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Monday, June 12, 2006

Is multiculturalism responsible for creating terrorists in Canada?

There are a lot of good points in this National Post article on multiculturalism and its role in the lives of the recently arrested terror suspects in Toronto.

I am, however, a little troubled by some of the conclusions readers may draw. The NP is running a week-long series and I think they are genuinely trying to do an honest analysis. However, because of the general mindset of the MSM I think they simply are not able to grasp the entirety of it, and certainly not enough to dispel the ingrained prejudices of stubborn bigots.

The recent disruption of an alleged homegrown Islamist terror plot has caused many Canadians to ask: How can multiculturalism -- which preaches tolerance above all else -- be squared with a militant, intolerant creed that demonizes non-believers? ... The arrest of a group of Canadian Muslims accused of plotting terrorist attacks in Toronto has thrown a shadow over a favourite monument of Canadianism: multiculturalism. Whatever the fate of the suspects, this cherished concept is suddenly up for grabs.

So then. What exactly does terrorism have to do with culture? Could the crux of the problem lie with the fact that "multiculturalism" is a misnomer for this policy? I once sat on an advisory council to the government of BC and had the temerity to suggest that we bring the "culture" back to "multiculturalism" and leave the issues of race relations and immigration to the government departments assigned to handle them. For that, I had a huge strip torn off me. That was some experience in "tolerance."

In the Trudeau era, we chose to define our society as a patchwork of many culturally distinct groups that may or may not interact. The word we used to describe this new, more balkanized model -- multiculturalism -- is harmless on its face: No reasonable Canadian opposes the right of immigrants to respect their homeland cultures and retain aspects of their pre-Canada lives.

But Canada has gone beyond that. Multiculturalism has become a way of putting people in narrow categories. Some groups have decided to live in ghettos of their own making, apart from the rest of us. ... How did we get to this point?

OK now, you had to see this coming...

A good starting point is the recent autobiography of Manoly R. Lupul, The Politics of Multiculturalism: A Ukrainian-Canadian Memoir. ... Other groups were involved, but Ukrainians remained influential.

Eureka! But of course. This whole Pandora's Box of homegrown terrorism started when the government handed the Ukrainians a blank cheque to fund all those darn dance groups and whatnot. Then the Germans and Czechs and Scots got in on it, followed by the Natives and then the Asians ... and next thing you know, we have all these terrorists coming out of the woodwork.

Judging by some of the things I've read, overheard, and had said directly to me, that ludicrous line of reasoning is actually held by many Canadians. Of course, if asked whether they truly believe that terrorists are trained at dance rehearsals, they might stop and realize how stupid it is. But I wonder about that.

I once attended a costume party dressed as an "escapee from a Ukrainian dance troupe" and a fellow there dressed as a leprechaun informed me that "there are too many Ukrainian dance groups in Canada." And in 1991 or so when I was explaining to a Canadian Airlines co-worker about Ukraine finally becoming sovereign, she (a part-Indian immigrant from Britain who always walked around the office with a Monarchy magazine under her arm) suggested I move to Ukraine since "my heart wasn't here." My family's 100-year Canadian lineage didn't impress her in the least.

In the end, at least the author of this article gets it right ... but I wonder if his fellow Canadians are in a mood to listen? Or are they just going to call for the government to "stop funding all those Ukrainian dance groups"?*

In this unhappy season, we need substantial criticism of multiculturalism and a redefinition of what it means. On these issues, we should look for a much better and more candid performance from our political leadership, from the media (which too willingly accept ghettoization), and from the various religious and ethnic groups in Canada. Perhaps we have to begin by admitting that over 30 years we have made some grave mistakes.


*For the uninformed, the government doesn't fund Ukrainian dance troupes or any other cultural groups. At least not in my neck of the woods.

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