Canada’s transformation has offered extraordinary opportunities for academics who promote the zeitgeist. Most remarkable has been the career of a certain Will Kymlicka, who has seen his writings translated into 32 languages and has become wealthy from the grants and awards he has been given every year since graduate school. “Although he fashions himself as an outsider fighting the dominant Eurocentric discourse,” remarks Prof. Duchesne, “he is Canada’s premier government-sanctioned ideologue of multicultural citizenship.” His popularity with Canadian elites is probably due to his advocacy of Canadian multiculturalism as a model for the rest of the Western world. He spends a lot of time in Europe, where he assures his audiences that multiculturalism has proved a stunning success in Canada.
Prof. Kymlicka expounded his ideas fully in Multicultural Citizenship: A Liberal Theory of Minority Rights (1995), a 240-page book to which all of his extensive subsequent writing has added little. His central idea is that Canada is a civic nation into which nearly anyone can integrate regardless of race or color. The only exceptions are those who maintain inherently illiberal, coercive cultural practices such as forced marriages and female circumcision. But Prof. Kymlicka asserts that few immigrants to Canada have been unwilling to abandon such practices.
Prof. Kymlicka also believes that the Canadian government should support ethnic rights for minorities, including the sorts of preferences known in the US as “affirmative action,” financial subsidies for cultural practices, representation in the media, multicultural educational curricula, dual citizenship, and exemption from some rules that violate minority religious practices.
Prof. Duchesne makes three criticisms of Prof. Kymlicka’s position. First, it completely ignores the ethnic British identity of the Canadian majority. Prof. Kymlicka has nothing positive to say about the British who founded Canada. Unlike racial and religious minorities, in his system, they are not meant to enjoy any ethnic identity, but only a thinner, civic type of identity.
The English societal culture is portrayed as a deracinated, neutralized sphere consisting of modern conveniences—economic, educational, and social institutions—intended “in principle” to serve anyone regardless of cultural background. Anglo-Canadians are mere possessors of individual rights, whereas every other ethnic group enjoys both individual and group rights.
Of course, Prof. Kymlicka is aware that some Euro-Canadians are still attached to their ethnic identity and not satisfied with a merely civic identity. He refers to such people as “racists” and “xenophobes,” and recommends combining the cultural accommodation of racial minorities with punishment for such whites. Prof. Kymlicka never tries to defend this double standard; he presents it as natural and uncontroversial.
Prof. Duchesne also criticizes Prof. Kymlicka for assuming that majority ethno-cultural rights inherently contradict liberal principles. He points out that the European nation states that developed the strongest liberal traits—including Britain, France, Scandinavia, the Low Countries, and Italy—were relatively homogeneous, while multinational empires such as Austria-Hungary remained “enraptured by illiberal forms of ethnic nationalism and intense rivalries over identities and political boundaries.” The multicultural experiment is not a consequence of liberalism, but a serious threat to it.
“Civic identity,” the currently fashionable notion that Western nations are based on universal principles to which any human being can assimilate, was, according to Prof. Duchesne, the invention of Jewish political theorist Hans Kohn in a book first published in 1944. Kohn’s ideas have since been extended, by writers such as the Marxist Eric Hobsbawm, into a doctrine that nations are “artificial historical constructs” developed by political elites. Appeals to “myths of common descent” are, on this view, a mere ideological weapon invented by those elites to gin up popular support for their rule. Prof. Duchesne mentions a couple writers who have challenged these fashionable theories, but so far, they have been constrained by a desire not to appear “racist.”
In any case, he concludes that “western liberal nations were not founded in the absence of an existing ethnic collectivity, and certainly not for the purpose of mixing the races of the world within one state.”
Prof. Duchesne’s third and most important criticism of Prof. Kymlicka is that he regularly refers to long established minorities such as the Amerindians and Quebecois when expounding his theories of group rights, while surreptitiously using those theories to justify, if not insist on, the introduction of countless new ethnic minority groups through immigration. In other words, because there have long been minorities to whom certain rights are due, Canada should encourage the arrival of yet more minorities. Under the pretext of protecting minority rights, he smuggles in a requirement that Western nations accept a constant flow of foreigners. He implies that the liberal constitution of Western nations make this a moral imperative.
(American Renaissance, December 5, 2017).