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

Today is Openly Secular Day! Show others in your community that they know a huma...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

Victory! A public school in Colorado will no longer be allowed to partner with O...

2 days ago

American Humanist Association

How are you celebrating Earth Day? Here is how some of our chapters are celebrat...

2 days ago

American Humanist Association

The latest issue of the Humanist magazine features SMART Recovery USA, a secular...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

“A freshman student was required to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, despite...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

Who was Leo P. Thornton?

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

National Day of Reason is two weeks away! If you think reason, not prayer, shoul...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

For more information about The Humanist Institute, please visit: http://humanist...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

The AHA is excited to present The Onion with the 2015 Humanist Media Award. This...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

Only 5 more days until ReAsonCon 2015. Get your tickets today! Visit the link be...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

Seculars have been quiet and invisible as a demographic for too long, but Openly...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

Don't miss the upcoming annual BSIC panel discussion entitled “Imagining the Fut...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

We’re featuring new comics this week by Polyp Cartoonist! For more great comics...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

What would Molly Ringwald say about privacy? Should a student attending a privat...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

Luis Granados explains why Ayaan Hirsi is wrong about Islamic reform in his revi...

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

AHA legal director David Niose, author of Fighting Back the Right: Reclaiming Am...

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

This week, AHA staff member Jessica Xiao interviewed Lynn Rothschild, senior sci...

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

Today is Ask an Atheist Day! Have a question about atheism, humanism, or non-bel...

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

Could we see an open Humanist in Congress in 2016? It seems Maryland Senator Jam...

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

This week on The Humanist Hour #146: A Conversation with Lisa Montoya, Seminary...

9 days ago

American Humanist Association

Mother's Day is right around the corner! If you are shopping for that special la...

9 days ago

American Humanist Association

The world's most and least religious countries.

9 days ago

American Humanist Association

Shortly after we ensure that teachers won't pass out Bibles to their students at...

10 days ago

American Humanist Association

Robert Ray, President of Humanists of North Puget Sound, delivered a humanist in...

10 days ago

American Humanist Association

Don't miss Kelly Carlin, daughter of atheist comedian George Carlin, at AHA's 74...

10 days ago

American Humanist Association

What should the humanist response to terrorism be? Clay Farris Naff has some pro...

11 days ago