Friday, August 12, 2005

It's Not Easy Being Preen

To be absolutely clear about what it is that makes David Miller’s bird-brained treatment of the current gun violence crisis in Toronto quite so contemptible:

The man spares no pains or shamelessness in letting the world (that is: anyone who cares (that is, to be realistic: only other Torontonians)) know how remarkable Toronto is. Not, moreover, just for its being diverse, nor only for its being tolerant of diversity—but for its being something called “a culture of cultures.” (An extravagant lie, to be sure, but, potentially, a noble one. It has that admirable (and rather Western, come to think of it) ring of a great and sweeping induction about it: if a unifying principle doesn’t actually exist, the claim that it does will force it into existence through demand!)

But rather than take the opportunity presented by this particular problem to leap in and provide the leadership (i.e. that very unifying principle) that the culture of cultures must have if it is to be this and not merely cultures; rather than take this opportunity to demonstrate that the concerns of any one of Toronto’s components are the concerns and the responsibility of Toronto as a whole, and Toronto alone; rather than do the one thing that only a real community could do, David Miller has (ironically enough) done with this problem what he has done with the city's very identity: shifted it to the periphery. A different periphery, to be sure, but still the periphery.

And thus the great fallacy of the multicultural enterprise in this city, and by extension, in this country. In the absence of any one identity, we smarty-pantsily suggest that it is precisely the absence that is itself the presence. We are no one culture; we are all of them. In the absence of simple and painless answers to even relatively straightforward problems, we ever-so conveniently claim that it is precisely this absence that is the simple and painless answer: it’s not gun-toting citizens of this city that are to blame, it’s the guns themselves and the United States.

Leave it to the ever-maligned Americans to be the ones to tell us what the real problem is.