Unsanctioned

"Sanction" is one of those words — like "cited" or "sanguine" — that can mean opposite things. This can be confusing.

"The bus driver received a citation from the city" might mean she was ticketed — punished — for a traffic violation. Or it might mean she was rewarded and commended for excellence. In the 1980s, South Africa was under sanctions due to Apartheid. After that system was lifted, the sanctions were removed and trade with South Africa was once again sanctioned.

This sort of ambiguity might account for some of the confusion displayed by those pretending to be offended by the opening of another Muslim community center in Lower Manhattan.

"To bigotry no sanction," President George Washington said. But what does that mean? It might mean that America does not permit or condone religious bigotry. Or it might mean that America does not prohibit or punish such bigotry.

As with the hypothetical bus driver above, we need to know more of the context to know which meaning of "sanction" Washington intended. Fortunately in this case, the first president provided that context. Placed in that context, Washington's statement leaves no room for ambiguity or confusion as to what he meant:

The Citizens of the United States of America
have a right to applaud themselves for giving to mankind examples
of an enlarged and liberal policy: a policy worthy of imitation.
All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of
citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if
it was by the indulgence of one class of people that another
enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily
the government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no
sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who
live under its protection, should demean themselves as good
citizens.

We can't find any ambiguity or confusion in what the second president had to say on this point either. In 1797, John Adams affixed his signature to the Treaty of Tripoli, giving these words the force of law:

As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense
founded on the Christian Religion, as it has in itself no character of
enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen, and as
the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility
against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no
pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an
interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

Adams was succeeded by Thomas Jefferson, who said:

The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are
injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say
there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks
my leg.

And the president who followed him was James Madison, architect of the Bill of Rights, another unambiguous statement that begins with these words:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …

Anyone who finds any of that confusing is simply confused. This is not ambiguous or — to use the favorite weasel word of timid journalists "objectively" fearful of taking sides alongside the facts — "controversial."

There is no legitimate controversy here. There is no basis in law, principle, doctrine or morality for opposition to the free exercise of religion by Islamic Americans. And their proximity to the Temple of Mammon on Wall Street doesn't change that.

The opponents of this congregation cannot argue against them without also arguing against the principle repeated four times above. And they can find no argument against that principle. So they resort to what Americans always resort to when unable to present or articulate a valid, reasonable argument: they pretend to be offended.

To be blunt, I do not believe that any of the people objecting to this Islamic center are being honest. I do not believe that these are good people or that they are acting in good faith. I think this is a pose, a bit of posturing, a false claim of offendedness. Their pretense of indignation over something that, in fact, neither picks their pocket nor breaks their leg, is not believable. And so I do not believe them.

If anyone can locate an actual argument, made in good faith, for why this particular congregation should be denied its rights, then I will be happy to engage that argument. But I haven't yet heard such an argument. Have you?

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    MercuryBlue:

    That sounds really good, Nicole. One problem. The zucchini plant is no longer spawning.

    Oh, sure, flaunt your early harvest, see if I care. I live in the frickin’ Rockies, and my CSA is still at the height of summer squash season. This is clearly your come-uppance for getting arugula a full month ahead of me, the rest of you world!

    That, the absence of Old Bay in our spice rack…

    Great little downtown Boulder shop called Savory, I walk in, I tell them I would like whatever they sell as an Old Bay substitute, because I know they’ve got one, they’re that awesome. And they point me toward their “Coastal Bay” mix. Black pepper and paprika are the first two ingredients; I forget the rest, but that black pepper was the only thing I remember bearing capsaicins (sp?).
    They also have about a million salts and curry powders. And hot peppers (apologies to those who can’t do hot peppers; I don’t mean to rub it in), including Korean hot pepper threads for my kimchi-making operations.

    Shred the squash—this would be extremely tedious without a food processor or a sous chef –and how would the sous chef feel about it?

    No clue, but the cheap Pampered Chef version of a mandolin made the task fairly non-painful (so long as you use the included food holder, of course – I have a nice pad of scar tissue on the tip of my middle finger from forgetting to use the food holder when making potato chips this past Winter Solstice). That John and I were preparing the ingredients together made any other sources of tedium, such as hand-whipping the egg whites, no longer an issue. We turned on some Wang Chung and Falco mp3s and had a lot of fun.

  • Spearmint

    I remember shortly after 9/11 being incredibly and pleasantly surprised that there were no reports of anti-Arab or anti-Muslim violence or discrimination.
    Yeah, me too. I was shocked.
    I mean technically there were no reports of anti-Muslim discrimination because the guys who got randomly murdered were Sikhs, but still. The incidence rate was astoundingly low.
    …Not Muslims, though, it would seem.
    Muslims too. Just like “Jews too” and “Italians too” and “Irish too”… eventually. I’m sure one of the reasons American Muslims are better integrated than French Muslims is because of this ideology. But it’s not a magic wand that erases racism and religious bigotry and nativist sentiment completely, because… well, because no one has invented anti-racism magic yet, not even in Harry Potter. So of course it gets applied unevenly.
    Certainly there are huge problems with America’s national mythology, but you seem to be comparing it against the national mythology of a country in which native privilege and racism don’t exist. I’m not sure where on Earth you found this utopia; it’s certainly not in Europe, and I’d suggest it’s not a fair or relevant comparison.
    peaceful revolution
    ??? I know Washington retreated a lot, but I’m pretty sure he managed to kill some dudes.
    I say this as a member of a country that is perfectly capable of being horribly racist without a founding myth
    !? Kit, of course you have a founding myth! You’ve even got an epic poem, although admittedly it’s a kind of a crappy epic poem that doesn’t say anything about Britain and the epic poem cycle you guys really wanted was Welsh, but still- epic poem. It’s a longer founding myth because America’s founding myth only begins when the white people show up, but it’s still a founding myth.
    Hell, I can recite it and I’m not even British:
    Druids, Ceasar, did Jesus visit? (hint: no), King Arthur, William the Conqueror, Robin Hood, Magna Carta, War of the Roses, Henry had a bunch of wives he killed, Elizabeth PWNed Phillip, Queen Victoria and colonial fun, The Great War, the Blitz, Churchill PWNed Hitler, National Health Care, the Beatles, Thatcher, Harry Potter.
    Some bits may be in the wrong order and Guy Fawkes should be in there somewhere, but you get the idea. It’s true (at least, I think it’s true; I don’t listen to that many British speeches) your politicians don’t incessantly reference it, but you all get it drummed into you in school and you all know it. Implicit in all the BNPs bullshit is a big arrow pointing to that list above saying “Do you see any brown people in this list? No!” (Well, except Jesus, but I think people have finally figured out the logistics of that trip were prohibitive.)
    And that, to my mind, is the key difference between the U.S.’s national mythology and Europe’s- the U.S.’s is inherently syncretic and thus theoretically hospitable to brown people (while erasing the whole history of the continent before Columbus showed up), whereas in Britain the list is the list. Its fundamental character is historical rather than ideological, and I’m not really sure how you guys could modify it to make it more inclusive.
    I agree that the erasure issue is incredibly problematic, and to some extent I think the problem is incurable because there is a really sharp discontinuity between the United States and the preexisting nations, and much of their history has been lost so it couldn’t be incorporated even if it would be thematically cohesive. But to a large extent erasure is a function of how we tell the story and we could tell a more complete history without altering the fundamental narrative. And you can see some people doing this- Obama tends to attempt it.
    There’s no country on Earth that doesn’t have a national mythology (that’s not having a civil war), so complaining that America’s exists seems a bit… quixotic? There are definitely problems with how it’s told and used, but that doesn’t mean we should or can just get rid of it.
    I too would be interested in mmy’s perspective.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/mmy mmy

    @Kit Whitfield: I’d be interested to hear mmy’s perspective on this, or any other Canadian, as Canada has a similar history at least insofar as being a new nation with some bad racial karma goes, but far less ritual. What’s your take?

    Ooh, really good question. First I would agree with you (or at least somewhat disagree with Spearmint) about not having a myth of national identity the way Americans do.
    Okay, boring history/political science lecture ahead.
    When I first came to the US and was taking Political Science (at one of the premiere programs in the country) I couldn’t get over how difficult my American professors found to “get” how different Canada’s sense of national identity was from theirs. Partially, I think, because they really don’t get what it means to be a colony. For much of Canada’s history it was a colony — even after formally becoming a nation the British Government asserted its right to determine Canada’s foreign policy. Canada had, well into the last century, no Supreme Court of its own. The highest court of appeal was the English Privy Council. Canada had no constitution until 1982. It was formed by an act of British Parliament.
    Canada was not only a colony it was also, in a sense, a forced marriage of two cultures: French/Catholic and English/Anglican. Language was not a matter education it was one’s ethnic heritage. Thus there were separatists who viewed Pierre Elliot Trudeau as not a real Francophone because his mother was Scots.
    In the middle of the last century the metaphor for Canadian immigration was the vertical mosaic rather than the melting pot. As more and more Canadians started to see themselves as CANADIANS not colonists of France or England the country and its people began to forge a separate national identity. This new identity builds on the concept of a cultural mosaic. To be independent we had to throw off being French or English and what we were left with as the idea of having a country made up of a number of nations (this makes far more sense in French than in English, but go with me). The First Nations are a legal entity within Canada. Different parts of the country function under different legal systems. You may say that our national identity is not to embrace the American concept of national identity but rather the idea of an ever evolving culture that will constantly be refreshed by immigration and the growing respect for and inclusion of the peoples who were initially conquered and colonized.
    Two big differences between the Canadian self-myth: One, unlike Americans Canadians don’t venerate their founding fathers. Rather they tell John D. MacDonald falling down drunk stories and Two, Canadians more systemically own up the horrors of their own past. Canada treated its original occupants as badly as Americans but they are in far less denial of that.
    Canada has no grand national dream. To a great extent Canadians want to be left alone to live their lives according to their own designs. They have no vision of the city on the hill. They are a country that has never been in a war when they had a flag of their own. As a rule they are suspicious of the histrionics of patriotism. And much of what Canada is cannot be expressed in terms that make sense to American political scientists. Indeed I found I couldn’t even adequate explain separatism in English because some of the core concepts of Quebec Nationalism just cannot be put into American English.

  • Spearmint

    @mmy: Thanks! It makes sense that having Quebec would fundamentally alter how a country integrates different populations. Although at least from down here one gets the impression that there’s English Canada, French Canada, and First Nations Canada; it’s not like the Chinese showed up and suddenly there was Chinese Canada. So it seems like the multinationalism works differently for people who were on the continent in 1800 vs. groups that got there later? That could be totally wrong; it’s just my impression.
    (I also think it’s really entertaining you guys didn’t feel the need to have your own flag until 1965. What made them finally decide to get one?)

  • Lee Ratner

    @mmy, question or really inquiry/theorizing. I’m not really up on Canadian history as I should be but it seems possible that Canadians do not honor/revere their Founders in the same way that Americans did because the Founders of Canada were working within rather against a colonial system. Canadian national self-government was the result of negotiation with the Colonial power rather than rebellion against it as was the case in America. The former is entirely less romantic than the latter and therefore it is harder to create a feeling of reverence for Canadian founders. If Canadian national self-government was a result of rebellion against rather than negotiation with the Colonial power than reverence would be more likely for Canada’s founders.
    Plus is seems that Canadians revere Tommmy Douglas in the same way that Americans praise the Founders. This isn’t a bad thing, but its remarkable how fast a nation can turn somebody into a patron saint when needed.
    @Spearmint, another problem with European national mythology as opposed to the national mythology of the Americas/Oceania is that as you pointed out it makes it harder to assimilate those not mentioned in the national myth. During the 19th century, European nations struggled to figure out where the Jews and the Roma fit into the national identity. Apparently, some European nations are still struggling with incorperating the Roma since France seems to be expelling a lot of them. Sadly, it was the Holocaust that gave European nations the ability to finally include their Jewish populations by giving them an event that would allow them to waive the entire history of the Jewish people in Europe into their national mythology. So the Final Solution, also allows for the appearance and presence of the Jews in the national mythology.

  • Spearmint

    Sadly, it was the Holocaust that gave European nations the ability to finally include their Jewish populations by giving them an event that would allow them to waive the entire history of the Jewish people in Europe into their national mythology.
    Or by making them not be there. You don’t really need to struggle to incorporate 300 people- 30,000 is another matter.
    I’m actually not totally unsympathetic to “the Jewish Problem”; when you’re trying to build a national identity trying to incorporate an ethnic group that adamantly refuses to assimilate is really problematic. Ironically in Germany the problem had basically been solved, but I can understand why, say, Lithuania was a little twitchy about it.
    The Roma I think should be less of an issue because they’re clearly not operating within the same framework as the nation-builders, but if I were a small Eastern European country trying to establish my legitimacy as a country based on my ethnic/linguistic differences from my neighbors, and 1/4 of my villages consist of Yiddish-speaking non-Slavs, and then I look across the border to Borogravia and see 1/4 of their villages consist of Yiddish-speaking non-Slavs, I would be… troubled.
    It seems so stupid now because post-WWII national borders essentially exist by fiat and are immutable, so it doesn’t matter much who happens to be inside them (see: Africa, civil wars) but that very much wasn’t the case in Europe circa 1900.

  • Will Wildman

    mmy, wonderful profile of Canada. I almost don’t want to comment, but nitpickery demands it. =)

    Two big differences between the Canadian self-myth: One, unlike Americans Canadians don’t venerate their founding fathers. Rather they tell John D. MacDonald falling down drunk stories

    A! John A MacDonald, as in John Eh! MacDonald. I’d like to imagine there’s some tenuous connection. But yes, the falling-down-drunk thing is popular, and in general Canadians tend to enjoy gossiping about their leaders’ flaws and foibles, in a sort of You Won’t Believe What My Wacky Uncle Did sort of way. My father likes putting on accents, and regularly affects a Scottish one to suggest some way in which John A may have used his fortitude to further his goals. “An’ nau, I put forth a nomination f’r myself as Prime Minister.” *noises of snoring as everyone else at the table is passed-out drunk* “Hearing none opposed, I declare the motion carried, let’s ha’ another round.”

    and Two, Canadians more systemically own up the horrors of their own past. Canada treated its original occupants as badly as Americans but they are in far less denial of that.

    I don’t know about denial, but we still don’t talk about it much – it’s not like it’s in school curricula or we get TV miniseries about the arrival and invasion of Europeans from the First Nations perspective. We kind of suck at admitting the other nasty things we’ve done to particular demographics as well – if I hadn’t read the brain-gnawing book ‘Obasan’ in grade seven, I don’t think I’d know anything about Japanese internment camps.

    Although at least from down here one gets the impression that there’s English Canada, French Canada, and First Nations Canada; it’s not like the Chinese showed up and suddenly there was Chinese Canada. So it seems like the multinationalism works differently for people who were on the continent in 1800 vs. groups that got there later? That could be totally wrong; it’s just my impression.

    Sort of true and sort of not – Canada tends to have pretty stark English/French divides, but those aren’t always England/France divides. New arrivals pick one official language or the other and then do a sub-national-multicultural multiculture. I’ve visited Quebec a lot, and now live right on its border, and I’m still surprised by the number of Francophone African-Canadians. (I also try not to find black Francophones inherently awesome, because, you know, definitely objectifying, but it’s really hard.)
    As I recall, the last time someone tried doing a national survey on ‘Who feels most like a Real True Canadian?’, Chinese immigrants were by far the highest-ranked demographic. I guarantee that Chinese immigrants are not caving to any pressure to become more English (or more French, as far as I know). I doubt we’ll see an ethnically-Chinese Prime Minister any time soon, but on an individual basis, the whole quilt-of-nations thing seems to be working pretty well.

    Plus is seems that Canadians revere Tommmy Douglas in the same way that Americans praise the Founders. This isn’t a bad thing, but its remarkable how fast a nation can turn somebody into a patron saint when needed.

    We revere the hell out of the man, but I doubt anyone’s ever going to try or succeed in scoring points in political discourse by claiming to be his political heir or by insisting that their opponent is working to destroy everything that Tommy Douglas stood for. (If that worked, we’d have a different PM by now.) Douglas doesn’t carry the same weight, and weight is important when selecting a blunt instrument.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/mmy mmy

    @Lee Ratner: Plus is seems that Canadians revere Tommmy Douglas in the same way that Americans praise the Founders. This isn’t a bad thing, but its remarkable how fast a nation can turn somebody into a patron saint when needed.
    No, Canadians don’t revere Tommy Douglas they admire him. They respect him. Most of us are damned thankful he came along. He was never elected to national office you know. People don’t say “well Tommy Douglas did such as such therefore it is good, right and Canadian.” I actually don’t think Canadians (in general) revere anyone the way American revere their founding fathers.
    I agree that not having had to fight to free ourselves from colonial rule makes a big difference — we have always been aware that gaining our freedom was a process of negotiation. What I think Americans miss is that the really hard part was not negotiating with the British it was negotiating with each other. Canada was described at one time as two solitudes. French and English Canada had different legal systems, different languages and different dominant religions. Our politicians spent at least as much, if not more, time negotiating with each other as with Britain.
    @Spearmint: I also think it’s really entertaining you guys didn’t feel the need to have your own flag until 1965. What made them finally decide to get one?
    Well, a lot of changes took place as Canada came up to its 100th birthday but the history of why we finally got around to getting a flag is embedded in Canadians deciding that we weren’t a offshore branch of the British Empire. It was around that time that we took the name “royal” out of our mail service and did other things.
    Remember at that time Canada was still a creation of a British Act of Parliament. When we finally got our own constitution we called it a repatriation.
    Although at least from down here one gets the impression that there’s English Canada, French Canada, and First Nations Canada; it’s not like the Chinese showed up and suddenly there was Chinese Canada. So it seems like the multinationalism works differently for people who were on the continent in 1800 vs. groups that got there later?
    Well, that is right and it is wrong. First, pet peeve, I am up to here with Americans who explain that such and such can be done in Canada cause we are all white up here unlike the US — the US being uniquely a nation of immigrants. First of all, there are lots of nations of immigrants and secondly, Canada is very, very, very not just white. You realize that are areas of Toronto where you can go days without hearing either French or English? That in the 1970s large areas of Vancouver City had all their signs in Chinese? That British Columbia had a premier who was a Sikh.
    Provinces have far more power in Canada than states do in the US — think Articles of Confederation and you get a good idea. Quebec has its own opinions about its own power. The First Nations don’t have a province but have legal standing. The newest territory, Nunavut, reflects Inuit culture, traditions and politics.
    There is, of course, racism and xenophobia in Canada as well as in the United States — but much of what American commentators recognize as “just like their white/black problems” is a misreading of our politics and culture. When Jacques Parizeau (premier of Quebec during the referendum) blamed the outcome on “les autres” it was a linguistic ethnicity on which he was referring to.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/mmy mmy

    bows head in shame. There was a John D. MacDonald in politics at the same time as John A. MacDonald — which is why we Eh the second. I was thinking about him as I typed.
    And re denial/talking. Yeh, I admit Canadians don’t talk enough about it but we postitively gush next to the US.
    And Mr. Mmy has been really involved in elementary curriculum for years and there is more and more openness to actually teaching this stuff.

  • http://www.kitwhitfield.com Kit Whitfield

    Certainly there are huge problems with America’s national mythology, but you seem to be comparing it against the national mythology of a country in which native privilege and racism don’t exist. I’m not sure where on Earth you found this utopia; it’s certainly not in Europe, and I’d suggest it’s not a fair or relevant comparison.
    I’m more comparing the reality to the America that some Americans seem to believe actually exists. Usually the racist ones. I mean, look what happened on the other thread when Fred acknowledged that privilege does exist in America.
    peaceful revolution//
    ??? I know Washington retreated a lot, but I’m pretty sure he managed to kill some dudes.

    Yeah, badly put. I meant that there wasn’t a Terror afterwards like there was after the French Revolution where everybody started purging everybody else.
    … Yeah. I can see why you didn’t get that from what I said. :-)
    Kit, of course you have a founding myth!
    We have several. But they’re just kind of in the background. The point I was making is that we don’t have rituals based on them built into the fabric of life the way America seems to.
    As to race in the UK – well, we could adapt our myths if we’re sensible. We traditionally have boasted of being a ‘nation of mongrels’; we’ve integrated a whole lot of different cultures over the centuries. The BNP and such scum aren’t usually referring to established myths so much as they’re pick-n-mixing bits and pieces that suit them and making up shit to suit their own agenda – which is fairly new.
    We’re a racist society, but I don’t think the founding myths, such as they are, have much to do with it.

    As a rule they are suspicious of the histrionics of patriotism.
    Would I be right in suspecting that a reason for this is that there’s a history of hearing patriotic talk that’s patriotic about the country that colonised you? Which wouldn’t exactly endear it.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/mmy mmy

    @Kit Whitfield: Would I be right in suspecting that a reason for this is that there’s a history of hearing patriotic talk that’s patriotic about the country that colonised you
    On the most mundane of levels I think many Canadians just find overt displays of emotion embarrassing and inappropriate unless at hockey games.
    On another level it is exactly what you said.
    On a third level having had that “patriotism toward the county that colonized you” used to drag you into that country’s wars makes you suspicious (or in the case of some soldiers I know) downright angry. Talk to some Australians about Gallipoli for an example of that.

  • Spearmint

    First, pet peeve, I am up to here with Americans who explain that such and such can be done in Canada cause we are all white up here unlike the US — the US being uniquely a nation of immigrants.
    Er, no, I meant, the Chinese did show up, but you didn’t start printing all the road signs in French, English and Chinese.
    I can see how you read it that way given all the nonsense Americans often spout, but I wasn’t trying to claim you had no immigrants- my whole point was that you do have them but they seem to get assimilated into either Quebec or English Canada rather than floating around as little islands of multiculturalness. Maybe they are less assimilated than American immigrants- I think it would be hard for a US governor to be elected wearing a turban- but I get the impression it’s a difference of degree, not of kind.
    And you know, my schoolbooks did cover Lord Amherst’s smallpox blankets and slavery and the Trail of Tears and the Japanese Internment and My Lai. It wasn’t an adequate treatment, perhaps, and I dunno how representative it was of most U.S. public high school curricula, but we’re not Japan. There were a lot of huge problems with that history curriculum (Asia? What’s Asia? Is there a continent below the Mediterranean? We’ve never heard of it!), but total erasure of American crimes against humanity wasn’t one of them.

  • Spearmint

    Yeah, badly put. I meant that there wasn’t a Terror afterwards like there was after the French Revolution where everybody started purging everybody else.
    We purged some people. Most of them escaped to Canada where they could keep their flag until 1965. :P But I see your point.
    The point I was making is that we don’t have rituals based on them built into the fabric of life the way America seems to.
    It’s really the fabric of political discourse that’s impregnated with it. In terms of “life” it primarily comes up on July 4th and on people’s tacky Stars and Stripes hats and/or bumper stickers. The casual racism that people encounter in daily life doesn’t really draw on the national mythology, I think; it has its own mythology to draw on, and the two really only come together when Republicans are running for office and suddenly it’s all “My immigrant ancestors didn’t need welfare because they weren’t black/latin@ and lazy!1!1!!!”

  • http://profile.typepad.com/mmy mmy

    @Spearmint: the Chinese did show up, but you didn’t start printing all the road signs in French, English and Chinese.
    Well, actually I have seen road signs in Chinese. Not in Quebec, of course, but in Quebec is a different country that way.
    Yes, most immigrants pick English or French as their major tongue but there is far less pressure to completely assimilate than there is in the US.
    And yes, I know you aren’t acting like Japan but since Canadians have no particular sense of reverence for their founding fathers, since we don’t have a manifest destiny foundation myth and since we are made up of communities that loathe each other there is less blow-back to attempts to face down the more questionable moments in our history.

  • Bryan Feir

    Canada can have some interesting arguments on the whole ‘when did we become a nation’ bit.
    We draw upon the War of 1812 as part of our founding mythology.
    The obvious answer is when Canada was created in 1867.
    You can make a good case that it wasn’t until 1885, when the Canadian Pacific Railway connected eastern Canada with British Columbia (which had specified the construction of the CPR as a requirement for them joining).
    On the international scene, Canada didn’t really act as a separate country until World War I.
    We didn’t adopt our own flag until 1965.
    Our national anthem was written in French in 1880, translated to English in 1906, used unofficially from 1939 (the official anthem being God Save the Queen), but not officially made the national anthem until 1980.
    We didn’t have a separate constitution until 1982, just the British North America act.
    Canada just doesn’t really have one single event that we can point to as where our country started.
    (Then again, the U.S. doesn’t have as much of a single point as many think, either: the American national anthem was based on the events of the War of 1812.)
    @Spearmint:

    We purged some people. Most of them escaped to Canada where they could keep their flag until 1965. :P But I see your point.

    Some of my ancestors being among them. Germans who fled the Palatinate when the French took over, went to New England, then fought on the English side of the Revolution. There’s still a geographical feature out on the Bay of Quinte named after that branch of my family.

  • Spearmint

    Yes, most immigrants pick English or French as their major tongue but there is far less pressure to completely assimilate than there is in the US.
    How is this measured? It’s not that I don’t believe you, I’m just curious how the difference in pressure manifests. Other than the turbaned-premier thing, but that strikes me as a “We are less crazily xenophobic about Indians than you because we were a fellow British colony and we’ve had more of them for longer” issue rather than a general acceptance of diversity.
    And yes, I know you aren’t acting like Japan but since Canadians have no particular sense of reverence for their founding fathers, since we don’t have a manifest destiny foundation myth and since we are made up of communities that loathe each other there is less blow-back to attempts to face down the more questionable moments in our history.
    I’m not saying you’re not better than us. XD Just, it’s a comparison between 10% and 50%, not 0 and 50%.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/mmy mmy

    @Spearmint: “how do you measure”
    hmm, well I am going to suggest that having daily readings from different religious AND ethical traditions in the elementary schools in my home in Southern Ontario would be a good indicator — readings are from a suggested list from TPTB and include Buddhism, Islam, Atheism, Judaism etc. The fact that provincially mandated hospital guidelines include “awareness of the different dress and food standards of” among other things Sikhs and Muslims. The fact that I see members of the RCMP (as close to a national symbol as we have) wearing turbans.
    “We are less crazily xenophobic about Indians than you because we were a fellow British colony and we’ve had more of them for longer” issue rather than a general acceptance of diversity.
    mmm, well much of the racism in Toronto is aimed at people from specific Caribbean islands makes me think that our racism itself is a little more diverse than yours.
    Re xenophia about India — there are a wide variety of cultures/religions/languages that hail from the subcontinent of India — of which Sikh is only one. BTW, do you know that there is Sikh on Sikh violence in Canada. And much of our relationship with other commonwealth countries has been with places like Hong Kong not India.
    As I said, I think the key is not that we are wonderfully open and close to perfect, just that when you have layered racism there is a solid basis for something like respect for diversity to grow.

  • Lee Ratner

    Spearmint: In most of Western and Central Europe, the Jews gladly and rapidly assimilated during the nation-building process. Jewish assimilation actually began long before Emancipation was even seriously considered, at least among the elite Jews and the the Maskilim. Poorer Jews tookly quickly to assimilation long before the Emancipation Process was complete. Jews were generally not resisting assimilation, even in Russian and Ottoman Empires, Jews were assimilating albeit at a much slower rate. Part of the frustration expressed in the Jewish State by Theodore Herzl was that the Jews have strove hard to become good Germans, French, or Hungarians and were rejected.

  • Spearmint

    hmm, well I am going to suggest that having daily readings from different religious AND ethical traditions in the elementary schools in my home in Southern Ontario would be a good indicator
    Yes, that is. I am trying to imagine this happening in Texas and I think I gave myself a brain hemorrhage.
    , well much of the racism in Toronto is aimed at people from specific Caribbean islands makes me think that our racism itself is a little more diverse than yours.
    “Come to Canada: our racism is diverse!”
    Seriously, though, I am impressed your racists can tell black people from different countries apart. I’m pretty sure ours can’t.
    Re xenophia about India — there are a wide variety of cultures/religions/languages that hail from the subcontinent of India — of which Sikh is only one.
    Yeah, but it’s more like “O HAI, your regiments fought next to us in WWII and you were well helpful” and less “ZOMG a turban!!! Terrorism!!! Run for the hills!!!” Maybe. I dunno, maybe Canadians didn’t notice. My point is, most Americans have minimal experience with turbans, whereas Canadians might have had more exposure.
    when you have layered racism
    Like onions. Or a parfait.
    (Sorry. I agree with your point but I couldn’t resist.)

  • http://profile.typepad.com/mmy mmy

    @Spearmint: My point is, most Americans have minimal experience with turbans, whereas Canadians might have had more exposure.
    Oh sorry, I didn’t get your point.
    You know one of the things that amazed me after 9/11 was the fact that Americans couldn’t tell turbans (or rather, any vaguely eastern/middle-eastern male headgear) apart.
    I mean how does Osama’s headgear look anything like a Sikh turban? I just don’t get it. And yes, that may come from growing up seeing them.*
    *probably more than morst Canadians my age since I grew up on a large army base with limited television reception (two channels, neither American) where forces from all over the commonwealth sent troops for training. Honest to God for years every single person I met from Africa was tall, had perfect teeth and spoke exquisite English. Of course, every single person I met from Africa was a child of the elite of his country.

  • Spearmint

    You know one of the things that amazed me after 9/11 was the fact that Americans couldn’t tell turbans (or rather, any vaguely eastern/middle-eastern male headgear) apart.
    That is just one element of a long, looooong list of things Americans can’t tell apart. (Brown people! Criticism vs. censorship! Secularism vs. religious oppression! Democrats vs. Republicans! Health care vs. socialism! Communism vs. fascism! Fiscal planning vs. magical libertarian tax fairy!)
    We can totally differentiate McDonald’s and Burger King fries, though. W00T!

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    Meh, I can’t tell their so-called fries apart. I can tell their burgers, though.
    On the multilinguistics of Canada: I remember the first time I went to Canada was on a road trip with my family. I was maybe 16 or 17. We flew to Seattle and then drove up through Victoria, Vancouver, and Banff. I had just taken a summer class in Japanese where we’d been taught how to transliterate English words into Katakana (Japanese syllabary specifically for representing non-Japanese words). Imagine my delight at seeing Katakana “subtitles” on all the English-language signs and shop-fronts! And I was fascinated by the differences between transliterations in Vancouver and in my class back in Louisiana, presumably stemming from the different way we pronounced vowel sounds.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Pius Thicknesse

    Yeah, ditto on the telling fries apart – their texture and shape are noticeably different. McD’s fries are sinfully freakin’ tasty when they’re hot. :)

  • http://city-of-ladies.blogspot.com Rebecca

    Racism could apply when the person speaking against Islam makes no distinction between religion and one what consider an identifiable group, such as Arabs. Indonesians are not Arabs, but most are Muslims. The same is true of Albanians.
    As the daughter of one such person, this is not a hypothetical. Only yesterday I heard “LOL I was on hold and there was a weird noise, it was like Arabs being called to prayer.”
    I’ve tried to explain that my best friend is an Asian Muslim and my calculus teacher from two years ago is a Christian Arab, but no luck.
    I live in the frickin’ Rockies, and my CSA is still at the height of summer squash season.
    It’s confusing enough to have that acronym exist, but on a thread where we’ve already used it to refer to something else…! *eep*
    Druids, Ceasar, did Jesus visit? (hint: no), King Arthur, William the Conqueror, Robin Hood, Magna Carta, War of the Roses, Henry had a bunch of wives he killed, Elizabeth PWNed Phillip, Queen Victoria and colonial fun, The Great War, the Blitz, Churchill PWNed Hitler, National Health Care, the Beatles, Thatcher, Harry Potter.
    Slightly tangential, but it gets so on my nerves when people act as if POC only showed up in Europe in the past fifty-odd years. (I don’t think you’re doing it, I’m just saying.) There is such a long history of POC in European society that people just ignore (both in the English sense of “know about and pretend not to” and in the French sense of “don’t know about”).
    I’m thinking about this because I was at the V&A last week and their Theatre and Performance Section had some pictures of nineteenth-century black actors, including Ira Aldridge – and it…well, absolutely blew my mind, because I’d been subconsciously assuming that black people were kept out of the theatre. I mean, why else would they get all these white guys to black up for Othello?

  • http://www.tattoo-designs-tattoo-ideas.com tattoos

    I dont see Anime films working really, like they did a live action Gundam movie and I don’t remember that being good, in fact, I barely remember it and nobody ever talks about it so it couldn’tve been all that good.


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