Secularists Have Nothing to Celebrate

2015-10-26 @ 21:30

The recent electoral defeat of the Harper Conservatives is good news, but the election of the Trudeau Liberals is not. Indeed, for secularists, the new government is even worse than the previous because it is obsessively attached to the anti-secular ideology of multiculturalism.

Sommaire en français
La récente défaite électorale du Parti Conservateur de Stephen Harper est une bonne nouvelle, mais l’élection des Libéraux de Justin Trudeau n’en est pas une. Au fait, du point de vue de la laïcité, le nouveau gouvernement est pire que le précedent, car attelé de manière obsessionnelle à l’idéologie antilaïque du multiculturalisme.

On election night last Monday, October 19th 2015, Canadians received some good news and some bad news. The good news: the odious Stephen Harper of the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) went down to defeat. The bad news: the dubious Liberal Party of Canada (LPC) led by Justin Trudeau has taken power, the LPC, the party notorious for its corruption scandals, led by the very son of the inventor of Canadian multiculturalism.

Thus the leader and party who seem to think that all Muslims are terrorists has been replaced by the leader and party who apparently consider all Muslims—even the fundamentalists—to be warm, fuzzy and innocuous, or, if they are not, it is our fault for not being sufficiently nice to them. The closed-minded neanderthals of the Harper Conservatives have been replaced by the air-headed accommodationists of the Trudeau Liberals. A traditionalist party, representative of some of the most backward evangelical Christians, has been replaced by a multiculturalist party which flirts with Islamist fundamentalists.

This is not good news. We now have a government which takes the position that wearing a face-covering anywhere and everywhere, even during an official state ceremony, such as a citizenship ceremony, is a “right.” And why is such a ridiculous privilege considered to be a “right?” BECAUSE RELIGION. This is the antithesis of secularism. Religious freedom, already greatly privileged in the past, has been elevated to a status above all other freedoms, trumping even the most basic considerations such as communication, gender equality and security.

The closed-minded neanderthals of the Harper Conservatives have been replaced by the air-headed accommodationists of the Trudeau Liberals.

We now have a government led by an islamophiliac, totally besotted with the ideology of Canadian multiculturalism which is indistinguishable from cultural relativism, an ideology which shields itself from criticism by accusing anyone who disagrees with it of “xenophobia”, “intolerance” and even “racism.” We now have a government which, ironically, shares with the previous government the inability to distinguish between ordinary citizens who just happen to be Muslim on the one hand, and, on the other hand, Islamist fundamentalists who constitute a clear and present danger to our security and democracy—the difference being that the previous government apparently considered them all suspect while the newly elected government considers them all hunky-dory.

From the point of view of secularism, the Liberals are worse than the Conservatives. At least the Conservatives attempted to ban the niqab at citizenship ceremonies, although they did so in a way that was destined to fail, i.e. by a mere ministerial directive followed by legal appeals when federal courts invalidated that directive, when in fact what is needed is a modification of several laws, starting with Citizenship Act. At the eleventh hour, only days before the election, the Conservatives floated the idea of banning face-coverings in the public service if they were re-elected, an obviously good idea which any secularist would support. And yet the Conservatives are no proponents of secularism: they were merely opportunists exploiting the citizenry’s legitimate concerns about Islamist radicalism and doing so in ways that converged conveniently with their Christian hostility towards a competing religion.

But the position adopted by both the Trudeau Liberals and the Mulcair NDP was even worse: they agreed with the court decision striking down any ban on face-coverings, and supported the idea that wearing the niqab must be allowed, apparently anywhere and everywhere. If the niqab may be worn at citizenship ceremonies, then how can judges or police be prevented from wearing such face-coverings while on the job? Any hope of a secular public service is completely destroyed if this court decision is allowed to stand. And under the newly-elected Liberals, it will stand.

Do not misunderstand me. I am not saddened that the Harper Conservatives have gone down to defeat! Any government which shows such contempt for basic science deserves to be summarily kicked out of office. Any government which appoints an apparent creationist to a major position—as it did in appointing Gary Goodyear to the post of Minister of State for Science and Technology—merits our rejection.

Thus, as much as I respect and indeed admire both Ayaan Hirsi Ali, celebrated author of Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now and the memoire Infidel, and Tarek Fatah, writer and founder of the secularist Muslim Canadian Congress, I could not agree with their call for Canadians to vote for Harper. Ayaan Hirsi Ali wrote in a tweet sent out on election day, “Dear Canadians, If you are in doubt before the polls close please vote for Stephen Harper. He is the strongest on fighting radical Islam.” whereas Tarek Fatah indicated in a Facebook post, shortly before the election date, that he would be voting Conservative for similar reasons.

Although Christian evangelical fundamentalism in Canada—which is a major underpinning of the Conservative Party—is not as retrograde as international Islamism, nevertheless both are resolutely obscurantist and anti-science fundamentalisms. Neither has any qualms about utilising the fruits of science, i.e. modern technology, when those fruits can be exploited to serve their agenda.

Broadly speaking, there are three general approaches to the question of religion and the affairs of the state. These are:

  1. Traditionalism, which promotes the continued dominance of the traditional majority religion (in Canada: Christianity), allowing it considerable privilege and influence on laws and state affairs.
  2. Multiculturalism, or ethnoreligious determinism, which broadens traditionalism by extending religious privileges to a plurality of religions, giving each religion an influence either equal to the others or weighted according to its demographic importance.
  3. Secularism, which opposes all religious privileges and and promotes universal human rights, in particular freedom of conscience, and involves complete separation between religion and state, so that the state is autonomous and independent of religious influence.

Zunera Ishaq […] exploited Canadian multiculturalism in order to promote an essential tenet of Islamic fundamentalism, the segregation of women. Ishaq is what I would call a “legal jihadi,” i.e. a fighter for Islamism who uses strictly legal means […] her objective role as a promoter of Islamist values is patent.

Both the traditionalism of the Conservatives and the multiculturalism of the Liberals are anti-secular ideologies. However, multiculturalism, although more modern, is also more dangerous because it is currently the dominant ideology in Canada and in other countries. Indeed, even the traditionalists (like Catholics, Islamists, etc.) rely increasingly on multiculturalism to disseminate their ideologies because traditionalism is out of fashion and often cannot be imposed directly as it was in the past. That is exactly what the niqab-wearer Zunera Ishaq did when she exploited Canadian multiculturalism in order to promote an essential tenet of Islamic fundamentalism, the segregation of women. Ishaq is what I would call a “legal jihadi,” i.e. a fighter for Islamism who uses strictly legal means because extra-legal means are not yet feasible. Although Ishaq has apparently been linked to radical Islamist organizations, even in the absence of such ties her objective role as a promoter of Islamist values is patent.

Multiculturalism is much easier to sell than traditionalism, especially as it often masquerades as a form of pseudo-secularism (c.f. so-called “laïcité ouverte”). Furthermore, multiculturalism also masquerades as a solution for racism, when in reality it tends to preserve and deepen divisions by identifying each individual with the ethno-religious community into which he or she was born.

The victory of the Trudeau Liberals (and the poor showing of the NDP) is probably much more attributable to anti-Harper sentiment than to any love for the winning party. Do not forget that BOTH hatred for Harper AND opposition to the niqab (and disgust for Trudeau’s and Mulcair’s opposition to any ban) were very strong in Quebec during the campaign. In fact, polls indicated that the majority of Canadians, not just Quebecers, favored a niqab ban, and yet Harper was still defeated despite his opportunistic exploitation of that issue.


Next blog: Secularism: Lockean and Republican

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