Barbara Kay, National Post (Toronto), May 6, 2009
Now that its battle on free speech issues with certain Human Rights Commissions is settled, you’d think Maclean’s magazine would be the last to accuse anyone of thought crimes.
Maybe it’s a delayed case of Stockholm Syndrome, but a Maclean’s poll-based feature story in the May 4 issue, “Divided by religion: What Canadians think of Sikhs, Jews, Christians, Muslims .&Nbsp;. . ,” reads as though conceived and interpreted by the very HRCs that harassed the magazine.
Like the HRCs, the article assigns a pre-emptive judgment of racism arising from opinions rather than any actual racist speech or acts: Readers are informed at the outset that Canadians hold “deeply troubling biases” because fewer than one in three Canadians “can find it in their hearts” to view Islam or Sikhism in a positive light.
This Angus Reid poll, a survey of only 1,002 randomly selected Canadians, does not seek to offer a disinterested overview of Canadians’ views on religions other than their own. Rather it is a foregone conclusion cloaked in the respectability of scientific methodology, “proving” that Canada is a racist society.
Through selection bias the poll reveals what “we” think, but not what “they” think. It permits “old stock” Canadians (Christians or Canadians of Christian heritage) to be held up for public shaming. But the views of specific minority groups such as Muslims, Sikhs and Tamils–who might have revealed themselves to be insufficiently celebratory of religious diversity–are spared public exposure.
One of the poll’s many weighted markers for intolerance is that far more Canadians point to Islam than to Christianity as a religion that sanctions violence. Maclean’s thus unreasonably penalizes objectivity, implying it is bigotry to acknowledge world events, and racism to honestly assess cultural outcomes over history.
Of the many features offending against minimal standards of objectivity in this poll, two stand out as especially discrediting.
One is Maclean’s’ solicitation of editorial commentary on the poll numbers from Ihsaan Gardee, executive director of Islamism-supportive CAIR-Can. CAIR-Can has never repudiated Islamic terrorism and fellow-travels with the Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood is openly committed to the promotion of stealth jihad, and is universally acknowledged as the intellectual fountainhead of Sunni Islamic radicalism. No media organ should invite such an extremist institution to pass moral judgment on Canadians.
The other is Maclean’s’ overt editorial criticism around the very low level of acceptance for shariah law. Hostility to officially sanctioned shariah law is falsely linked here with negativism toward Muslims. In fact Canadians’ opposition to shariah represents a wholesome rejection of Europe-style cultural suicide.
It is offensive that Canadians should be implicitly labelled racists for upholding democratic ideals over willfully blind multiculturalism. To regard the phrase “clash of civilizations” without ironic quotation marks is not a sign of hostility toward individual Muslims. On the contrary, national self-interest demands that we view Islamism and the dangers posed by radicalized Muslim youths with dread.
Sensationalizing and condemning Canadians’ thoughts around other religions or cultures is a socially unhealthy impulse. If thoughts were the equivalent of action, it would be easy, by polling our sexual fantasies, to conclude we are a nation of perverts. To what constructive end in either case?
Our deeds are all that matter. By that measure Canada is probably the least racist society on Earth. Ironically, it is because old-stock Canadians display racist behaviour so infrequently that desperate HRCs have been driven to persecuting thought crimes–as Maclean’s should know.
So enough with these divisive show-trial polls that undermine heritage Canadians’ cultural confidence, while validating minority grievance-collecting and entitlement. They are lose-lose projects.
It is the norm amongst academics to teach that only white Christians can be racist. But surely Canadians are entitled to expect better from Maclean’s. And surely, having itself passed an ugly few hours with Big Brother, Maclean’s should cleave to intellectual integrity as if its very life depended on it.