AngryFrenchGuy

Dieudonné and Québec: Canadian media misses golden Québec-bashing opportunity

with 54 comments

dieudonne-black-and-white

For the life of me I can’t figure out how the Anglo-Canadian media missed this one. There is everything they love in this story: Québec, antisemitism, racism, the French, Jean-Marie Le Pen and a very easy way to throw in Pauline Marois and the Separatists.

Somebody fell asleep at the switch.

Here’s what’s going on. Last week the Superior Court of Québec sentenced French stand-up comic Dieudonné to pay 75 000$ to French crooner Patrick Bruel for attacking the French signers reputation.  In a 2006 interview Dieudonné had called Bruel “a pure product of this ultrasionnist political system” who had “the superiority complex of some Israelis.”  He also called Bruel a liar and said the signer thought the bombing of children in Lebanon was “normal”.

This was far from Dieudonné’s first controversial declaration or even his first time his opinions had landed him in court.  In fact, from a man who has called Jews “a sect, a swindle” and a people that “sold the holocaust, sold suffering to build a country and make money”, you could even say that his comments about Patrick Bruel were quite tame.

So how did Québec get involved? It started when Patrick Bruel, who was a guest on the Radio-Canada TV show Tout le Monde en Parle, objected to the complacent attitude of the Québec media toward Dieudonné compared to France, where he is a pariah.  Dieudonné replied with his infamous attacks on another Québec TV show, Les Francs-Tireurs, with Richard Martineau.

In another interview, Dieudonné was asked  why the controversy that surrounds him did not seem to follow him across the Atlantic:  “There is a freedom of speech and tone, here, that is quite anchored in the culture of this country.  After getting rid of religion, I’m under the impression that there is a quite strong critical sense that developed.  I feel comfortable in the general state of mind and culture of Québec.”

In the same interview Dieudonné praised Pauline Marois, the Parti québécois’ leader, whom he claims he has met and found to be “very serene”.

Oh the headlines they could’ve cooked up with that one…

Well Ok, then.  The church ladies and hall monitors of McGill and the Globe and Mail must be busy telling some other nation how to run their country, so let’s take this opportunity to discuss as adults.  For once.

The question is: Has the Québec media been complacent with Dieudonné?  

The answer is yes.

It must be understood that Dieudonné is an extremely smart man, a complex artist and an equal opportunity offender.  At the beginning of his 2008 show J’ai fais le Con which I saw in Montreal, he talks about the Pygmies who steel the garbage behind his father’s house in Cameroon: “Pygmies are a nuisance, kind of like your Indians”.  

I don’t know how many people in the audience understood the joke was on them.  Dieudonné is actually a defender of the rights of Cameroon’s Pygmies and outspoken about the deforestation that condemns them to a life of beggars on the streets of Yaoundé.  When you know that, the parallel he makes between Pygmies and canadian natives on the streets of Montreal or Winnipeg takes on a whole other meaning. 

Dieudonné delights in the ambiguity and loves exposing our double standards.  Which is, after all, a comedian’s job.  He is also very good at forcing the media to pay attention to him.  Last year, he made far right Front National leader Jean-Marie Le Pen the godfather of his child and in December 2008 he invited holocaust denier Robert Faurisson on stage with him to give him a Free Speech award.

Which brings us to Dieudonné’s most controversial topic: is his claim that there is a « hierarchy of suffering » in society, notably expressed in the way that Jewish suffering and the Holocaust is considered a worse crime than the slave trade.

He did not come up with that himself.  This is a fairly common discourse, notably in some radical parts of the African-american community.

It is a heavy question.  Certainly one worthy of public discussion.  

Another question that should be discussed publicly is why people like Dieudonné who are preoccupied with this « hierarchy of suffering » are obsessed with Jews?  Why not the fact that the condition of African-Americans receives more attention than that of Mexican natives?  Or that the world takes to the street for Tibet and Palestine and could care less about the Kurds?  Or that the world knows a whole lot more about the « plight » of Anglo-Quebecers than they do about the struggle of Franco-Manitobans? 

Is this focus on Jews not a « hierarchy of the scapegoats »?

The fact that the Québec media merely labelled Dieudonné a “controversial” comedian when he is in fact, and of his own admission, a radical provocateur raises questions.  The fact that the Québec public is indifferent to his comments about Jews while it is offended by similar statements about black people by pop psychologists and TV comics exposes our own double standards.

That is why the Québec media and public failed.   Not because they gave him a soapbox – he knows how to get those on his own – but because they just smiled and nodded to Dieudonné’s provocations, falsely pretended not to understand, just so they wouldn’t be dragged into the debate.

And it’s the debate that’s important.

Written by angryfrenchguy

March 10, 2009 at 9:09 am

54 Responses

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  1. it’s “Zionist”

    newironshapes

    March 10, 2009 at 9:47 am

  2. nm, you’re faster than your RSS feed!

    newironshapes

    March 10, 2009 at 9:47 am

  3. Quoi?

    Les médias anglais ont raté un occasion d’or, (voire Dieudonné) voire à basher le Québec?

    A ‘Godgiven’ opportunity like this one?

    Staggering… unbelievable!!

    Maybe AFG was having a rather slow news-cycle here, but why do I find myself thinking the headline spin about anglos wanting to bash Québec at every turn is all so well, “adolescent”?

    And why is every little tick in the vast body politic so totally over intellectualised here, as though each grain of our mutual Canadien existences must be parsed endlessly to discover some new “calumny” of seminal human importance?

    As for Dieudonné, one has be careful, comedian or not, when crossing certain lines carelessly. If ‘humour’ is used as a tool to consistently marginalise a certain ethnic group, one can not be surprised if a Court of law deems the commentary to be more sinister than just a little “harmless” bashing. Libelous attacks can do real harm after all., and the idea oa ‘hierarchies of suffering’ doesn’t justify ‘ad hominem’ dismissal of the human worth any cultural or ethnic group.

    One can take exception to specific examples of evil behaviour carried out by certain individuals, but one cannot demonise a whole human social grouping.

    Hopefully in Canada,’mainstream’ anglophones and francophones both are at least somewhat sensitive to the need to have humour about ourselves that does not dehumanise or depersonalise the so-called “other” in savage or hateful manner.

    bruce

    March 10, 2009 at 1:23 pm

  4. Must be s slow day on the Quebec bashing front when AGF has to think up ways to provoke some of his own.

    What happened, did you go to Eaton’s downtown in search of a “maudite grosse anglaise ” to serve you in English only and discovered that Eaton’s had been closed for 20 years.

    You should go to the library and re-read the Durham report, go check out the Jewish quotas at McGill, re-read all three of Normand Lester’s tomes of “Le livre noir du Canada anglais” and anything written by Robin Philpot, that should keep your righteous indignation level high enough to get you through another dreary blog on the victimisation of French speakers.

    BTW they let some grade 4 kid into English school yesterday…..

    Dave

    March 10, 2009 at 1:41 pm

  5. Mr. Mbala and Mr. Le Pen are both Bretons, btw. It wouldn’t surprise me that they would find each other sympatico.

    Isn’t Gad Elmaleh, the best known active Jewish French comedian, quite popular in Québec, too?

    If I were Mr. Bruel, I would be angry at Mr. Mbala, too. Nobody likes having someone else tell you what you think.

    littlerob

    March 10, 2009 at 3:59 pm

  6. AFG,

    I think the difference is that Dieudonné is not from Quebec so he gets a free pass. Dieudonné could say anti-black comments instead of anti-jewish comments and still get a free pass or ignored. While I don’t agree with Dieudonné’s comments on jews, I do find him a breath of fresh of air for daring to rattle the politically-correct cage.

    I find that Quebec is very self-conscious about its image in the eyes of the world (thanks to the anglo media that paints Quebec and sovereignists in general as intolerant or worse, racists), so it takes it serious what famous Quebecers (like Pierre Mailloux or the producers of Bye Bye 2008) say. Quebec wants the world to think it is not racist and fears that any Quebecer that says racist things relects on all Quebecers in the eyes of the world. Quebec is partly right since the world is shallow enough to make generalizations about Quebec based on what some Quebecers say. Since Dieudonné is not from Quebec and therefore does not reflect Quebec in the eyes of the world, Quebec doesn’t care what he says.

    So, it is not that anti-jewish comments gets a free pass in Quebec while anti-black comments do not. It is rather the nationality of the speaker that is at issue.

    For the record, I don’t find the telecast Byb Bye 2008 racist. The skits are so caricatured that it could not be taken seriously. What Mailloux said I definitely consider racist. But I also believe in free speech so they should be allowed to say what they want. I don’t care what the world thinks of Quebec and neither should Quebecers.

    Antonio

    March 10, 2009 at 5:27 pm

  7. Actually I think it’s because the Canadian media, as the Occident’s standard bearer of Political Correctness and Received Standard Consensus, was uncomfortable making the black guy the bad guy and experienced, to use a fashionnable cliche, cognitive dissonance.

    angryfrenchguy

    March 10, 2009 at 7:28 pm

  8. I didn’t know Gad el-Maleh was jewish. I believe he is a graduate of Québec’s École Nationale de l’humour and often talks about his experience in Québec in his shows.

    Michel Boujenah is probably still the most famous French/Jewish comic. He made a movie about a French family moving to Québec, which I heard is not that great.

    Another French/Jewish comedian is Elie Semoun, who was not only Dieudonné’s early partner (!), but is also Patrick Bruel’s cousin (!!)

    angryfrenchguy

    March 10, 2009 at 7:34 pm

  9. i believe europe holds the crown and sceptre in that regard agf. i’m amazed at how quickly and narrow your analysis becomes akin to a dog with his bone. just last year, bridgette bardot was fined for an opinion – a dutch member of parliament was recently refused entry to england because he compares mein kampf with the koran.

    i mean i can follow your thought line and a clearer picture of what you are trying to get at takes shape – and then – pffft! grrrr! – it’s all teeth.

    i believe it’s the “masters” of received wisdom that merit your highly developed conscience (not ignorant entertainers) – public hangings of young gay men by crane booms, global warming alarmists, and socialists who usurp constitutions with popular referenda (su tío chavez). watch for news on the united nations this year, where binding law will be proposed to make criticism of the “religion of peace” criminal.

    you pollute your soul with the dreck that is found (or not found – in your case) in the msm. i offer you counselling on liberty at no charge.

    lesson 1 – human beings in canada enjoy free speech and have the right to say stupid things – but not criminal, eh. so he says stupid things -oooooooo!

    you would be bankrupt many times over if you could be taken to court for all the stupid things you have said. thankfully this is not the case and i continue to have the benefit of laughter from your righteous postings. you know i cannot take you seriously and while this is probably mutual – well… have a laugh and disassociative fugue on me.

    and btw, the media is not complacent with dieudonné – it’s just that his opinions don’t count, but you’re doing a good job in pointing out his behaviour and that can’t be all bad.

    johnnyonline

    March 10, 2009 at 10:19 pm

  10. Recently, I wrote to the editors of Vigile dot net to ask why their coverage of the Israelo-Palestinian conflict was so heavily biased in favor of terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah.
    Namely, it appears that every time an Israeli soldier so much as puts on his uniform, it is good cause to cry «Israel, genocidal !», «Israel, child murderers !». Whereas when Hamas militants purposefully aim their rockets at civilian villages and schools, or when they brainwash and send their own children on suicide missions, they are excused and painted as noble resistants and freedom fighters.

    Every time I have written on Cyberpresse blogs to ask those same questions, the result is that I am accused of being a fool to Americano-Zionist propaganda, or that I hide a Zionist agenda myself. When in fact, all I’d like to see is for the blame to be shared a bit more fairly.

    Without wanting to get into that particular debate here, I sometimes have the impression that Quebeckers’ opinions regarding Jews, Israel, and the conflicts they are involved in, is tainted by a couple factors :
    1- Quebeckers (rightfully) being fed up with the B’nai Brith and other Quebec/Canada Anglo-Jewish intelligentsia, who constantly vilify us and our own emancipation movement
    2- Our disdain of colonialism, which leads many of us to make very inadequate parallels between : a) the British conquest followed by the later occupation here and b) what’s happening over in the Middle-East now
    3- And an attachment to a particular «compassionate left-wing liberalism» mind frame — la “gauche bien-pensante” — which dictates that the strong and powerful (i.e. The USA and Israel especially) are always wrong, regardless of facts.

    [Note that point 3 is nowhere unique to Quebec, but is prevalent throughout university campuses across Canada, the USA and Europe. And indeed, it appears that Jewish students have been having a hard time lately, receiving physical threats and verbal abuse, from Oslo to San Francisco, amidst all the anti-Israel rallies.]

    I don’t know if this analysis is right, but I feel that all this lumped together creates a climate where any criticism of Israel and the Jews seems like a “welcome relief” for many Quebeckers, who are often made to feel that their own grievances are in competition with Jewish lobbies’ own recriminations and (baseless) accusations of culturally ingrained antisemitism in Quebec. (See l’Affaire Michaud.)
    And, in the case of Dieudonné, a general ignorance of the context of his many antisemitic declarations and more than doubtful affiliations in France has given him a free-pass so far with the Quebec public.

    But I believe that’s about to change, or at least be challenged. Already, big mouths like Dutrizac and Martineau have started questioning the “blame Israel and the Jews for everything” paradigm, and have started pointing their criticisms at the Islamo-Arab lobbies who feed it.


    PS- Just in case anyone would wonder, my own position in all this is : Death to all religions.

    Raman

    March 11, 2009 at 9:03 am

  11. But Bruce… where would the hardcore sovereignists be without paranoia? If you take that away from them, what will they be left with? ;)

    Vinster171

    March 11, 2009 at 9:36 am

  12. >I think the difference is that Dieudonné is not from Quebec so he gets a free pass.

    Alor, selon vous, il paraît que seulement les vrais Québécois soient éligibles à être les “victimes” des médias et des chroniqueurs anglais. Comme c’est curieux!

    >I don’t care what the world thinks of Quebec.

    Quoi! Pourquoi, donc, vos plaintes perpetuelles, comme AFG, au sujet d’un biais sournois, malveillant, dans les médias envers le Québec el les Québécois?

    Avez-vous une “paranoïangl-antoniöa” profonde?

    Sachez qu’il y a des thérapistes!

    À propos, Antonio, je remarquais toujours que vous ‘prononcez’ mal le nom fier de ta province.

    On dit ‘Québec’ afin d’éviter un accent imprécis comme font souvent quelconques anglos qui n’ont pas le tour comment il doit être.

    Faîtes attention et soyez prudent pour qu’on ne puisse pas être considéré paresseux!

    Bonne chance!

    Bruce

    March 11, 2009 at 9:38 am

  13. Désolé! — toujours mes erreurs dactylographiques!

    >Alors

    > … et les Québécois

    >…de votre province

    (Je dois me comporter tout solennel, dans de certains cas!)

    Mes excuses!

    Bruce

    March 11, 2009 at 9:49 am

  14. Chus d’accord, … je ne suis pas religeux, et les conflits religeux ont été l’échec de la race humaine à partir de l’aube de notre “ascent” de grands anthropoïdes!

    Mais quant à le mouvement de émancipation québécois dont tu parles, j’affirme que Québec est déjà émancipé, en effet. Ta province n’a pas été dominé depuis longtemps par des anglophones canadiens. Et la majorité claire des Québécois et Québécoises le sait bien.

    Quant à vigile.net tu as raison! Les gens-là tiennent beaucoup de biais idéologique dans plus d’une façon!

    Le plus grand est ce biais contre le Canada, basé sur des temps passé, longtemps disparu. Ce n’est pas là un discours vraiment détaché, clair et objectif.

    Bruce

    March 11, 2009 at 10:30 am

  15. Apparently, everybody has their reasons to hate the USA and Israel. Even American and Jewish left-wing intellectuals themselves.
    -Vigile, and those in Quebec who’d agree with their stance on the israelo-palestinian conflict, simply have their own equally biased reasons. Illustrating what those particular reasons are was my only point here.

    (I’m not making a case for unconditional support towards Israel either, btw. I’m just tired of seeing no condemnation of the sharia-loving lunatics whatsoever in left-wing media.)

    As for Quebec’s emancipation, I disagree with you.
    We have started emancipating 40-50 years ago, which really is not so long ago in historical terms. And we still exhibit many traits common to colonized/dominated cultures. Those go from illiteracy rates to general cultural insecurity and to our constant need of approval, to name a few.
    If that weren’t so, we wouldn’t make such a fuss of Quebec-bashing (which I believe really does exist) for one thing.

    As for my province not being dominated, that may be so militarily and economically, but it is still treated as such culturally.

    Raman

    March 11, 2009 at 12:01 pm

  16. You know, that’s actually what I like and about conservatives (or wanna be “libertarians”, the “radical chic” of the Right) and National Post types like yourself. Their willingness to step outside the consensus.

    Now when Post writers start using actual facts in the costruction of their opinions and when the Conservatives are able to get elected without the vote of people who think Jesus spoke English, I will start to take them more seriously.

    angryfrenchguy

    March 11, 2009 at 12:08 pm

  17. Bruce,

    “>I think the difference is that Dieudonné is not from Quebec so he gets a free pass.

    Alor, selon vous, il paraît que seulement les vrais Québécois soient éligibles à être les “victimes” des médias et des chroniqueurs anglais. Comme c’est curieux!”

    Your mind is not very sharp. I was referring to the Quebec media when I say Dieudonné gets a free pass.

    ” Quoi! Pourquoi, donc, vos plaintes perpetuelles, comme AFG, au sujet d’un biais sournois, malveillant, dans les médias envers le Québec el les Québécois?”

    Because other Quebecers care. I am complaining that Quebecer care about what the rest of the world thinks of them. And to set the record striaght of all this demagoguery that Quebec gets from the anglo media as long as we talk about it here.

    “On dit ‘Québec’ afin d’éviter un accent imprécis comme font souvent quelconques anglos qui n’ont pas le tour comment il doit être.”

    not in the English language. They don’t put the accent in “Quebec”.

    “Faîtes attention et soyez prudent pour qu’on ne puisse pas être considéré paresseux!”

    Don’t ever lecture me on grammar. You look petty when you reduce yourself on arguing over my grammar instead of my arguments.

    BTW, you lectured me about this double negative bullshit in another topic; I guess you did not know that modern English grammarians now permit the double negative to be used simply to reinforce the negative (like in French). Only strict English grammarians (a dying breed) still insist that it be used exclusively to negate a negative.

    that is two grammar lessons that you were wrong on. Who is the lazy one? The one that doesn’t check its sources before giving out silly grammar lessons or the one that got it right all this time?

    Antonio

    March 11, 2009 at 12:33 pm

  18. Just a note on the “hierarchy of suffering” and American intellectuals: AFG mentions several cases of population groups whose sufferings are often overlooked. And there are plenty more: Australian aborigines, Palestinian Christians (whose plight I have alluded to elsewhere on this blog), the Cape Coloured people, who have the unenviable distinction of being treated as second class citizens both by the apartheid governments of South Africa and by the kleptocrats of the ANC who are in charge of that country now. There are others whom I could mention and still others whose oppression is probably so well covered up that I don’t even know that they exist. But one group who is seldom mentioned, even by American dissident intellectuals like Noam Chomsky, exists right in the United States, and their are millions of them: the undocumented immigrants, or “illegal aliens” so called. It is true that these people, most of whom come from Mexico, Central America, and China, are here in violation of our laws. But they come here at their own risk and expense, and once they get here they are exploited as cheap labor—I sound like an old commie, but there’s not other way to put it—and live without rights that the rest of us take for granted. They have no social security numbers, so they can’t open bank accounts, and they can’t call the cops, because to do so would put them at risk of being turned over to the INS and deported. So, they are peculiarly vulnerable to the criminal element that exists here both in their own communities and outside them. They themselves have to keep on the straight and narrow, though, because as we have already seen, one brush with the law and they can be on a plane to wherever they camer from. They are good enough to pick our fruit and vegetables, and to staff our kitchens, meatpacking plants, massage parlors, and whorehouses, but not good enough even to be second class citizens, because they aren’t citizens.

    Maybe Professor Chomsky doesn’t write about these people because he likes his orange juice too much. Anyway, I hope all of you reading this blog enjoy your next glass of the stuff, because the chances are pretty good that it was put on your table by an “indocumentado.”

    littlerob

    March 11, 2009 at 6:47 pm

  19. That is very true, Littlerob.

    And the case of illegals in the US is only the most extreme. I fear the current economic crisis will force us, the West, to realise that the heavy immigration we were dependent on (legal and illegal) is far from a settled issue.

    What happens when there are no more jobs?

    angryfrenchguy

    March 11, 2009 at 7:32 pm

  20. If history is any indication, what will happen is that we will deport our “guest workers” en masse so that citizens will have more work to do. Happened to many Mexican immigrants in the US during the depression in the 1930s.

    The exploitation of and denial of rights to immigrants is not confined to the West. Saudi Arabia and Malaysia are pretty notorious for it. South Africa has recently seen murderous riots against Zimbabwean immigrants.

    The guy I was working with today told me that there is a certain corner in his medium sized suburban town where indocumentados congregate every morning to be picked up (they hope) for day labor. This isn’t Texas or California, mind you, but Pennsylvania! And if it happens here, it must happen in every state in the Union. I know for a fact that it happens in New Jersey. And how many of our fearless intellectuals who courageously write polemics against our military industrial complex and our imperialist adventures in southwest Asia even know these people exist?

    littlerob

    March 12, 2009 at 8:23 pm

  21. “And how many of our fearless intellectuals who courageously write polemics against our military industrial complex and our imperialist adventures in southwest Asia even know these people exist?”

    Well, wouldn’t almost all of the first group at some point hire people from the second group to do yard work, or watch (raise) their kids? ;-))

    Acajack

    March 12, 2009 at 9:48 pm

  22. Acajack–and here I thought I was losing the overall topic. Even if people in the first group see people from the second group, they do not hear them, because the number of people in the first group who can command functional Spanish, Fukienese, Cantonese, or Portuguese is infinitesimal. I think I mentioned something elsewhere on this blog about monolingual English speakers being some of the most isolated people on the planet…

    littlerob

    March 13, 2009 at 6:16 am

  23. “I think I mentioned something elsewhere on this blog about monolingual English speakers being some of the most isolated people on the planet…”

    Well, I am sure glad you are the one who said that and not me.

    Although I have said in the past here that I get the impression that for many English-speaking Canadians when they see something written in French (in spite of the commonalities with their own language that do allow even the unlearned to decipher a little bit of it), it’s as if they were looking at Chinese or Cyrillic characters…

    Acajack

    March 13, 2009 at 9:37 am

  24. I suspect that these days the largest group of English mother-tongue people of European descent who are functional in another language is probably to be found in Montréal. (I add “of European descent” because there are many West Africans who speak a variety of English as a first language, and I do not know how many of them speak other languages.)

    There used to be a number of white English speaking South Africans who knew Afrikaans (and a smaller number who knew isiZulu), but since the transfer of power to the ANC Afrikaans has become so marginalized that the “souties” who have remained generally don’t bother to learn it. A lot of people in Britain say they speak French, but most of them don’t use the language every day or even often. Outside of that, most of us are pretty well “English only.”

    littlerob

    March 13, 2009 at 5:08 pm

  25. “I suspect that these days the largest group of English mother-tongue people of European descent who are functional in another language is probably to be found in Montréal.”

    I believe that, to use your definition, our anglos here are also the only such English native speaker group in the entire world where a clear *majority* of them speaks another language. Quite unique.

    Acajack

    March 15, 2009 at 8:06 am

  26. Bravo to johnnyonline!! I love you!

    Didi

    March 22, 2009 at 12:27 pm

  27. Antonio,

    I love you too!!

    Didi

    March 22, 2009 at 12:29 pm

  28. Sounds like the “Blame the Jews’ ‘Blame the anglos’ “Blame les autres’ for everything in Quebec. The French Catholic church created and promoted the ‘anglo devil’ and their flock followed blindly. It’s always easier to ‘blame’ an ‘autres’ than it is to take the time to embrace one another as human beings – and recognizing that ‘differences’ can enhance a society – just like a variety of flowers in a garden do. I think ‘God’ got it right – but humans as yet – don’t get It. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you… is not a bad thing.

    The numbers of people killing in God’s name is astounding! What are they thinking? Don’t they know that in destroying their brothers and sisters they destroy themselves?

    Racism – discrimination – nationalism – ethnic cleansing – religious superiority etc..- ALWAYS ends in failure. Sadly oftentimes, not before it devastates the innocents.

    Didi

    March 22, 2009 at 12:53 pm

  29. I disagree with “I think I mentioned something elsewhere on this blog about monolingual English speakers being some of the most isolated people on the planet…”

    I think unlingual francophones – are most probably the most isolated people on the planet – because learning another language is ‘frowned upon’ by the government. They are therefore isolated from the rest of the world that uses English as the universal language of business.

    A good majority of Canadians come from immigrant backgrounds and while their second language may not be French – they most often speak and/or understand the language of their ancestors. And a good majority of them embrace the learning of other languages – including French – because they recognize the benefits of being multilingual.

    Didi

    March 22, 2009 at 1:05 pm

  30. Didi—no arguments on the benefits of being multilingual.

    Check out StatCan. If I am not mistaken, about forty percent of Québec Francophones say they can conduct a conversation in English, while ten percent of Anglophones in the ROC say they can hold a conversation in French. I once saw where someone wrote that Québec is de jure monolingual but de facto bilingual, while the ROC (NB perhaps excepted) is de jure bilingual but de facto monolingual. I think this is a pretty good analysis. If the government of Québec is trying to prevent its Franco citizens from learning English, I suggest that it is failing to do so.

    I think that monolingual Francos are isolated too, but differently from monolingual Anglos. Because English is spoken as a second language in so many places, many monolingual Anglos believe they know all about the people in those places, but they are in fact isolated from them because those people can effectively hide their thoughts by using their home language. So the picture monolingual Anglos get is skewed and erroneous.

    Incidentally, I would never equate the inability to learn another language with ignorance. I have an acquaintance who came to this country (US) from Mexico a few years ago, and the only way I can communicate with him properly is by using my crummy Spanish, because although he is bright he just can’t seem to learn English. That fact does not make life any easier for him here, what with 99 percent of the non-Hispanics he encounters effectively “isolated” from him by their inability to speak his home language.

    littlerob

    March 22, 2009 at 3:07 pm


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