Dr. Salim Mansur’s new book Delectable Lie: A Liberal Repudiation of Multiculturalism has been positively reviewed and endorsed by a handful of mainly conservative reviewers and distinguished intellectuals.
In my opinion, the book has been underestimated. It is a real gem. And, despite a recent spate of other important books on this subject, including Ibn Warraq’s Why the West Is Best, Mansur’s work is unique. Mansur gives us very valuable information about the history of multiculturalism in Canada, which is important because Canada — where Mansur lives, writes, and teaches — may well be the very first Western democracy to have legally enshrined this policy. We learn, up close, what that policy has done.
In 1971, in an era of “identity politics” rising, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau passed the multiculturalism policy. In 1988 it was further enshrined as the Canadian Multiculturalism Act. Mansur observes:
Explicit in this idea of multiculturalism was the officially sanctioned view that all cultures are of equal merit and deserving of equal respect.
In addition, Mansur explains and connects a number of important things that no one has previously done — at least, not all in one place.
Mansur teaches us that, historically, the nineteenth and twentieth century Third World and European immigrants who came to North America were very different from late 20th and 21st century immigrants. In the past, an immigrant undertook a long and sometimes perilous voyage to the New World. In order to plan and execute this transition, such immigrants usually began to cut their ties to their native customs, even to their families; they wanted to assimilate and become “Canadians” or “Americans” or “Englishmen.” Visits back home were not easy or even possible. Ties were painfully cut — or new lives, far from persecution, were begun.
This is no longer true. What may have taken weeks or months in terms of travel can now be accomplished in a matter of hours. Modern wide-body aircraft means that someone can have their breakfast in central Asia and a late-night dinner in the New World. Satellite television means that an immigrant can continue to watch the news and be entertained in their home country’s language.
In the past, assimilation meant that a new immigrant would learn English as well as American or Canadian history and values. Not so today. The well-intentioned policy of multiculturalism now permits, even insists, that an immigrant learn mainly about the customs of the country she has left — and not about the customs of her new home. She or he may spend their entire lives speaking their home country language and socializing mainly with others just like themselves.
How could this have come about?
Mansur explains that Canadians were already sensitized to the demands of the Quebecois who wanted to secede and who ultimately became a bilingual (French and English speaking) province of Canada. Canadians were also so guilty about their own history vis-a-vis the indigenous peoples of Canada and horrified at the Nazi-era racism that led to the genocidal extermination of six million Jews. Thus Canadian leaders vowed to avoid the stench, the heartbreak, and the atrocity of persecuting anyone because they were “different,” especially if their skin color was dark, their features not Caucasian, their religion other than Christian, especially if their country of origin had been previously colonized.