Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The time for Covenanting is now...

The newspaper of choice of Canada's bureaucratic elites is The Globe and Mail. Today, there are a lot of interesting juxtapositions and contradictions on the editorial page, pointing to a crisis of identity that this blog has come into being to address.

The lead editorial (no link: subscription only) is titled: "Tackling the dangerous ideology of victimhood"...
"Muslims are not oppressed worldwide. Forty leading Arab and Muslim intellectuals, including Canadian economicist Atif Kubursi, have come out and said so in the past few years in the Arab Human Development Reports done for the United Nations... [note: apparently, the bureaucratic elite - e.g. those who still take the UN seriously - are no longer worshipping victimhood]

"The notion that Canadian Muslims are victims is nonsense. Their parents left behind constrained lives in countries such as Algeria and Somalia for the educational and economic opportunities of this country. They worship freely. They are very much part of the mainstream of Canadian life.

"In Canada, Muslims do not find themselves living in separate communities as in Britain, where in 17 primary schools, 90 percent of students are Bangladeshi. They are not living in sprawling suburban ghettos, as in France. Female Muslims are not forbidden to wear the traditional head scarf in public schools, as in France. Schools make enormous accomodations - barring male lifeguards, for instance, to permit special swimming periods for Muslim girls... [so much for employment equity, or the right of all girls to admire male lifeguards... if they ever instigate a single sex swimming schedule at my pool, I will explode] But the ideology of victimhood is attractive to some young people because it explains everything."
Then we read letters to the editor (subscription only) on the recent plot:
(from a historian): "Your newspaper's narrow focus on police efforts to prevent a terrorist attack has obscured a more fundamental issue: the fact that the suspected terrorists are essentially the products of Canadian schools. The public education system is our first line of defense agains homegrown terrorism. Arguably, this incident shows that it has failed to deliver the required ounce of prevention"

Another letter: "Drop into just about any classroom in Toronto and ask the kids about Canada. Surprised that they can't name the Prime Minister? They will probably just say, "Who cares?.. As an educator, I have always believed that our curriculum should be infused with Canadian content. We must teach kids what it means to be Canadian."

Another letter: "You [the Globe] say, "Some will even leap to the conclusion that our experiment with mass immigration and multiculturalism is failing, that our very tolerance and openness have become a weakness." Yes, and some will be right. Only in Toronto where political correctness has replaced logic and careful observation, would a major newspaper argue the opposite."

Another letter: "Canada is the most tolerant, inclusive and multicultural nation on Earth. Even our enemies are Canadian."
Then there are many letters both lauding and criticizing Christie Blatchford for her column (subscription only) saying she was fed up with Muslim leaders after attending a meeting where she said Muslims appeared more concerned to portray themselves as victims and in need of police protection, given their fear of a backlash, than people willing to take responsibility for the "radicals" in their midst (not to mention, I might add, for the all anti-Infidel talk in the Koran - cursing the unbeliever on almost every page - and Sunnah. But don't take my word for it: read the sacred texts yourself.)

All in all, I get the distinct impression that many Canadians, including many Muslims who want to be Canadians first, are desirous of rejecting multiculturalism, or some aspects of it, e.g. the cult of victimhood. On the other hand, no one knows what would replace it - there can be no going back now to a solely white, British and French, identity, not that we should forget to champion all the great things we have acquired from the western, Judeo-Christian past - so people continue to defend certain multicultural precepts, lacking any other vision of what a majoritarian Canadian culture is or could be. This is a problem we hope to address in depth over the days and years to come, here, where visions of a new and continuing Canadian covenant will hopefully be developed. All are welcome and encouraged to join us.


dag said...

I'm encountering a deluge of sentimentality from those of our own, as it were. There is a refusal to accept reality as it is, a fending off of facts and obvious reality that comes from them, such as that Toronto might have had a football field-size hole in its central business district if not for the police acting rightly.

there is a strong focus on the "niceties" of our struggle, that we shouldn't offend those who are "moderate Muslims." There is grat to do that those who break windows at Toronto mosques are morally equivalent to those who perpetrated Kristalnatch.

There is wailing and moaning and gnashing of teeth over some isolated calls to hang Sid Ryan.

There is a deep unreasoning among those who one must suspect are left-over Leftists in a new costume of Reason, an ill-fitting garb for them.

Violence is a reasonable reaction, if unlawful, to the situation we face today in the West. The denial of violence as rational is sentimental only. The violence-- vandalism on a petty scale-- is irrelvevant; the sentimentalist reaction against it is frightening. Our own, as I often refer to our Left, are criminal in many deep ways, but our own friends seem often to be little better in their wallowing in self-pity and sentimentality.

If we are to prevent a fascist Right from emerging, we will have to do our own work without the help of many of those who would identify themselves as ours. The people of Canada must learn that to pretend is still pretend even if it's a pretense from the so-called Right.

There are enough Canadians who value truth and intelligent acceptance of reality to leave behind the worthless converts who would claim Rightness but who in fact are still the same old Left fascists they used to be in name as well as deed.

Yuck on them!

truepeers said...

Well Dag, logically, the vandals' violence is not irrelevant if it creates a frightening sentimental reaction. Petty vandalism may often be irrelevant, but in certain symbolically-charged contexts, mere signs of violence can be all powerful. This power of the sign is the irrationality we must struggle to understand, for it is at the heart of the enemy and of ourselves. (You sure write a lot for someone who advocates violence ... ;)

Of course the comparisons to Kristallnacht are ludicrous, since every arm of the Canadian state is almost completely opposed to any show of force or articulation of power beyond what is needed to keep the peace. And in this opposition lies a potential mistake, for sometimes it is necessary to make clear that those who think of indulging their resentments or opposing society will be soundly squashed by a self-confident and self-loving people.

The mistake, I believe, is rooted in a misunderstanding of the anthropology of resentment, not that I can pretend that what I believe to be the best understanding - in Generative Anthropology - is yet available to our decision makers. To simplify, the mistake commonly made (though many are smart enough to avoid it, even if they cannot explain the anthropology behind it) is that a person's resentment must have some some logical basis, must be rooted in some kind of real injustice, if perhaps the injustice is blown out of proportion by the resentful. What a relief, then, to read the Globe and Mail refusing to make this mistake, and saying Islamic victimhood is a complete myth.

Resentment is inherently delusional: we are prone to feel it even when there is no rational basis for allowing the difference between us and the person or group towards which we feel resentful to lead to these feelings of injustice. I can resent another's success even when it is perfectly legitimate, within the rules of the most realistic, equalitarian and free, social or economic system.

The fact that the alienated - as we all are to some degree - are prone to feel resentment regardless of reason leads to the tragic Catch-22 of humanity. When one has a resentful group within one's society, does one appease it in hopes this will ameliorate the problem, but at the risk of exacerbating the irrationality of the situation, or does one force (and at whatever cost?) the resentful to face up to the fact (or, if they won't, to face complete and utter defeat) that they are deluded about the injustice they feel? When does irrationality deserve death? When does it threaten us so to require we turn to violence? It is foolish to think that good people will ever be anything but a little slow to cross this line.

It is usually, though not always, best to refuse appeasement, even at the risk of immediate violence, because this minimizes the quantum of violence one is likely to have to face over the long run. Appeasement exacerbates an irrational, unrealistic view of the world and this can bring peace in the short but great violence in the long term.

So I am not a pacificist. There is a role for violence in the moral conduct of human affairs. But I would never consider becoming a vigilante or rebel unless the democratic state were highly corrupt or unwilling to defend the people according to some basic standard of rationality and competence. We are not there yet in Canada, in my opinion. We must be aware of our own resentments and delusions and learn to transcend them by appealing rightly to the democratic authority of the people, that the people find the courage - often in face of the elites who demonize popular values to justify their own authority - to take the steps we need collectively to take to face down the irrational and violent.