Just when you thought Canada was too nice to survive the 21st century, they pull something so dramatically robust that you’re left speechless.
Canada says “no” to dhimmitude. Go figure… Canada!
The government has come out with a new “Citizenship Guide”. Call it a heads-up to non-Westerners planning to immigrate to Canada who don’t know (yet) that honor killings are a “barbaric cultural practice”.
At The Globe and Mail one writer sums up the document:
The Conservative government will redefine what it means to be Canadian this week by introducing a new guide to citizenship, a rare and significant attempt to reshape the national image.
The new document, which will be the citizenship study guide for the 250,000 immigrants who arrive in Canada each year, instantly becomes one of the country’s most widely read and potentially influential pieces of writing. It will replace a document created by the Liberals in 1997 that the Conservatives criticized for its anemic presentation of Canadian history and identity.
No longer will new Canadians be told that Canada is strictly a nation of peacekeepers, for example. The new guide places a much greater emphasis on Canada’s military history, from the Great War to the present day. It also tackles other issues of historical significance, from Confederation to Quebec’s separatist movement, that were barely mentioned by its predecessor .
“I think there’s a growing sense that we need to have a deeper, thicker sense of our common citizenship and where we come from as Canadians,” Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said.
“If all you knew about Canada was from the current guide it would be possible to become a citizen never having heard of Vimy Ridge, Dieppe or Juno Beach and not knowing what the poppy represents, which I think is scandalous.”
“We want to ensure that newcomers appreciate that citizenship is not just obtaining legal status, that it confers certain privileges and rights. It’s joining the Canadian community and it’s joining Canadian history.”
Everyone’s abuzz about the new Canadian style, especially the frank declarations about women’s and men’s equality.
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I went through sections of the new citizenship guide, but I couldn’t find the specific page of this citation, the one at the center of this national conversation:
THE EQUALITY OF WOMEN AND MEN
In Canada, men and women are equal under the law. Canada’s openness and generosity do not extend to barbaric cultural practices that tolerate spousal abuse, “honour killings,” female genital mutilation, or other gender-based violence. Those guilty of these crimes are severely punished under Canada’s criminal laws.
I have no doubt that it’s there, but finding the page is another story.
I love it! Imagine being honest enough to call these “cultural practices” what they are: barbarism.
This is indeed a more “muscular” Welcome Wagon introduction to Canada. It’s refreshing to read the sections which describe the responsibilities accompanying the privileges of citizenship.
Here’s one set of responsibilities that the Canadian government expects of its newcomers:
Getting a job, taking care of one’s family and working hard in keeping with one’s abilities, are important Canadian values. Work contributes to personal dignity and self-respect, and to Canada’s prosperity.
Hey, can we have one of those down here?
In The National Post reporter Kathryn Blaze Carlson says:
The guide…is the first of its kind to explicitly denounce violence in the name of family honour — a crime in the headlines just this week after an Ottawa man was sentenced to a year in jail for threatening violence against his daughter.
While honour killings remain relatively rare in Canada, several high-profile cases have drawn attention to the issue. Even the use of the term “honour killings” has stirred debate, as critics of the wording say it implies the practice is accepted by certain religions when, in fact, it is not.
“The government had long been cautious about offending people,” said Amin Muhammad, a psychiatry professor at Memorial University and author of a recent paper on the subject, which was submitted to the federal Department of Justice. “But now, the government is bravely — but politely — warning that this is something that is not to be tolerated.”
The inclusion of honour killings and spousal abuse in the guide reminded some onlookers of the tension over reasonable accommodation, a concept that came to a boiling point in Hérouxville, Que., in 2007 when the town council passed a motion governing the behaviour of immigrants, including provisions against stoning women and genital mutilation.
But Farzana Hassan, spokeswoman for the Muslim Canadian Congress, said there is nothing controversial about the statement in the new guide, adding that it is a long-overdue step toward tackling a cultural practice that does not jibe with Canadian values.
“We cannot ignore this in the name of multiculturalism,” she said. “But it’s not enough to make statements about what people should or shouldn’t do, because that approach doesn’t register with people who are influenced by this very irrational religious zeal.”
That’s right. Telling people “who are influenced by this very irrational religious zeal” not to kill their family members won’t change a darn thing. Except I wouldn’t term it “religious zeal”. “Irrational”? Sure. But killing your family members is about hatred, it’s not about zeal. She might as well term it “irrational religious enthusiasm”. If nothing else, this guide demonstrates it’s time to get real. Polite words like “zeal” as descriptions of barbaric behavior have to go. But then the habits of multicultural speech die hard.
The news article cites Phyllis Chesler’s work. I don’t know anyone who has done more to establish the ugly reality of honor killings. Ms. Chesler has been keeping track of this barbaric practice in the U.S., Canada, and Europe:
Phyllis Chesler, an American feminist author who will soon publish a study of 230 honour killings across five continents, said honour killings are most often committed by Muslims, but added that Canada and the United States have also seen many cases involving Sikhs and Hindus. “The punishment is for becoming western after having moved to the west,” Ms. Chesler said. “Wanting to leave a husband, going to college – these sorts of things that we take for granted – are seen as capital crimes among those who practice honour killings.”
Ms. Chesler said honour killings are culturally acceptable in some parts of the world, adding that the killers are often glorified and the victim’s family is usually complicit. “These people are coming from countries where these behaviours are never punished,” she said. “There are people who bring this mindset when they come to the west.”
This new study won’t be out until next Spring, if I am remembering correctly. The most current one, published in The Middle East Forum has two tables. The first compares the behaviors of those who practice domestic violence and the behaviors of the barbaric honor killers. The second lists the women, their locality, age, religion, and the manner of death.
I certainly don’t downplay the stubborn fact of domestic violence in our own culture. Its victims are children, women and men, in the respective ordering of the numbers of those abused. I don’t have the citations handy, but when I worked with those who were trapped in violent home environments it was most often the children who were seriously abused. The next in frequency were women victims and the last were men. Surprisingly (or not) women were most often found to be the perpetrators of violence against children. Men abused women more often than they did children, though abuse of the whole family by one adult tyrant wasn’t uncommon. Men who were victims of spousal abuse were the most difficult to counsel since the attendant shame often prevented them from seeking help or from utilizing such services when they were offered.
But honor killings are a whole different story. There’s no comparison except that both practices are violent. In fact, the subset of honor violence that doesn’t end in death would make a good field of study for those attempting to understand this phenomenon.
In American culture, domestic abuse is random and usually impulsively reactive. With honor killings, the outcome is planned. Other family members are often involved. And the victim can simply disappear – “gone back home” to whatever Killerstan her family had left.
Ms. Chesler says:
Seldom is domestic violence celebrated, even by its perpetrators. In the West, wife batterers are ostracized. Here, there is an important difference in honor crimes. Muslims who commit or assist in the commission of honor killings view these killings as heroic and even view the murder as the fulfillment of a religious obligation. A Turkish study of prisoners found no social stigma attached to honor murderers. While advocacy organizations such as CAIR denounce any link between honor killings and Islam, many sheikhs still preach that disobedient women should be punished. Few sheikhs condemn honor killings as anti-Islamic. Honor killings are not stigmatized.
That’s why the new Canadian rules for immigrants are so important. People are going to be put on notice that the old rules stay in the old country. Will that make them quit killing their daughters? I think it will make a serious dent in the problem.
I talked to Ms. Chesler about the predicament these young women face. For battered women in America, there is a whole network of domestic violence shelters. A worker in, say, Kansas, could call a shelter in Virginia to find room for someone who was at particular risk if she stayed in her home area. But for young immigrant women, embedded as they are in the extended family (a murderous extension), finding a refuge can be problematic.
There is nothing similar established for the potential victims of honor killings. It took so many years for our legal and justice systems to recognize the lethality of plain old American domestic violence. How many more years will it take them to realize the dangers immigrant women face from their own families? Ms. Chesler notes:
The problem the West faces is complex. Muslims, Sikhs, and Hindus view honor and morality as a collective family matter. Rights are collective, not individual. Family, clan, and tribal rights supplant individual human rights.
This summation of the problem is one that the new Canadian citizenship book begins to address. It emphasizes the rights and responsibilities of individuals.
Canada has stepped out from behind correct speech and begun to follow the correct path. This decision can only strengthen its internal cohesion, its prosperity, and its integrity as a national community.
I pray America will follow in Canada’s footsteps.
Meanwhile, read more fully about the exuberance of the Canadians here: