AngryFrenchGuy

Mordecai Richler is a Québécois!

with 41 comments

The readers of AngryFrenchGuy have spoken!  Whether he likes it or not, Mordecai Richler was a “part of the tribe” even though he was Anglo and Jewish.    And although the vote was anything but unanimous, Francos, Anglos and Allos are just about equally divided on the Québecness of Mordecai.


Ten Years after an infamous series of articles in the New Yorker by Mordecai Richler that permanently fixed in the English-speaking psyche the idea that Québec as an anti-semitic backwater, the New York Times finally gave someone an opportunity to defend the province’s honor.

Filmmaker and novelist Jacques Godbout wrote 3000 words for the NYT titled A Symbolic Nation Aspires to the International, published just as a massive festival of Québec culture – just about big enough to actually get someone’s attention in that city – was kicking off at the World Financial Center in downtown Manhattan.

The article was published on September 16th 2001, five days after that thing happened. No one ever read it. Most of the Québec/New York 2001 exhibition was buried under the 20th century.

In his piece Godbout calls Richler Québec’s greatest writer. He recalls that they had both left for Europe in 1954 to escape Québec’s stagnant conservatism. Godbout returned in 1960 as the Quiet revolution was starting. Richler only came back in 1972. Godbout argues Richler never understood the old reactionary and priest-ridden Québec of is youth was gone.

That’s probably not fair. Mordecai Richler new very well that attacking the Québec nation from outside, in English, was precisely the best way to summon that old defensive reflex that people swore was gone. That was his way. He looked at society, found tender wounds and jabbed repeatedly with his Bic pen.

That said, Mordecai Richler did not play fair either. He started his fight in New York, an arena where no one from Québec had the stature, let alone the command of English, to rebut him. A more courageous writer would’ve wanted an adversary.

Godbout’s at bat came much to late. Richler was dead. And then all these other people died and it really didn’t matter anymore…

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Written by angryfrenchguy

September 27, 2008 at 8:44 pm

Posted in Who is Nous?

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41 Responses

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  1. The PQ designed the question, not me. They must have thought it through, or else why go to the trouble of including a reference on the June 12 accord?

    And BTW those who voted NO wanted to leave things the way the were, not a difficult hypothetical situation to imagine. On the other hand, Yes voters were opting for change BIG TIME and their perception of what that might be. Its intellectually dishonest for you to claim that as many No voters as yes voters were mixed up.

    Here we had the Yes side promising the Canadian dollar, passport and armed forces… maybe if we can renegotiate. On the other hand, by voting No , you were guaranteed to keep all three, end of discussion.You don’t need a poll to figure it out. Whatever one may imagine Quebec sovereignty to be, it ain’t hard to imagine what Canada is and has been for 140 odd years.

    Democracy is about electing governments, yes it happens all the time. But voting in a new country isn’t just another election. Why do unions require large (66% sometimes) majorities to elect their officers? Why did Bernie L. quit in a huff when he only had 76% support ? Special circumstances require special accommodations.

    Acajack if I follow your reasoning, all there need be on the ballot is Yes and NO, since everybody knows what they mean. Why are you so afraid of the independence word, call a spade a spade and forget about the lobster pot theory, it pays off in the long run to be honest with people.

    Dave

    October 7, 2008 at 10:41 am

  2. “Do you think that if the Oui had passed with 50,4% of the vote the federalists would have accepted your “we won, you lost, suck it up and go away” logic?”

    There you go with your condescending moral superiority. Do you really think that independence would have been a romp in the park with 50.4% – part of whom thought they were voting to stay in Canada, albeit with more powers for Quebec ?

    What about regions with very large No majorities, what about stirring up irredentist feelings in the ROC. What about the First nations? The realpolitik fact is that winning by 10,000 votes is probably sovereignty’s absolute worst case scenario. But that’s never admitted out loud, instead you take the high ground and “accept the result” while accusing the Nos of bad faith.

    Dave

    October 7, 2008 at 10:50 am

  3. “The PQ designed the question, not me. They must have thought it through, or else why go to the trouble of including a reference on the June 12 accord?
    And BTW those who voted NO wanted to leave things the way the were, not a difficult hypothetical situation to imagine. On the other hand, Yes voters were opting for change BIG TIME and their perception of what that might be. Its intellectually dishonest for you to claim that as many No voters as yes voters were mixed up.
    Here we had the Yes side promising the Canadian dollar, passport and armed forces… maybe if we can renegotiate. On the other hand, by voting No , you were guaranteed to keep all three, end of discussion.You don’t need a poll to figure it out. Whatever one may imagine Quebec sovereignty to be, it ain’t hard to imagine what Canada is and has been for 140 odd years.
    Democracy is about electing governments, yes it happens all the time. But voting in a new country isn’t just another election. Why do unions require large (66% sometimes) majorities to elect their officers? Why did Bernie L. quit in a huff when he only had 76% support ? Special circumstances require special accommodations.
    Acajack if I follow your reasoning, all there need be on the ballot is Yes and NO, since everybody knows what they mean. Why are you so afraid of the independence word, call a spade a spade and forget about the lobster pot theory, it pays off in the long run to be honest with people.”

    I was not for the Oui and would not be for it if another referendum were held today.

    That doesn’t prevent me from being irritated by people who, by alluding to a “trick question”, downplay just how many people in Quebec were ready to kiss off Canada on Oct. 30, 1995.

    There was plenty of trickery on both sides, and to be frank I don’t really think it’s very smart for people who were/are on the Non side (my side, actually) to continuously raise these matters when the Non camp’s nose is hardly clean when it comes to October 1995.

    All in all, I’d say the 50.6 Non and 49.4 Oui was a pretty accurate picture of public sentiment that day.

    The Non side won. No one has contested this. Good for us. But let’s not rub it in too much because we don’t know what the rubbing might uncover.

    Acajack

    October 7, 2008 at 11:01 am

  4. “There you go with your condescending moral superiority. Do you really think that independence would have been a romp in the park with 50.4% ”

    Actually, that was my point.

    “The realpolitik fact is that winning by 10,000 votes is probably sovereignty’s absolute worst case scenario.”

    Actually, that’s pretty much word for word what I wrote.

    angryfrenchguy

    October 7, 2008 at 11:44 am

  5. “There was plenty of trickery on both sides, and to be frank I don’t really think it’s very smart for people who were/are on the Non side (my side, actually) to continuously raise these matters when the Non camp’s nose is hardly clean when it comes to October 1995.”

    Yes indeed, just like in most elections. On the one side you had the federalists spending money illegally and scaring people with “you will lose your pensions”… on the other side you had a strangely worded question, ballots being rejected and those public audiences…

    With respect to the question though, here is the one that was put to the voters in Montenegro (they also had a 55% treshold for independence, not the 50+1):

    “Do you want the Republic of Montenegro to be an independent state with a full international and legal personality?”

    AM

    October 7, 2008 at 1:16 pm

  6. “The Non side won. No one has contested this”

    You should listen to the sovereignist side more attentively, they have been entertaining the notion that the 1995 referendum was stolen by the NO side. All the major spokespersons repeat it continuously, I’m very surprised you claim that no one has contested the No victory.

    Dave

    October 9, 2008 at 3:33 pm

  7. “You should listen to the sovereignist side more attentively, they have been entertaining the notion that the 1995 referendum was stolen by the NO side. All the major spokespersons repeat it continuously, I’m very surprised you claim that no one has contested the No victory.”

    Party militants can and will say anything they want. But the truth is that no one in the leadership, from Parizeau to Bouchard to Boisclair to Landry to Marois to Duceppe has contested the 1995 results or even hinted at pretending that Quebec is already de facto independent because of the alleged trickery on the Non side.

    Acajack

    October 9, 2008 at 7:44 pm

  8. Gérald Larose, président du conseil de la souveraineté, ever heard of him ? does he not form part of the sovereignty movement? Bernie L. was spouting off on the radio just last week saying that until such a time as the national question is not solved democratically…sounds like more than a hint to me

    Dave

    October 10, 2008 at 9:01 am

  9. Dave : « Why are you so afraid of the independence word, call a spade a spade and forget about the lobster pot theory, it pays off in the long run to be honest with people. »

    Different words have different meanings. And when you’re about to make a crucial decision like secession, you try to use the words that actually say what you want to accomplish.

    -The aim of Quebec is not necessarily total “independence” from Canada. What “sovereignists” want (not “separatists” as they are called in the ROC to confuse issues…), is a mandate to call all powers back to Quebec from Ottawa, in a sovereign manner. Then, if Canada agrees, to negotiate a new federative pact in which Quebec and Ottawa would share a more limited amount of jurisdiction.

    Dave : « I’m not trying to convince anybody of anything. I’m just tired of hearing the same old “victims of colonialism’ schtick. »

    Not saying that’s necessarily true for you but, in my experience, those who tend to see all sovereignists as a spiteful, bitter and angry bunch, get most of their information from anglo media. -I.e. media that doesn’t really relay all that happens in the movement, but only what’s likely to arise indignation from its opponents.

    Raman

    October 10, 2008 at 4:47 pm

  10. Raman:”The aim of Quebec is not necessarily total “independence” from Canada….Then, if Canada agrees, to negotiate a new federative pact in which Quebec and Ottawa would share a more limited amount of jurisdiction.”

    The only way for that to happen is that Quebec first becomes independent, what happens next and when is a moot point.

    Dave

    October 11, 2008 at 7:46 am

  11. Dave : « The only way for that to happen is that Quebec first becomes independent, what happens next and when is a moot point. »

    You have it backwards :

    -Quebec must first claim back its sovereignty on all its jurisdictions. It must become “sovereign”, which doesn’t mean “independent”, or cut off.
    Sovereign means “not subordinated”, “not having to answer to”, another entity, and completely free to decide what it does with its powers and resources.
    [As it is, Quebec and other provinces are already deemed sovereign in certain areas, such as health and education. Or at least they are legally supposed to be…]

    That doesn’t equate independence, because after such a mandate is obtained, negotiations will still have to take place which will decide what happens next.
    -Just as when you negotiate divorce terms, until everything is settled, you are still legally considered married.

    -Then, these negotiations will either lead to Quebec becoming independent, or for it and Canada to remain federated, but under new conditions. In the latter case, the 2 entities would negotiate anew in what jurisdictions Quebec would abandon its sovereignty, and under what conditions : Without ever becoming independent.

    Raman

    October 11, 2008 at 2:25 pm


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