Thursday, July 06, 2006

More Mail on Multiculturalism

The literatus challenges my take on Dalrymple:

Toronto is the *answer?* Weird, no-longer-Canadian, breathtakingly-violent Toronto? The laboratory of your principles?

Whaddya think about Teddy's obvious observation, that you can know *very little* about any culture you're not born into? Doesn't it put the lie to the NDP/Trudeauist notion that if we all just take some classes in Otherness, harmoniousness and the end of war will result? I shall study Somalianism, Bulgarian poetry and something Tibetesque, m'self; but if I really wanna learn, I'll go to those foreign places. Otherwise, I'll dwell in the old land and poetry of my Dominion, and wait for migrants to study me.

Conclusion: I welcome foreigners to Canada. I don't welcome Canada becoming foreign.

To which I respond:

Mr. Ted has a good point about how hard it is to really understand another culture. Going to England, or New York made me realize that - close as those cultures are, familiar as I am with their cultural products, there's a gap there. That gap can be understood a bit with education, but not really. And anyway most people aren't that educated. And if there is a gap in comparison to the US and UK, well, what is that compared to Iraq or Somalia?

Just trying to penetrate to the bottom of the strangeness that is English Canada is the work of a lifetime.

But I don't draw the same political conclusions. I lived in Toronto for a total of 8 years. What struck me was how well it worked. Less racial tension than in the relatively homogeneous Victoria of my childhood. This wasn't the leftist part of my brain - which was looking for oppression and conflict. What amazed me was all the people who started some hopeless business, lined up for the TTC and got their kids into U of T.

U of T didn't really have the kind of knee-jerk leftism that UVic had. That was largely because the genuinely diverse population were hostile to it, although more hostile to Quebec nationalism and aboriginal claims for legal difference. Kids born in refugee camps on the border of Uganda and Kenya pointing to the holes in the reasoning of nineteenth century law lords. Which is appropriate enough when you think about it.

Look, I hate cheesy leftist denigration of Western, and specifically Anglo-Saxon, culture and history as much as you do. I'm for Queen and Country, the defeat of the Spanish Armada, sea power, Parliamentary traditions, the common law, and roast beef covered in gravy. I'm for federalism, ice hockey and the state having no business in the grow ops of the nation.

But that culture was always at its best at its most open. We have nothing to worry about in the cultural assimilation game. We've assimilated Germans, Swedes, Scots, Irish, Ukrainians, Japanese, Ismailis, Bulgarians. We can keep it up.

The literatus's comment about "Trudeuaists" makes me realize I need to do a post or two about Trudeau, because there are some awfully strange distortions about what that guy was about floating around on the right. But we can only be just in our time, and the time for writing about Trudeau isn't yet.

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