The paradox of social liberalism

The left wing has always championed the causes of movements that, up until recently, seemed to be related: gay rights, women’s rights and the rights of racial and religious minorities.

It is becoming increasingly clear, however, that these movements can actually contradict one another when different special interest groups pursue conflicting movements and laws.

When viewing society through an over-simplified social Marxist paradigm, all oppression emanates from the original source of old, conservative, white males.

But in our modern world it is becoming increasingly apparent that this paradigm is outdated — or perhaps, more accurately — that our seclusion blinded us from the fact that it was never true.

Today, many of the greatest threats to gay and women’s rights stem from cultural practices that are not only Canadian or “western” to begin with.

The process of gender-based abortion for example, has become a hot-button issue in Toronto hospitals, with issues of reproductive rights, gender discrimination and multiculturalism, all coming to a head.

Many Toronto hospitals have begun refusing to state the gender of a fetus, due to females being disproportionately aborted, a practice which is primarily attributed to certain ethnic groups, most of whom are recent immigrants.

This issue is not grounded in reproductive rights so much as sexism. It is not the woman’s right to an abortion that is being questioned, but their right to abort based on gender.

With this practice being opposed, the limits of multiculturalism are being tested. This leads to questioning if we, as a Canadian society, are willing to confront the contradictory conundrums that our liberal policies have led us to.

The fact is, if multiculturalism truly means allowing all aspects of various cultures to exist, then multiculturalism to its fullest extent is not compatible with a non-sexist, non-homophobic liberal society.

The same issues exist in liberal societies across the globe. A neighborhood in London, England for example, has been deemed a “gay-free zone”.

In this same neighborhood, Bangladeshi gangs quote verses from the Qur’an and attack gays, using religion as justification for their homophobia. Here, a gay man was stabbed seven times and has consequently become paralyzed.

Similar issues have repeated themselves throughout Europe. The Netherlands, one of the most progressively liberal nations, has reformed its immigration process to include tests for homophobia in which candidates’ reactions to an image of two men kissing are gauged.

Those who react negatively are potentially denied admittance into the country. It is clear that for a country seen at the forefront of progressive politics, this sort of policy is exactly where progress inevitably leads to tough choices.

Eventually, people who call themselves progressives must decide who to support.

Of course, women’s and gay rights are only a small fraction of what is potentially threatened by the idea of multiculturalism. These however, are two causes that have been traditionally the liberal domain and are now being threatened.

This reveals a fundamental and unresolved contradiction in left-wing ideology; what to do when different liberal causes produce directly opposing results?

One cannot simply take an unrealistic idealized liberal stance when facing multi-dimensional issues like this.

It is clear that those who support human rights and multiculturalism are going to have to make a choice.

Either all cultural practices no matter how repressive or inhumane must be deemed equal under the guise of cultural differences, or the sanctity of human rights must be respected regardless of which cultural group is threatening them.

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