Oh, Canada! Oh, America!
What is the impact of cultural pluralism on Canadian and American values, ethics, traditions, and national identities? Are both nations threatened by immigrants who expect to retain their ethical values and cultural heritages as they try to integrate into society on their terms? Can diversity be achieved without divisiveness? Or without sacrificing North American intercultural heritage? More
Someone once asked: “Who looks, dresses, thinks and acts like an American but isn’t an American?” A Canadian! There’s no denying these neighboring nations have evolved into great societies that share similar values, ethics, traditions and identities.
White Anglo-Saxon Protestant core settlements from Britain spread along North America’s eastern seaboard, starting in the 17th century. After conquering New France, the British established yet more thriving colonies. When the Thirteen Colonies revolted, United Empire Loyalists trekked northward to resettle in the old French colonies.
The US and British North America evolved parallel societies enriched by new immigrants from Western and Northern Europe who enhanced the core cultures with their own heritages. An intercultural majority of European descent controlled the political, economic, and socio-cultural life in Canada and the US down to the mid-20th century.
These mainstream societies accepted ethno-cultural minorities so long as the latter didn’t challenge their values, ethics, traditions and customs. Alongside the French in Quebec, Hispanics in the US southwest were inherited with the acquisition of territory. But they remained aloof to preserve their languages, Roman Catholicism and lifestyles. Irish Catholics, Quakers, Mennonites, Hutterites and Doukhabors arrived and chose to live apart in separate enclaves within mainstream society. During the 19th and 20th centuries, newcomers from Southeastern Europe joined mainstream North Americans, settling in their own urban enclaves like ‘Little Italy.’
In the US, an Afro American society evolved out of slavery; after emancipation, many migrated from the South, most being forced to settle in segregated ghettos like Harlem and Watts. Westward expansion added semi-nomadic Aboriginal tribes. Some wanted to assimilate into sedentary white society, but all were segregated on reserves where, insulated from white culture, they salvaged and preserved their old ways. Orientals were imported to build railways; ostracized, they coalesced into ‘Chinatowns’ where they pursued their own lifestyle.
At mid-century, third-world newcomers began to outpace European immigration. Non-Europeans brought strange religious and cultural heritages which they refused to give up. Host societies were unable to absorb these minorities; so, they grasped at cultural pluralism to legitimize ethnic diversity and a multi-cultural identity; but they couldn’t instill a sense of belonging to one nation, or a willingness to value its time-honored cultural heritage. After four decades, cultural pluralism has failed to diversity without dividing.
Islam is a sectarian and political ideology that’s regarded as the least accommodating and most invasive of religions. Political Islam exerts total control over an Islamic state’s citizens. Multiculturalism and civic nationalism open the political door to an organized Muslim minority that lobbies all levels of government to entrench Sharia into the host society. Radical Islamism seeks to establish a global Caliphate – using Jihadist terrorism to eradicate infidel opposition. Islamic radicalization in Canada and the US does threaten homeland security, and is linked to global terrorism.
Islam’s religiosity opposes a secular North American society. Next to a Muslim apostate, agnostic and atheist non-believers are the most reviled infidels. A dwindling Christian society may share a belief in God/Allah and Heaven/Paradise with a growing Muslim minority, but the gulf between godless North Americans and Muslims is the key barrier to cultural integration.
Unless cultural pluralism can create a balanced socio-cultural mosaic, Canada and the US risk evolving only one way via the ballot box: the Muslim way! What would life be like in an Islamic state? Can cultural pluralism diversify without sacrificing mainstream society’s intercultural heritage? Are Canadians and Americans, regardless of race, creed or culture, up to the task?
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