Skinhead reporting in the Washington Post

In response to this:
Washington Post, Why is it Progressive Quebec has so many shootings?

I am what you could call a “Quebecois nationalist”.

This word, “nationalism”, means many things in today people’s heads. Including an automatic association with the far right for many, who always fear the sudden return of the 1930s. In my case, it simply means that I quite like my little nation and think it worthy enough to continue persisting into History. I do not think that Quebec is in any way perfect, nor a superior nation or culture, and I acknowledge all its flaws. In fact, I am at any moment 100 times more critical of this society and its people than any outsider could ever be. Even the ones who hate us so much that they would take time in their lives to write a litany of libelous half-truths about us and have it published in a major American newspaper. I am still unimaginably more vicious than he will ever be, even in his dreams, when I decide to judge and condemn my own politics, culture and history, because I actually know and understand them.

In these days of tragedy, you will understand that it is painful to call oneself a Quebecois, even for someone like me. But still, I wish that we could have had at least been left to mourn a couple of days before someone jumped on the occasion to cynically use this unqualifiable human tragedy as an excuse to pile up more hate on us.

Hate exists here, as it does in every society. Put any 10 people together, and sure enough 1 or 2 will reveal themselves to be haters, and too often they will sway 3 or 4 more to their views.
I have brushed with hate on a few occasions, starting from my youth. If you remember the late 80s, early 90s, you will recall how they were discovering neo-Nazi para-military training camps across the USA. Here in Quebec, I do not know that it ever got that far (although it could have, I am certain). As a pacifist, I managed to get beaten up by skinheads who didn’t like my appearance or my views on a couple of occasions. (I learned to run really, really, fast in those days!)

One thing that I did learn from such people, because on a couple occasions I managed to have a conversation with them, is that they all have one trait in common. And this has proven true long after the skinheads of my youth thankfully faded into the decor. In all of the conversations that I’ve had with haters, may they be racists, xenophobes, misogynists, religious fundamentalists, far right or far left extremists, anti this or that… They invariably cling to their own sets of facts and are very proficient at cherry picking. Just as much as you can count on a skinhead to cherry pick the news for crimes committed by Afro-Canadians, you can also count on a Francophobic seemingly intellectual racist to show a profound confirmation bias. (That is, the psychological mechanism by which one only remembers events that favour their theses and disregards the ones that contradict them.)
As such, I invite everyone to consult the Wiki page in the link below. I hope that you will at least get a glimpse of how J.J. McCullough’s article is nothing but heavy cherry picking with the intention of defaming.

I especially hope that you will question how easy it seems to be, in American and Canadian media, to smear and defame the French-speaking component of this continent. If, as a litmus test, we were to compare with what someone can or cannot say about other groups such as Jews or Afro-Americans without risking one’s career and reputation, then we must conclude that racism against the French gets a free pass.

How was it possible for Mordechai Richler to have his rancid, Anglo-supremacist rhetoric, peppered with objective falsehoods, be published unchecked in The New Yorker in 1991? How was it possible for Jan Wong to have her spurious theories published in a major Canadian newspaper? How is it still possible for Howard Stern to be on the air, when he would have been whacked out of a career had he said a quarter of what he did about the Jews instead of about French-Canadians?

How is it possible that French schools were outlawed everywhere in Canada and the USA for centuries, in an effort to solve “the French problem” by forced assimilation, without anybody outside Quebec ever talking about it: As if it never happened? How could anyone forget that not so long ago, 1 in 2 English-Canadian man was affiliated with an Orangist lodge, while our own Canadian version of the Ku Klux Klan burned crosses: Not on Afro-Canadian families’ lawns, but on those of French-speaking Catholics?
How can anyone dare call Quebec’s language laws “supremacist”, when a qualified French-speaking engineer in my father’s generation, in the 1970s, would systematically be told “Sorry we don’t hire French-Canadians!”, if he dared apply for a job at any English owned firm in Quebec?
You want to talk about supremacism?  When, up to until my grand-father’s generation, all uneducated labourers in any given English owned company in Quebec had to self-teach themselves English, for the only reason that their bosses would never lower themselves to learn the language of their employees?  Add that those employees were punished with fines on their meagre pay for getting caught speaking French among themselves.
Explain to me how is it that large French-speaking populations, from Louisiana to Detroit and to the Canadian West Coast, were beaten up and ostracized into not transmitting their language to their children.  Them who toadya do not even know what their own surnames mean, when they are called Frenette, Trudeau or Leboeuf.

(Yet, I guess that we should count ourselves lucky in one sense. Even though the English constantly referred to us as “the French race” for most of our shared History, it seems that we were white enough in their eyes to have been spared the fate that they reserved for the Native peoples…)

You want to call us racists? When it is in Quebec that you will find the highest rates of international adoptions and mixed-race couples? When it is here that you will find the least hate crimes year after year? You want to call us anti-Semites, when it is French politicians in Quebec who were the first to grant Jews the right to vote in all of the British Commonwealth (in 1831), and while until not so long ago, only French universities would accept them? You want to call us racists, when every single week, Canadian newspapers publish op-eds describing Quebec, its culture and people as “corrupt”, “tribal”, “backwards”, “undemocratic”, “intolerant”, “racist”, if not outright “fascist”? When the time comes to smear this whole society, it seems that no hyperbole is ever too exaggerated.  And it is exactly such language that can directly explain at least a couple of the massacres that have happened in Quebec as of late.

None of this, of course, lessens the horror that took place in Quebec city. That it took place here shames and saddens all of us, as Quebecois, as Canadians, as North Americans, as Westerners and as Humans.  The massive outpouring of grief and denunciation from all corners of society demonstrates that fact. And nobody is claiming that this society is perfect or that it doesn’t have its share of idiots, of failed individuals, including savage and murderous ones. But to take this “opportunity” to score cheap heinous points on our back…  It is nothing less than cynical and vile, when our eyes are still blurry from the tears.  Shame on the Washington Post for having given a loudspeaker to this hateful character.

Someone would have to be in deep denial, since at least the last 15 years, not to understand that there is a growing problem involving religious, and especially Islamic fundamentalism, as well as the xenophobic far-right response to it; everywhere in the Western World and beyond. This tragedy against Muslims happened here first.  But nothing says that it could not have happened in the USA, which objectively produces more hate crimes than Quebec ever could, and as Charleston and Orlando reminded us again recently. Or it could have happened in Europe, where again yesterday an Islamic fanatic attacked military officers, and while right-wing mobs regularly torch down Syrian refugee centres.

Quebec society has started its introspection following last weekend massacre, as every Western society must do in this era of ethnic and especially religious tensions. Quebec, or French-Americans, are not shielded from this world. No more than we can be made to be a special exception to it, as only a deeply racist mind would claim.
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Wikipedia,: List of massacres in Canada:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_massacres_in_Canada

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3 commentaires
  1. diong a dit :

    Cette réponse claire, informée, définitive, aurait dû être publiée sur le site du WP, non? Je ne l’y ai pas vue.

    • Je l’avais initialement mise sur leur page Facebook, mais ils ne semblent pas vouloir la publier là. Et quand je regarde pour soumettre un texte directement pour le journal, les soumissions sont limitées à 750 mots, soit la moitié de ce texte…

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