mardi 11 septembre 2012

Anglos and Frenchies

At the end of the recent election, I had a very strong reaction to what happened with the terrorist attack in the middle of the victorious Marois speech. Then, I thought I knew why it did happen. First, I did believe in the responsability of the PQ's project to reform the bill 101 and deprive many immigrants from rights until they learn French, with some English-speakers who would fall into the system's failures. Second: English Canadian media's campaign of hatred and fear against racist separatists or often their picturing of a Québec that is genetically racist and retarded.

After two days, I changed my mind. I considered that the contemptuous articles published by English newspapers were or could be exceptions. Exceptions that were seen as rules by many Québec nationalists, justifying their means. You may remember how many weeks we talked about Barbara Kay's[1] and Jane Wong's bullshit. I sometimes read the Globe And Mail and The Gazette, and there really are journalists and columnists in these newspapers that spread more lies than ink. But is it different in La Presse, or the Journal de Montréal? I did not have any scientific clue. What exact proportion of the articles can be depicted as Québec bashing?

Then, what excited Richard Bain, who had always been friendly with the French-speaking population of the town he was living in? The PQ program alone? I did not think so. But last week-end, I was in a wedding, ironically celebrating the union between a french-speaker and a British immigrant. I found that the symbolic meaning of this wedding was powerful. During supper, I also had the occasion to talk with two friends that shared a dominant English-Quebecer culture. They were reluctant at first to talk about this subject but when they understood that I did not care about nationalism, they got very loquacious. And what I heard from them - mostly clumsy generalizations as we hear on the radio - made me understand why I do not understand.

For the last decades, the English-speaking and French-speaking populations have only shouted insults at each other, thinking there were telling the crystal-clear truth. According to me one thing has always been crystal clear: the fucking mirror they are shouting at. The accusations are basically the same: racism, xenophobia, linguistic oppression, etc. Some French-speaking nationalists complain that many can't be served or work in French in their own country, while some English-speaker federalists say they are an oppressed minority. But nobody recognize that both communities are guilty of a certain kind of coercion. As bill 101 forces French into immigrants and anglophones tongues, industry forces English into workers and customers throats. In this situation, there never is a "freedom of choice". Thus, the lack of mutual respect and communication within this province makes people of both communities understanding the other through what they already know: they give them the characteristics that they hate in themselves.

Those people accusing French of being racist and retarded ignore that the crimes related to hatred are still way lower in Québec than in ROC. For accusing others of being racist is a good way of hiding our own great fear and contempt for strangers and non-conformists. On the Québécois nationalist side, the fear of dying as a nation is a convenient way to forget that English as a first language is decreasing in Québec's demography. The historic English culture of Montréal will certainly disappear before the Québécois nation.

What I see now is that where there should only be respect and love, there is hatred and coercion. Yes, people should be free to choose. But they should also understand what respect is. Respect wins where laws fail.

Do not stamp on small shoots. These are our future.

[1] Barbara Kay recently published a book (Unworthy creature) in which she's happy to denounce other cultures as barbaric. This may not be obvious when you read it, but I swear that in a small panel in the Excentris, last spring, she and her co-author (who appeared in "Ces crimes sans honneur") admitted that this was the real goal of all this.

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