2015-07-23, last modified 2015-07-24
Sommaire en français La diversité culturelle est un fait incontournable de la vie et, comme la diversité biologique, une richesse. Il y a plusieurs façons de gérer cette diversité, les deux principales — distinctes et mutuellement incompatibles — étant le multiculturalisme et la laïcité. Le multiculturalisme se fonde sur le relativisme culturel, sur ce qui divise les gens, et associe l’individu à la communauté ethno-religieuse dans laquelle il est né. Il favorise les traditionalistes dans chacune de ces communautés, au détriment des croyants plus modérés, des incroyants et de la société en général. L’affaire du niqab dans les cérémonies de citoyenneté en est un exemple. La laïcité, par contre, accorde la priorité aux libertés et valeurs humaines, à ce que nous avons tous en commun. Elle rejette le privilège religieux. Elle n’accorde aux croyances religieuses aucune préséance. Les islamistes, ou plus exactement les islamofascistes, prônent la théocratie pure et dure dans les pays où ils ont suffisamment d’influence politique. Mais ailleurs, ils instrumentalisent le multiculturalisme, adoptant frauduleusement le langage des « droits » et de la « liberté religieuse » afin de s’approprier des privilèges religieux. Juste avant le début du processus de l’adoption formelle du multiculturalisme, il y a plusieurs décennies, le terme « biculturalisme » était très à la mode, mais dans l’espace de quelques années il a été totalement éclipsé par le multiculturalisme. Cherchait-on à noyer la culture de la moins dominante de ces deux cultures fondatrices du Canada dans une mer à multiples cultures ? Le comportement des multiculturalistes durant le débat sur la Charte de la laïcité, défaite en 2014 par une alliance de circonstance — c’est-à-dire une convergence d’intérêts et de propagande — entre eux et les islamistes, nous a fourni la réponse définitive à cette question. Le multiculturalisme, idéologie dominante au Canada, est devenu un outil de choix pour étaler son mépris pour le Québec et pour les Québécois. De plus, le multiculturalisme est l’arme la plus importante dans la lutte contre la laïcité.
According to Wiktionary, the term multiculti is an informal, derogatory word for “one who pushes multicultural beliefs and values in a politically correct way.” The derogatory connotation is certainly appropriate, because multiculturalism is highly problematic and a major obstacle for secularism.
By the way, Wiktionary defines “multiculturalism” as “The characteristics of a society, city etc. which has many different ethnic or national cultures mingling freely; political or social policies which support or encourage such coexistence.” I disagree with this definition. The first half (the free mingling of cultures) is closer to a definition of “cultural diversity” (confusing the two is a common mistake), whereas the second half is just false in my opinion. Indeed, multiculturalism as practiced in Canada does a rather bad job of supporting or encouraging such coexistence, as I shall explain.
Cultural diversity is an essential part of the human experience. It has been with us since the dawn of time. Ever since neighbouring hominid tribes found themselves with overlapping territory — which probably occurred long before our current species homo sapiens evolved into existence — we have been rubbing shoulders with others of the same species but different races, different languages, different cultures. We will, I assume, continue to experience similar diversity as long as humanity survives. Or at least I hope we will, since cultural diversity, like biological diversity, is a source of enrichment. Nevertheless, managing such diversity — whether cultural or biological — has its challenges.
Multiculturalism and secularism are two distinct and incompatible ways of managing cultural diversity. Trying to reconcile multiculturalism with secularism is like trying to make religion and science compatible. It is an impossible task.
Multiculturalism stresses cultural relativism. It gives priority to what divides us, associating the individual with the particular ethno-religious community into which he or she was born. The ultimate expression of multiculturalism is Lebanon, where even the national philharmonic orchestra must respect religious sectarian quotas when hiring musicians. Multiculturalists pander to such communities, thus favouring and empowering traditionalists and fundamentalists — to the detriment of moderate believers, non-believers and society in general.
One particularly egregious example of how multiculturalism and its multiculti cheerleaders empower fundamentalists — of both minority and majority religions — is the Federal Court decision to allow the niqab, a blatant symbol of a powerful international fascist movement, to be worn during Canadian citizenship hearings. Just as even a broken clock displays the correct time twice a day, the anti-science and pro-Christian-fundamentalist Harper government did the right thing and decided to appeal that decision. They undoubtedly did so for the wrong reasons — probably religious bigotry, in this case a pro-Christian, anti-Muslim prejudice. Nevertheless, doing the right thing for the wrong reasons is still better than doing the wrong thing, which is precisely what the opposition did. The leaders of both major opposition parties — T. Mulcair of the NDP and J. Trudeau of the Liberals — made the spectacularly stupid decision to support the court in allowing the niqab and criticized the Harper Conservatives for its appeal. Thus, the political “left” (if we can still call it that, given its betrayal of secularism) and the political centre united in handing a huge gift to the Christian right. Harper will in all likelihood garner many votes from frustrated Canadians who are justifiably outraged that religious fanatics are being allowed to show such contempt for Canadian citizenship and that Mulcair and Trudeau are helping them to do so! Both Christian and Muslim fundamentalists benefit.
Multiculturalism and secularism are two distinct and incompatible ways of managing cultural diversity.
Secularism, on the other hand, stresses universal human rights and values. It gives priority to what unites us, our common humanity. It rejects religious privilege. In public services it refuses to accommodate traits which are mere choices, such as political opinions or religious beliefs — but of course it must and will accommodate more innate characteristics, i.e. objective factors, such as genetics, gender, health status, sexual orientation, etc.
There are other ways of managing cultural diversity. Perhaps the most common (other than the two ways which form the subject of this blog) is the traditional method — or rather methods — of theocracy. These can range all the way from brutally repressive theocracies such as Saudi Arabia which “manages” diversity basically by crushing it, all the way to soft neo-theocracies such as constitutional monarchies which were very repressive in the past but have evolved towards multiculturalism.
It is important to understand that islamists — whom we may also call islamofascists — favour the most draconian form of theocracy possible wherever they hold sufficient power, but pretend to support multiculturalism — or rather they use it as a tool to advance their cause — in countries where their power is not yet sufficient, deceitfully employing the language of “rights” and “freedom of religion” in order to accumulate what are in reality religious privileges. The multicultis are the dupes of the islamists, as the example of the niqab amply illustrates.
Many secularists have written extensively about multiculturalism. (Read a few articles by Maryam Namazie for example.) Its inherent dangers have been discussed and documented for years now. Anyone who still refuses to understand is being wilfully ignorant.
The important distinction between cultural diversity and multiculturalism is often deliberately blurred in order to justify vilifying anyone who criticizes the latter.
The history of formalized multiculturalism in Canada goes back nearly half a century. The government of P. E. Trudeau declared in 1971 that Canada would adopt it as policy. In 1982 it was recognized in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and finally the Canadian Multiculturalism Act was enacted by the government of B. Mulroney. But what many Canadians forget, or are too young to remember, is that just before that process began, the terms “bilingualism” and “biculturalism” were on everyone’s lips in political discussions. In 1963, the L. B. Pearson government established the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism to inquire into the situation of Canada’s two founding cultures, the English and French. But within a few years, the term “biculturalism” had practically disappeared, having been supplanted by multiculturalism. It certainly looked like the recognition of a multiplicity of cultures had been engineered in order to drown the less dominant of the two founding partners in a sea of competing cultures.
In 2014, the Quebec Charter of Secularism, one of the best pieces of secular legislation ever proposed in any jurisdiction in Canada, was defeated by an alliance of multiculturalists and islamists. I am not talking about any formal, organizational alliance, but rather a simple convergence of interests and propaganda. Both groups engaged in specious accusations of “racism,” “xenophobia,” “intolerance” or “islamophobia” whenever they encountered opposition. During the Charter fiasco, the overriding tone of Charter opponents, especially outside Quebec, and a favourite strategy of both multicultis and islamists, was a fanatical hatred of Quebec nationalism. This strategy served to distract from the real issue, which of course was secularism.
The main ideological weapon of anti-secularists today is multiculturalism.
And that is the dirty little secret about multiculturalism, or at least its particularly noxious Canadian variant: it is a weapon very frequently used to “bash” (figuratively speaking, of course) Quebec and Quebeckers. Multiculturalism is very popular — so much so as to be a sacred cow — in Canada outside Quebec, but much less popular inside Quebec where secularism enjoys greater popular support. As multicultis typically flatter themselves about how non-racist and tolerant they claim to be (because they fail to understand that multiculturalism is not a solution for racism but rather a close cousin of it), they easily slip into a habit of denigrating Quebec secularists for their “intolerance,” etc. The important distinction between cultural diversity and multiculturalism is often deliberately blurred in order to justify vilifying anyone who criticizes the latter. In other words, multiculturalism has become a vehicle for ethnic bigotry directed against French-speaking Quebeckers. If there were ever any doubt about this, it was completely erased by the obnoxious behaviour of multicultis during the Charter debacle.
Multiculturalism is not only incompatible with secularism. Multiculturalism is the principal expression of anti-secularism in the 21st century. The main ideological weapon of anti-secularists today is multiculturalism. And it is, unfortunately, the dominant ideology in Canada.
Next blog: “Thoughts on the Niqab”
18 thoughts on “Secularism Versus the Multicultis”
Excellent post. As a secularist atheist immigrant from a country with islamic theocratic regime, I can’t agree more. RESPECT. thanks for not being discouraged and defending secularism.
Well written as far as it goes, and contains a kernel of truth. However in your history lesson section, you never explain why there was a shift from biculturalism to multiculturalism, other than as a nefarious anti-French plot. It was actually due to the lobbying efforts of so called “third force” or “white ethnic” communities, most notably the Ukrainians. Based on thier testimony and campaigning the Bi&Bi Commission actually recommend multiculturalism and multiLINGUALism, but this was a step too far for Trudeau. He said only the English and French “have the power to break the country” so for realpolitik reasons he went with multiculturalism and bilingualism.
So the question is why would ethnics minorities want multiculturalism? Because for the previous half century they had been targeted by official decriminalisation, notably their languages was banned from schools across the prairies (even as a supplement to English) by the Great War, and thousands were PUT IN CAMPS during the wars (Ukrainians during the First, and Japanese during the Second). Although French has a long history on the prairies, they prioritized maintenance of their own heritage languages over learning French, understandably.
Native people were not yet a major political force but after the 1969 “Red Paper” they voiced a similar claim, to be “the red title in the Canadian mosaic” after a history of residential schools and forced adoption. Much the same applies to Black Canadians.
So no, multiculturalism is not a plot by Anglo elites to drown Quebec in diversity, or at least it is not only that. It is also the way previously discriminated -against groups were reconciled with the idea of Canada.
And while it isn’t perfect, the thing advocates of a strictly culturally neutral, or you say “secular”, state is that we didn’t start from a neutral place. Leaving the legacy of inequality in place is not ” neutral”. Letting the market decide which cultures will flourish, now, after 300 years of British cultural imperialism in Canada, it tantamount to continuing the imperialism. Ultimately gov’t should not be overly involved with culture, but it will always be to some extent just by its nature. Therefore when it is involved, the most “neutral” way of acting is to give equal recognition to all people (not all practises as is often falsely implied) and offering to accomodate thier cultural practises where feasible. Debate the merits of niqab bans on their merits. But don’t confuse the issue by trying to say that Canada needs to ditch the policy which bought ethnic peace for the last 40 years.
The historical information you add is interesting and may very well be valid, but it does not change the fact that multiculturalism has become a huge stick which is used to “bash” (figurately speaking of course) Quebec and Quebeckers. That situation was blatantly obvious during the recent spate over the Charter of Secularism. That Charter and its supporters — which included ALL secularists in Quebec and probably a majority of the population — were accused of being racist, xenophobic, “islamophobic,” etc. The reality is that racism occurs everywhere, but Quebeckers are no more racist than other Canadians.
Also, I dispute your rather grandiose assertion that multiculturalism is “the policy which bought ethnic peace for the last 40 years.” Ending discrimination is what was required, but multiculturalism added a strong note of cultural relativism which leads to all kinds of abuses, such as the niqab at citizenship hearings or the turban worn by mounties with a particular religious affiliation. Multiculturalism has become THE weapon of anti-secularists in Canada. It must be abandoned.
From the author of http://www.hilltimes.com/opinion-piece/2015/09/14/multiculturalism-in-canada-what-the-data-says/43367?mcl=&muid=
“Overall, the data suggests that Canada has been largely successful at building an inclusive, multicultural society that encourages participation and integration. Analysis of the data confirms this success…” The author goes on to rightly point out areas of concern (certain visible minority groups are economically behind other Canadians). But overall the picture if of a country where “most visible minority groups are more well-educated than those of Canadian or European origin for both men and women. Canada continues to do a good job of integrating young new Canadians in primary and secondary schools.”
What you quote is an opinion piece which in no way validates the ideology of multiculturalism based on cultural relativism.
It is true that Quebec does get “bashed” in the English Canadian press, and that is wrong. It doesn’t invalidate the arguments against the Charter on multiculturalism grounds, however. Too easily we confuse fights over ideas with attacks on the people who hold those ideas!
The question remains: would the policies the P.Q. and allied secularists in Quebec are advocating “work” in other parts of Canada? And I don’t necessarily accept that they would work in Quebec, but I can speak more knowledgeably about Alberta.
Here the fight against religious influence on the law is ongoing, despite no such Charter. Recently state-funded Catholic schools (which we sadly still have) were forced to accept Gay-Straight Alliances. This is a major win for secularism as I understand it.
“Quebeckers are no more racist than other Canadians.”
Bien sur! I agree 100%.
“Also, I dispute your rather grandiose assertion that multiculturalism is “the policy which bought ethnic peace for the last 40 years.” Ending discrimination is what was required…”
Simple non-discrimination is not sufficient to create a harmonious society. Racial discrimination has been illegal in most of the Western World for decades but we still see things like the French banlieue riots and the Black Lives Matter campaign and Idle No More because people don’t just want not to be discriminated against: they want to feel like they have a real stake in the state, and that the state actively defends their best interests.
The calculus of belonging is simple: if Francophone Quebeckers don’t feel like the Canadian state is their real “home” then they will vote for separation (as many have). The fact the current federation has allowed Quebec to bring in Bill 101 (and other symbolic gestures that show their culture is protected) is all that has held more back from voting that way. And by culture I mean an identity. When you attack someone’s language (like their religion) you are not simply asking them to discard one idea for another, you are asking them to redefine their sense of self.
And so it is with all groups. Franco-Quebeckers have had the demographic and economic heft to fight back against attacks on their culture since 1960. Natives have not, nor Blacks, nor Muslims. On the Prairies “white ethnics” did have that kind of voting power. That’s why we got Multiculturalism. It’s the Bill 101 for ethnic minorities in English Canada: a symbolic reversal of discrimination and an affirmation that we belong. Canada’s current and growing challenge is to extend that sense that “the state includes us” to today’s most marginalized groups, Natives and recent third-world immigrants (mostly Asian and/or Muslim). And somehow we have to do this while also defending rights on other, non-ethnic grounds (women’s rights, gay rights, etc.). It’s a delicate balance.
Language and religion must not be put on the same level. The former is much more important to a person’s identity and self than the latter.
Again, multiculturalism is based on cultural relativism which is a dangerous ideology because it falsely puts all values on the same level.
You said, “language and religion must not be put on the same level. The former is much more important to a person’s identity and self than the latter.”
I don’t know how you can say that. Plenty of people are bilingual or multilingual. Almost no one is a committed believer in two different religions at the same time. Religion has been the most important marker of identity for most of history; only since 1789 has “the nation” even come close to displacing it and only in the West.
You said “Again, multiculturalism is based on cultural relativism which is a dangerous ideology because it falsely puts all values on the same level.”
Pure cultural relativism, which is a rare sentiment indeed, is dangerous. A heaping dash of cultural humble-pie is not, it is a must. I find the infanticide and senicide practised by various pre-industrial peoples horrifying. But I do not condemn them as “barbarians”. They did ghastly things, but they did them in the context of trying to survive in harsh world. We also do things which are ghastly (factory farming comes to mind as does our culture of body-hatred called “fitness” and “fashion”, or our despoiling of the oceans), and we should hope that our great-grandchildren look on us with some understanding.
I was referring to a person’s mother tongue, the one language that is most important to them, which they learned at the earliest age. It is obviously more important, more innate than religion. The mother tongue is used almost constantly, even just to think. Religious beliefs are NOT (except maybe by a few fanatics).
The mother tongue is learned naturally, organically. Religious beliefs are imposed by indoctrination. The difference is enormous.
You wrote, ‘It is true that Quebec does get “bashed” in the English Canadian press, and that is wrong. It doesn’t invalidate the arguments against the Charter on multiculturalism grounds, however.’
You have things completely backwards. Quebec-bashing was used as an excuse to OPPOSE the Charter. The Charter was denounced as “intolerant,” “racist” and worse because of fanatical hatred of Quebec nationalists. However, a good idea is still a good idea regardless of the source. The fact that the PQ proposed the Charter does not validate arguments against it.
The Charter was good legislation promoting secularism.
You wrote: “You have things completely backwards. Quebec-bashing was used as an excuse to OPPOSE the Charter. The Charter was denounced as “intolerant,” “racist” and worse because of fanatical hatred of Quebec nationalists. However, a good idea is still a good idea regardless of the source. The fact that the PQ proposed the Charter does not validate arguments against it.
The Charter was good legislation promoting secularism.”
I agree, “a good idea is still a good idea regardless of the source”. If the PQ had a good idea, I would support it. Likewise, some the opponents to the Charter were bad people, but they were right on this occasion.
You wrote “I am frankly disgusted by your attempt to equate criticism of multiculturalism with the residential school system. The latter was from a previous era, before multiculturalism was imposed, when traditionalism (i.e. Christian, European traditionalism, especially anglo) was the dominant ideology. Residential schools also suppressed native languages and many other aspects of native cultures, not just religion. They involved kidnapping children and tearing them away from their parents. Nothing to do with what I propose.”
This was not meant as an attack on critics of multiculturalism as evil people intent on reviving past abuses. But it is worth mentioning, however, that policies which seem to single out one minority group for assimilation have been tried in the past and have a terrible legacy. This legacy, I would argue, puts the burden of proof on the advocates of any future assimilationist schemes to prove why they are not harmful, even if they are quite different in particulars.
You wrote “Of course, and so are Christianity and all other forms of monotheism. Traditionalism was about imposing the single dominant form of nonsense. Multiculturalism is about giving equal privileges to several varieties of nonsense.”
Which I would argue is a major step in the right direction, and perhaps what we should hope for, if trying to use the state to stamp out “nonsense” means taking away freedoms. Even “privileges” (I would prefer “accommodations”) rather than “rights”, as you say, as part of an overall culture of freedom .
you said “We need to advance towards secularism, where all these forms of nonsense will be kept out of state affairs and relegated to the sphere of private life and non-government affairs. If those who belong to minority religions feel “excluded,” then all the more reason to make sure that majority religions such as Christianity are also completely excluded from government.”
I can give my qualified agreement. If any are excluded, all should be. But they should be excluded the least amount possible to keep the state useful to as many citizens as possible.
You criticize “policies which seem to single out one minority group”. What the hell are you talking about? I am not recommending singling out any one minority group. I am proposing rules which apply equally to ALL, without discrimination, with no religious exceptions. For example: NO face-coverings in official ceremonies or in the public service. A standard uniform for all RCMP officers, with no privilege for any particular minority.
I am promoting NOT singling out minorities. What are you promoting? Having potentially different rules for every religious sect imaginable? That is what multiculturalism leads to.
You obviously have been heavily influenced by, and are repeating, the dishonest propaganda which denounced the Quebec Charter of Secularism as discriminatory (or worse) when in fact it did precisely the opposite.
When a member of a particular religious minority demands a special exemption or accommodation or privilege, then THEY are singling the minority out. If the authorities say NO as they should, thus refusing to grant the exception, then they are refusing to discriminate.
You said: “… but multiculturalism added a strong note of cultural relativism which leads to all kinds of abuses, such as the niqab at citizenship hearings or the turban worn by mounties with a particular religious affiliation. Multiculturalism has become THE weapon of anti-secularists in Canada. It must be abandoned.”
We have to be humble and cautious in the light of our history. Residential schools were supposed to promote freedom by stripping the “superstitious” and “backwards” beliefs from native children and preparing them to live in a materialistic society. Once stripped of these intellectual burdens (i.e. markers of group identity) the students should have been completely folded into society without conflict, right? No.
You don’t integrate people by attacking their identity.
I repeat, to integrate people, society must accept their identity even if it comes with ideas we disagree with. Shamanism is ridiculous as a system of thought. But shamanists are people worth of acceptance, not ridicule. I may disagree that transgendered people have “really” changed their sex, but it’s better to accept the identity they ascribe to themselves than try to fight them.
I am frankly disgusted by your attempt to equate criticism of multiculturalism with the residential school system. The latter was from a previous era, before multiculturalism was imposed, when traditionalism (i.e. Christian, European traditionalism, especially anglo) was the dominant ideology. Residential schools also suppressed native languages and many other aspects of native cultures, not just religion. They involved kidnapping children and tearing them away from their parents. Nothing to do with what I propose.
You write, “Shamanism is ridiculous as a system of thought.” Of course, and so are Christianity and all other forms of monotheism. Traditionalism was about imposing the single dominant form of nonsense. Multiculturalism is about giving equal privileges to several varieties of nonsense.
We need to advance towards secularism, where all these forms of nonsense will be kept out of state affairs and relegated to the sphere of private life and non-government affairs. If those who belong to minority religions feel “excluded,” then all the more reason to make sure that majority religions such as Christianity are also completely excluded from government.
The multiculturalism you want to abandon is simply the policy of an open hand. The Charter replaced that with a closed door, or at least it had the danger of creating that impression.
The state should be as non-coercive as possible about culture. A presumption in favour of non-action (a “precautionary principle” like the Greens advocate for new chemicals) is wise in this field. If they state does act, my preference is ALWAYS to redress imbalances between powerful and less powerful groups and right historical wrongs, rather than defend the status quo or defer to crude majoritarianism.
Multiculturalism is more than just an open hand. It is a door wide open to abuse. It is cultural relativism, a recipe for disaster, which is what we are seeing now in the current election campaign. The idea that wearing a face-covering anywhere and everywhere is a “right” just because it is based on religion is insane. It is a privilege granted to a particular religion, and thus directly contrary to secularism. It elevates freedom of religion to a higher status than other considerations, such as freedom FROM religion.
If the state never takes action except “to redress imbalances between powerful and less powerful groups and right historical wrongs” then tell me who is more powerful: Ordinary citizens? Or Wahhabist fundamentalists backed by the riches of Saudi Arabia?
In practice, Canadian multiculturalism is the inability to say NO, no matter how ridiculous and unreasonable the accommodation being demanded.
From outside of Quebec, here’s how it looked to me: The Charter was not cautious because it contained bad symbolism likely to inflame tensions, not soothe them.
I do not know what “symbolism” you are talking about.
The Charter was largely based on republicanism, an unpopular concept in R.O.C. where so many are besotted with the monarchy.
Secularism is a major aspect of French-language culture. It is poorly understood in English-language culture, where secularism rarely goes beyond religious neutrality (many religions involved in state affairs) and seldom attains separation of religion and state (no religion involved).