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What Is “Euro-Canadian”?

(Traduit en français)

Two weeks ago the name “Charlie Smith” wrote a short article asking What The Hell Is A European-Canadian? Posted in the Georgia Straight, where Smith has been the editor since 2005, it asks why the Council of European Canadians would use the term “European” to describe the majority of Canadians when the “continent of Europe” designates a landmass that is contiguous with such Asian countries as Turkey, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Azerbaijan.

The term “European Canadian” implies there’s a commonality and a bond between those who trace their ancestry to Ukraine, Portugal, Greece, Finland, Germany, Romania, Turkey, Switzerland, Estonia, and England, to name just 10 of those countries.

Sorry, the term “European” does not imply there’s a cultural “commonality and a bond” between all the countries that are included geographically in the continent of Europe. Charlie may have “taught investigative techniques” at some place called “Kwantlen Polytechnic University” but it looks like he did zero investigations for this article.

It is common knowledge that the continent of Europe is contiguous with lands, cultures (and today nation-states) that stand between Asia and Europe but which are not classified as European in the cultural sense, since they have very different ethnic identities, religions, and history. Open any standard history of Europe, and none of them will classify Turkey, Georgia, Kazakhstan, or Azerbaijan as European — unless they are categorized as regions within Russia’s past. Russia has always been known to be part European and part Asian, with the western side of Russia, and the Slavic peoples, firmly identified as European in their Christianity, Indo-European language, and their racial characteristics.

Even the immigrationist European Union recognizes this cultural reality. None of the Asian countries Charlie finds endearingly “European” belong in this union.

Breaking up concepts and ideas into a multiplicity of divergent and contradicting parts on the grounds that no concept has clear-cut definitional boundaries is a postmodernist game undergrads are forced to play in academia. Since no concept ever captures any aspect of reality in a neatly demarcated way, postmodernists have been very successful persuading students that no firmly established concepts and factual statements are possible. Be assured that these deconstructive efforts have been directed entirely against Western concepts and identities in order to create uncertainty, doubt, and weakness among Europeans about their history and culture, so as to facilitate the absorption of the West within an even more confusing, borderless, and ridiculously diversified world controlled by corporations and manipulated by faceless journalists.

(It has been said that the founder of deconstruction, Jacques Derrida, was made to feel like “an outsider” in France, as a “little black and very Arab Jew,” and that this was a driving motivation in his relentless effort to deconstruct European identity and promote multiculturalism.)

When we look at Canada it is very certain that this nation was founded by individuals with ancestry in the British Isles and in France. In this respect, they were “European.” They were also “Canadian” since most of them were born in Canada. Wikipedia actually has an entry on “European Canadians” which is reasonably accurate and fair. It is a statistical fact that in 1871, according to the first census after Confederation, 32 percent of the Canadian inhabitants were of French ancestry, 24 percent Irish, 20 percent English, 16 percent Scottish, and 6 percent German. And it is a statistical fact that, in 1867, 79 percent had been born in Canada.

Charlie also says the term “European-Canadian” is “too reductionist” in ignoring that Canadians can also be identified by “their class, educational level, socioeconomic status, occupation, religion, number of generations in Canada, sexual orientation, urban versus rural dweller, political perspective, home province, hobbies, age, gender, or family status.”

This is absurd. Obviously Canadians can be distinguished in numerous ways, including weight, musical tastes, color of hair, eating habits — ad infinitum. But if we want to have a conversation about the national or ethnic identities of Canadians it stands to reason that we should focus on the relevant concepts rather than piling up one concept upon another, one subject upon another, creating confusion and conceptual chaos. Can we talk about sexual orientation, or religion, or political ideologies, in particular without talking about every other identification simultaneously? Can we talk about the Charlie Smith of Georgia Straight without talking about the countless Charlie Smiths inhabiting the planet with different hobbies and sexual orientations?

They aim of this type of deconstruction is to create a situation in which nothing can be distinguished from anything else since all things are interconnected and include a multiplicity of other things. This featureless conception of reality in which there are not definite concepts and identities was appropriately ridiculed by Hegel as “the night in which all cows are black.” Everything fades into a dark night in which no particular thing can be distinguished from any thing else.

This is what banks, political parties and media outlets, like Georgia Straight, want: a world of indistinguishable Canadians who can be defined in assorted ways without definite roots, identities and knowledge of their ancestry, so they can be easily manipulated to believe whatever the establishment wants them to.

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