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Is multiculturalism to blame for the rise of homegrown terrorists?
The jihad inspired murder of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo and the subsequent armed attack on Parliament last week has shaken Canadians and left many questioning one of the country’s most popular policies: multiculturalism.
Is multiculturalism partly to blame for the rise of homegrown terrorists?
Canadians are justly proud of their ethnic and cultural diversity, calling it a national ‘asset’. In 1971, Canada was the first nation in the world to formally adopt multiculturalism as official government policy.
Clearly, many other nations, including the United States, are ethnically diverse, but Canada’s policy of multiculturalism was different in that it directly challenged the American ‘melting pot’ idea.
In Canada, immigrants are encouraged to maintain their own cultural heritage, language, customs and religious practices. It was felt that treating all cultures equally and with dignity would encourage immigrants to choose Canada freely, letting individuals adopt our laws, values and customs as their own at their own pace.
It is no exaggeration to say multiculturalism has been a rip roaring success in Canada. There is no doubt that Canada’s civil society has been sustained and reinforced as the country’s ethic and racial mix has diversified over the past four decades.
However, truth be told, there has always been a flaw in multiculturalism. The values of harmonization that lies behind the Canadian approach doesn’t work as well with religious fundamentalists, regardless of whether they are Jewish, Christian or Muslim.
Judaism, Christianity and Islam are all Abrahamic religions: in other words, they all trace their origins in one way or another to the biblical Abraham. More importantly, they all have Holy Books (Bible, Torah or Qur’an), which for True Believers represents the written Word of God.
It is the presence of the written Word that causes problems as value change over time. For instance, many Christian fundamentalists have difficultly with the idea of gender equality. Why? Because the Book of Genesis in the Bible tells them that God created Man in his own image. And then God, realizing Man needed a ‘partner’, created woman from the rib of Man.
For many strict Christian and Jewish fundamentalists, this implies strongly that women are less than men in the eyes of God and therefore equality of the sexes is morally wrong. It is a clash with modern values that causes great distress in certain communities.
The unspoken reality is, Canadian multiculturalism only really works if individuals place their civic responsibilities ahead of their particular religious values. Obviously, it’s a bit of a hit and miss affair.
Unfortunately, this values murkiness is running headlong into a civil war raging throughout the Islamic world.
Although it gets little attention these days, there is a major cultural battle between traditionalists and modernizers in Islam. It has been going on for decades, but lately Islamic modernizers, inspired by Western values (and technology), are slowly tipping the balance of values in the region.
Islamic State terrorists are obscenely violent and radical, in part because their traditionalist power base in this civil war is eroding. As the vanguard of this cause, they oppose all things Western – particularly the idea of female equality – based on long-standing culture norms and their strict interpretation of the Qur’an.
Canada, like many other Western nations, has recently declared war on ISIS (the Islamic State). In taking this action Canada has been blindly drawn into the midst of this civil war.
ISIS has very cleverly positioned western countries as the new Crusaders, Christian Infidels returning (once again) to try and destroy Islam. The military action we are taking suits the interests of the Islamic State traditionalists because it demonizes Islamic modernizers through their association with corrupt Western values.
The trouble is, Canada has not declared war on a rogue nation but an alien value system. In doing so, we’ve created (potential) enemies of all those who share those strict traditionalist values.
Multiculturalism lacks core values
All this begs the question: is Canada’s laissez-faire approach to multiculturalism unconsciously enabling a violent radicalized Islamic sub-culture in Canada?
The answer is yes . . . sort of. Multiculturalism is partly to blame because it is silent and somewhat complacent on the core values that are essential to (our definition of) human progress and Canada’s national identity.
We will lose the war we’ve so recently and arrogantly embraced if we don’t acknowledge it as a much different war than we imagined. Success must involve more than throwing bombs; we must fortify our core values and occupy the moral high ground for humanity. For that, we’ll need all the help we can get, including the active support of our allies, Islamic modernizers. -TROYMEDIA
Robert McGarvey is an economic historian and co-founder of the Genuine Wealth Institute, an Alberta-based think tank dedicated to helping businesses, communities and nations built communities of wellbeing. Robert is the author of The Creative Revolution, an historical guide to the future of capitalism.