Monday, October 5, 2009

The tyranny of community?

I have to admit, the Globe and Mail's Doug Saunders has written several thought-provoking articles about multiculturalism recently. Saturday's was about links between a single identity and (wait for it) the terrorist act.

"A number of people [in England]," Saunders writes, "have come to the realization that in our efforts to define ourselves (or others) as members of predefined “communities," we have locked large numbers of people into the prison house of identity." Saunders points out that A. C. Grayling, Amartya Sen and others have put forward ideas of community as confining citizens to one identity, and Saunders proposes that the emphasis on community, in some instances, "has destroyed freedom," creating cultural or social ghettos, preventing mainstream society from evolving and incorporating different and new ideas.

See rudeboys, and Gautam Malkani's Londonstani... the first thing that comes to my mind when the concept of a single identity comes into play. See also the Toronto 18, or the Kingston locks, or, frankly, anywhere these days where we create these ghettos, not just for new immigrants, but for Aboriginal peoples and other groups.

Interesting stuff. Saunders closes by referring to a survey of teachers in the UK, 75% of whom responded to a recent survey question about teaching patriotism by stating that they should be teaching "universal brotherhood" (that's in quotes because I want it clear I didn't choose the sexist term! Talk about distracting from the point here!) instead. Darn right (minus the sexism).

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