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.
According to Mansur, by the mid 1990s, Canadian youth no longer knew much about the history of Canada.
As Mansur puts it: To correct the West’s past racism, academics dismissed the Western narrative as essentially “white history” which had to be replaced by “non-white people’s history.” This led to the so-called academic “historical wars,” heavily influenced by the biased but still lionized work of Edward Said. White guilt, balkanization, and the glorification of barbarism began. Tribalism trumped citizenship, group rights trumped individual rights. “Primitive” tribes did not feel any responsibility to reciprocate the interest or respect shown to them by humbled white folk. As Mansur notes, anti-Western peoples did not “respect the individualist-oriented secular values of liberal democracy… the people of minority cultures did most of the demanding for equal respect of their cultural norms.”
While this was going on, the same modern communication and transportation that allowed Third World immigrants to never have to leave home also made it possible to internationalize what might have remained a local dispute in an earlier era. For example, the “Palestinians” turned a local dispute about the existence of one small Jewish state into an international matter; they hijacked aircraft, universities, human rights groups, and the United Nations itself. Similarly, Mansur reminds us of a horrifying Sikh terrorist attack upon an Air India flight in 1985 which blew up 329 Indian-Canadians and crew who were returning to Canada.
Mansur is describing the export of Third World religious and territorial wars to the New World. Multicultural Canada did not convict but rather acquitted the prime suspects in the terrorist attack. In Mansur’s words:
The terrible story of the Air India bombing…cannot be blamed on multiculturalism. It also cannot be denied, however, that multiculturalism provided the political environment in which the bloody conflict of a distant land, India, found the soil to flourish with deadly consequences.
Mansur understands that, at bottom, multiculturalism is ironically, paradoxically, a racist doctrine. He quotes author Kim Bolan, who believes that Canadians may have underplayed the significance of this crime because “it primarily affected people who weren’t perceived to be our own—brown people with accents who we didn’t accept as Canadians….But they are our own. Our own victims. Our own terrorists.”
Mansur understands full well that politically correct multicultural societies — and societies founded upon “identity politics” — ultimately “chill free speech” and “insist upon conformity of opinion.” Mansur then lists the many names of Muslim and ex-Muslim dissidents as well as infidels who have been murdered, death threatened, censored, and exiled because they have offended primarily Muslim sensibilities.
Some of these names are well known (Salman Rushdie, Theo van Gogh, Ayaan Hirsi Ali), but he carefully lists the names of those who are not known, e.g., Rushdie’s Japanese translator, Hitoshi Igarashi, who was stabbed to death; Rushdie’s Italian and Norwegian translators, Ettore Capriolo and William Nygaard, who were both seriously wounded in knife attacks. A Turkish mob, in search of Rushdie’s Turkish translator, Aziz Nesin, set a building on fire and murdered 37 people.
Mansur’s list goes on and on — and what is important is that he — but not the Western mainstream media — is focusing upon the high price being paid for truth telling, especially when Muslim and ex-Muslim dissidents are paying it in Muslim-majority countries.
Mansur does this so that he can set the stage for the very high-profile cases in Canada of “offended” Canadian Muslims Syed Soharwardy and Mohamed Elmasry. Soharwardy filed complaints with three separate Canadian human rights commissions against Canadian publisher and writer Ezra Levant, who had dared to reproduce the Danish “Mohammed” cartoons, and against writer Mark Steyn.
For two years, Levant was embroiled in “defending his constitutionally guaranteed right of freedom of expression.” The investigation cost the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission $500,000.00 and it cost Levant nearly $100,000.00. Elmasry, of the Canadian Islamic Congress, also filed his complaints with three separate Canadian groups. He was “offended” by an article Steyn had published in Maclean’s. Ultimately, all six complaints were dismissed.
Imagine the self-censorship that must exist among lower-profile truth-tellers who know they cannot afford to fund a battle against the Canadian state.
Mansur’s conclusions? That multiculturalism really amounts to a form of “soft bigotry,” or as Pascal Bruckner has phrased it: “A racism of the anti-racists; it chains people to their roots.” Immigrants are kept confined to their “group” and not encouraged or expected to become “individuals” and “citizens” of a modern democracy.
Even as Canadians are busy patting themselves on the back for having created a fair, just, tolerant, and multicultural society — guess what? After more than 40 years of a multicultural policy, Canadians recently voted their still existing prejudices. While “72 percent of Canadians thought favourably of Christianity, only 28 percent viewed Islam favourably. Only 30 percent viewed Sikhism favorably (the figures for Hinduism. Buddhism, and Judaism were, respectively, 41 percent, 57 percent, and 53 percent).” From 62 percent to 74 percent of the Canadian population now believes that “laws and norms should not be modified to accommodate minorities.”
Mansur rejects multiculturalism, not only because it has failed to work but because it has — and can only — lead to a “tyranny of the majority” which will threaten the freedom and “security” of the “individual.” Mansur views the “individual” as the “ultimate minority of one against the majority that can turn into a mob.” This freedom and security is what defines a “liberal democracy” and should not be relinquished. He closes:
“The worm inside the doctrine of multiculturalism is the lie that all cultures are worthy of equal respect and equally embracing of individual freedom and democracy. The concerted assault by the Islamists on the essential and life-affirming values based on individual rights and freedom is proof of this lie.”
European and North American governments should be consulting with Mansur and with other Muslims, ex-Muslims, and infidels who share his views. They will soon have no other choice.