Harper, Hubris, and Hatred- Why Canada Must Fight For Freedom From Unreason

Posted on July 22, 2010. Filed under: Atheism, Canadian Politics, Personal, Politics, Religion, Social Justice |

From time to time I, like many of my fellow countrymen, exhibit a palpable pride at being in our blessed position North of the 49th parallel.  This to me is a well deserved smugness, the spoils of living in a society that has seemingly shed the shackles of intolerance and ignorance.

Every so often though I read a story like this and realize that this smugness is bordering on hubris, that the battles we believe are won are still being fought- while the vast armies of reason sit around patting themselves on the back, the minority “moral” jihadists keep the fires of fundamentalism stoked and at the ready.

An excerpt:

In the Grade 12 social-studies class at Riverside Secondary School in Port Coquitlam, 25 teenagers turn their attention from text messaging to the well-tailored retiree who is their guest speaker of the week. Immaculate in grey flannels and a buttoned-down shirt, he is far from an imposing figure, easily dwarfed by the tallest girls in the class, but as these students well know, this is no ordinary visitor dropping in on Social Justice 12, the controversial new course designed to combat discrimination in British Columbia schools. Murray Corren is its inspiration and driving force — one half of the gay couple behind the most provocative revamping of the provincial curriculum since the government first dared to inform students about the verboten subject of sex.

In online Christian chat rooms and the right-wing blogosphere, he and his spouse, Peter Corren, have been called every epithet imaginable since they launched a 1999 human rights complaint against B.C.’s Ministry of Education for “systemic gender discrimination.” Seven years later, just as the case was finally scheduled to be heard, the government settled, seizing on the Correns’ proposal for an elective course to combat not only homophobia but bigotry of every kind, including biases against the disabled, the homeless and the poor. To thousands of evangelical and Catholic parents, those topics were mere window dressing to mask the true aims of the course: foisting what some like to call a “homosexualist agenda” on impressionable teens.

This is not happening in the bible belt of America.  This is happening in Canada, a country that I thought had grown beyond the battle between what is right and what is holy.   While we sat around backslapping and basking in the light of reason, we failed to spot the clouds approaching, ever vigilant to obscure our rights under cover of religion.

We must concede now that we were naive to not see the cloud’s impending approach, that a perfect storm has been brewing in this country for the past few years.

Our Prime Minister has the dubious distinction of being a Jesus Zombie of the neo-conservative bent.  His Conservative Party governs under the false impression that their election was won on the strength of their vision rather than a reaction against a tired and arrogant Liberal Party.  Every religious conservative in Canada has it in their mind that Canada is ready to start that shameful trudge toward the quasi-theocracy so pervasive south of the border.

The B.C. Social Justice 12 course is a hard fought victory for reason.  It is not indoctrination- if anything it is deprogramming; freeing our future generations from the unhindered growth of intolerance planted by our pastors and sowed by society.  Telling children that LGBT people are still people, that disabled people are still able enough to feel, that poverty has a human face; none of these are indoctrinations.  They are facts.

Go get your intolerance from your pastor or your parents.  Schools are places to encounter new ideas, to expand our horizons, to make rational adults.

You have your pulpit to preach your stone age morality to your kids, just don’t expect society to be your complacent co-conspirator.

The world is not darkened to black by clouds, the light continues to find its way, and it shall always be thus.

In the meantime I’ll go get my umbrella.

Video via Camels With Hammers

Note from George-  If you are interested in helping fight intolerence, ignorance, idiocy and inaction here is a link to a group founded by my good friend Derek Forgie:

Heterosexuals for Same Sex Equality


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5 Responses to “Harper, Hubris, and Hatred- Why Canada Must Fight For Freedom From Unreason”

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Disturbing news, excellently reported, George.

America once too believed in a secular separation of church and state before concerted efforts to mobilize evangelicals as a political movement with theocratic ends changed things starting in the ’80s. It only takes a generation, as we have seen down here in America, for such mobilization to alter a political landscape and provide enormous concessions to the mobilized parties, however unjust, anti-secular, and anti-egalitarian within otherwise proud democracies.

This is one of the reasons that secularism needs to become an ethos and not just a political aspiration. Secularists are too little engaged in the moral legwork of arguing for superior cultural and moral values and instead only agitate as far as equality and a vague sense of social justice go. Maybe some environmentalism. But we need a concerted counter-movement about values in general that rejects, counters, and provides a superior, more rationally grounded and ethically progressive one than the Evangelical and Catholic varieties.

I was originally part of the evangelical/fundamentalist Christian movement to take over the government of Canada. Back in 1993, I voted for the first time, and it was for the Reform Party. Over the years, I voted Reform, Canadian Alliance, then Conservative, and most recently, Liberal. Of course, that last vote was in the Okanagan, a bastion of right-wing thinking (thanks to the retiree demographic around here), and so it was next to pointless to even cast that vote.
In the early 90s, I was being prepared as a “culture warrior” for the religious right in Canada. It took me years to work my way out of it. I even considered myself an atheist yet still supported the conservative cause for a couple of years. Thankfully, I’ve slowly learned to turn my back on the doublethink that is required in order to remain a conservative supporter, but I try to remember where I came from.
The Canadian Conservative Party is fond of claiming they don’t have any hidden motives, but just you wait to see what happens if they ever gather enough seats to put together a majority government.
The only reason Harper has so far been a center-right Prime Minister is because he’s trying to manipulate enough people into voting Conservative.
Once they no longer have to make deals with one of the three left-of-center parties in order to pass laws, he’ll turn into the second coming of George W. Bush.

I knew there was a reason I hated you. 🙂
In the interest of full disclosure, I too have a right wing pedigree. I was a member and organizer for the youth wing of Mike Harris’ Common Sense Revolution in the ’90’s, went on to be a member of the Conservative Party riding association in my town, and volunteered for the Reform and Canadian Alliance candidates in successive elections. I was well liked and treated like royalty in all these circles mainly because I was young, outgoing, and clearly sane. This, as I’m sure you have experienced as well, is certainly not the case for many of their volunteers. I always felt a bit uneasy with the right wingers, most notably in the Canadian Alliance and Conservative Party camps, where my sanity made me suspect of being one of those nasty “Progressives”.
The whole thing left a bad taste in my mouth, and I have voted NDP and Green Party in the last two elections. I still can’t bring myself to vote Liberal, I think because you never know what you’re going to get with them. I’m probably a textbook Liberal though.
I know better than most people what Harper is capable of. I just hope a better option can mobilize itself in time to stop him.

My Freethinkers group is having a special meet in September. One of our group happened to be involved in the writing of Marci MacDonald’s The Armageddon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada. He’ll be talking to us about that experience.

Alas, there are too many holds on library copies; I’d never get it in time. I don’t know if it’s a book I’d want to buy, though.

I just looked up the book and it looks quite interesting. I agree that it is probably a read-once book. Maybe I will buy it though, I love politics. I’ll brief you if you would like.
Wish I could be in Sask. for that chat though, it would definitely be interesting.


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