LOURDES, France Sept. 22, 2016/ Troy Media/ – The skies are clear and blue, the hordes of tourists have returned to their travails and the breezes carry just a touch of autumn’s chill. But the cultural troubles of summer smoulder just below the placid surface.
Gazing out at the long stone walls and the equally stony faces of the local citizenry, I’m amazed at the tranquility in this delightful part of world, nestled on the lee side of the Pyrenees mountains.
But all is not as it seems.
Conflicts born of differing values have made many French question their ability to live in harmony with Muslim immigrants from North Africa.
An absurd drama played out in August on nearby beaches as Islamic women were fined for wearing [popup url=”http://www.troymedia.com/2016/09/01/burkinis-burkas-halloween-masks/” height=”1000″ width=”1000″ scrollbars=”1″]burkinis[/popup], a female costume that resembles a full-body wetsuit. The women protested that their choice of clothing was personal, not an Islamic anti-French symbol.
In a more chilling incident, two young French families cycling in August near Toulon were assaulted by Islamist “morality police.” The families were enjoying their summer break cycling and rollerblading on dreamy country roads. Suddenly they were confronted by Islamic youths hurling insults at the women, who were wearing shorts. “Dirty whores” and “Get naked” were among the insults. When the women’s partners arrived, the scene got ugly. More Islamic youth appeared and a violent confrontation ensued.
For a Canadian tourist, the effects of recent terrorist atrocities in France are obvious. In a remote gas station on an isolated road, I encountered warnings about “steps to taken in the event of a terrorist attack.” The instructions were explicit, like a Cold War drill to children during the Cuban missile crisis decades ago.
In Canada, values are also coming to a head. Kellie Leitch, a Conservative leadership contender, has enflamed the liberal establishment by suggesting that newcomers be screened for anti-Canadian values. To Leitch, that would involve testing immigrants and refugees for anti-Canadian attitudes on tolerance of other religions, sexual orientation and, one presumes, the ideal of female equality in society.
Somewhat surprisingly, there is broad support for this kind of value assessment. A recent Forum Research poll showed that 67 per cent of Canadians favoured checking immigrants for anti-Canadian values.
This result shocked many. After all, Canada has a long history of tolerance. But clearly, a clash of civilizations is coming and it will challenge Canadians’ faith-like belief in the miracle of multiculturalism.
Multiculturalism is one of our great success stories. People have come to Canada from many parts of the world and not only do we value their differences, we take special pride in celebrating them. It’s a defining characteristic of Canada.
But why has multiculturalism worked in Canada when clearly it is failing elsewhere? Yugoslavia, for example, used to pride itself on its diversity. But in the early 1990s, roving bands of radicalized militants butchered their neighbours in cold blood, unleashing a firestorm of violence.
Multiculturalism works in Canada because it’s not really multi at all. Value synchronization creates a new multi-ethnic Canada every generation. The very human process of rallying around a progressive future unites a new generation of culturally-distinct people.
But what to do with those cultures that reject synchronization, opposing Canada and its values?
Multiculturalism only works if immigrants fully embrace the oath they take at citizenship ceremonies. Clearly, in a free country immigrants can believe whatever they wish. However, to live here successfully the beliefs and values they bring with them must be secondary to their civic responsibilities and the values enshrined in the Canadian Constitution.
Respecting the spirit of the Constitution is the price we all pay to sustain a harmonious multi-ethnic society. Such a bargain is the only way of preserving what is good and unique in Canadian life.
Troy Media columnist Robert McGarvey is an economic historian and former managing director of Merlin Consulting, a London, U.K.-based consulting firm. Robert’s most recent book is [popup url=”http://amzn.to/2bOsixk” height=”1000″ width=”1000″ scrollbars=”1″]Futuromics: A Guide to Thriving in Capitalism’s Third Wave[/popup]. Robert is included in Troy Media’s Unlimited Access subscription plan.
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