Saturday, March 07, 2015

Not A Very Bright Man


Zunera Ishag hails from Pakistan. Gerald Caplan writes:

She came to Canada in 2008, passed her citizenship test five years later with flying colours, and is now ready to take the oath of citizenship. She’s been “imagining [this moment] for so long” because she’s anxious to be a full and active member of Canadian society. She and her husband chose Canada over other countries, she says, because “It is especially important to me to live in a country of religious freedoms since I am a devout Muslim.”

But Ms. Ishag has run afoul of "Conservative values:"

The story begins in 2011, when then-immigration minister Jason Kenney arbitrarily decreed that faces couldn’t be covered at citizenship oath-taking ceremonies. This was a direct blow to Ms. Ishaq. She is prepared to unveil herself in private to an official before taking the oath, but will not appear unveiled at the public ceremony. She approached the University of Toronto’s legal aid clinic who put her in touch with Lorne Waldman, one of Canada’s top-notch immigration lawyers. Mr. Waldman went to court to challenge the government and won. In his words, “The Court found that the policy of requiring a woman to remove her facial covering, where there is no question of identity or security, was illegal. The government is required to follow the law.”

Well, not so fast. Never mind the law. We’re talking about politics here. The government has decided to appeal the ruling against them, as just one of their battery of pre-election attacks against Muslims here and abroad. For what I believe are crassly political motives, they are deliberately inflaming Canadians against each others. Now we know what Conservatives mean by “Canadian values.”

Quite simply, the Conservatives have decided that she is a useful weapon in their re-election campaign. By scapegoating her while introducing their much-criticized new anti-terrorism bill, they hope to convince frightened voters that the Conservatives are their best hope against dangers of all kinds. But in doing so, they are instead actually jeopardizing the country’s security. Stephen Harper and his minions are actually subverting the work of our security forces by alienating much of the Muslim community.

If the Harperites were serious about fighting terrorism, they would know they need the cooperation of devout Muslims:

Yet even moderate Muslims – the large majority – are outraged by the way the government has, among other things, been picking on this one harmless Muslim woman, and in the process mocking the right of all Muslims to follow their religion in the way they want. Out of sheer political opportunism, Stephen Harper is undermining that community’s trust in official Canada while very likely estranging and radicalizing some Muslims, perhaps dangerously. How can he possibly not understand this?

How can he not understand? He makes no attempt to understand. That would mean "committing sociology." The simple truth is that -- all his self generated hype aside -- the prime minister is not a very bright man.


Lorne said...

As Canadians, Owen, we should all blush at the intolerance and racism the Harper regime commits in our name.

Bill said...

Thanks for this Owen.

From the west coast I read far less reporting and commentary on national /HarperCon political gymnastics as there is an over abundance of western "issues" to be illuminated here (most vigorously by dedicated bloggers like you). Seems there is much more questioning in the national press then the BC provincial established media.

I really appreciate your hard work, eclectic aggregation and comments on these goings on. Always informative. Wish the hard core Con base had the curiosty to view your blog - might be a real eye opener. Keep up the good work.


Owen Gray said...

Thanks for your support, Bill. I would like to reach Harper's base. But I suspect they would be infuriated by what I write.

Owen Gray said...

They claim to speak for the majority of Canadians, Lorne. Their treatment of Ms.Ishag belies that claim.

Anonymous said...

Shite Owen when I lived in Calgary Alberta many years ago um well it was a tradition started by the "The Big Four" Guy Weadick:

"In the summer of 1912, the Big Four were approached by cowboy Guy Weadick with the proposal for a wild west show that would "make Buffalo Bill's Wild West Extravaganza look like a sideshow."[1] They each put up $25,000 to finance the first Calgary Stampede held in September 1912.[3] The event has grown since to more than $1.8 million in prize money, and attracts more than one million visitors yearly." From--->

So it has been a tradition in Calgary since 1912 during "The Greatest Outdoor Show On Earth" to dress as a Cowboy. So I used to follow that tradition.

In the year 2000 I went in to my local bank to deposit a check had my wrangler jeans a western shirt a cowboy hat and cowboy boots. To boot as a joke I was hauled off by bank internal security because I put a bandana over my face like the old fashioned stage coach robbers did.

I do not agree with Caplan if I am not allowed to cover my face in a simple banking transaction why would she in front of officials that need to identify her? How about her bank?

Gerald your logic is misplaced because you have never experienced what I have.

Cheers Owen Cheers,
Mogs the bandana bandit [he-he] Moglio

Owen Gray said...

She was quite willing to reveal her face to a judge, Mogs. But why should she have to put herself on display? Why should any Canadian have to do that?

Dana said...

A majority is still 50% plus one, Owen, and this is still a profoundly and unapologetic racist colonial country lest we forget in our rush to sanctimony.

Canadians have been able to close their collective eyes, ears and mind to the belittlement and suppression of the people who were here before them - even easier to do for people who came after. There may be bleating (evidently there *is* now) but there will be no action. Sanctimonious burghers don't *do* action. It's unseemly.

I really don't know any more why I continue to slam my head against the hobnail walls of proto-fascism on one side and the equally hard and unyielding walls of heritage presbyterian sanctimony on the other

At least I now have a firmer grasp of why Halloween colours are black and orange.

Anonymous said...

So let me get this straight a foreigner is allowed to cover her face due to a dubious religious so-called "law"?

But i can't as a Canadian wear a ski mask when I go to a bank or an airport a court of law or anywhere other than a ski slope?

The law should be equal and just I should also have the right to wear my ski mask in public including airports banks and courts ABC.

So now tell me Owen where is the logic or fairness in that?

Bill C-39 is discriminatory against Canadians but lets foreigners go Scott free and immune to that particular law.

I'll form the next ski mask religion we believe in faith and helping out the common good so you cannot take away our religious freedom of wearing our ski masks in public because they are our religious garb.

Mogs Moglio

Owen Gray said...

I agree with you, Dana, that there is a long racist streak in this country -- particularly regarding our relationship with the First Nations.

But, over the last forty years, the Supreme Court has been trying to right some of those wrongs. And at least in law -- if not in fact -- it has been trying to do something about that streak.

Perhaps that's one of the reasons the Harperites despise the Court.

Owen Gray said...

Are you claiming that you have the right to wear a ski mask into a bank for religious reasons, Mogs? You're comparing apples and oranges.

This is about religious tolerance.

Anonymous said...

No and correct Owen my blessed internet friend I'm merely stating the obvious if I start a church and it's religion states you have to wear a ski mask when you are in public where does it end? I have the right to do that then do I not? Hey I'm the High Priest of the Ski Mask Religion so you cannot take away my religious right to wear a ski mask in public.

Tee Hee I love to be the joker at my old age I've seen too much been around and figure humor is the most practical answer. It is studied that those who have humor live better and longer!

Mogs Moglio

Owen Gray said...

That opens up the whole question of how seriously we take religious values, Mogs.

My point is that the so called Christians who presently are in power will not accord the same religious freedom to others that they insist upon for themselves.

Kirby Evans said...

Mogs - these "thin edge of the wedge" arguments are almost always immaterial and actually illustrate nothing. Rather it is an old rhetorical strategy to deflect an argument away from its actual substance. This is not about face masks and its not about joking around with pretending to rob a bank. Neither of those comment bare on the case in anyway. And even your silly claim about being the facemask priest is immaterial. Your argument is not unlike those who oppose gay marriage simply by saying "what's next? Will we let people marry goats?" Fine rhetoric, but entirely meaningless.
Let's actually address the ISSUE, not some made up hypothetical notion whose only purpose is to deflect. The citizenship ceremony is at heart a simple oath ceremony in which a person makes an avowal. They are only public by tradition and a private ceremony will not change the truth or falsehood of the vow. Western law is based almost exclusively on prohibition from harm. Since the person is perfectly willing to a) prove their identity, and b) make the vow to a judge (our approved standard of avowal truth, the conditions of the vow are being met from a legal standpoint. Ergo - the question is begged - if the legal condition behind the avowal process is being met, why the prohibition? The only possible argument to which you can appeal is the claim that such ceremonies have traditionally been public events. And, frankly such claims to tradition have almost no standard in law, and more importantly it just doesn't wash here since the principle of the right of general participation holds sway for me over some arbitrary tradition because, again, the principle of harm. While her right to a private ceremony does me no harm, but taking away the right to it does do her harm, I think the matter is clear. And judges and lawyers know it is clear - leading us to the inevitable conclusion that the prohibition is simply a political strategy to whip up racist discontent.

Anonymous said...

Kirby Kirby I was all about humor not prejudice not deflecting an argument but what if? I'm trying to enjoy the last years of my life. Plus I do not agree that Canadian men are not allowed to wear masks of any kind yet foreign new comers to Canada are allowed to do so for "Freedom of Religion" so I stated I wanted to start a religious ski mask church. Just how well do you think that would go over?

Not a snowflakes chance in hell baby. So Kirby you can wear that facial garb and get away with crimes that it makes law enforcement officers harder to identify you hence the law. So please do not patronize me.

Cheers no hard feelings,
Mogs Moglio