First: Apologies to the late Samuel Huntington for stealing the title of one of his later books, but … the book is, by the way, very worth the read. It’s not Prof Huntington’s best work but it is still filled with useful insights into why we all do what we do.
Second: There is an interesting article in The Daily Telegraph (thanks to my acquaintance, the noted historian Diarmaid MacCulloch, for showing us this) about the revival of the choral evensong service in the chapels at Cambridge and Oxford and, indeed, in cathedrals across Britain. According to the article, “Neil McCleery, assistant chaplain of New College, one of Oxford’s oldest and grandest chapels, said it was now rare to see an attendance below 150 at a weekend evensong,” and “Rev Dr Daniel Inman, Chaplain of The Queen’s College” (also Oxford) “added: “It’s also a community where many who are not committed Christians, including atheists, Jewish people, and even the occasional Muslim, feel welcome … [and] … “You’re not really asked to signal your own dogmatic beliefs or lack thereof, but invited to join in a pattern of worship that has shaped our national life for centuries.”” And that, I think, is the essence of this story: people are looking to conserve the best of their cultural roots in a rapidly changing society.
Not every Muslim came to Australia, Britain, Canada or to the Netherlands to do this …
… many, indeed probably most, came for this …
… to live under the rule of law, not Sharia, to study, to work and build better lives for themselves and their children and grandchildren, to enjoy the personal and political liberties that are denied to most people in the world. Those are Conservative values.
This is not just English nor just Christian or even just Western.
It is part of the whole fabric that makes Western, liberal society so attractive to so many people from all over the world.
It is, in fact, just one small part of nearly 1,000 years of socio-cultural, political and legal traditions that stretch across the millennia, from even before this …
… all the way to this …
… which, in both fact and tradition, is vastly different from any of this …
… we all know that in most of the world, even when “leaders” parade some of the outward trappings of the rule of law and democracy, they are, really, just putting lipstick on the pig of capricious tyranny. That’s why people flee from most of the world and come, in droves, to the twenty or thirty countries that are not like all the rest ~ to America, to Belgium, to Canada, to Denmark, to England, to Finland and Germany, and, and, and …
Third: Perhaps there is another “cultural” issue, at least there might be according to an article in MacLean’s magazine: a HUGELY disproportionate share of extremists (Muslim extremists, but, as the article points out, they are, in one respect, like Nazis and others) are engineers! The authors say that there is a “thorny question of “mindsets for extremists.” Different types of people are attracted to different kinds of extremism—engineers mostly on one side, social scientists and humanities grads on the other—and the authors went in search of traits found in both secular and jihadi extremists as well as among engineers. Three stand out among conservatives in general in recent psychological research: disgust (or the felt need to keep one’s environment pure, which can underpin everything from homophobia to xenophobia); the “need for cognitive closure” (a preference for order and certainty that can support authoritarianism); a very high in-group/out-group distinction … [and] … these are present in particularly high concentration among Nazis and Salafists alike, while European surveys show engineers to be consistently more conservative than other students: moderately right wing, anti-immigration and tough on crime. Whether the discipline makes the man—it’s worth noting engineering, like the virtually women-free world of right-wing extremists, is male-dominated—or the man seeks the discipline, Hertog is not prepared to say, but the correlation is undeniable. And so is what it points to: contrary to what seems obvious, religious faith does not so much drive Islamist terror as provide its cover.“
Leave aside the fact that the authors, like many “liberals” from the social science faculties assume that terrorists must share conservative values, and consider the three points they “discover” ~ (1) “the need to keep one’s [intellectual] environment pure,” (2) “a preference for order and certainty” and (3) “a very high in-group/out-group distinction” (akin to “u” and “non-u” when I was young) ~ and they offer explanations that are just as credible as “Islam” for some aspects of terrorism.
So, what matters? How do we, and especially those responsible for our internal security, prevent the growth and spread of terrorism here, in Canada?
To begin: I believe that Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel was right: “multiculturalism leads to parallel societies and multiculturalism, therefore, remains a lie.” We ~ Americans, Australians, Brits, Canadians, Indians, Kiwis and Singaporeans and, and, and ~ must preserve (conserve), protect and promote our core values which have nothing at all to do with white skins or one particular religion, they are, rather, about values and institutions.
The evensong service is not, as I said, about Christianity, it is about a value and an institution: the freedom to partake in and enjoy all the cultural offerings of all others. A free society has none of this:
No real Conservative wants a Christian theocracy in Canada any more than (s)he wants to live under Sharia law in Canada.
Nor do Conservatives wish to give “cultural” tests to those who want to be engineers ~ good grades in mathematics matter, not religion or sex or nationality.
What we, Conservatives, want to promote are:
- Opportunity ~ to achieve the “better life” for which most people search;
- Equality at and before the law, in all things;
- Good government ~ honest, fiscally prudent, fair and efficient; and
- Personal and political freedom.
We need to remember two things:
First ~ our security services have been chasing real threats for decades, extremist Muslim jihadis are only the latest threat and they will not be the last …
… and one is no more the “face” of a religion than is the other:
Our enemy is real, but it is no more Islam than it is engineering. The best weapons we have are:
- Good, properly focused internal security; and
- A firm, solid belief in our own socio-cultural values and in our legal-political institutions.