Week 49: Another Good Week

Another good week. Cough is slowly going away, no longer insufferably hot, back to my regular biking routine, seeing friends, and getting on with my book. Our son is here this weekend, and always nice when all of us are together.

I have revamped my blog site somewhat to organize the ‘page tabs’  at the top to make my various reflection and other pieces more accessible to readers, and to incorporate all of these in one place. Will see from the stats whether this is helpful or not, and of course, as always, feedback appreciated. Never thought that I would need to become a ‘webmaster’!

We watched one of our favourite Marx Brothers films, A Night at the Opera. Timeless. We introduced our kids to the Marx Brothers when they were small and they still like to watch them with us. The leisurely (overly so) musical pieces are almost a necessary contrast and break from the breathtakingly rapid witty dialogue. I joined our kids in their ‘preparations’ for The Dark Knight Rises by watching the previous two movies with them, a well-done reinvention of the ‘franchise’.

I read Salim Mansur’s somewhat rambling Delectable Lie: A Liberal Repudiation of Multiculturalism. While interesting, a number of weaknesses:

  • His characterization of individual rights brings to mind Margaret Thatcher’s comment ‘there is no such thing as society’, in an overly classical liberal sense. Groups and group identities continue to be part of reality and society;
  • Globalization means citizenship is less exclusive and immigration less a one-way ticket. Whatever our origins, we are more mobile, communications are instantaneous and almost free, and our identities are multi-layered;
  • Group rights are part of the history of Canada and the Constitution (e.g, First Nation treaties, English and French language rights). Many other countries have similar historical ‘complexities’ that form their reality;
  • Canadian multiculturalism is integration and citizenship based, was driven in part by the Ukrainian-Canadian community that wanted their contribution to nation building in Western Canada recognized, just as British and French immigration built other parts of the country. Many European countries had more of a guest worker ‘separate community’ model, without integration and citizenship emphasis;
  • Fixation on Muslim immigration and Muslim Canadians does not adequately compare and analyse in relation to past fears of the ‘other’  (e.g., Irish, Ukrainian, Chinese, Japanese, Jewish, Sikh, etc.);
  • Discussion of religious fundamentalism focusses almost exclusively on Islamist fundamentalism, with limited discussion of fundamentalists of other religions, apart from Sikh Canadians. A deeper, comparative analysis would be helpful; after all, from an individual rights perspective, freedom of religion includes freedom from religion, both between and within communities, and most of the integration issues mentioned for Muslims have parallels in other religious communities.

Like many issues, the question is one of balance; an exclusive focus on individual rights, without taking into account how people see themselves and overall social conditions, is likely to be less effective than one that stresses individual rights but allows for some expression of group rights. But Mansur is right to flag the risk of over-emphasis of group rights, given how that limits the potential for individuals within those communities for full participation in wider society, and his critique of self-censorship and some of the related ‘spinelessness’ is on the mark.

Next week I have a regular clinic visit, a pulmonary function test (no change expected based upon my activity level), and the third in my Hep B vaccine. With the end of the heat wave, easier to be more active and enjoy being outside. Getting close to the one-year mark so will be interesting to see if any plans to change my meds or, as things are going well, stay the course.

I suppose it is a good sign when these weekly updates take more the form of short book reviews than my health!

3 weeks to go to my anniversary!

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One thought on “Week 49: Another Good Week

  1. Pingback: Debate over Muslim Integration: Doug Saunders and Salim Mansur | Multicultural Meanderings

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