The Greatest of All Vices

2018-09-03 2018-09-04: name correction

I discuss several examples of blind and unhealthy conformism, i.e. conforming with the current “diversity” mania.

Sommaire en français Je présente plusieurs examples d’un conformisme aveugle et malsain, c’est-à-dire, se conformer à la mode actuelle de la « diversité ».

I once remarked in a previous blog that a favourite aphorism of mine is “the only vice is conformism” but that I was unable to locate the source. Since then I have determined that I had it exactly backwards. In fact, the correct quotation is “Non-conformism is the major, perhaps the only, sin of our time.” It is attributed to early-twentieth-century American author and psychologist Robert M. Lindner. Apparently Lindner encouraged raising children so that they would grow up to be independently minded. A noble goal, so I think that he would probably approve of my version, despite my error, because its intent is very much in line with his.

So I will stick with my version, albeit with one small improvement, changing “only” to “greatest” thus yielding:

The greatest vice is conformism.

and by that I mean that, when the vast majority–or at least the most vocal–are heading in one direction, it is a serious failure to follow them without first considering the merits and demerits of their choice. Blind, unthinking conformism is perhaps the worst of all vices.

I am a big fan of CBC Radio. I often listen to the programme “Because News,” a comedic quiz show based on current events, which normally does not take itself too seriously, except when certain specific subjects happen to be raised. For example, whenever the topic of conversation turns to Quebec and/or religious symbols, someone usually makes an obnoxious remark denigrating the Québécois for their alleged “intolerance” (or some synonym thereof). Recently, the tweets of Maxime Bernier criticizing Trudeau’s obsession with “diversity” have been in the news, and this issue turned up in the episode of Saturday Sept. 1st. Several of the show’s panelists therefore fell immediately into line with the dominant discourse of the day (which here in Quebec would be called « la pensée unique ») and made the requisite remarks denigrating Bernier for his alleged bigotry, while genuflecting in the direction of Trudeau-ite ideology. No-one dared offer a dissenting opinion. There was no hint whatsoever that maybe Bernier was not completely wrong. Their behaviour was an example of a blind and dangerous conformity.

Maxime Bernier is the sort of politician for whom I would never vote, because he is a right-wing libertarian, the sort who could be expected to allow the worst excesses of free-market capitalism, while at the same time weakening or cutting social programmes which help protect against those excesses. However, his criticism of Trudeau’s diversity schtick was totally valid and indeed necessary in order to resist the steamroller of that dominant ideology. Bernier also a displayed considerable courage in doing so—although, in his case, probably mixed with a good dose of ego.

Just how entrenched this ideology is can be measured by the fact that even the Conservative Party deemed it necessary to condemn Bernier’s remarks. So that party, in addition to being a hotbead of right-wing pro-Christian bigotry, is now also infected by the malady of communitarianism and clientelism, just like the Liberals and the NDP. Even the Conservative Party climbs on the bandwagon of diversity and identity politics, trolling for votes in certain ethno-religious communities.

The bottom line is this: The obsession with “diversity” has nothing to do with combating racism or xenophobia or anything of that nature. Rather, it is at best fashionable nonsense and, at worst, it is a form of soft (and sometimes not so soft) censorship whose purpose is to silence any dissent against the prevailing neoliberal agenda of weakening borders, compromising national sovereignty and muzzling criticism of religion, in particular criticism of Islam. This was clear when Trudeau recently vituperated against a Québécoise woman, accusing her of racism, when all she had done was ask a question about who would pay the considerable cost of a recent wave of irregular immigrants who crossed into Quebec from the US. Those who defend Trudeau’s indefensible behaviour say that the woman in question is a member of a “far-right” organization. Even if that were true, it is irrelevant, because her question was eminently legitimate.

Recently, the columnist Sophie Durocher gave another example of how “diversity” is simply code for censorship, this time from Quebec’s notoriously bad Ethics and Religious Culture (ERC) programme. ERC, which is compulsory at all levels of primary and secondary schools, indoctrinates children into a complacent and totally non-critical attitude towards religions. Durocher cites an example from an ERC textbook involving a girl Laurence who questions a classmate’s compliance with Ramadan, shocked that she would deny herself food and water during the day for an entire month. But the classmate responds that she is happy to conform to her “faith.” One of the questions following this story asks, “Was Laurence’s question with respect to diversity appropriate?” In other words, the ERC course teaches children that it is inappropriate to question a religious practice, even if that practice may have serious negative effects on a child’s health and development. Just shut up or we will call you a racist or worse.

If the Ethics and Religious Culture course were in fact ethical, it would instead encourage children to challenge religious tenets. Furthermore, it would question the wisdom of parents who would impose a radical and unhealthy practice such as Ramadan on growing children.

Under such circumstances, non-conformity with this communitarian ideology is everyone’s duty.

Next blog: Quebec-Bashing: Three Recent Examples