A missed opportunity for diversity

Mark Steyn on the opening ceremonies: Where was the genuinely bizarro cavalcade?
A missed opportunity for diversity
Left and middle: Photographs by Brian Howell

Judging by emails from readers in America, Britain, India, Australia, Europe, Africa and beyond, Vancouver’s Olympic ceremony was a gold medal snoozeroo of politically correct braggadocio impressive even by Canadian standards. A Florida correspondent suggested that Beijing’s decision in 2008 to downplay discreetly its official state ideology might have been usefully emulated by Canadian organizers unable to go a minute and a half without reflexive invocations of their own state ideology of “diversity.” A reader in Sydney said he had no idea until the ceremony that the majority of Canada’s population were Aboriginal. Actually, if they were, you’d be hearing a lot less talk about “diversity,” for reasons we’ll come to later.

But don’t take the word of doubtless untypical Steyn readers. Out on the Internet, the Tweeting Twitterers pronounced it a bust, and even in the Toronto Star Richard Ouzounian declared that “the eyes of the world were upon us and we put them to sleep.” On the other hand, the Vancouver Sun’s reporter cooed that this was “the Canada we want the world to see, magical and beautiful, and talented.” This just after she’d written: “Maple leaves fell from the sky. And then, the divine poetess Joni Mitchell and her haunting Clouds fills the air while a young boy floats and soars above the audience, undulating fields of wheat below.” I was pleasantly relieved to discover that a story about “the world’s most lethal cocktail” concerned some enterprising dealers who’ve been lacing heroin with anthrax, and not whichever malevolent genius came up with the idea of having airborne ballet dancers doing interpretative choreography over the Prairies to a mélange of Both Sides Now and W. O. Mitchell’s Who Has Seen The Wind. As is traditional, most of the creativity went into the audience estimates: apparently, this tribute to the only G7 nation comprised solely of high priests of the Great Tree Spirit, armies of Inuit sculptors, and Cape Breton chorus lines of federal grant worshippers was watched by three billion people “worldwide.” As if the Royal Canadian Mint could afford to commission that many commemorative authentic pewter maple-encrusted manacles.

Canada’s message to the world: every cliché you’ve heard about our plonkingly insecure self-flattering PC earnestness has been triumphantly confirmed. You need pay us no further heed until the 2068 Commonwealth Games opening ceremony. Half the countries, twice as long!

But, as it happens, if you chanced to be holed up in Vancouver for the duration, Canada is well worth paying attention to. The gulf between the self-mythologizing of the Olympics ceremony and its application on the ground was rarely more visible. For example, an overseas visitor to the Games, wearying of all the First Nations types prancing around the stadium and picking up a newspaper, would have surely been bewildered to have found reports of the self-same First Nations types giving 10-day eviction orders from the Kahnawake reserve to residents deemed to have insufficient “blood quantum” to pass the Mohawk racial-purity test. Apparently, most of the deportees are spouses or “partners” of full Mohawks.

To be honest, I was impressed to discover that there are actually people willing to move to native reserves. Truly, love conquers all. At least until the blood quantum theorists show up, and you find you’re living in some dystopian Nuremberg rewrite of Abie’s Irish Rose in which a sovereign jurisdiction of the Canadian state can break up your marriage on racial grounds.

And it’s perfectly legal!

Did I doze off and miss that at Vancouver? “And now dancing racists funded by Canadian tax dollars present an interpretative ballet symbolizing the great Canadian mosaic by performing racial purity tests on Donald Sutherland and k. d. lang, at the end of which they will be ceremonially cast out of the stadium while Michael Bublé and Nelly Furtado sing ‘Tell me when will you be mine/Tell me Quantum, Quantum, Quantum.’ ”

Whenever I write about immigration or Islam or multiculturalism or some such, there’s a little flurry of comments that I’m obsessed with racial purity. Hardly. My own “blood quantum” is hopelessly impure, so I’m in no position to start casting aspersions. Yet, if someone were to muse on the importance of, say, maintaining Anglo-Celtic blood quantum in the Maritimes, they’d be on a fast track to “human rights” hell—just for writing it. Because it’s incompatible with “Canadian values.” But if you don’t write it, if you just get on and do it, that’s entirely compatible with Canadian values—as long as you’re a First Nations guy.

And the Diversity Pansies haven’t a word to say about it.

That’s why the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is a worthless piece of junk—because (at least according to the Supreme Court of Canada) it both licenses the Canadian state to restrain your basic liberties yet also exempts your (native) neighbour from those same restraints. Putting aside its other defects, no self-respecting citizen should take seriously a Charter that institutionalizes race-based discrimination as a constitutional principle. In this respect, the First Nations’ contempt for Canadian authority is most instructive. As Mohawk Grand Chief Mike Delisle explained to CTV, “We don’t consider ourselves Canadians.” Well, except for the purposes of federal welfare. And top billing at the Olympics ceremony.

Speaking of Canadian values, they sound so nice when you’re floating choreographically over the Prairies on a massive CanCon bender. But what do they boil down to on the ground? Mme Marise Myrand is a 389-lb. diabetic who lives in Ste-Marie-de-Beauce in la belle province. She asked her condo association to give her a parking space nearer the door of the building. The board responded that it wasn’t for them to take somebody else’s spot and transfer it to her, but suggested Mme Myrand ask the occupant of the other space directly. Mme Jocelyne Nolet is a short- order cook in her sixties with an injured shoulder, and declined to accommodate Mme Myrand. So the aggrieved wound up at the Quebec “Human Rights” Tribunal, which ordered the condo association to hand over the parking space to Mme Myrand by March 1 and, for good measure, fined all 35 of her co-owners a total of $10,000 to be given to the plaintiff in compensation.

It was reported that, in the course of her battle with her co-owners, Mme Myrand had been subject to “degrading remarks” about using her obesity to get a better parking space. In her judgment, Michèle Pauzé fined the association $3,000 in punitive damages because these remarks “heurtaient les valeurs d’inclusion promulguées dans notre société”—i.e., they conflict with the inclusive values promulgated by our society.

Oh, right. So privately expressing sentiments at odds with the state ideology may result in seizure of assets. Unless, of course, you’re a Mohawk who wants to kick out the lousy half-breed next door.

On March 29, the trial of Guy Earle opens at the British Columbia “Human Rights” Tribunal. Mr. Earle is a stand-up comic who late one night at a Vancouver comedy club put down some drunken hecklers. Alas for him, they were of the lesbian persuasion and so they hauled his homophobic ass into “human rights” court. Any Olympic tourists still in town may marvel at a country that prosecutes a comedian for his stand-up act, but no doubt Chief Commissar Heather MacNaughton, previously the presiding kangaroo of the Maclean’s show trial, will be more sympathetic to the notion that Mr. Earle’s jokes “heurtaient les valeurs d’inclusion promulguées dans notre société.

Odd how the “inclusive values” hymned by Commissar Pauzé require more and more muscle to enforce them. The state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation, unless you’re a Mohawk who’s getting overly inclusive in his horizontal outreach. But the state apparently has a place in comedy criticism and parking-lot conversations and on all the other ever-multiplying front lines of diversity. A genuinely free society has to be free to say rude things to the morbidly obese or the Sapphically soused, because the price of smoothing out all the rough edges is a bureaucracy with powers ever vaster and ever more whimsical. Real systemic provocations to “les valeurs d’inclusion”—whether on Mohawk reserves or in Montreal mosques—will be given a pass on cultural grounds, but the apparatchiks of ideological enforcements will pick on softer and softer targets, like Guy Earle, and destroy their lives.

Canada’s “human rights” circus is an alternative Olympics ceremony all of its own. What a cavalcade it would have made: Indians, Inuit, and the disabled? Big deal. Where was the pre-op transsexual who sued the London health club for being denied the right to flaunt her wedding tackle in the ladies’ shower? Like Joni Mitchell’s song says, she’s looked at life from both sides now. What about an opening scene where the Olympic cauldron is lit and stand-up comedians of insufficiently diverse orientation are thrown into the inferno to placate the Gods of Inclusion while Maritime step dancers perform a synchronized Quebec parking-lot dispute? Instead of the usual Cirque du So Lame, couldn’t we have a real, honest-to-goodness genuinely Canadian bizarro diversity celebration? After all, it’s more real than the official version.