Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Multi-Cult As Canadian As A Hijab? Only If You're Being Sarcastic.

Richard W. Woodley argues that multi-cult is "as Canadian as a kilt or a hijab" and he suggests that if we can accommodate our friends from other cultural backgrounds at home, it shouldn't be so controversial on a societal level. While the comparison "as Canadian as a hijab" alone may be mistaken for sarcasm by many (including myself), let's look at the examples he uses to convince us:
When you invite friends over do you ever serve food that their religion forbids them to eat. If you go to a wedding of someone of another faith do suggest they should be married in a “Canadian” church. If neighbours invite you to a cultural celebration do you complain about their foreign customs. Of course not, because that would be impolite and certainly not the Canadian way.
These analogies however work against what he believes should be the reasonable accommodation of minorities. Sure, when we invite friends over - we want to make sure we serve the food they like. But I doubt anyone would cancel a barbecue just because one of his friends is vegetarian. The host may get some soy burgers for that case (or he may not - that's his decision), but I doubt that any host (unless he's a vegetarian himself) would make everyone eat soy burgers, just because one of the guests can't stand meat.

Also, notice the word "invite". Sorry, but nobody is actually invited to come to Canada. People have to apply for immigration visa before they are admitted to Canada as permanent residents. The embassy doesn't mail out immigration visas randomly, hoping that some people would actually get on the plane and come to Canada. So at the very least the question above should have read "if your friends come over..." If not "if a student who rents your room..." (referring to those who come here on a student visa) or even "if a homeless guy asks for food and shelter..." - referring to the refugees.

The other two examples are "if you go to a wedding of someone of another faith..." and "if neighbours invite you to a cultural celebration..." - those analogies are twisted. Sure, when I'm the one invited, I'm not going to complain or insist or otherwise try to change things my way. But that is also the kind of behavior I'd expect from the people I invite.

Anyone who doesn't like the event he was invited to, may leave, or he may wait until it's over and choose not to show up again. He may choose to throw away the invitation and not to show up in the first place. But demanding that hosts reshape the event in the way one of the guests sees fit, just because he has 'honored' their event with his presence - that's clearly not an option.

And this is the principle which I think must be applied on a societal level. Same as having one vegetarian guest at a barbecue doesn't justify making everyone else eat buns with nothing but vegetables on them, having a few people in the audience that don't celebrate Christmas doesn't justify throwing the word "Christmas" out of a Christmas carol. Same as no tenant would be allowed to alter the premises he rents in the manner that the owner could no longer recognize his own house, no community should be permitted to establish "no go areas" or ghettos, making others feel like aliens in their home town.

If a guest starts complaining loudly about kitchen utensils being dirty, he'll be advised to go get some fresh air. That's why I believe the Muslim cash register worker who refused service to a Christian customer, should be given a one-way ticket to a country where bookstores never sell "unclean" Christian books. And clearly I don't believe that a custom like this one is going to strengthen or enrich Canada's culture.

It's not the mult-cult that made Canada great. (The latter was only brought in by Pearson government in 1965.) Canada became a great and prosperous nation thanks to the rule of law, thanks to democratic governing, based on the British Parliamentary system as well as thanks to the Christian traditions and the heritage of free speech that goes back to the year 1215 and the Magna Carta, which made democracy and the rule of law as we know them possible.

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