No honour in murder

Par Beryl Wajsman le 6 août 2009

We need to take a step back and think about the use of the term “honour killings”. It has been much in the news of late as the horror of the deaths of the Shafia sisters sinks in. 

 On the one hand, the term gives a perverse cultural frame of reference for an act that can have no justification. On the other , since it is invariably used in reference to Islam, it denigrates a faith. Nothing in Islam justifies murder for the sake of a family’s “honour.” 

justice2.jpgAccording to the United Nations there are about 5,000 honour killings a year world wide. They encompass a variety of cultural and religious societies. And if we seem to see more attention focused on those cases from Muslim countries, it has little to do with mainstream Islam and everything to do with fanatics who have perverted purpose and principle. People who kill, maim or injure their relatives or children for the sake of perceived “honour” are simply cultural retrogrades from whatever ethnic or cultural group they come from. They are sociopaths.

But there is another injury done to our national psyche in the use of this phrase. Whether or not the allegations against the Shafias are true, Canada has become so suffocatingly politically correct, that one can imagine apologias being written about the need for mercy and “understanding” in cases of culturally-driven murder. After all, some of our more morally relativist academics would argue, even murder must be viewed in context. Every culture’s right to be wrong and all that. That is a dangerous mindset and it has sadly taken hold in this country in many other issues.

We as a society must decide what we are for as much  as what we are against. Perhaps that was one great failing of the Bouchard-Taylor Commission. Its report did not speak to the issue of what we are for. For without that, amidst all the polite suggestions and painstaking political correctness, we are constantly left with the gnawing impression that we have lost our pride and our moral compass. That we accommodate ourselves not to reason but to fear.

We as a people need to be proud of what we are. And there is no shame in demanding that despite multiculturalism, newcomers accept a free lay society. And for our relativist academics and politicians we would suggest they remember the words of a great visionary that come down to us through the mists of time. He was the only politician to be assassinated in our history. His name was Thomas D’Arcy McGee. In 1865 he spoke these immortal words in Quebec City. “There is room in this Northern Dominion—under one flag and one set of laws—for one great people. There is no possibility for that greatness—under that same flag and those same laws—if we succumb to a hundred squabbling particularities.” 

For the problems of perception, as Bouchard-Taylor stated, rest not just with new citizens who hold greater fidelity to the traditions and laws of their home countries and cultures, but also with ourselves who remain wedded to false notions of equivalency. Just as there is no honour in murder, there is no shame in pride.


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