Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Barbara Kay is Right

Barbara Kay has an excellent article that slices and dices Maclean's cover story on Canadian attitudes toward different religions. To give you a flavour of the Maclean's story it finds:
Across Canada, 72 per cent said they have a “generally favourable opinion” of Christianity. At the other end of the spectrum, Islam scored the lowest favourability rating, just 28 per cent. Sikhism didn’t fare much better at 30 per cent, and Hinduism was rated favourably by 41 per cent. Both Buddhism, at 57 per cent, and Judaism, 53 per cent, were rated favourably by more than half the population.
When asked if they thought “the mainstream beliefs” of the major religions
“encourage violence or are mostly peaceful,” only 10 per cent said they thought Christianity teaches violence. But fully 45 per cent said they believe Islam does, and a sizable 26 per cent saw Sikhism as encouraging violence. By comparison, just 13 per cent perceived violence in Hindu teachings and 14 per cent in Jewish religion.
The data leads Maclean's to conclude that, "many Canadians harbour deeply troubling biases." The magazine's pollster shares their conclusion:
“It astonishes and saddens me as a Canadian,” said Angus Reid chief research officer Andrew Grenville, who has been probing Canadians’ views on religion for 16 years. “I don’t think the findings reflect well on Canada at all.”
Mr. Grenville Canadians have nothing to be ashamed of. Maybe it's your questions and underlying assumptions that are the problem. Your comment seems to be based on an assumption that Canadians should have a similar view of all religions. That's just silly! Each of religion has radically different teaching so it's only logical that Canadians should have different opinions about those ideas.

Barbara Kay has more comprehensive criticisms. Here are some highlights:

The article assigns a preemptive judgment of racism arising from opinions rather than any actual racist speech or acts: Readers are informed at the outset that Canadians hold "deeply troubling biases" because fewer than one in three Canadians "can find it in their hearts" to view Islam or Sikhism in a positive light. . .

One of the poll's many weighted markers for intolerance is that far more Canadians point to Islam than to Christianity as a religion that sanctions violence. Maclean's thus unreasonably penalizes objectivity, implying it is bigotry to acknowledge world events, and racism to honestly assess cultural outcomes over history. . .

Through selection bias the poll reveals what "we" think, but not what "they" think. It permits "old stock" Canadians (Christians or Canadians of Christian heritage) to be held up for public shaming. But the views of specific minority groups such as Muslims, Sikhs and Tamils -- who might have revealed themselves to be insufficiently celebratory of religious diversity --are spared public exposure. . .

Hostility to officially sanctioned shariah law is falsely linked here with negativism toward Muslims. . . It is offensive that Canadians should be implicitly labelled racists for upholding democratic ideals over willfully blind multiculturalism.

Barbara you're right, the Maclean's story is a terrible example of push polling used to prove a foregone conclusion.


hunter said...

I totally agree, I think Macleans should be ashamed of this article. It is misleading and biased.

Anonymous said...

Macleans has got it wrong. Canadians don't resent immigrants and their cultures. What they do resent is when these immigrant communities bring their old hatreds and wars with them and continue to wage them from Canadian soil.
Most of us thought these old antagonisms died out with the withering away of the European Catholic/Protestant divisiveness (Does any community in Canada still hold an Orangeman's parade?) and we don't appreciate it when a new wave of racial or ethnic violence is conducted from behind the shield of Canadian liberty.

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