I begin with a disclosure. Salim Mansur is a friend of mine, so if I were in any way skeptical of his deposition I would not have consented to write this review. Friendship is too precious a value to risk giving needless offense, either by being too brutally honest or by producing a piece of dishonest puffery. And since even the best of us have written problematic books (including yours truly), it is best in such cases to say nothing adverse in print and leave it to others to dissect the writer’s efforts.
That I write a review of a friend’s book, then, means that I suffer no crisis of conscience in praising it for its many virtues: clarity, painstaking research, intellectual scrupulousness, a surfeit of historical and juridical information, and a powerful argument backed by strict evidence and leading to a set of forceful conclusions.
Mansur presents his thesis with lucid precision in his Introduction: “The idea of an ‘official’ multiculturalism program to be sponsored by the state, supported by tax-payers, and monitored and enforced by thought-police (human rights commissions) was at best dubious, and at worst by its very nature poised against Western liberalism. Moreover…it was based on the false idea—another official lie, really—that all cultures are equal.”
The result of this pernicious fantasy was a reversal of cultural norms and the scuttling of reasonable expectations. If all cultures are equal, the heritage culture has no priority and no legitimate claim upon foreign minorities to adapt to the social usages and conventions already in place. “As immigration changes the demographic profile of a liberal democracy,” Mansur writes, “multiculturalism empowers immigrants from non-Western societies to demand that their host country adapt to the cultural requirements of immigrants instead of the other way round.” And this is plainly what has happened. “[I]f the ride continues unchecked,” he concludes, “the end then is predictable.”
Delectable Lie is a detailed exfoliation of this root argument, examining how multiculturalism—and, of course, its corollary, political correctness, which discriminates against the expression of dissent—have inexorably sedimented themselves in the political process, “twisting our history” as they did so, “tearing apart” national identities and invidiously replacing them with “even older identities of a pre-modern past,” thus effectively eroding the “idea of nation as a people…identified on the basis of kinship relations or language.”
One has only to look at the importation of Sharia law into Europe and the proliferation of no-go zones, in effect Islamic mini-emirates, in European cities to see how cultural civility and national coherence can be subverted. In the U.S. Islamic advocacy proceeds apace, terror attacks are a constant menace, mosques pepper the landscape, the President appoints Muslim Brotherhood sympathizers to influential posts, and the Shariate relentlessly advances. In Canada—Mansur’s chief concern—Islamic organizations flex their muscles, terror plots are hatched, mosques and religious schools indoctrinate the young, and our human rights commissions see to it that criticism of Islam is muted, punished and all but ruled out.
One recalls Ottoman thinker Said Nursi who prophesied nearly a century ago, in his famous _Damascus Sermon_, that “Europe and America are pregnant with Islam. One day they will give birth to an Islamic state.” The way things are going, he may have been right. And it is via what Mansur calls the “delectable lie”—the idea of cultural parity, the raising of the concept of “diversity” (which really means “conformity of opinion”) to the status of a social paradigm, the practice of accommodation to the sensitivities of immiscible groups in the fatuous conviction that the favor will be reciprocated, the untenable belief that the desire for freedom, prosperity and electoral democracy reigns in every human heart, in short, the diktats of multiculturalism—that Nursi’s vision would be realized.
Mansur writes with authority both as a professor of political science imbrued in his discipline and as a Muslim who understands how the more extreme elements in his community pose a serious threat to the durability of the society in which they have refused to integrate. These Islamic elements—along with certain disruptive and sectarian portions of the South Asian shame-honor demographic—braid the rope with which we will hang ourselves. Mansur clearly reveals how multiculturalism has failed to establish a viable and harmonious pluralism and has instead created an anarchic and retrograde situation in which old-world identities take precedence over modern, secular and liberal values. He shows how the Western political elites have collaborated in their own eventual dissolution by refusing to control or monitor the flow of tribally oriented immigrants who bring the hatreds, conflicts, social patterns, ancestral traditions and cultural practices of Third World communities into their new home, sowing inevitable discord as a consequence.
At the same time, the patrician class does everything it can to avoid confrontation and, in an access of misplaced solicitude, even strives to facilitate what is nothing less than a “hostile takeover” by stifling opposition to such destructive policies and pandering to the grievance networks set up by these foreign implants. In so doing, our “progressive” beau monde empowers radical immigrant organizations in their quest to impose upon their hosts the standards, customs, rituals and codes of the “old country.” What we are observing is a kind of cultural pleaching, the creation of new structures by interlacing the existing features of the social and political landscape with alternate modes and configurations. The terrain we have long taken for granted slowly becomes unrecognizable.
The casualties of the multicultural delirium are readily discernible to anyone who cares to pay attention. Freedom of speech, the bedrock principle of Western liberalism, has been legislatively curtailed. Freedom of assembly is under threat as well—what we might designate as the Malmo syndrome. The notion of citizenship, as Mansur warns, that “brings people together in liberal democracy and binds them in a relationship of mutual obligation” has also been crucially weakened. “The problem arises,” he continues, “when multiculturalism demands that liberal democracy recognize in law cultural practices that are not merely different, but contrary…to its core values of citizenship rights and responsibilities.”
In order to oppose the growing menace of “tribal and collectivist values” which undermine the social and national consensus, liberal democracy must be defended, Mansur argues, through education in the historical achievements of the Enlightenment and the concept of universal values. The doctrinal lie that “all cultures are worthy of equal respect and equally embracing of individual freedom” must be strenuously countered by affirming a unifying national culture “embedded in the values of the West and shaped by the Enlightenment.”
It must be acknowledged, however, that such education as Mansur recommends does not begin in the schools and universities, or in religious institutions and the media, which have, by and large, been corrupted by “the worm inside the doctrine of multiculturalism.” As he notes in a recent Sun Media column, our “universities, churches and mainstream media…have assumed the role of spinmeisters for Islamists and Islamism.” Genuine education begins with voices like Mansur’s and those of his conservative peers and colleagues—many of whom are mentioned in his book—who speak out resonantly and bravely against the plague of self-doubt, debased creeds and degrading ideologies, unmoored theories and the temptation to cultural and political appeasement that afflicts the West.
These heralds of sound judgment understand that, in effect, multiculturalism is like a horticultural experiment gone wrong, attempting to graft an unsuitable cutting onto a pre-existing stock and producing only a vascular deformity in the process. Subsequent pruning rarely works though it may at least contain the aberration. What is ultimately required is a strong rootstock, the right shoot, and the appropriate conditions to ensure that the insertion “takes”—failing which, we have a disaster rather than a garden.
Mansur’s book tells a bitter truth about a delectable lie. It needs to be read.