Hnn | The Latest From HNN | Details

Finally -- Survey Results I Can Understand

 

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. 

Posted 09:46AM on July 08 2009 by Ruth N. Geller
Categories: Ezine

American Humanist Association

Perhaps this kid will go just one step further? #skeptic #humanist

10 hours ago

American Humanist Association

Happy Friday everyone!

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

The number of "churchless" Americans is rising! It is now estimated that 38% of...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

On this day in 1946, the first images of Earth from outer space were captured!

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

AHA staffer Matthew Bulger talks about Gamergate. "It’s extremely important th...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

Throwback Thursday's Name that Humanist! Can you name the humanist on the Nove...

2 days ago

American Humanist Association

Hey! Don't be a.... What's the problem with Dick's Sporting Goods? Deborah Goem...

2 days ago

American Humanist Association

This week's Humanist Hour Podcast features George Eighmey on Death with Dignity.

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

WOW! These numbers are wonderful! Thanks for all of the support everyone!

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

AHA Victory in Texas! Schools agree to stop making religious announcements.

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

Jason Heap reviews the new British comedy, Pride! Have you seen this film? Tell...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

Gore Vidal’s former assistant, Fabian Bouthillette, has written Part I of his me...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

The Nov/Dec issue of The Humanist is out now, featuring some great interviews wi...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

Amy Poehler is creating a show about an agnostic woman who inherits a church. An...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

Please welcome the newest addition to the American Humanist Association staff, P...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

Woo Hoo! 32 states down, plus DC!

5 days ago