So, just yesterday, I wrote some comments about Andrew MacDougall’s article which discusses the “vexing disease” that is attacking our body politic, and today two articles caught my eyes:
- The first is from the Globe and Mail and it describes some retaliatory attacks, in Germany, on Asian men in the wake of the Köln sexual assaults or swarmings or whatever they were; and
- The second is a very scary piece in MacLean’s by Barbara Amiel about the dangers to our freedom of speech.
The two are related because, sooner or later, we are, sadly, going to have some sort of Köln type incident here in Canada and some bits of officialdom, in the name of “tolerance” or political correctness or whatever, are going to try to whitewash the perpetrators ~ the very mistake German officials appear to have made.
We already have a fairly vocal and visible level of intolerance ~ downright racism in too many cases ~ here in Canada and it is, far too often, linked, on social media, to Conservative supporters. Now, I’m positive that the Greens and Liberals and the NDP all have their full and fair share of angry, vocal racists and I’m pretty sure that if I followed enough web sites I would spot them, too … but I am disturbed about the volume of anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, anti-“brown people” comments I see on website and in tweets that claim to support the Conservative Party of Canada.
The first thing I think our leader and the potential leadership candidates need to do is to publicly disavow those sorts of comments and tell those making them that they are doing real harm to the Conservative position.
Many of the slightly less offensive comments I see concern the worry that “mainstream Muslim” groups are not doing enough “shouting down” of either terrorists or rapists. In her column in MacLean’s Barbara Amiel says, “I can understand why Western Muslims—the majority of whom I expect and hope despise this carnage—aren’t taking to the streets to decry what is being done in the name of their faith … Why endanger your own family or relatives abroad?”
That’s exactly how I feel. We’re dealing with a combination of fanaticism and an appalling lack of basic, civilized values. We know that fanatics are not open to compromise, they want it all … and one long established tactic of fanatics is terrorism directed against their own communities. And barbarians ~ and it’s hard to call the men in Köln anything else, are almost as equally immune to reason. So why single yourself and your family and your neighbours and your Mosque out for retaliation? I don’t blame my Muslim neighbours for being quiet and neither should anyone else.
But Ms Amiel has bigger and more important fish to fry. She is concerned, and she may be right, that the liberal, democratic, secular and oh so tolerant West may have already reached the point where it is “ready to give up on itself … We have no idea of what we stand for and seem to have no faith other than lip-service in the superiority of our institutions.”
Let me be clear: I think our “institutions,” especially our respect for the rule of law, of government with the consent of the governed and our notion that the law applies equally to all, the governors and the governed alike, are more important for democracy than the “exercises” of things like protests and “free speech” or even voting, itself. But our freedom of speech is, itself, part of an “institution” ~ liberalism ~ which puts the rights of the individual ahead of all collectives: churches, communities and the state itself. We are not liberal democrats because we have free speech; we have free speech because we have, first, a liberal democracy. So we must stand for our institutions … and if we don’t then they will be lost and freedom of speech will be just one, almost insignificant casualty.
So, fellow Conservatives, let us do two things together:
- Call a spade a spade, and call barbarism just that whenever we see it; let us not worry about “offending” anyone; let us demand civilized behaviours, from everyone, regardless of race or creed, in our civilized society; and
- Denounce the racists and hate mongers on the fringes of our own ranks.
That is how we can best protect the “institutions” which are the bedrock of our civilized, secular, open society and our liberal democracy.