Stephen Hume: Canada’s bigots grant themselves permission to vent

Good piece by Stephen Hume on how government messaging has encouraged bigotry to come out of the closet:

Canada’s vitality derives from constant change; it has never been frozen in amber. Once upon a time, the Cree controlled an area from northern Quebec to the Rockies. Cree was the lingua franca of North America’s biggest business. Economies evolve; times change. Get over it.

Canada has absorbed waves of French, English, Chinese, Japanese, Americans, Scots, Irish, Ukrainians, Germans, Russians, Finns, Belgians, Greeks, Swedes, Italians, Hungarians, Lebanese, Tamils, Punjabis, Roman Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, Doukhobors, Buddhists, Sikhs, Hindus. All changed and were changed by the country to which they came.

Chest-beating for the good old days when the British in British Columbia meant membership in an elitist white colonial old boys club is silly yearning for a time that existed only briefly — and good riddance to it.

Bigotry has a long and beef-witted pedigree here in “a white man’s country” where the “Yellow Peril” once commanded headlines and the Ku Klux Klan had a headquarters in Shaughnessy Heights. Ah, those good old days when bigots could strut their stuff.

The murderous clowns in pointy white hats attracted 500 enthusiasts to their founding meeting in Vancouver in 1925. Two years later, they claimed a provincial membership of 13,000, including five members of the legislative assembly.

Before them, we had the Asiatic Exclusion League, fomenters of race riots who in 1923 lobbied successfully for the unjust laws to bar Chinese immigrants and for which the federal government has formally apologized.

Echoes of those poisonous attitudes suffuse the nasty, outraged, inflammatory commentary — often delivered with no sense of irony from behind the veil of web anonymity — suggesting that a few Muslim women’s veils are part of some fascist fifth-column assault on Canada.

Well, they aren’t. And more of us should be saying so — and helping stuff this ugly genie of bigotry back into the bottle before it starts granting wishes we come to deeply regret.

Stephen Hume: Canada’s bigots grant themselves permission to vent.

Lorne Gunter focuses on the niqab at citizenship ceremonies:

But where is the security or fraud concern with the wearing of a niqab at a citizenship ceremony? The ceremony is formality, a celebration of already having won approval for Canadian citizenship. The ceremony itself does not itself confer citizenship on the participants without them first clearing all the legal hurdles and passing the new, more rigorous citizenship test.

A sneaky woman cannot pass herself off as someone else by wearing a niqab, take the oath, then suddenly tear off her veil and declare, “Ah-ha! I have tricked you. Now give me my citizenship.” The citizenship card would still only be issued to the proper woman.

I am all for niqabs being dropped at airport security for as long as it takes a security screener – male or female – to feel confident a passenger is who she claims to be. No special accommodations such as a separate screened-off area or female-only checkers.

But the only threat in wearing a niqab at a citizenship ceremony is potentially the threat to our cultural norms. And I am always reluctant to allow governments to force free citizens to behave in any particular way absent a real, immediate and significant danger to other citizens.

The niqab truth about face coverings | GUNTER

Lastly, Farzana Hassan, takes the opposite view:

However, the most refreshing new angles on this debate are being provided by Munir Pervaiz, president of the secular Muslim Canadian Congress.

Pervaiz repudiates special privileges for niqabi women.

For example, he asks why a niqabi woman should wait for women police officers to process traffic infractions, in case she is stopped on a street.

Why must law enforcement wait till a woman police officer is found?

Would the niqabi woman be willing to wait in a police cruiser or cell till such arrangements are made?

Should she resist if she is taken into temporary custody and charged for interfering with the process?

Pervaiz also states that, “Courts have strict rules of attire. And the government … can make regulations to govern conduct in a court.”

Courts require people wear attire that shows respect for formality and tradition.

For example, the wearing of hats is discouraged in a courtroom, and no one would rationally complain that this restricts individual freedoms.

Why must niqabi women insist on the niqab at all times, in the face of established norms of attire?

Niqab is about our values, not race | Hassan | Columnists | Opinion | Toronto Su.:


About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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