Multiculturalism, Orientalism and Exoticism

2016-11-06

An observation about multiculturalism by Mehdi Nabti, a musician living in Québec, born in France, of Kabyle (Algeria) ancestry.

Sommaire en français Une réflexion au sujet du multiculturalisme, de Mehdi Nabti, musicien vivant au Québec, né en France, d’ascendance kabyle (Algérie). Voir la citation ci-dessous qui débute par « Le multiculturalisme est selon moi une dérive de l’orientalisme et de l’exotisme […] »

Recently (2016-11-02) I attended the press conference of the Rassemblement pour la laïcité (RPL, Alliance for Secularism) at which the RPL launched its newly updated (2016) declaration entitled “La laïcité, la seule issue possible” (“Secularism, the only possible solution”)

There were several speakers, each of whom took the prodium briefly at the press conference:

  • Djemila Benhabib, prize-winning author and secular activist
  • Karim Akouche, author
  • Simon Pierre-Savard-Tremblay, author and sociologist
  • Mehdi Nabti, author, composer, musician
  • Marc Laviolette, former president of the CSN trade union federation
  • André Lamoureux, political scientist and spokesperson for the RPL

Despite the short time available, each of the speakers made cogent and compelling remarks. I was particularly intrigued, however, by the thoughts of Mehdi Nabti. He explained that a few years ago he had been invited by Ubumag, a webzine based in Algiers, to write about his experience as an artist and recent immigrant to Quebec. Here is part of what he wrote:

Le multiculturalisme est selon moi une dérive de l’orientalisme et de l’exotisme : au mieux chacun se présente à l’autre dans sa posture la plus édulcorée, la plus folklorique. Au pire on s’observe mais on ne collabore pas, chacun restant sur ses positions, dans ses traditions. Les artistes eux-mêmes peuvent parfois renforcer et diffuser des stéréotypes négatifs sous couvert de multiculturalisme. Folklorisation à outrance, déguisements, posture et discours passéistes. Le multiculturalisme c’est « rester dans votre communauté. Vous ne valez pas mieux. » Ce goût immodéré pour le folklore immigrant qu’on observe ici au Québec va de pair avec le repli religieux. Ce phénomène ne doit pas être sous-estimé et doit être contrebalancé avec la valorisation des artistes progressistes, intellectuels, tournés vers demain et enracinés dans notre temps. Sans ce type de modèle positif, la jeunessse se tournera, comme en France, vers les rétrogrades, car ce sont eux qui monopolisent les médias et le discours publics.

Here is my English translation of the above:

Multiculturalism is, in my opinion, a derivative of orientalism and exoticism. At best, each individual approaches the other by presenting a sanitized and folkloric image of oneself. At worst, individuals observe each other but do not collaborate, each remaining rooted in one’s own situation, one’s own traditions. Artists themselves sometimes reinforce and promote negative stereotypes under the guise of multiculturalism, with exaggerated emphasis on folklore, costumes, outmoded attitudes and forms of expression. Multiculturalism means “Keep to your own community. That is all you are worth.” This overrated taste for immigrant folklore, which we see here in Quebec, goes hand in hand with the withdrawal into religious identity. This phenomenon cannot be underestimated and must be counterbalanced by recognition of the value of progressive and intellectual artists, whose expression looks to the future while being firmly rooted in the present. Without this kind of positive role model, young people will inevitably turn—as they have in France—towards reactionaries who look backwards, as it is they who monopolise the media and public discourse.


Next blog: Anti-Muslim Incidents in the USA

False Memes from the Burkini Wars

2016-10-10

The controversy which raged in the summer of 2016 over the issue of the burkini on public beaches in France led to the publication in blogs, social media, etc., of many false memes—in other words, a lot of nonsense. Here I debunk some of them.

Sommaire en français La controverse autour du burkini sur les plages publiques de France, qui faisait rage en été 2016, a déclenché des flots de sophismes et de faussetés sur les médias sociaux et dans plusieurs blogues. Dans ce texte je démens plusieurs des ces faussetés :

  • Que le burkini n’est qu’un bout de tissu, un vêtement comme les autres.
  • Que les opposants du burkini veulent tous l’interdire partout.
  • Qu’il ne faut jamais dire à quiconque quoi porter ou ne pas porter.
  • Que les règles vestimentaires religieuses et laïques sont pareilles.
  • Que le burkini n’est pas plus grave qu’un habit de nonne.
  • Que le burkini n’est pas plus sexiste que le bikini ou autre tenue sexy.
  • Que l’opposition au burkini n’est qu’une réaction de l’extrême droite catho et une façon de gagner des votes.
  • Que les Musulmans en France actuellement, c’est comme les Juifs en Allemagne nazie.
  • Que les opposants du burkini instrumentalisent la laïcité pour faire la chasse aux musulmans.
False Meme #1:
It’s just a piece of cloth.

The burkini is just a piece of cloth? Just a mundane article of clothing? Bullshit. All versions of the Islamist veil, including the burkini, hijab, tchador, niqab, burka, etc., are part of a campaign by Islamist fundamentalists and Islamofascists to normalize special articles of clothing which are banners to promote their politico-religious agenda.

A Nazi Flag: It’s just a piece of cloth.

That campaign is in turn part of the Islamists programme to oppose, by legal means or otherwise, secularism wherever it exists or where there are plans to implement it. French secularism or laïcité is a major target because it is the avant-garde of secularism.

False Meme #2:
Those who oppose the burkini want to ban it everywhere!

All those who criticize the burkini and other versions of the veil want to ban them everywhere? No, no & no. Many people oppose Christianity, but few would support banning it everywhere! Whether there should or should not be a ban, or rather bans, depends very much on the type of veil, the place, the circumstance, the context. I personally happen to think that it was a mistake when the mayors of several French seaside towns tried to ban the burkini on their local beaches—and for at least three reasons:

  1. The burkini does not obscure the face, so like the hijab (and unlike the niqab) it is not an obvious security issue.
  2. It was clear that such municipal regulations would be declared illegal, and that is indeed what happened.
  3. As could have been predicted, the controversy degenerated into a propaganda victory for Islamists, who take every opportunity to play victim.

I would however support banning the burkini at sporting events and public swimming pools. At any rate, allowing the burkini on public beaches must not blind us to the nature of the Islamists’ programme. They will continue to make every attempt to score points in their fight against secularism. That is simply one more reason why secular measures must be applied with rigorous respect for the rule of law.

On the other hand, there are some who would ban the burkini even on public beaches. I respectfully disagree, but I give them full credit for recognizing the danger which the burkini, as an Islamist veil, represents. (However those who oppose any ban anywhere and consider that the burkini is just another clothing choice are intellectual slobs in my opinion.)

In light of the recent terrorist attack on Nice, the act of wearing a burkini on a beach in that region was a contemptible act of provocation. We may choose not to criminalize it, but we must condemn it. If, as I have suggested, it was a trap, then the guilty party is composed of those who set the trap. Those duped by the trap include not just the mayors who adopted anti-burkini measures, but even more so the fools who demonized those mayors for their action.

False Meme #3:
You must never tell anyone what to wear.

You must never tell anyone what to wear or what not to wear? Really? The fact is that various dress codes of various types are ubiquitous in society. Some restrictions on dress are codified in law, but many are not written down and some are not even verbalized explicitly. Sometimes dress codes are simply understood implicitly, constantly renegotiated verbally or non-verbally as people test a code’s limits by violating it in small ways while respecting it in large measure. Here are a few examples:

  • workplace dress requirements
  • uniforms for special professions (police, judges, nurses, etc.)
  • laws against nudity (even in one’s own home if visible from the exterior)
  • formal occasions
  • military uniforms
  • ceremonies, official or otherwise
  • sporting events, official or otherwise, international or not, uniforms for athletes, for referees, guidelines for officials
  • school uniforms

Some of these dress codes we could probably do without. Is it really necessary to outlaw nudity everywhere in public or where visible by the public? We can debate that. Are school uniforms really a good thing? Maybe, maybe not. Many, indeed most dress codes can be questioned. But to state baldly that ALL dress codes can be dispensed with is irrationnal. Thus, to a question such as, “Should the clothing XYZ be banned?” the only appropriate answer is another question, or rather series of questions such as: Where? When? In what context? When worn by whom while they perform what duties? Without some context for the original question, it probably cannot be answered adequately.

Furthermore, it must be recognized that personal freedoms cannot be absolute. One individual’s personal freedom is limited by, among other things, other peoples’ freedom.

False Meme #4:
Religious dress code, secular dress code, same thing.

Religious constraints such as the Islamist veil are no worse than secular dress codes? So when Islamists insist that any woman who does not wear the veil is impure and deserves to be treated with contempt or even raped (or have acid thrown in her face), that is the same as a secular dress code which would ban the veil for, say, public servants while on duty? What false symmetry! What specious nonsense! The first rule is a blatant attack on women’s freedom, gender equality and human dignity. The second rule is a small restriction which limits the scope of that attack. The first rule undermines freedom, the second mitigates the damage done by the first.

False Meme #5:
Nuns on a beach, Burkinis on a beach, same difference.

The reason for the nun’s habit is to slut-shame women who do not wear one. Oh wait, no, that’s the reason Muslim women are forced to wear the Islamist veil, to slut-shame those who don’t.

The burkini is comparable to the habit worn by Christian nuns? Really? How deplorable that it should even be necessary to debunk this stupid comparison. The habit is worn only by a tiny elite minority of Catholic women, those who have gone through a rigorous screening process. The Islamist programme is that the veil should be worn by ALL “good” Muslim women and that any woman who does not wear one is a slut just asking to be abused. The analogy is grossly misleading.

False Meme #6:
Islamist veil, boob job, g-string, etc., same subjugation to macho norms.

You say that the burkini is no more sexist than g-strings, high-heel shoes, bikinis, miniskirts, etc.? Horsefeathers. The veil, including the burkini, is a flag of an extremely dangerous politico-religious movement. See the discussions above.

False Meme #7:
Banning the burkini is nothing other than a right-wing Catholic reaction and a ploy to gain votes.

This meme at least has the merit of having some degree of plausibility. There are some right-wing groups who make a pretence of supporting secularism, or at least some version of secularism, whereas their real agenda is to exploit fears of immigration. In France, the Front National (FN) is the most obvious example. However, this reason taken alone is an extreme oversimplification. For one thing, if among immigrants we may find a significant number of fundamentalists or even extremists—and that is certainly the case for Muslim immigration—then such fears are not unjustified. More importantly, we must recognize that groups such as the FN, even if we consider them to be extreme right-wing, are far less extreme than Islamofascism. Political Islam is undoubtedly the greatest threat to secularism in France and is far to the political right of the FN.

False Meme #8:
The situation of Muslims in France today is similar to that of Jews in Nazi Germany.

This outrageous analogy is completely over the top. It is an odious insult to both Jews and the French. In reality, there is a certain proportion (and they are not a tiny minority) of Muslims in France who are Islamists or sympathetic to political Islam; they have much more in common with Nazis than they do with Jews.

False Meme #9:
Opponents of the burkini are misusing secularism as a tool to persecute Muslims.

This is perhaps the most damaging of all these false memes because it is potentially the most effective at neutralizing opposition to political Islam. First of all, the target of any hostility is political Islam, not all Muslims. Secondly, the idea that secular principles must be applied exclusively to state institutions is simplistic. The fact that secularism is first and foremost a program of governance, to be applied to public institutions, does not imply that secular principles cannot be applied elsewhere as well. Given the danger which political Islam represents (and the veil is one of its major tools), if secularism can mitigate that danger then so much the better. That is not a misuse of secularism, rather it is what secularism is for: preventing religions from imposing themselves on the public, so as to protect freedom of conscience.


Next blog: Multiculturalism, Orientalism and Exoticism

Challenges for Canadian Secularists

2016-09-20, updated 2016-09-21

A (non-exhaustive) list of seven challenges which Canadian secularists must meet in order to promote a state which is truly independent of religious interference.

Sommaire en français

Une liste (non exhaustive) de sept défis que les partisans de la laïcité doivent relever afin de prôner un État véritablement indépendant et libre d’ingérence religieuse. Ces défis sont :

  • Prôner l’abolition de la monarchie
  • Abandonner le multiculturalisme (communautarisme)
  • S’opposer à tous les intégrismes, y compris l’islamique, et pas seulement le chrétien
  • Reconnaître que certains codes vestimentaires sont nécessaires pour la laïcité
  • Respecter le choix du Québec en matière de laïcité
  • Laisser tomber votre puéril engouement pour Saint Justin Trudeau
  • Rejeter l’influence de la gauche régressive

CANADIAN SECULARISTS MUST:

PROMOTE ABOLITION OF THE MONARCHY.

The monarchy is a religious institution, incompatible with fundamental human rights.

The fact that Canada’s head of state must be of a particular religion is bad enough, but it is only a symptom of the underlying problem: the monarchy is essentially a religious institution, in which the king or queen rules by “divine right,” i.e. a mandate from an imaginary divinity. The fact that Canada’s monarchy is constitutional does not change that situation; it simply makes the monarchy non-absolute. Similarly, so-called “moderate” Christian churches avoid some of the worst excesses of fundamentalist churches, but they are still Christian.

Furthermore, hereditary transmission of the title of head of state violates the principle of equality which is fundamental to human rights and secularism. Finally, the bizarre circumstance that Canada’s monarch is a foreigner—and the head of state of a foreign country—tends to favour those whose ethnic background is from that country and to undervalue all others.

ABANDON MULTICULTURALISM.

Multiculturalism = communitarianism = cultural relativism = ethno-religious determinism = religious essentialism = soft racism = an electoral strategy of unscrupulous politicians

I have criticized multiculturalism in previous blogs and articles and many other writers have pointed out the flaws in this nice-sounding but retrograde concept. In particular the Canadian Multiculturalism Act must be repealed or at least modified substantively so that it can no longer be used to favour the more religious (including fundamentalists and worse) over the less religious and the non-religious.

OPPOSE ALL RELIGIOUS FUNDAMENTALISMS, INCLUDING ISLAMIC.

Christianity is not the only crappy religion. Islam is just as dangerous—and currently it is arguably even worse (which does not imply that we can stop criticizing Christianity for now). Sikh, Hindu, Judaic and other fundamentalisms are also dangerous.

In particular, we must resist the Islamist ploy, so commonly used to manipulate well-meaning fools, of playing the victim, of exaggerating the seriousness of anti-Muslim acts. In Canada, hate crime statistics indicate that the most frequent targets of such acts continue to be blacks and Jews.

Although is it obviously unfair to blame all Muslims for the actions of Islamist terrorism, all Muslims, including so-called moderates, nevertheless have a responsibility to confront the reality of that terrorism—i.e. the fact that the coran and other core documents of Muslim tradition contain much hate propaganda and many calls for deadly violence—and to distance themselves definitively from it. The fact that the torah and the bible also contain similar content does not mitigate Muslims’ responsibility; it simply means that Christians and Jews also have responsibilities.

As the journalist Joseph Facal puts it, not all Muslims are guilty but all are responsible. Adopting the posture of a victim is a strategy for shirking those responsibilities. (“enfermement dans une posture victimaire qui conduit à se défiler devant ses propres responsabilités.”)

RECOGNIZE THAT SECULARISM REQUIRES DRESS CODES.

Or do you want police and judges to wear collanders and niqabs?

It is unacceptable for public servants—especially those with coercive power such as police, judges and prison guards—to display blatant symbols of religious or political affiliation while on duty. To allow such aberrant behaviour has nothing to do with “rights”—rather it amounts to granting a privilege to the wearers of such symbols and to their religion or ideology, a privilege which compromises everyone else’s freedom of conscience.

Face-coverings are even worse, as they are impediments to security and communication, among other issues. They should be forbidden for all users of public services, not just state employees on duty.

RESPECT QUEBEC’S CHOICES.

The Québécois have every right to choose laïcité without being vilified for it.

During the debate over Quebec’s proposed Charter of Secularism in 2013-2014, opposition to the Charter from Canada outside Quebec was ferocious and based largely on ethnic bigotry against Quebeckers, bigotry which is often called “racism” (although inaccurate here, because French-speaking Québécois constitute a nation, not a “race”). When the PQ goverment was defeated in the provincial election of April 2014 and the Charter thus died, the defeat was because voters rejected the PQ’s sovereignty option, not secularism. Polls show that secularism remains very popular among Quebeckers, and their secularism is more in line with the modern republican tradition of laïcité which is obviously superior to the lame 17th-century Lockean pseudo-secular tradition which is dominant in English-speaking countries and remains so, largely as a result of anglo-ethnocentrism.

(This tension was also very evident during the recent burkini controversy. More on that in a future blog.)

ABANDON YOUR CHILDISH INFATUATION WITH SAINT JUSTIN TRUDEAU.

Justin Trudeau is as anti-secular and as shallow as Pope Franky. Like the pope, his strength is in dishonest self-marketing.

Trudeau opportunistically courts the votes of various religious communities by flirting with very dubious Islamists (with ideological affinities to the Muslim Brotherhood) and with fundamentalist Sikhs.

Trudeau insults gays and women by marching in gay parades and claiming to be a feminist while continuing to be very chummy with religious fanatics who practice gender segregation and oppose gay rights and gender equality.

Trudeau slanders secularists by lumping us all in the same category as a bigoted con-artist like Donald Trump.

To criticize Trudeau does not imply support for his adversaries and enemies. That would be falling into the trap of what I call the “binary fallacy” and which Wikipedia calls “False dilemma”.

REJECT THE REGRESSIVE LEFT.

Western women who wear the veil contribute to the subservience of women elsewhere in the world for whom wearing the veil is an obligation.

The regressive left uses specious accusations of “intolerance,” “xenophobia,” “islamophobia,” etc. to deflect or silence legitimate criticism of religions and multiculturalism.

Secularists must explicitly reject the odious influence of the regressive left which Wikipedia describes as “a section of left-wing politics which is accused of paradoxically holding reactionary views due to tolerance of illiberal principles and ideologies (such as extremist Islamism) for the sake of multiculturalism and cultural relativism.” This accusation is certainly valid in light of the behaviour of many leftist and centrist Canadian politicians, the most noteworthy being Justin Trudeau who, for electoral advantage, regularly panders to various religious communities (such as Islamist and Sikh) which tend to be of the fundamentalist variety.

It is shameful how Trudeau and his ilk present the wearing of the Islamic veil as some sort of victory for women’s rights when in reality it is precisely the opposite. Remember the admonition of Mona Eltahawy, author of “Headscarves and Hymens”: western women who wear the veil contribute to the subservience of women elsewhere in the world for whom wearing the veil is an obligation.


Next blog: False Memes from the Burkini Wars

Thoughts on the Niqab

2015-10-13 @ 13:00

A collection of observations about the current controversy surrounding the niqab, which recently received legal recognition in two Canadian federal court decisions. Wearing the niqab while taking the citizenship oath is now a “right.”

Sommaire en français

  • Parler du niqab comme un vêtement “musulman” comme font constamment les médias anglophones Canadiens, c’est déplacer le centre de la diversité des musulmans vers l’extrémisme. C’est une insulte faite aux musulmans plus modérés.
  • Il y plusieurs raisons (chacune étant suffisante) d’interdire le niqab dans les cérémonies officielles : (1) Le niqab entrave la communication. (2) Il symbolise l’asservisement de la femme. (3) Il compromet la liberté de conscience des autres participants de la cérémonie. (4) Il est une forme de militantisme politique fasciste, totalement déplacé dans le contexte. (5) Il nuit à l’identification de la personne et à la sécurité de tous.
  • Le seul argument pour permettre le port du niqab dans les cérémonies est l’ensemble des lois fédérales canadiennes qui sont défectueuses car elles accordent une priorité indue à la religion. Il faut modifier ou abroger ces lois.
  • Les autres pseudo-arguments pour permettre le niqab sont d’une nullité totale et souvent mensongers. On essaie de culpabiliser les gens qui s’opposent au niqab pour une opinion tout à fait raisonnable.
  • Le « débat » sur le niqab—qui n’est pas un débat mais plutôt une campagne toxique de dénigrement de la laïcité—est une reprise de la controverse autour de la défunte Charte de la laïcité en 2013-2014, avec la différence qu’on ne peut comparer le Parti Québécois (qui a pris une position pro-laïcité) aux Conservateurs de Harper (qui n’ont rien de laïque).
  • La reconnaissance légale du port du niqab en tout lieu et en toute cironstance est une grande victoire pour l’islamofascisme et une grande défaite pour la démocracie.
  • Comble d’ironie, ce n’est pas Harper qui est en train de mettre le dernier clou dans le cercueil de la bonne réputation internationale qu’avait le Canada avant le début de son régime en 2006. Non, ce sont ses adversaires Mulcair et Trudeau qui s’opposent sottement à l’interdiction du niqab qui font maintenant du Canada la risée de la planète.

Moving the Muslim Mainstream Towards Islamism

By refering to the full veil—such as the niqab—as “Muslim” clothing, as the media repeatedly do, they effectively move the “centre” or mainstream of Muslims down the spectrum towards extremism. This is because the niqab is not just plain Muslim dress, rather it is a form of clothing imposed by a particular radical fundamentalist fringe of Islam, usually referred to as Islamism. If the niqab is now considered representative of Islam, then Islam is now centred around radical Islamism. This does a serious disservice to moderate Muslims, because it colours them with the same radical brush as the extremists.


The Arguments for Banning the Niqab During Official Ceremonies

Of course the wearing of face coverings during official ceremonies must be banned. It is utterly absurd to even consider allowing such accoutrements in the context of a solemn occasion such as a citizenship ceremony. There are several arguments to be made, any one of which is sufficient to justify a ban:

  1. Communication In human interaction, non-verbal communication via facial expression is a major component (about half) of the total communication. By hiding the face or most of it, the niqab-wearer refuses to communicate effectively. That individual is cut off from other humans by the virtual wall she or he is wearing, seriously undermining interactions with others. Human beings are social animals. A person who covers her/his face is a person not to be trusted.
  2. Rights of Women The full Islamist veils such as the burka and the niqab are blatant symbols of the subjugation and inferiorization of women. It is a flag of gender inequality and transmits the message that women are the property of men.
  3. Freedom of Conscience of Participants By allowing one particular group to display blatantly one of its sectarian symbols during an official ceremony, the freedom of conscience of all other participants is compromised by having a particular religious belief system imposed on them. Allowing such religious advertising in a context which is a state occasion totally unrelated to religion is similar to having large displays of commercial advertising in the classrooms of public schools.
  4. Political Activism in an Inappropriate Context Islamist fundamentalism is not just a religious tendency. It is a major and very dangerous political ideology with an anti-democratic program. Wearing the full veil constitutes implicit promotion of this fascist ideology. While this may be tolerated, for reasons of freedom of expression, outside of public institutions, such promotion is unacceptable during an official ceremony (or, similarly, if the wearer is a public servant on duty).
  5. Identity and Security Of course face-coverings make identification difficult and are thus a major security issue. No further explanation is required on this point.

There may be other arguments missing from the above list.


The Argument Against Banning the Niqab During Official Ceremonies

There is only one argument against banning the niqab, and it is not really an argument but rather a set of legal constraints. Canadian federal law is severely flawed and unjust because it grants many privileges to religions and to religious institutions. That is why judges have recently struck down the niqab ban, i.e. because Canadian law strongly supports such an interpretation. Freedom of religion is given a higher priority than other freedoms. The obvious solution is to change the law.

In the case of the niqab, the following modifications are required or highly recommended:

  • Repeal 17.1.b of the Citizenship Regulations, part of the Citizenship Act, which stipulates that the oath must be administered with “the greatest possible freedom in the religious solemnization or the solemn affirmation thereof.”
  • Repeal (or greatly revise) the Multiculturalism Act, and remove references to it from other legislation, because Canadian multiculturalism is basically equivalent to cultural relativism. As writer and secular activist Djemila Benhabib has pointed out (in a Facebook post, Oct. 10), “Multiculturalism quite simply legitimizes, in the political, judicial and social spheres, inequalities which originate in the culture and religion of one’s birth. Given that it is founded on the recognition of religions and the assignment by default of each individual to his or her immutable birth identity, any constraint on religious expression is usually interpreted as a hindrance to freedom of religion per se, as discriminatory, or even as racist. From that perspective, the various fundamentalisms have found an ideal vehicle and an open road to advance their cause!” (Translation: D.R.)
  • Revise the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to remove its pro-religious bias. For example, the Charter lists freedom of conscience, freedom of religion and freedom of belief as three of several fundamental freedoms. However, the last two are NOT fundamental; rather, both are part of freedom of conscience, which also includes freedom FROM religion and freedom of NON-belief. Thus, freedom of conscience should be listed as fundamental, while freedoms of religion, irreligion, belief and non-belief should all be listed as corollaries of it.

The last of these three modifications would be very difficult to achieve because it involves amending the Constitution. The first two would be less difficult, but not easy. Once again, the above list may need to be expanded. For example, the Criminal Code needs to be revised by removing both the blasphemy ban and the religious exception for hate propaganda. And of course the mention of “God” must be removed from the preamble to the Canadian Charter.


Some Pseudo-arguments Against Banning the Niqab During Official Ceremonies

The Binary fallacy

This fallacy, called the “either-or” fallacy and other names, describes the false notion that there are only two possibles responses to a situation. In this case, you must either oppose Harper (and support the niqab as a “right”) or oppose the niqab, but not both. We can succinctly summarize this fallacy using the following pseudo-syllogism:

  1. Harper is evil.
  2. Harper hates the niqab.
  3. Therefore, the niqab is good

That sums up rather well the intellectual acuity (i.e. vacuity) of those who claim that the wearing of the niqab is a “right.” It makes as much sense as opposing the breathing of oxygen because Harper breathes oxygen.

Religious “Freedom”

The court decisions striking down the niqab ban and the discourse of those who support those decisions are riddled with references to freedom of religion which elevate that freedom above other considerations. This privilege must be refused. But to do so will require modifying legislation as explained above.

Specious Accusations of “Intolerance” etc.

Accusations of “divisiveness”, “identity politics”, “intolerance”, “xenophobia” and even “racism” are regularly thrown at supporters of a niqab ban. These accusations are pure bullshit, a smokescreen to distract from the speciousness and vacuity of arguments against the ban. In response to the fact that polls have shown that a majority of Canadians, and an overwhelming majority in Quebec, support a niqab ban, opponents of a ban blather about a “lack of understanding” of other cultures and a “lack of exposure” to diverse cultures, as if this majority were motivated only by ignorance. Yet these accusations come from those who never mention the very dangerous aspects of some very prominent variants of Islam; it is the accusers who display ignorance. Furthermore, the niqab itself is a barrier to knowledge of and interaction with others.

The Politics of Guilt

Closely related to the previous point is the tactic of trying to silence secularists—and anyone else who would try to put reasonable constraints on the excesses of religion—by instilling feelings of guilt. This is often phrased as “the politics of fear” as if fear were irrational or even a horrible sin. In reality, to fear religion in general and Islam in particular is in no way irrational. On the contrary it is a matter of due diligence, a necessity. When that due diligence is performed, when we make the effort to examine various religious doctrines and movements objectively, we find many of which we should indeed be very afraid, and Islam is currently at the top of that list. A particularly disgusting example of this strategy can be found in the Toronto Star Editorial Can Stephen Harper stoop any lower on the niqab?. They even manage to slander Quebec.

Extreme Libertarianism

The dangerous meme which states that wearing a full veil anywhere and everywhere is a “right” is related to an extreme version of the ideology of libertarianism or right-wing anarchism. This ideology holds that the only good government is basically no government, or the smallest and weakest possible. Consequently, it leads inevitably to the tyranny of the rich and powerful. For example, if a country has no legislation preventing foreign powers from financing religious institutions, then that country is a sitting duck for the Saudi Arabian government (which internally is certainly not libertarian!) and its very well financed campaign to use petro-dollars to establish mosques in many countries and use them to preach a Wahhabite version of Islam.


The Niqab “Debate” is a Repeat of Opposition to Quebec’s Charter of Secularism

There is a strong parallel between the currently proposed niqab ban and the Charter of Secularism proposed in 2013-2014 by the former PQ Quebec government. In both cases there is no real debate, but rather toxic hostilities and moralizing from those who oppose any dress code. Supporters of a dress code are vilified, accused of the usual plethora of imaginary crimes (“intolerance”, etc.) taken from the familiar arsenal of Canadian multiculturalists. In both cases opponents elevate “freedom of religion” to a status having priority over other freedoms and then call this privilege a “right.”

Of course there are also differences between the two situations. The separatism (or sovereignty or independence) promoted by the PQ is an innocuous political program compared to the anti-science, anti-environmentalist and anti-democratic policies pursued by the current federal government. Antipathy towards the PQ is largely just a matter of hatred of Quebecers, i.e. ethnic bigotry (which in other contexts many people would imprecisely call “racism”) against Francophone Quebecers, whereas antipathy towards Harper’s Conservatives has a much more rational basis. Voting for the Parti Québécois in the April 2014 provincial election was an eminently reasonable option for secularists, whereas in the current federal election the niqab issue does not justify voting for Harper, especially given that his government’s attempts to ban the niqab—although laudable and certainly preferable to the cowardly and retrograde position of the two opposition parties—have nothing to do with secularist goals.

Nevertheless, it must be recognized that these questions of secularism—i.e. the Charter in April 2014 and the proposed niqab ban currently—must be distinguished from other, unrelated issues and evaluated on their own merits. A good idea is a good idea, even one coming from the much hated (and for good reasons) Harper government. There are many good reasons to vote against Harper, but the niqab issue is NOT one of them.


Democracy 0, Islamofascism 1

The recent success of Zunera Ishaq in obtaining the “right,” as ruled by two federal courts this year, to be sworn in as a Canadian citizen while wearing the niqab, is a major victory for Islamofascism and a major defeat for secularism, and hence a defeat for democracy, because it enshrines in Canadian jurisprudence an important religious privilege. Indeed, the courts’ rulings imply that Ishaq’s religious affiliation is more important even than the citizenship she is obtaining. By elevating religious privileges, the rights of the non-religious are demeaned; indeed the rights of everyone not belonging to the particular religious sect enjoying the privilege is similarly demeaned.

The niqab, like the burka, is a sort of flag of international islamofascism and Ishaq, whether she realizes it or not, is in the vanguard of that movement. The niqab is of course a Muslim symbol, but promoted by the most fundamentalist, radical and extremist of Muslims. To trivialize the full veil, to make it commonplace, a mere choice of clothing, while simultaneously elevating it to the status of a “right” which must be protected in the name of freedom of religion—even in a solemn ceremony having nothing to do with religion—is a major victory for fundamentalists. It is a victory won without physical weapons, using only legalities, to destroy rights using “rights.” It is a victory made very easy by Canadian multiculturalism, which leaves the door wide open for abuse.

The Islamists must be laughing all the way to the mosque.


Canada’s Ruined International Reputation

After a decade of government by the Harper Conservatives, Canada’s formerly enviable reputation in the international community is almost destroyed. But, ironically, the final nail in the coffin of that reputation is being hammered not by Harper but by the fools who oppose his policy of attempting to ban the niqab. By supporting the ridiculous idea that a religious fanatic and political activist for an international fascist movement has the “right” to wear a symbol of her or his movement, anywhere and everywhere, even during a solemn state ceremony, Mulcair, Trudeau and other niqab-defenders have made sure that Canada is now the laughing stock of the planet.


Suggested reading:


Next blog: Trudeau & Mulcair Can Easily Resolve the Niqab Issue

Secularism Versus the Multicultis

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