lead to death camps in which millions die, famines in which millions starve, and systematic human rights abuses that will lead to 40 to 70 million deaths through starvation, forced labour and executions. After all, are those not the legacies of Hitler, Stalin and Mao.

Other Conservatives find fault with Ms. Leitch’s proposal, which is fine—free expression, and all that. I find it somewhat impractical. How, for example, will we know what is really in an immigrant’s heart? Newcomers could claim Canadian values without really believing in them. So would we be any further ahead in weeding out those who would be better off elsewhere?

Yes, many disagree with her proposal, but that of itself says nothing about her character, other than that she cares about Canadian values and wants to see them protected.

Of course, she’s not a progressive so, I suppose, that alone makes her suspect to certain left-of-centre types who self-style themselves as the owners of the truth—that is, their truth and only their truth. To these people, diversity allows only small variations on progressive themes, and they’ll not tolerate real opposition or debate.

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  1. old white guy says..........I am in favour of curtailing all immigration from Islamic countries, of curtailing the immigration of all followers of islam. No one can be vetted , it is naïve to think they can. Those on the left think that is more than one truth but they are wrong and they will face a backlash. We have seen the intolerance of the left on display for decades yet we still allow it, why? "Emphasizing diversity has been the pitfall, not the strength of a nation". VDH. Immigrants who will not change to our values will change the host nation from what it was to something else.

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