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Letters by a modern St. Ferdinand III about cults

Gab@StFerdinandIII -

Plenty of cults exist - every cult has its 'religious dogma', its idols, its 'prophets', its 'science', its 'proof' and its intolerant liturgy of demands.  Cults everywhere:  Corona, 'The Science' or Scientism, Islam, the State, the cult of Gender Fascism, Marxism, Darwin and Evolution, Globaloneywarming, Changing Climate, Abortion...

Tempus Fugit Memento Mori - Time Flies Remember Death 

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Monday, July 3, 2006

The World Cup and the Multi-cult Club

Hate your host country; love your tribe

by Adam Radwanski, National Post

I'm not sure what this says about me, but last weekend a traffic jam did what charges against 17 homegrown terror suspects and an entire National Post series could not: It convinced me that maybe our approach to multiculturalism could use a little work.

It probably wouldn't have happened if we hadn't stupidly driven smack into the west end of Toronto's downtown just after Portugal had polished off the Netherlands to move on to the World Cup quarterfinals. But after about 20 minutes of hyperaggressive young men riding atop jeeps and vans waving flags in the faces of passers-by -- a scene that's played out repeatedly during the World Cup, occasionally ending in violence -- I was starting to feel uncomfortably like a Canadian nationalist.

For the record, I'm about as pro-multiculturalism as it gets -- so much so that I recall making the case that the best way to sell Toronto to tourists would be to take them on tours of the city's various ethnic neighbourhoods. When several Post columnists tried recently to pin the alleged Toronto terror plot -- involving, by all appearances, a small number of social outcasts -- as a sweeping indictment of our liberal attitudes toward newcomers, I recoiled.

But broader attitudes are harder to ignore. What's been on display during the World Cup hasn't been anything nearly so exciting as alleged plots to blow up buildings and behead the Prime Minister. But because it's involved thousands of normal, well-adjusted people, it's far more useful for assessing social trends.

Unlike the Post's Peter Kuitenbrouwer during a visit to local Italian celebrations following another World Cup playoff, I didn't encounter any young children proclaiming that "Canada sucks." But I can understand why Kuitenbrouwer was frustrated by the encounter.

Much of the festivities around the World Cup have been perfectly charming. It was hard not to get a smile out of the cabbie armed with Ghanaian flags, excited by an unexpected playoff berth. Or the staff of the Mexican restaurant on the ground floor of my building, cheering on their team on the big screen they'd set up outside. Or the England fans filling pubs with song early on Sunday morning, hours before they could legally be served beer.

But what's also been on display has been an aggressive brand of tribalism. It would have been a deeply uncomfortable experience to walk through the Portuguese celebrations on Dundas Street wearing the colours of a rival country -- or maybe, for that matter, of Canada. And while it's been amplified during the World Cup, it's not unfamiliar to those associated with the younger generations of some of Toronto's larger cultural communities.

Speak to a first-generation Canadian who came here during the wave of Italian immigration in the 1960s or Portuguese immigration in the '70s, and you'll hear considerable allegiance to their adopted country. That's not mutually exclusive with pride in their mother country and adherence to some of its traditions, but it takes precedence. Then speak with some of their children, or their children's children, and you'll get something different -- young men who define themselves first and foremost as Italian or Portuguese, and the occasional kid who will tell you that "Canada sucks."

This is not a question of age; it's a question of experience. Younger Canadians who themselves grew up elsewhere will speak contemptuously of second- or third-generation members of their ethnic groups who feel more connected to a country they've never lived in -- in some cases, never even visited. Because like the older members of local communities, recent immigrants know that there's a reason they came here -- Canada offered them a better life.

For those who instead embrace a mythical utopian version of their mother countries, Canada can never compare. And in a sprawling city in which a sense of community can be hard to find, allegiance to their ancestral homeland becomes a defining part of their identity.

In the case of the Italian, Portuguese or most other communities, this is relatively harmless -- a roadblock to national unity and a sense of shared purpose, but hardly dangerous. But to the limited extent that radical Islam has taken root here, it's mostly among kids who grew up in Canada -- not their immigrant parents, who are better able to appreciate that we've got a good thing going here.

The answer is not to attempt some form of cultural assimilation, which would inevitably have disastrous results -- and rob Canada of the cultural diversity that's central to its modern identity. But the brand of multiculturalism we embrace should dictate that ethnic heritage and traditions are a worthy way to supplement one's identity as a Canadian -- not to supplant it.

It falls to parents to instill in their kids the same sense of Canadian pride that they themselves feel. And it falls to society at large to examine how we can get members of various communities to turn outward, rather than just inward.

Tomorrow, if Portugal beats England, Canada will scarcely be an afterthought in much of the city. No matter how much you believe in multiculturalism, that doesn't seem quite right.

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