|Montreal, November 24, 2001 / No 93|
by Ralph Maddocks
The opposite of cosmopolitanism, and its offspring globalism, with both of which words it tends to be unfavourably compared, is patriotism. Patriotism, from patris or fatherland in Greek, is a word used less and less in our day. It used to indicate a love of country while inferring no distaste for another. Since it seems to be considered racist to use it in this sense nowadays, assuming as it does that if you are satisfied with your own country you must be wilfully nescient of the superiority of all the others, the word is in danger of disappearing from the dictionary. In fact it seems permissible only to employ the word in a pejorative sense, presumably until legislation is enacted which will ban its use completely.
Patriotism is, or used to be at least, a necessary component of membership
in all free societies; a status which was not necessarily acquired only
by birth but also by naturalization. The latter condition was akin to being
adopted and was expected to be revered as such. The so-called liberal democratic
societies of today are societies whose political life is shaped by shared
ideas, values and decisions. These features of a free society are supposed
to bind its members closely into a community of interdependence and responsibility,
a kind of shared destiny if you will. Free societies depend upon the patriotism
of their members and their love of country and personal commitment to maintain
civil order. It does not seem to me an unreasonable requirement to expect
that immigrants to any country will take part fully in the responsibilities
of their new citizenship.
Much Human Rights legislation regarding citizenship seems to ignore the moral and political aspects of this community of participation. The 'human right' to free movement and the citizenship of all has shown a tendency to transform free, settled and prosperous communities into places of temporary and free accommodation. Legislators today seem to believe that citizenship should not require any degree of assimilation or commitment. The social democracy of Quebec, quixotically, wants its immigrants to assimilate but stridently opposes any attempt at what it regards as their assimilation by Canada.
There is much talk in these same circles about social theory, social justice and social democracy. However, we should understand that the word 'social' is an adjective which automatically reverses the meaning of any noun it precedes. Thus a social market economy is not a market economy any more than a social worker is a worker or a social democracy a democracy. Social justice is definitely not justice, and its pursuit frequently involves and leads to injustice. In line with this doctrine of social justice, Canada's Supreme Court, in its wisdom decided some time ago that any person setting foot in this land was entitled to the exact same rights as those who were born or naturalized here. A decision which is likely to have far reaching and perverse effects.
Included in this concept of social justice is the idea of the multi-cultural state. Ignored are any problems it may bring. Most have probably forgotten that it was multi-cultural politics which led to the breakup of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, and more recently we have witnessed the breakup of the multi-cultural states of Yugoslavia and the former Soviet Empire.
Multi-culturalism is supported by the Left as an assault on national identity and the Right supports it because it sees it as the endorsement by outsiders of their values. The unceasing flood of immigrants from dissimilar cultures is the neo-conservatives' answer to the deprecation of national values by the Left. Even libertarians sometimes seem in favour of multi-culturalism, perhaps because they are in favour of anything that will break up the state. Can there be a better way of breaking up the state than dissolving national identity? Though these political positions may be incompatible they are understandable, but none is a legitimate reason for constructing, what some have described, as a political Tower of Babel. Doing so will require the introduction of stringent laws repressing various freedoms, as is becoming evident as the construction of the European Union proceeds apace.
Even under the former "melting pot" rules of the USA it is doubtful that the USA can continue to assimilate the high rate of third world, non-European immigration it has been experiencing in the last thirty years. Under the multi-cultural Balkanization policy now in effect, non-assimilation would seem to be a guaranteed outcome. Americans used to be Americans first and hyphenated Americans second, but civil rights policy seems to have turned every hyphenated American into a "preferred minority" and endowed them with special legal privileges. The problems that this left-wing idea of unfettered multi-culturalism has brought were not foreseen. Nobody seems to have bothered to analyze the likely effects that would follow increased immigration from countries whose belief and value systems differed very radically from those of the nations they entered so eagerly.
In 1999, the WorldNetDaily news website reported that the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission forced Argenbright Security Inc., a company which then as now provides airport security in the USA, to rehire seven Muslim non-citizens it had dismissed, five of whom were citizens of countries on the State Department's blacklist of terrorist organizations. The seven Muslims were fired because they refused to stop wearing their distinguishing headgear, garb which allegedly made many U. S. citizens very nervous when passing through airport security particularly after the Muslim bombings of the two U. S. embassies in Africa. According to the EEOC, "preferred minorities" do not have to be U. S. citizens in order to benefit from group rights. Argenbright was now forced by the EEOC to rehire them, make cash settlements, offer them apologies and institute a "Muslim-sensitivity training program for its employees." This policy thus ensures that Muslim or other non-citizens need to make no concession whatsoever to the Western culture that hosts them.
The war in Afghanistan has raised some very interesting questions within the ranks of the two main allied protagonists. The US armed forces have about 15,000 Muslims in uniform and, following the events of last September, the North American Islamic Jurisprudence Council was asked by one of the armed services' Imams if it was permissible for Muslim troops to fight other Muslims. The answer, sought from Muslim clerics overseas, was a Fatwa saying that they could – provided that there was "no alternative". Some time later though, according to the Middle East Media Research Institute, these same Arab clerics withdrew that permission and issued a Fatwa prohibiting Muslims in the armed services from taking part in attacks on Muslim forces. One would think that joining a country's armed service involves the likelihood of being asked to fight and possibly die for that country some day. I don't imagine that many in the US armed forces were aware of the influence of a Middle Eastern cleric, most especially not their commander-in-chief.
From the United Kingdom come reports of some 200 young Muslims who left for Afghanistan to join the Taleban wishing to return. This provoked an outbreak of anger, with government ministers claiming that these people had committed treason and would have their passports revoked. It was not clear from press reports whether these Muslims were native born or not. Presumably this is all that could be done to them because the UK Parliament has not declared a state of war to exist between itself and Afghanistan.
In the United Kingdom, Muslims, largely of Pakistani origin until recent times, pose by far the greatest challenge to society. Nowhere in the world do we see Islam assimilating into a Judeo-Christian civilization, or even into a secular one. Even those states which could be described as secular Muslim states are experiencing difficulties themselves and must rely on force to remain in power. Assimilating Muslims would be difficult enough if the multi-cultural problems had been foreseen and planned for. When "preferred minorities", as in the United States, are endowed with special legal privileges it becomes virtually impossible.
The United Kingdom has experienced similar problems with the assimilation of many of its immigrants. A large number, such as those of Caribbean ancestry and those adhering to the Muslim faith, have tended to band together in certain areas of a few large cities; they do not integrate and remain separate and different. This kind of behaviour could be expected of first generation immigrants, but hardly of their descendants. If one looks at the history of US immigration one finds that at first there were Irish, Polish, German, Puerto Rican and other ghettos within the cities. However, slowly these areas have, for the large part, become less and less distinctive as other immigrant groups moved into them; the "melting pot" was at work.
If one takes the trouble to walk, or drive slowly, north up Boulevard St. Laurent in Montreal, one can see very clearly from the names on the various businesses the successive waves of immigration which have taken place over the last century or so. There are also in Montreal, as in other Canadian cities, predominantly immigrant areas within the city. In some provinces of Canada there are whole sections of towns replete with stores and other facilities whose advertising is exclusively in the language of the resident immigrant community. Of course those provinces have not yet passed enlightened regulations such as Quebec's Bill 101, or even appointed language police to enforce them.
Although it is now almost half a century since first I set my immigrant
foot on Canadian soil, I have not forgotten the process through which I
was obliged to pass. First there was the usual form filling and supplying
information that nobody would ever use, then or later. Conflicting instructions
such as Do Not include any extra documents with the form and Wait
until you have all the relevant documents and send everything at the same
time were dealt with somehow.
|<< retour au sommaire||