Mansur skewers multiculturalism but does it with fairness by HERMAN GOODDEN
Original at London Free Press, August 20, 2011
UWO professor of political science and Sun Media columnist Salim Mansur has written a challenging new book, Delectable Lie, which he classifies as “a liberal repudiation of multiculturalism”. The central contention of Delectable Lie is that, “although multiculturalism once seemed a very good idea, at least to politicians and others smitten with the ambition for unity, it is increasingly shown to be a lie — a delectable lie, perhaps, yet a lie nevertheless — that is destructive of the West’s liberal democratic heritage, tradition and values based on individual rights and freedoms.”
In a bid to be inclusive and welcoming to new citizens, Mansur argues, the liberal democracies of the West have developed multiculturalism programs which are founded on the proposition of another lie, that all cultures are equal and readily compatible with one another. It is Mansur’s contention that the various multicultural initiatives put in place in the 1970s as a means by which to minimize the hardships of immigrants by making the break with their country of origin less total — too often leave us not with new committed citizens but with dual citizens, migrant workers and spongers who have no intention of assimilating with the Canadian way of life and sometimes even hold it in contempt and work toward its destruction.
In one of the most fascinating chapters in Delectable Lie, Mansur contrasts the modern experience of immigrating to the West with the old. Prior to the mid-20th century, it was primarily Europeans who settled in Canada, the U.S. and Australia and, Mansur writes, such movement “involved considerable expense for travel by way of trains and ships over many weeks. The decision to make the journey required psychological preparation on the part of immigrants in both leaving their native land with some certainty of never returning, and of anticipating the new country with challenges ahead of settlement and assimilation. An immigrant was mostly brimming with gratitude on arriving in the country of his choice and grateful for the opportunities open to him that did not exist or were denied him in the land of his birth.”
Today those life-altering journeys, increasingly drawn from Third World countries that may not share fundamental Canadian values regarding freedom of speech and worship and the equality of women, can often be made in a day at much less expense — financially, psychically, emotionally. And thanks to developments in global communication, many new Canadians no longer feel the same compulsion once they get here to take up residence in any sense except the physical.
At 173 well-researched and carefully reasoned pages, this is an explosive expose that might have been rejected out of hand as an xenophobic rant if it hadn’t been written by a Muslim who himself emigrated to Canada from “war torn South Asia” in 1974. “In Canada I found safety, support and the opportunity to begin a new life with all the promise my adopted home held forth for me. In time I came to feel uncomfortable with the notion of being a hyphenated Canadian.
The part of me that belonged to the wider Indian culture I inherited at birth without any effort on my part. But the part of me, the much greater part, through the university education I acquired and the air I breathed as I mingled with the people around me at school, in work, and in politics, became by choice and conscious effort Canadian.”
Unlike some commentators who take on these hotly contested issues, Mansur never resorts to cheap shots or dismissive slurs. However wrongheaded he believes the architects of multiculturalism to be, he takes them at their word and respectfully presents their claims before politely and convincingly repudiating them. Mansur does not eviscerate his opponents with the intoxicating glee of a Mark Steyn. And an occasional professorial clunker of a sentence requires a few readings to extract the sense, ie: “This deprecates the consequence that liberal democracy’s core principle of individual freedom is undermined by extending recognition to groups defined through collective identity opposed culturally to it.” But you also don’t set this book down with an uneasy sense that the author has been less than fair to those he disagrees with.
There will be a London book launch for Delectable Lie on Thursday, Sept. 8 at 7 p.m. at the Lamplighter Inn.