Permitted Inconsistency (?)

Concerning his published comment in relation to “Niqab Lighter”, I posed the following question to my friend, Neil Remington Abramson:

Subject: Comment is up…

…many thanks for letting me include it, though you seem to be having the same vacillation in emotion here as I do; very different take in your comment to “Niqab Lighter”, compared to your “Dog Park of Life” sentiments. Or maybe they can be blended?

My own vacillations can be referenced to comparing the writing of “Niqab Lighter” to “Helpless Islamic State“.

Neil Remington Abramson commented as follows (e-mail correspondence reproduced with permission):

Subject: Inconsistencies?! Possibly! We are allowed that in a democracy

Perhaps the apparent inconsistencies in my comments are finessed a bit by the implications from this attached Globe and Mail piece. Before liberal political correctness redefined any negative comments about multiculturalism as a “thoughtcrime”, we lived in a more vivid and not necessarily better, or worse, world. We were allowed to make a bit of fun about each others’ differences – remember the Newfie jokes? And when I went to grad school at Western in ’75 I discovered the Ontarians were pretty negative about the Albertans, because it was popular in Alberta to say “Let the eastern bastards freeze in the dark“, at the time of Trudeau’s National Energy Program. They decided to give me a break, because, at the time, Saskatchewan wasn’t known to have any oil. But they had to think about it, and tell me they were giving me a break.

At the same time, I think we meant each other no harm and that, had there been a national emergency, like when de Gaulle said “Vive le Quebec Libre,” we would have all stood together, one for all. I hope we are still like that.

Even in today’s more serious climate of political correctness, I think my fellow citizens are more willing to “live and let live”, and to even get genuinely embarrassed if they are caught in an extreme position, that turns out to be offensive to someone actually present.

Someone’s rude anti-Americanism, or rude remarks about my height can annoy me. Then I say “I was born in the States,” or “I have to listen to rude remarks about my height all the time in China, but damned if I’m going to in my own hometown” (and this really happened in an elevator in Vancouver, and I interrupted her “private” conversation to tell her), praise God, my fellow citizen is embarrassed and apologetic. Or a businessman I am speaking with expresses his hostility about unions, and I remark that I was president of the faculty association, which is a “nonregistered” trade union, he gracefully backtracks and we jointly find a comfortable middle ground. Likely the niqab controversy will blow over and our brave Minister of Niqablessness will find a way to compromise. Likely it was just a “trial balloon,” as it will turn out. Just a gesture.

My point is that we used to, and still should be able to “hate niqabs”, without having to ban them, and without having to ban those who hate them. One of the things I especially appreciate about Canada and being Canadian is that we are mostly all so moderate and reasonably polite, though not as much as in the past. And we are allowed almost complete freedom of thought (as long as you accept the Holocaust, and why wouldn’t you, given the evidence), and a fair bit of freedom of speech (politically correct of course), and a modicum of freedom of action (but don’t have a couple of drinks with dinner if you are driving at night in Vancouver – and don’t smoke anywhere because smokers are definitely fair game). And those who hate, and those who hate those who hate, likely don’t mean that much physical harm (unlike many places), and hopefully would be shocked (I hope), if accused of bullying.

By contrast, the US has become a house of horrors, with the left and the right bullying and railing at each other, and, it seems, no moderates of goodwill left anymore. I am sure glad I am a Canadian. I am sure glad I don’t live there.

I just don’t need “born-heres” telling me about my former homeland, any more than I think francophone Quebecois appreciate anglophones interpreting Quebec for them. But we all have the freedom to say more or less what we think, within the bounds of political correctness, and also the right to ignore what others say. That’s democracy – in part – as I understand it.

About brucelarochelle
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