My name is Fred and I am a gay conservative living in Ottawa. This blog supports limited government, the right of the State of Israel to live in peace and security, and tries to expose the threat to us all from cultural relativism, post-modernism, and radical Islam. I am also the founder of the Free Thinking Film Society in Ottawa (

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The dark side of multiculturalism...

Robert Sibley has a masterful essay in today's Ottawa Citizen.
It hasn't helped, he says, that cultural and academic elites promote a radical version of multiculturalism that undermines and effectively "denationalizes" the country. Indeed, nothing better exemplifies contemporary elite assumptions than multiculturalism. Multicultural theory asserts that assimilating immigrants from non-western countries is wrong because it presumes western culture is superior. Assimilation, in other words, is coercion. Liberal societies must accept not only the immigrants but also their cultures. Thus, the maintenance and even the assertion of cultural values becomes a fundamental right. Originally, of course, the elites that promoted this theory thought multiculturalism would amount to immigrants celebrating their native cultures while gradually adopting prevailing liberal principles of political order. Immigrants might hang trinkets from rearview mirrors, cheer soccer teams from the old country and hold festivals displaying the native cuisine and artifacts of their homelands, but they would, as it were, be good liberals.

Not surprisingly, multiculturalism was pushed beyond trinkets and restaurants. The original idea of multiculturalism as a way to promote tolerance and open-mindedness was kidnapped by the radical left and inflated to produce a variety of notions -- postmodernism, poststructuralism, postcolonialism -- all of which are essentially anti-western. So today, as Huntington remarks, multiculturalism is "basically an anti-western ideology."

Contemporary multiculturalism, at its most fundamental, is an appeal to and promotion of what historian Vincent Cannata has called "native nationalisms." In effect, the imposition of multicultural policies in liberal western countries resulted in the importation of cultural ascriptions and practices that are, in some cases, inimical to liberal traditions. Behind this is the assumption on the part of western cultural elites since the Second World War that nationalism is almost the equal of fascism. This, of course, ignores the context of nationalist expression. To wave the flag in Canada or the United States is not the same as waving the flag in Nazi Germany. To "stand up for America" is not necessarily a demonstration of xenophobia. For the elites, however, nationalism demonstrates one of the great sins of liberalism -- exclusion. To apply "nation" to a group or set of values is to exclude others. In today's globalized worlds, say the cosmopolitans, the nation-state been superseded by the realities of mass immigration, multi-ethnic populations and telecommunications.

This makes multiculturalism much more than a feel-good policy to make immigrants feel more comfortable in their new surroundings. Roger Kimball, a respected cultural commentator in the United States, summarized the situation in an essay earlier this year in The New Criterion: "We are now beginning to reap the fruit of our liberal experiment with multiculturalism. The chief existential symptom is moral paralysis, expressed, for example, in the inability to discriminate effectively between good and evil ... The large issue here is one that has bedeviled liberal societies ever since they were liberal: namely, that in attempting to create a maximally tolerant society, we also give scope to those who prefer to create the maximally intolerant society."

Joseph Rhea, in his book Race Pride and the American Identity, offers an illuminating example of just how far the cultural elites will go in denigrating western civilization by comparing poems recited at two presidential inaugurations three decades apart. At President John F. Kennedy's inauguration in 1961, Robert Frost referred to the "heroic deeds" that marked the founding of the United States in 1776. America, Frost proclaimed, was established with God's "approval" and ushered in "a new order of the ages." "Our venture in revolution and outlawry/ Has justified itself in freedom's story/ Right down to now in glory upon glory." The United States, the poet concluded, was embarking on a new "golden age of poetry and power."

Thirty-two years later, at President Bill Clinton's inauguration, Maya Angelou's poem, "On the Pulse of Morning," portrayed a badly tarnished America. In fact, Angelou didn't once use the words "America" or "American." Instead, she identified 27 racial, religious, tribal and ethnic groups -- Muslim, Arab, Asian, Hispanic, Pawnee, Ashanti, Jews, Irish, Scandinavian and even Eskimos (Inuit, for politically corrected Canadians), among others. She denounced the repression these groups suffered at the hands of the United States' "armed struggles for profit" and its "bloody sear" of "cynicism." (How, you might ask, has the U.S. oppressed Scandinavians?) The United States, Angelou concluded, may be "wedded forever to fear, yoked eternally to brutishness."


Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thoughtful post. Really enjoyed reading it.

By extension, how now do we put the genie back into the bottle? We have aboriginal First Nations, and a whole host of non-western citizen's in Canada that are politically very aggressive.

Where is our "firm but fair" position?

What makes rational sense will not necessarily be a place to stand since the MSM and the other political parties will attack any position as being xenophobic.

Thanks for the thoughts.



1:09 PM  
Anonymous Jack said...

Thank you for this. I read it "cover to cover" and I haven't seen better comment in a long time.

I'll be looking for the next essay he writes.

Take care...

3:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like the new layout. Very clean and easy to read.

4:09 PM  
Blogger Al said...

Makes one wonder what they are thinking. If we see tribalism in the ME as a problem how can we not see that setting up multiple and disparate groups here will not end up being a problem? Good post.

4:15 PM  

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