Earlier this year, and especially during the long federal election campaign, the Liberal and New Democrat parties, the liberal media, progressive bloggers, and other assorted lefties, were able to get a lot of mileage out of the phrase “barbaric cultural practices”. The previous government, led by Stephen Harper, had banned the wearing of the niqab during citizenship oath ceremonies in 2011, a ban which was struck down by a Federal Court.* Harper’s government vowed to take the matter to the Supreme Court and then, in the last month of the election campaign, promised to establish an RCMP tipline for reporting cases of “barbaric cultural practices”.
The progressives condemned this as racist and xenophobic. Harper, they maintained, was appealing to fear, negativity, and hatred, and this was “unCanadian” because Canada is the land of tolerance, diversity, and multiculturalism. Actually, Canada was nothing of the sort prior to the premiership of Trudeau the Elder, which began in 1968. It was the Trudeau Liberals who created the new Canada of tolerance, diversity, and multiculturalism – that is to say tolerance, diversity, and multiculturalism that were imposed on the country from the top down, administered by arrogant bureaucrats, and protected by the suppression of dissent. The older, traditional, British Canada was a much superior country.
The merits of the older British Canada, and the rather odious nature of the kind of “tolerance” and “diversity” introduced by the Trudeau Liberals which make a mockery of the ordinary meaning of these terms are, of course, beyond the understanding of today’s progressives. Nor do they seem to be capable of grasping that it is one of their own chief ideals that Stephen Harper was fighting for in his campaign against “barbaric cultural practices”.
This is not intended to be laudatory of Stephen Harper. The ideal in question is that of the equality of the sexes, or, as the progressives now insist upon mislabelling it, “gender equality”, an ideal I do not share with Harper or the progressives and, indeed, regard as worthy only of ridicule. Auberon Waugh put it best, I think, years ago when he wrote:
I have never understood how equality can be said to apply, except in the most superficial sense. to any human relationship. By this I do not mean that we are all graded in some divinely-imposed pecking order, but that our essential differences make talk of equality meaningless. Study of the sexes is bound to identify the differing characteristics of each, and I cannot see how anything useful is achieved by asserting that chalk is equal to cheese, or should be equal to cheese and must be made equal.
I don’t believe in “gender equality” but the progressives all seem to believe in it and none of them more so than that vapid young twit who is our new Prime Minister and who has made a grand gesture of support for this ideal in the way he chose the Ministers for his new Cabinet.
These same progressives accused Stephen Harper of waging a “war on women”. Which, however, actually accomplishes more for the fairer sex – choosing your Cabinet Ministers on the basis of their sex so you can have an equal number of men and of women, or actively trying to keep such practices as honour killings and female circumcision from becoming prevalent in Canada? It is practices like these, which target the female sex, that the Harper government condemned as barbaric.
In 2011, the year the Harper Conservatives won a majority government, the federal government updated the “Discover Canada” brochure that is given to those who wish to immigrate to and become citizens of Canada. Among the changes was the addition of forced marriage to the following list: “Canada’s openness and generosity do not extend to barbaric cultural practices that tolerate spousal abuse, “honour killings,” female genital mutilation, forced marriage or other gender-based violence” and goes on to say that those who commit these things will all be severely punished under our criminal law. Now that last part may have been more a statement of wishful thinking than an accurate description of how our criminal justice system actually functions but that is beside the point. “Spousal abuse”, runs both ways, and in fact there is recent evidence that women are more likely to be abusive in relationships than men, which, of course, would have come as no surprise to Rudyard Kipling, but this too is beside the point as the government clearly had male-on-female abuse in mind when it put that into the pamphlet. For that is what all of these “barbaric cultural practices” have in common, they all target females. The title of the subsection of the brochure that this is found in, by the way, is “The Equality of Women and Men”.
At the time, Justin Trudeau, then Michael Ignatieff’s Liberal Shadow Minister for Immigration condemned the Harper government for the use of the word “barbaric”, even though it was not itself a new addition to the publication. He received so much negative feedback over this he was forced to make a retraction the next day.
Every time the Harper government spoke of “barbaric cultural practices” it was with regards to practices in which women are treated cruelly or unfairly. The niqab controversy was no exception to this although the face veil is obviously not on the same scale as murdering one’s daughter or sister because she shamed the family by having a boyfriend, dressing inappropriately, or being raped, or removing a young girl’s clitoris to prevent her from growing up to become promiscuous. While I may not think much of the “gender equality” Mr. Harper and Mr. Trudeau both believe in, unlike Mr. Trudeau four years ago, I have no problem agreeing that these practices are utterly barbaric. Indeed, one of the things most objectionable about the false ideal of equality, is that those who believe in it tend to make a big deal out of peccadilloes while letting major injustices like these slide.
Consider the example of feminism. “The women’s movement” is a modern phenomenon, whose raison d'être is to promote the rights of women. Yet it has never concentrated its efforts on fighting honour killings or cliterodectomy or anything of the like. Instead, it has focused on such things as the “glass ceiling” and the “77 cents on the dollar” and to combat these largely imaginary bogeys, has created a barbaric cultural practice of its own, i.e., abortion on demand. It could be argued that this is because feminism is a movement which began in, grew up in, and still mostly belongs to, the Western world where the former practices were mostly unknown until quite recently. That is the whole point, however. That a revolutionary movement seeking radical societal transformation in the name of women developed in the West, where it really only became a force after women had been given the vote and barriers to their education, owning property, and having professional careers had for the most part disappeared, and not in parts of the world where girls have their genitals mutilated and may be murdered by their relatives if they “shame” their family is because the modern Western mind has been thoroughly permeated and polluted by the false ideal of equality.
Ironically, feminism is part of the larger progressivism which is itself responsible for practices like female genital mutilation and honour killings, once unknown in countries like Canada, becoming more and more common in large Western cities. For progressivism is not just about the equality of the sexes, it is about the equality of races and cultures as well and for decades now, what this has meant, is that it has insisted that all cultures ought to be equally welcome in Canada and other Western countries. This is what the first Prime Minister Trudeau’s policy of “official multiculturalism” was all about and it is clearly the reason that the younger Trudeau, heir to this dogma in which he was undoubtedly indoctrinated from an early age, initially took a foolish offence to the description of forced marriages, female genital mutilation, and honour killings as barbaric a few years ago. To call these things barbaric is to say that all cultures are not equal after all, which, of course, they are not.
Trudeau and other progressives are no more capable of admitting this than they are of admitting that there is a fundamental contradiction in their ideology – that equality of the sexes and equality of cultures are mutually incompatible ideals. They can be rejected together with consistency – which is my own position – but they cannot be consistently affirmed together. Stephen Harper got this partially right, the Trudeaus have always gotten it completely wrong, and Canada has paid a heavy price for their error.
*It has been drawn to my attention that I was mistaken in thinking that the ruling by the Federal Court of Appeal was based on the Charter. The ban, which was an instruction from the Ministry to the judges administering the citizenship oath rather than a law, was overturned because it conflicted with an older rule that requires such judges to give maximum religious freedom in the swearing-in ceremony. Thank you to the person who noticed and notified me of this factual error.
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