Monday, June 05, 2006

Two solitudes

To get rid of immigrants, the natives should have given them smallpox blankets

I like to bitch and make fun of PureLaineDeSouche Quebeckers from Quebec City or some other little village who freak out whenever they cross a dark-skinned person on their path. The PureLaineDeSouches' fear of being invaded by yellow, brown, or red hordes seems genuine enough, but they are rather harmless.

Rightwing nuttery in Quebec is practised by relatively small groups, because the Quebec population and its government are generally much more liberal and open-minded than the ROC (rest-of-Canada). Montreal, for example, is the Canadian equivalent of New York (don't laugh!), with its cosmopolitan sophistication and its diverse ethnic groups, cultures, cuisines, arts, etc.. Here, people from all areas of the world live side by side in a more or less peaceful and harmonious setup. And probably 99% of the province population disapprove of George Dubya Bush and his administration's policies.

Last week however, someone sent me a email that has obviously been going around the internet, where the author complains about the Canadian government cowering under Muslim pressure and adopting Islamic laws. The main thrust of the email was : they came to our country, let them adapt themselves to our way of life and not the other way round. I deleted it half-way without reading it through. I now regret the deletion, because I can no longer quote from the original text, but I’m not sorry for avoiding «soiling» my eyes with its hateful message, since I’ve read the same arguments so many times before in US blogs.

In contrast to Quebec, the rest of Canada, especially the western provinces, is much more conservative and much more prone to admire the United States and follow their policies. The email I received was copied from the various screeds posted on US rightwing blogs, with small changes made to adapt it to Canadian readers. «Mexicans» are replaced by «Muslims» and «Arabs», but the content is the same: immigrants are freeloaders, who come to Canada to breed like rats and take advantage of Canadian generosity while imposing their filthy customs and backward cultures; they are better treated than the regular Canadian citizens and unfairly receive extra benefits, usually monetary.

Ten or twenty years years ago, the targets of such hatred were the natives: they don’t pay taxes, they are drunk and filthy, they live on welfare supported by regular taxpayers etc..

The rightwing conservatives are predictable like clockworks: every other week, they would issue emails, petitions, articles, blog postings, targeting their victims du jour. This time it’s immigrants, but next time, it could be women and their uppity desire for abortion or the Jews with their control of the media, or may be some Third World countries that are yet again asking for financial help. The arguments presented try to sound reasonable, but they are based on distorted data and sometimes pure lies. And the conclusion always fingers some group to hate. And that's how one can recognize their hate message: it's always somebody else's fault if the Christian white straight males cannot find happiness.

Canada is a society bound by the rule of law. If some of the laws are not satisfactory, there are legal processes that could be used to change them. It is not by circulating hateful emails against some defenseless minorities that one can build a better country. And it certainly is not by blindly parroting the worst elements of another country that one can prove one’s patriotism.

Multiculturalism is what happens when you live in the world and not behind a gate.
(Steve Gilliard -

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