Hnn | HNN Articles

Finally -- Survey Results I Can Understand

 

COLUMN BY DOUG THOMAS

For HumanistNetworkNews.org
July 8, 2009

I guess silly season must have struck at the Globe & Mail (Canada's National Newspaper) a week or so ago. I actually missed the online survey, but in this one they asked a particularly mindless question:  "Should immigrants be encouraged to give up their customs and traditions in order to assimilate into Canadian society?"

These little polls are intended as filler, really, and I doubt if anyone considers them important enough or accurate enough to quote in any papers, major or otherwise. However, a survey question as absurd as this does give one reason to pause.

Now I know that I have expressed concern about immigrants bringing their political problems with them, but really! Getting people to leave political attitudes and grudges behind is hard enough but getting people to abandon cultural attitudes is likely to be impossible.

Assuming we can figure out a way to do this, and Canadian sociologists are as eager as anyone to get government grants, what might some of the effects be?

Now, remember that the only workable definition of a Canadian is "an immigrant with seniority" so how would we determine which immigrants we mean. Presumably we would have to set some future date to give people fair warning, so immigrants who show up next year, for example, would have to be culture-free.

That leaves us with the problem that there is an odds-on chance that members of any given immigrant's culture are already here so the culture is already here too. Does this mean that the new person could not associate with any members of the established community from the native culture that we remove? Obviously the solution would be to avoid this problem by making the law retroactive so that all of us immigrants would have to abandon whatever culture our grandparents brought over with them.

My ancestry is a combination of Scottish and Welsh and I must tell you that giving up haggis and bagpipes would not seem overly odious to me. Welsh cooking, with the exception of rhubarb pies and tarts, could go too. After all, the two rules in Welsh cuisine are: "If you can taste it, it's over seasoned and if you can cut it, it's undercooked."  You can see I would not be all that upset about that either.

Other ramifications loom, however. We are, or rather our ancestors were, immigrants at one time or another. Essentially all of us European Canadians would have give up our culture. This would leave us to desperately emulate the aboriginal peoples around us, but only those who could demonstrate that they weren't following any cultural practices from across the Bering Strait.

Given the absurd results that even a conservative interpretation of the results of such a policy would be, one wonders what the folks at Globe and Mail were consuming at breakfast on the day they concocted the question.

However, one statistic in relation to this survey reassures about my fellow Canadians--nobody voted.

Doug Thomas is an English teacher and novelist, an agnostic member of SOFREE (Society of Ontario Freethinkers), and an active member of the Humanist Association of Canada. He is also Managing Editor of Canadian Freethinker. 

blog comments powered by Disqus

American Humanist Association

Phil Robertson's most recent hateful comments about non-theists and rape were ou...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

We are happy to announce the 2015 AHA Keynote Speaker for this year's annual con...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

We're happy to welcome a new chapter, Northeast Ohio Humanist Association, to th...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

Happy Birthday to the incredible Gloria Steinem! Gloria was AHA's 2012 Humanist...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

We want to hear from you! Please take a minute to complete this survey on the A...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

For those who "liked" our page today after watching last night's CNN segment on...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

This website is so cool! You can buy a t-shirt, poster or tote with the entire...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

Our friends at the United Church of Bacon (yes, it's real!) were recently discri...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

Do you think public schools should continue to observe religious holidays?

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

More Americans are turning away from organized religion! Watch AHA Communication...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

The new Netflix series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt adds a little humor to doomsday...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

Over half of the population in the US would not support an atheist presidential...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

Our friends Harry and Charlotte Shaughnessy of the Triangle Freethought Society...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

Join the community that led activists like Steve Ahlquist and others to a deeper...

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

Have a great weekend, happy humanists! #dayofhappiness

9 days ago

American Humanist Association

"Do You Believe?" the latest Christian film just released today in theaters, app...

9 days ago

American Humanist Association

Have you seen "Chappie"? Tell us what you thought.

9 days ago

American Humanist Association

The AHA conference is right around the corner and we can't wait! Join us in De...

10 days ago

American Humanist Association

Episode 19 of the Cartoon History of Humanism is out now!

10 days ago

American Humanist Association

Which major U.S. cities have the most religiously unaffiliated residents?

10 days ago

American Humanist Association

Latest Huffington Post article from AHA Executive Director, Roy Speckhardt. Whe...

11 days ago

American Humanist Association

Through a cooperative program between Foundation Beyond Belief and the American...

11 days ago

American Humanist Association

If you're planning to attend the AHA Conference in Denver in May and you live in...

12 days ago

American Humanist Association

What do specific groups think about scientific issues?

12 days ago

American Humanist Association

Trying to ban marriage for any non-religious person? What is the deal Oklahoma?

12 days ago

American Humanist Association

Brotherhood that breeds hate for their fellow Humans. How do these groups still...

13 days ago