We in this country have done the same. I have in my life been friends with Christians of varying sects, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Shinto, and Wiccans, just to name a few Faiths within the great Canadian mosaic. While each had their own beliefs they were all equally Canadians and accepted that in this country the rights of all religions were to be equally respected/tolerated within our society in order to preserve the freedom of worship for all. They accepted that the way to increase their own Faith's acceptance in this society was through example and persuasion, not by forced conversion. This was fine by me, indeed I would argue this is how it should be done and not by using the tools of the State to advance the agenda of any one Faith or sect within that Faith.
Which is why when I see any religious bigotry/intolerance it raises my hackles. Which was the case with some of the bilge I saw at the Western Standard thread that triggered this post at Cerberus. Like Cerberus I recognize that it is unlikely the majority of Conservatives in this country would accept the POV demonstrated in that WS thread any more than I and those at the link at Cerberus would. What does bother me about seeing this at the Shotgun blog though is that the Western Standard is the most openly Conservative and CPC supporting national publication in this country. The publisher has strong ties to the top level of the CPC and this CPC government. Therefore seeing the degree of intolerance not only being written there but for the most part being agreed with I find more than a little disturbing. It would be one thing if this was some no namer's blog (like my own for example, I have no illusions about myself in this regard) this was from, this though is a blog with national prominence under the title of what is supposedly the voice of Canadian Conservatism. That I have a big problem with.
I also find the degree of open hatred for those that do not share their POV more than a little worrisome as well. While I oppose the CPC and even consider it real threat to the long term viability/stability of this nation I do not hate them, I do not hate Harper. What I do feel is strong concern, and a need to oppose them because I do not trust the ideology from which the CPC leadership has been clearly influenced by, the writings of a man by the name of Leo Strauss (article link thanks to POGGE). This man's beliefs among others is that only an elite is qualified to shape national policy and the acceptance of the "noble lie" in the pursuit and maintaining of power. I consider both of these principles to be inherently dangerous to the idea of democracy, and Canada operates under a representational democracy in the form of a Constitutional Parliamentary structure. The tendency towards increased polarization of seeing everything in two camps us (the "good" guys) and everyone else (the "bad" guys) worries me, as I am someone that believes in reality rarely ever being so simplistic in nature, especially where human interactions/behaviours are concerned. When I see this I worry regardless of the political/social affiliations involved.
We have seen in our American neighbour a tendency to try to turn everything into us vs them binary configurations. We have seen the rise of religious bigotry into public policy de facto if not yet de jure. We have seen those that push for religious supremacy of their sectarian beliefs align themselves with those that follow the teachings of Leo Strauss, also referred to as the neoconservative movement aka neocons. Now while I will be the first to admit that the term neocon has been abused by those that oppose the Conservative movement in this country there is still an element of accuracy in the charge where our current PM is concerned. We also have seen our own Conservative party combine religious politics and the Canadian equivalent of the neoconservative philosophy (The Calgary School) (see also this post at The Galloping Beaver on this group) in the current configuration of the CPC. So we see the potential of the ugly religious bigotry that has consumed the GOP doing the same in this party, which is one of the reasons there are those that fear a "hidden agenda" to the CPC, the "noble lie" of Straussian teachings being the other main reason for this fear.
However, what is most disturbing about what has been going on at the Shotgun and within many of the online Canadian Conservative movement is the increased willingness to portray their opposition as unpatriotic, terrorist sympathizers, and in general not just to be opposed but to be at best incarcerated ant worst taken out and shot. I see an increasing acceptance of dehumanization of their political foes, which quite honestly scares the hell out of me. Hatred of their enemies is seen as natural, whereas I see hatred of the enemy as becoming the enemy. I wish I knew how to fight this better than just trying to draw attention to it but I do not. I do know though that the last time I saw this kind of insanity prior to the current movements was back in the left political movement in the USA back during the late 60s into the 70s, and I no more found that acceptable then than I do now in the Conservative movement.
Any party regardless of affiliation that embraces the politics of division and hatred is an inherent danger to the multicultural nation that is Canada. While there has always been a certain amount of the politics of division it has been rooted in the difference regions of this rather large country. What I have been seeing develop though that really troubles me is that politics of division being employed not on the traditional region differences but within the differences of political affiliations and of social sub-groupings, and that worries me greatly. What was seen at the Shotgun may be the fringe of the Conservative movement currently. However, it's apparent acceptance by that publication worries me that this is becoming more and more acceptable within that political movement. I also find the willingness to equate opposition to Conservative policy and ideas with support for terrorism and radical/extremism more than a little worrisome. I find the acceptance of several in the online community of hate-mongers like Anne Coulter and to a lesser extent Michelle Malkin downright scary.
Hatred is one of if not the most destructive and dangerous of all human emotions. It allows for the dehumanization of those it is focused upon which in turn allows for atrocity to be done to that target focus. It destroys not only the focus of the hatred but the souls of those doing the hating. It is quite possibly the single most important underpinning to the various atrocities of human history which should be enough to have all humans of good will/nature regardless of political beliefs opposing it wherever the find it, even when it is in their own ranks/social/political affiliations. Indeed, I would argue especially when found in such.
In any event, while I do not believe that most Canadian Conservatives are like this I do fear than many within that movement are and are pushing that party in that direction. There is alas this belief in many Canadians that this sort of thing cannot happen here. Well that belief tends to be one of the best aids those that would spread hatred and intolerance rely upon when trying to move things in their direction, and too often it is too late when the majority recognize the threat. That is what I fear, and why I oppose those I find promulgating such hatred of the other. Xenophobia is one of humanity's most ugly and horrific traits and one that is alas all too easily manipulated, just ask the 1930's Germans about that as one example among many in human history, even modern history.