This month marks the 25th anniversary of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which also makes it the 25th anniversary of official multiculturalism. (It is Section 27 of the Charter that informs us the document must be interpreted "in a manner consistent with the preservation and enhancement of the multicultural heritage of Canadians.") The doctrine has not aged well. What started as harmless Trudeau-era feel-goodery now reeks of cranky political correctness and hypocrisy. Three recent events in three Canadian cities help show why: - First to Montreal, where 40-year-old refugee claimant Desire Munyaneza stands on trial for his alleged role in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
On April 10, the court heard testimony from a Tutsi woman who described a horrific marathon of slaughter, enslavement and rape by machete- and club-wielding Hutu militia. "Those who were dead were lucky," she testified. "My biggest problem was that they kept putting off killing me." - On to Surrey, B.C., where an April 7 Sikh parade included floats honouring Talwinder Parmar --leader of the 1985 Air India bombing plot --among its list of revered Sikh saints and martyrs. Sudager Singh Sandhu, president of the Sikh temple that organized the parade, later told CBC News that Parmar is a "great man." - And finally, to Edmonton, where 33- year-old Muslim peace activist Farhan Mujahid Chak has been named the Liberal party candidate in the federal riding of Edmonton-Mill Woods-Beaumont. As Steve Janke first reported on his Angry in the Great White North blog, Chak has published a variety of provocative political views on issues of the day. He claimed, for instance, that Israel's policy toward Palestinians is one of "murdering children, raping women and torturing an entire populace" --and so Palestinian violence must be understood as being defensive. India, Chak claimed, is a sham democracy in which people are "pummel[ed] into stupor" by Brahmins. A book review he published gives sympathetic treatment to the theory that the Islamist terror campaign against Algeria and France in the 1990s was part of a conspiracy engineered by Algiers and Paris.
When multiculturalism came into vogue a generation ago, it was powered by the conceit that group hatred is primarily a Western pathology -- an outgrowth of our warmongering, colonialist past. That's why from the 1980s onward, multicultural agitprop in schools, workplaces and government agencies has invariably focused not on assimilating immigrants and stripping them of their old-world prejudices, but on eliminating any vestige of white bigotry.
The reason multiculturalism now seems like such a fraud is that experience has taught us that old-school racism has nothing on the sort of hatreds brought into this country by the immigrants themselves: hatred toward homosexuals, toward heretics, toward "loose" women and, most importantly, toward each other.
It's hard to get too riled up about Don Imus or alleged "racial profiling" by cops, for instance, when I see Canada becoming home to African blacks who have been charged with murdering other blacks by the villageful for the crime of belonging to the wrong tribe. Ditto when I watch Canadian Sikhs who are so proud that one of their coreligionists murdered another group of South Asian Canadians that they hold a parade partly in his honour. And then there's the Liberal candidate in Edmonton- Mill Woods-Beaumont, who will have to explain to his constituents what he meant with his attacks on Israel, India and France.
Chak isn't a Muslim extremist: During a phone conversation yesterday, he came across more as a naive left-wing sloganeer than a fiery hatemonger. The only reason I'm singling him out is because he happens to be a political candidate. Go to any run-of-the-mill Englishlanguage Islamic Web site and you'll find lots of folks just like him.
But that's exactly the point: Chak, like all the rest of us, is a product of his cultural mix -- which in his case includes a global Muslim culture that has become suffused with terror apologism, conspiracy theories and anti-Western animus. To the extent multiculturalism is supposed to preach "tolerance," this unappetizing stew is what we're being asked to tolerate. Twenty-five years after the Charter, is it any wonder most of us think the whole idea is nonsense?