Friday, October 20, 2006

White Multiculturalism

Canada's welcome mat worn, immigrant studies find

Five new studies of immigrants of visible-minority background reveal cracks in Canada's ability to integrate newcomers, undermining the long-held consensus that multiculturalism has been an overwhelming success."It makes you wonder if multiculturalism is really working for more recent immigrants,” said Maraki Sikre Merid, who co-authored the study with several other Ethiopian-Canadians from a group called Young Diplomats. “We talk about Toronto being a mega melting pot, but it is really a lot of segregated communities. Is there something more Canada can do to give people a sense of what it means to be Canadian?”

Multiculturalism was the response to the Trudeau era Bilingualism and Biculturalism (the B and B) report, It was a politial movement within the Liberal party from the Ukrainian community and other European ethnic communities and linguistic groups in Canada that were the parties base. Professor Manoly Lupul of the U of A spearheaded the movement for inclusion of other linguistic minorities in the Canadian mosaic as it was called at the time.

The Ukrainian community like the new immigrant communities in Canada was an authentic diaspora, unlike other post WWII European Displaced Persons (DP's) who arrived in Canada, Ukrainians had no chance of returning to their homeland. Many were considered a threat to the Soviet state in the Ukraine.

Thus Ukrainian Canadians, the first of the hyphenated Canadians, viewed themselves as an authentic diaspora culture, keeping alive Ukrainian traditions here as the Ukraine became Russified.

It was the Liberals in the Ukrainian community that pushed for multiculturalism, aligning with other European DP communities, for whom English and French were their second languages. Multiculutralism was not so much about culture as it was the recognition of the 'other' linguistic minorities in Canada, Ukrainians, Germans, Polish, Italian, Finns, Icelanders, Jews etc.

Only the Jews continued to face racial discrimination that declined as the other ethnic communities were accepted into the Canadian body politic. Like the Ukrainians they too were an authentic diaspora, having no home to go to. That of course changed after 1948.

Culturally these communities were on the left prior to WWII, and populated the Communist Party and to a lesser degree the CCF. After WWII the first and second generations along with the newly arrived DP's moved towards integration into mainstream Canadian culture, and thus into the Liberal Party which was seen as cosmopolitan and was the anti-thesis to the nativist and Britishness of the Conservatives.

But linguistic based multiculturalism never concieved of inclusion of the other; that is visible minorities. It never reached out to the Chinese or Japanese commuities nor the West India diaspora. Nor did it include Canada's first nations, whose demands to be included the Canadian body politic arose at the same time.

It was essentially a white movement, an attempt to overcome the racist British nativist response of 'white anglo-saxon' Canadians to the immigration of Central and Eastern European immigrants. Ukrainians, Italians, Poles, Hungarians, etc. coming from peasant communities were descriped as niggers, wogs, etc. by the Anglo-Saxon community in Canada when they first arrived.

Years later as they were integrated into Canadian society, as all European ethnic communities were, they wanted to be white, they learned English, they supported the Dominion, they forgot their roots in their integration. Multiculturalism was the politics of integration, not a melting pot like the American nativist culture, into a 'white' culture, one that accepted accents. It was based on language, not culture despite its name.

Thus as Canada experienced more and more immigration from non-white countries the multiculturalism myth was expanded to include them. As it was a policy of the Liberals, it meant that politically the Liberals benefited from a broad based membership and support of these new immigrants.

The Conservatives as usual remained the home of the Anglo-Saxon's until Mulroney's united front party which for the first time included non-Anglo Quebecois.The destruction of the Conservatives into fragments was the result of The Reform Party and the Bloc Quebecois. The latter based on language the former based on nativist populism, some of the nativists now being second and third generation immigrants who view themselves as 'white'.

The Liberals as a party and a government has used this linguistic multicultural policy to attempt to integrate non-white immigrants into the Canadian mosaic.

It has failed. Because it was never about ethnicity or race, it was about language.

It never addressed racism, because it denied race as essential. It was about whiteness without talking about it. It was about accepting accents not skin colour. It was about accepting culture as dance troupes, food and fashion, not about ways of looking at the world that were different than ours.

The European immigrants shared a religious culture as well, Catholic, Orthodox or Protestant, the new immigrants do not. There are, Ishmalies, Taoists, Buddhists, Muslims, etc.

The Chinese experience in Canada, more so than the Japanese who are integrationists, was to remain outside of mainstream Canadian culture to accept the ghetto and make it their own, which is why every city has a China Town.

They were forced into the ghettos, and even in the era of multiculturalism there was little done to recognize the origin of the these ghettos were part of the Canadian State policy of dicrimination against Chinese immigrants.

The result for the community was to identify itself as a diaspora and thus saw themselves as Chinese first, Canadian second. Such is the case with other racial minorities that move here. The Filipino's, Jamaicans, Indians, Pakistani's, etc. all who view Canada as their home, but their home countries as the motherland.

There has been no integration into the Canadian mosaic because our policy of multiculturalism was never intended to adapt these immigrants into 'White' Canadian society.

In fact the reason we have dual citizenship, which the right wing is now attacking, is the result of the ideal of the hyphenated Canadian. That dual citizenship has existed since both the French and British colonialists came here.

The reason their citizenship is different than the rest of us, is they came here as conquerers, as agents of Imperialism. The rest of us came as workers, hewers of wood, drawers of water, the oppressed the subjects of Imperialism.

And that is the class base for understanding immigration in Canada, it is not the colour of ones skin, or country of origin, but the fact that all immigration to Canada is the countries need for workers.

Emigration is economic, those who leave their homelands do so to make a living.

Their integration into the Canadian body politic is dependent on them working.

The problem as outlined in the opening news item is simply that these communties have high unemployment, thus creating ghetto's, the very place they left their homeland to get away from.

It is not a case of needing a multiculturalism policy but a full employment strategy, which of course under the current goverment is not even on the agenda.




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