AngryFrenchGuy

Acadians and Using Language Politics to Avoid Speeding Tickets

with 91 comments

Acadian Congress

Like most well informed Québécois passionate about North American Francophonie, I know just about nothing about the Acadians.

Acadie is a State of Mind of a Nation of about half a million French-speaking people spread around at least five canadian provinces and a couple of american states who’s history and culture is completely different from Québec’s.  They came over from a different part of France at a different time in history and are extremely proud about their distinct heritage.  The Québécois don’t know or care about this and just assume  they’re some families from Beloeil who got lost on their way to Cape Cod.

In that way, Acadie is to Québec what Canada is to the United States.

All I know about Acadie I learned from my sister who figured out she could skip Cegep and graduate a year early by going to the Université de Moncton, the only major French language university in Canada outside Québec.

(Here’s another cool Acacheat: Because New-Brunswick is Canada’s only officially billingual province police officers must address you in the official language of your choice, but a significant number of Anglo cops don’t actually speak French.  Next time you are pulled over for speeding in NB, politely but firmly demand to speak French and the the policeman will legally be obligated to radio in a colleage to give you your ticket.  He is more likely to let you off with an (English) warning.)

My sister spent five years living among the Acadians, learning their stories and their language, Shiak, a blend of French and English.  (Which, of course,  is completely different from Québec’s Joual which is a mix of English in French).  She also learned the difference between an Acadian and a Brayon and the strange diet of this strange place wher poutine has nothing to do with cheese and gravy.

She told me about how there weren’t many Québécois at the Université de Moncton except for hockey players on scholarships.  Apparently Acadians can’t skate.   Who knew?  There were a lot of Franco-Canadians from other provinces, however.  Many militant Francos who wanted to study in French but were extremely bitter over Québec wanting to separate from Canada and the Québécois’ tendency to treat French culture outside their province as moribund, or, in the words of author Yves Beauchemin, as a still warm corpse.   Francos from the strangest places–Yukon and a village in Alberta eight hours north of Edmonton–travelled thousands of miles to Moncton specifically because they didn’t want to study in Québec.

There were also kids from France, Gabon, Mali and Luxemburg and today, even though Moncton is still a mostly English-speaking town, most immigrants and newcomers are part of the French-speaking community.  That’s Acadia succeeding where Québec still struggles.

At my sister’s graduation the valedictorian was an algerian Berber who’s life as an emmigrant had actually started in Glasgow.  (You can just imagine the scene when he arrived in New-Brunswick and some bureaucrat decided he couldn’t possibly be speaking English because of his scottish accent and sent him to French school.)  To this day he wears an Acadian flag pin–a France flag with a yellow star in the corner–on his vest when he teaches math at the École de Technologie Supérieure engineering school in Montreal.

Oh Yeah…   just about every single one of my sister’s acadian friends are now living in Montréal because it turns these militant Francos figured out you can’t work in French anywhere except in Québec.

Respect Acadie.  Nous Vaincrons.

Check out the Acadian National Congress, on now.

Written by angryfrenchguy

August 8, 2009 at 8:51 pm

91 Responses

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  1. “Recently, I read an article about British muslims of Asian origin (Pakistani, Bangladeshi, etc…). Born and bred in the UK, they speak English as their first language (with typical British accents), yet after being told countless times by the Brits that they don’t really belong, they turn to their country of origin. That’s until they realize that people in their own country don’t want to have anything to do with them either.”

    That’s a general problem with our unprecedented era of massive emmigration/immigration and mobility. It’s not a bad thing as such, but it has some very deep implications that too many people choose to ignore. The problems of young angry minorities are simplified as a “street gang” problem (see the Villanueva affair in Montreal) or in the case Pakistani Brits, blamed on foreign radical clerics.

    The concensus in Québec is that the British/Canadian multiculturalism approach is dangerous because, although based on good intentions, it tells immigrants and minorities they will always be “others” and encourages them to stay “Mexicans/Italians/Pakistanis/Indians” in Canada.

    Then people are surprised that they are alienated.

    Québec is closer to the French/American model of encouraging people to partake in something common first, before being others.

    Of course, we’ve all been witnesses to how that approach is not perfect either.

    angryfrenchguy

    August 12, 2009 at 10:28 am

  2. Of course, language is a social construct, and it’s as a social construct that it becomes a formant of identity.

    And place, and *its* social construct, is another formant, and people are faced with a choice. But identity is a flexible thing—more flexible than essentialisms admit: people can decline to make a clear choice, even if a clear choice is the only sensible response. It makes a lot of sense to me that some people can be Ontarian first, French second, yet still feel they shouldn’t have to assimilate. Will being Ontarian make you end up assimilating eventually? Yes, just as being Quebecois made the Irish assimilate. But what’s the rush…

    I’m going to use my Zionist analogy again, and I suspect it’s already tried your patience Acajack (to judge from my blog logs :-) , but: not everyone can do aliyah. Not everyone thinks exile from their gentile home is worth it in order to be restored to the Homeland of the francophone people in North America—*especially* in the absence of a strong Nouvelle-Francian or Laurentian identity binding them together with the Quebecois. I guess some do do aliyah. Though from what is being said here, not all of them do it as a conscious “act of return”. And some won’t.

    That doesn’t mean Frenchness is immaterial to them, and they’ll stop speaking French tomorrow. But “inconsistent and unrealistic”? That’s harsh, given the dislocation they seek to avoid, and that you yourself report. “Complicated and ambivalent”. That’s what it is. Like identity always is.

    This stuff is pretty raw for immigrant offspring, like Fon, Allophone—and me. I go to Greece every four years, and I *am* that Jake from Welland guy—or rather, that British Pakistani in Pakistan that Allophone describes. It’s a very unnerving realisation that your heritage homeland is alien to you; and it fosters a jolt of indignation. I assume it’s a very different indignation to the more-royalist-than-the-king anglophilia of the already-assimilated French Canadians: its complex is inferiority, not superiority.

    That’s not Quebec’s problem—they’re Hors de, and Quebec is not beholden to them, nor should its self-determination be held ransom for them. It isn’t AFG’s problem either: he has an identity he’s comfortable with (well, inasmuch as any of us do). And the Hors de’s identity battles are not his identity battles to shoulder.

    Still, I wonder what Jake from Welland thinks these days. Hard to predict which way that will end up…

    Nick Nicholas

    August 12, 2009 at 10:57 am

  3. The Muslims in the UK probably deal with their problems by “sticking together”. This is how I deal with it. 10-15 years ago, I had friends from very diverse backgrounds. Today, most of them are European expats.

    I recently visited a friend in London. He’s of Slovakian origin, lived in Montreal from 1991 to 2004, and then moved to the UK. I quickly realized that all his friends in London were Slovakian. So was his fiancée (now wife). I’m sure it’ll be the same with me, when I move there. No question about it.

    The “ghettoization” mentioned before in this thread is a socio-psychological process. People simply choose to stick with people they can relate to. They don’t do it to be mean to Louise Harel, or because they’re rebellious, or because they feel like it. They do it for their own psychological comfort. (I bet Acajack came to Quebec in search of that comfort).

    The similarities between Quebec and the US you brought up are also on point. One similarity is the nationalistic, patriotic, flag waiving attitude not found as much in Canada and UK. You drive down any street in the US, you see a flag virtually on every house. Same in Quebec.
    Another similarity is in the schooling system. My childhood friend immigrated to Chicago with his parents around the same time I came to Quebec with mine. We shared our high school experiences and noticed a lot of parallels. The most striking one was being explicitly forbidden to speak any other language than French for me/English for him in the schoolyard.

    With all its faults, I prefer the British/Canadian model. At least it allows you to remain who you are, even if it creates some psychological dissonance. Of all people, Quebeckers fighting to preserve their identity should understand that.

    allophone

    August 12, 2009 at 11:22 am

  4. Nick,

    Funny thing, I’m neither Muslim nor British, but when I read that article I quickly realized that it was about me.

    allophone

    August 12, 2009 at 11:33 am

  5. Bradford post 2001 riots:

    allophone

    August 12, 2009 at 11:39 am

  6. “You drive down any street in the US, you see a flag virtually on every house. Same in Quebec.”

    Don’t know how much you’ve travelled in English Canada but I’ve been all over Quebec and all over the rest of Canada and have to disagree about the flag thing. You see as many if not more flags in the rest of Canada as you do in Quebec.

    I would generally agree with the rest of your comments on Quebec/U.S. similarities. René Lévesque and many of the other original PQ people were admirers of the Great American Melting Pot and much of what they put in place was designed to create a Québécois version of it in French.

    Acajack

    August 12, 2009 at 11:58 am

  7. Nick:

    “I’m going to use my Zionist analogy again, and I suspect it’s already tried your patience Acajack (to judge from my blog logs :-) , but: not everyone can do aliyah.”

    So you can actually see how often I’ve gone on your blog? Even if I’ve never registered?

    “Not everyone thinks exile from their gentile home is worth it in order to be restored to the Homeland of the francophone people in North America—*especially* in the absence of a strong Nouvelle-Francian or Laurentian identity binding them together with the Quebecois. I guess some do do aliyah. Though from what is being said here, not all of them do it as a conscious “act of return”. And some won’t.”

    There is (to use the Zionist term) a modest aliyah to Quebec by francophones from other provinces. It is not common knowledge (and goes against Canadian orthodoxy that the only movement is anglos OUT of Quebec to flee alleged linguistic oppression), but generally speaking for every 10 anglos that move out of Quebec, there are six, seven or eight (depending on the census period) francophones from the other provinces moving to Quebec. The reasons for doing this are multiple, and range from family, economic, professional and also political and linguistic. Though no one likes to talk much about these last two factors, they are out there. My own federal Member of Parliament Richard Nadeau is part of the separatist Bloc Québécois but he is a Franco-Ontarian born and bred who moved to Quebec in what might be called an “aliyah”-type migration. There have been others as well, including the now-retired Bloc MP for Québec-Est, Jean-Paul Marchand, who was also a Franco-Ontarian.

    Of course, the treatment of francophones outside Quebec cannot really be qualified as oppression (unless the expectation that you speak in English in public most of the time is oppression), and there is not a big disparity in economic conditions between the rest of the country and Quebec. So there is no reason for a widespread “aliyah” movement towards Quebec.

    Some occupations are more prone to it, however. The most striking example are the entertainment and cultural industries, where the vast majority of artists from outside Quebec eventually end up in Montreal. This is also true to some degree of academics.

    “That doesn’t mean Frenchness is immaterial to them, and they’ll stop speaking French tomorrow. But “inconsistent and unrealistic”? That’s harsh, given the dislocation they seek to avoid, and that you yourself report. “Complicated and ambivalent”. That’s what it is. Like identity always is.”

    I am not saying that it isn’t normal to want to avoid dislocation or to feel uprooted when it does happen. What I am talking about is which type of dislocation they are choosing. For Franco-Ontarians from Eastern Ontario to not feel dislocated at all, they would have to stay put. That much is clear.

    But my point is that when they do end up moving somewhere, they choose what appears to be, at first glance at least, the more *alien* of the two main options that are before them: francophone Quebec (from whence their ancestors almost certainly came perhaps just a generation or two ago, BTW) vs. the larger, wholly English-speaking cities of (generally southern) Ontario where francophones are virtually absent.

    It’s as if an Aussie who says he couldn’t possibly live without rugby, Vegemite, meat pies, Neighbours and Home and Away has a choice between moving to New Zealand and Alabama… and chooses Alabama before even giving NZ even a nanosecond of consideration.

    We have said a lot about the differences between francophones in Quebec and those outside the province, and this has maybe led some to believe there are no cultural similarities. In fact, there are many many cultural similarities and the francophone culture consumed by those Franco-Ontarians who are still mainly francophone in their daily lives is largely Quebec-produced.

    Since I’ve done it myself, I can’t deny that moving to Quebec for a francophone from outside Quebec requires an adjustment. It does. But it’s nothing compared to the adjustments millions of people moving around the world have to make every year. You’re still in pretty familiar territory here.

    Acajack

    August 12, 2009 at 12:27 pm

  8. One one rare time I agree with most of what you are saying. I went to school in a nearly all-immigrant school, and although it gave me a more nuanced view of the immigrant experience, I have to admit my close circle of friends, to this day, is made up of other paleo-québécois who went through the same experience.

    I disagree on two things, though.

    1.Like Acajack said, you’re completely wrong on the flag waving issue. There is enough flags and in your face patriotism in Canada to frighten european tourists who come from a place where such nationalism has much more sinister connotations.

    Which brings us to

    2. You might see yourself as a European expat but you do not see the world as a european or Canadian nationalism would make you sick to your stomach. Canadian multiculturalism does not allow you to “be who you are”. Like you said yourself, if you go back to the old country you are not and will never be one of them. Multiculturalism makes you something else. A Canadian with an asterisk or an hyphen. A minority, an immigrant, an other for life, and your kids life and on and on.

    angryfrenchguy

    August 12, 2009 at 1:48 pm

  9. I don’t mean to diss him, but allophone is probably much more *Canadian* than he thinks.

    A lot of people in this debate like to style themselves as dispassionate outsider-type observers, but to be honest it’s almost impossible to be one if you’ve lived in the country for any period of time. Things rub off on you without you even noticing.

    Acajack

    August 12, 2009 at 2:33 pm

  10. In the early 80’s Welland was about 15% francophone. It was the highest proportional concentration of francophones in Southern Ontario. Haven’t seen any more recent data.

    Anonymous

    August 12, 2009 at 3:34 pm

  11. Acajack (hope this indents right):

    > So you can actually see how often I’ve gone on your blog? Even if I’ve never registered?

    No, and I’m only surmising that it was you. What I can see is the search queries that land people at my place (that Feedjit tool in the sidebar); and if the query I noticed was not yours, then you have fans out there. :-)

    There are several nebulous reasons why I’m still here, and one of them is my fascination at how consistently I make the wrong assumptions about Franco-Canada.

    I assumed an aliyah didn’t make sense, because of the differences and lack of Franco-Canadian nation-building. There isn’t much aliyah (by which I explicitly mean culturally or ideologically motivated migration), as you say, for several reasons, including that people walk according to their wallet, that Anglo-Canada is doing somewhat more for its Francophones than it did in 1912, that assimilation is well underway, and that assimilation isn’t oppression as such (although Naimard might have another POV on that). But clearly there is some.

    And of course I underestimated the cultural similarities; that’s why I hesitated and said Laurentian (which is the name for Quebecois French distinguishing it from Acadian, no?), because I realised that Franco-Ontario is just two or three generations removed from Quebec. Hadn’t factored in Quebec popular and elite culture as an ongoing bond.

    But cultural proximity isn’t reason enough to prefer Quebec to South Ontario. The closer two cultures are, the more keenly they can see each other’s differences. Especially since when you’re forming an identity (in the absence of nation-building), your neighbour is who you define yourself against first.

    To use analogies from me: Australians have long defined themselves in opposition to the English. Living for three years in the States made me realise how close Australian and English temperaments really are, from the perspective of an American. (A good Greek friend described me once as “looks like a Greek greengrocer, but is culturally British”.) And 27 years of American pop culture did not prepare me for the culture shock of living in LA. (“You mean, they really *do* buy their newspapers here out of boxes?”)

    And because people inflate small cultural differences in the pursuit of identity, especially given the anxiety in Anglo-Canada about Quebec that they too partake in, I’m not surprised that people would choose South Ontario or New Brunswick to Quebec. The reasoning is, I’ll be displaced anyway, semi-exile is no better than hemi-demi-exile. Objectively, the reasoning is faulty; but identity construction is not a rational process.

    NZ and Alabama? I think London and LA are a better analogy; but I also suspect most Australians would assume, incorrectly, that NZ is as alien as Alabama. Partly out of ignorance (which I hope to remedy this summer), partly out of familiarity, and the same inflation of distinctiveness.

    Nick Nicholas

    August 12, 2009 at 7:18 pm

  12. Nope, my reply did not indent right. See above…

    Nick Nicholas

    August 12, 2009 at 7:19 pm

  13. I really wish someone would explain to me what is so different between the American “melting-pot” and Canadian multiculturalism. As far as I can tell, the only difference is in the way it’s presented by politicians; I can’t see any difference at all in terms of concrete policy. Everyone effectively has to learn English to survive on the job market and all public services are only available in English including schools (let’s forget French here for the sake of the argument–it hardly matters for the typical immigrant in Toronto). I strongly suspect (although I haven’t seen any statistics on the subject–if you know of any let me know) that assimilation rates are very similar between the two countries. If anything it might be higher in Canada due to the large, reasonably sustainable Latin American community in the US.

    fred

    August 12, 2009 at 7:24 pm

  14. Re: Acajack and fitting in.

    I’m an anglo Quebecer and there’s only one place in the world I feel comfortable: Montreal.

    It’s great where I am now but it’s not home.

    Tony Kondaks

    August 12, 2009 at 10:31 pm

  15. “No, and I’m only surmising that it was you. What I can see is the search queries that land people at my place (that Feedjit tool in the sidebar); and if the query I noticed was not yours, then you have fans out there. :-)”

    I can confirm people end up on this blog searching for Acajack. He does have his fans out there.

    angryfrenchguy

    August 12, 2009 at 10:49 pm

  16. And deservedly so. Sorry to freak you out there, ACJ.

    Nick Nicholas

    August 12, 2009 at 10:56 pm

  17. (blush)

    Acajack

    August 13, 2009 at 8:24 am

  18. Acajack, it’s not a bad translation at all–between two chairs is pretty universal to pretty much all cultures that use chairs. Some cultures even talk about falling between two chairs on your bum on the floor. ;)

    I know exactly what that feeling is. You feel that you belong, but not quite as much as the natives. Yet, when you go back home, it doesn’t feel the same anymore, either. It can be a bitter feeling, but there is nothing wrong with it. Having a national identity is secondary to having a personal identity. ;)

    In my case, it is rather funny (and useful, too): I enjoy La P’tite Vie and Un gars une fille just as much as I enjoy Corner Gas and the Colbert Report. Just yesterday, someone called me a Québécois. I said I wasn’t one, and that it is only because I embraced the local culture so well that I could easily pretend to be one. The way you behave around people doesn’t define your identity. I have my identity and it is most likely never going to change. But I do belong to Québec–just not the way a “pure laine” would. But they can’t tell the difference, so it’s all good.

    AngryFrenchGirl

    August 13, 2009 at 11:00 am

  19. It’s about the direction in which you look.

    Multicultuarlism is about looking back. Looking at peoples cultures and trying to preserve (a very bad facsimili) of that heritage.

    The melting pot is about looking forward. Sure we all have different histories and backgrounds. But where are we going from here, brothers and sisters?

    angryfrenchguy

    August 13, 2009 at 11:19 am

  20. 31% of the population (or over 550,000 people) of Montreal were immigrants in 2006 (this percentage probably went up slightly since then–of the 45,000 immigrants that land in the province each year, 85% elect to settle in Montreal). And this doesn’t yet include non-permanent residents and people who immigrated to Quebec from other Canadian provinces (that would be another 6% of the population, or about 112,000 people). There is an immigrant for every two “native” Québécois. If that is a very low percentage for you, I wonder what you would consider a high percentage…

    See here (slide 12): http://ville.montreal.qc.ca/pls/portal/docs/PAGE/MTL_STATISTIQUES_FR/MEDIA/DOCUMENTS/AGGLOM%C9RATION%20DE%20MONTR%C9AL_MAI%2009.PDF

    In any case, I personally have nothing against immigrant presence, it is the ghettoes that bother me, especially those ghettoes that belong to cultures that wear uniforms. Been to Rockland shopping center lately? Go take a look–you’ll see what bothers me about ghettoes. I swear I had the feeling that somehow, wearing a wig and a long skirt would have gotten me past the cash register faster…

    I just don’t feel comfortable in an environment where I have to constantly adjust to other cultures that refuse to adjust to the local culture. I don’t have a problem with immigrants per se, but I do have a problem with immigrants not integrating.

    AngryFrenchGirl

    August 13, 2009 at 11:49 am

  21. I also disagree with the flag-waving issue, except in cases where a neighbourhood is very mixed, where neither the English-speaking nor the French-speaking are a majority, and where ethnic minorities are a very small minority. In Verdun, for example, I see both the maple leaf and the fleur de lys proudly floating in residential streets (although there are never more than three flags on any street section). I guess this is due to the fact that opposed political affiliations live close together. The disagreements tend to be more visible, hence people’s propensity to display their allegiances.

    AngryFrenchGirl

    August 13, 2009 at 12:03 pm

  22. AngryFrench(?)Girl:

    “Acajack, it’s not a bad translation at all–between two chairs is pretty universal to pretty much all cultures that use chairs. Some cultures even talk about falling between two chairs on your bum on the floor. ;)
    I know exactly what that feeling is. You feel that you belong, but not quite as much as the natives. Yet, when you go back home, it doesn’t feel the same anymore, either. It can be a bitter feeling, but there is nothing wrong with it. Having a national identity is secondary to having a personal identity. ;)

    In my case, it is rather funny (and useful, too): I enjoy La P’tite Vie and Un gars une fille just as much as I enjoy Corner Gas and the Colbert Report. Just yesterday, someone called me a Québécois. I said I wasn’t one, and that it is only because I embraced the local culture so well that I could easily pretend to be one. The way you behave around people doesn’t define your identity. I have my identity and it is most likely never going to change. But I do belong to Québec–just not the way a “pure laine” would. But they can’t tell the difference, so it’s all good.”

    I get that too, except that I don’t generally correct people and tell them I am not Québécois. (Though I realize you may have your own valid reasons for point that out to them.) To me, it’s a sincere form of acceptance and inclusion, so why should I push back on it?

    Not sure about you, but both my wife and I have both first and second names that sound very francophone Québécois, so that no doubt helps us pass as “paléos”.

    Despite the fact I described myself earlier as a hopeless case that could never feel 100% at home anywhere, I do feel much more at home in Quebec than any other place I have ever lived. Not bad for what started off as an experiment by my wife and I (both FHQs) to see what it would be like to live 100% of our lives (or at least as close as possible to 100%) all in French.

    Acajack

    August 13, 2009 at 12:29 pm

  23. I agree with you, I have a problem with non-integration as well. It’s gotten to the point where I sometimes say to strangers ‘Listen jerk, every time you speak to me in English you are making it harder for me to integrate.’ :-)

    But what do you mean about wearing a wig and a long skirt? (does this refer to muslims? bien-être social (BS)? evangelicals?)

    Thomas Dean Nordlum

    August 13, 2009 at 2:14 pm

  24. I agree with this “in theory”. It’s just that I have a very hard time seeing how Canadian multiculturalism is anything more than a talking point to have something to answer someone who asks “what’s the difference about the US and Canada anyway?”. For something like multiculturalism to have any effect in the real world, it has to be implemented through concrete policies. Telling, say, Italian-Canadians that they’re welcome to keep their culture doesn’t mean much when the CRTC does its very best to keep RAI from broadcasting here. And when concrete implementations of multiculturalism are proposed, Canadians generally reject them (example: John Tory’s religious school funding proposal in the last Ontario election).

    Note that I’m not fan of multiculturalism (the real thing) by any means and much prefer the melting pot approach. The thing is that it seems to me that that’s what Canada already has and are just much more hypocritical about it than Americans (or Quebecers) are.

    fred

    August 13, 2009 at 8:08 pm

  25. “Note that I’m a fan” -> “Not that I’m a fan”. Now that was a beautiful typo!

    fred

    August 13, 2009 at 8:09 pm

  26. Thomas Dean Nordlum: “bien-être social (BS)?”

    Well, there’s one guy who has adapted to his surroundings very quickly! ;-))

    Acajack

    August 13, 2009 at 9:33 pm

  27. Multiculturalism is the Australian Left’s sacred cow too, so of course I shall object. With all due respects &c, and I know AFG is not the enemy, even if it is my sacred cow. Popping the reax below.

    Nick Nicholas

    August 13, 2009 at 10:07 pm

  28. 1. AFG’s summary is one view of multiculturalism, and I have another. Allowing that (as AFG has conceded) there are problems with realising both visions. But:

    Melting pot is the notion that your participation in the country is conditional on your acceptance and internalisation of the culture of the majority. The majority culture may have shifted because of the new place and new fellow citizens; but it still expects cohesion on its own terms.

    Multiculturalism is the project of reducing the conditions for participation in the country. Not to zero, and the allowing a reduction to zero is a real problem throughout the world. Not without requirements on you, including the acceptance that you’re not in Kansas anymore (or Riyadh, or Athens). But it is supposed to let you participate in the country, without having to take off your hijab; so long as you in turn accept that you can’t do clitoridectomy or honour killings. (To take the obvious flashpoint.) It seeks integration (or it should); it doesn’t seek assimilation (although usually that will happen eventually).

    It’s a subtle negotiation, that requires leadership and not platitudes, because the aim is still participation in national life. But for my part, I love Australia—not because of damper and bushrangers, certainly not because of genocide and the Crown, but because it is home. And I’ll be damned if any Anglo-Australian tells me it isn’t my home because I don’t follow the footy and haven’t eaten a meat pie in years.

    (I don’t mind Vegemite. Although I first ate it as an adult.)

    Nick Nicholas

    August 13, 2009 at 10:10 pm

  29. 2. There are limits to how much assimilating the melting point dares venture. In the 17th century, it went without question that you had to adopt not only the majority culture, but the majority religion. The US was founded as a challenge to that notion, and though it was still Protestant Country for a long time, it stuck by the principle of separation of church and state. So it’s not like the melting pot is immune from negotiation.

    Or from unpleasant power dynamics. “Brothers and sisters?” Brotherhood implies more parity than a melting pot programme can allow. To make the Quebecois maîtres chez eux is to reassert Francophone control of your polity. Which I do not think illegitimate, at all. And I agree that if you live in Deepest Darkest West Montreal, it is incumbent on you to default to French where it makes sense to. (That’s a question in itself, of course.)

    But that’s not “where to from here, brothers and sisters”. That’s “follow our lead”. And Eric Amber (to grab a random angryphone) does not consider you his brother.

    He has to if he sticks around, I accept that; you all have to build a society together, and the majority has rights too, and the Quebec political establishment knows that it’s a long and delicate negotiation.

    … Course, one can always say the same about the Canadian Confederation.

    Nick Nicholas

    August 13, 2009 at 10:11 pm

  30. 3. I know AFG knows better than the essentialism lurking behind his phrase “bad facsimile”, and I’m attacking a strawman here, but still, it’s wrong. Yiddishkeit is not a bad facsimile of 2nd century Palestine, and for that matter Quebecness is not a bad facsimile of 16th century Normandy. Diasporas generate new cultures, and the melting point of culture impedes the formation of those new cultures. Cultural diversity may not be a goal in itself, particularly if you worry about the cohesion of your country. But the US melting pot left African Americans out; and would the world have been a better place without a distinctive African American culture? For that matter, would Australia be a better place if it remained monocultural?

    (With the proviso that the only multicultural agenda everyone seems to have signed up to has been cuisine; even in England Anglo mass cuisine is under deserved threat. But it takes more than cuisine to build a new culture.)

    Nick Nicholas

    August 13, 2009 at 10:12 pm


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