AngryFrenchGuy

Canada Joins the Tea Party

with 63 comments

What does American health care reform and the Québec government’s proposed bill 94 have in common?

Why, they’re both collectivist ploys to take away your rights and guns, of course!

This morning the Montreal Gazette prints an editorial in which it argues that bill 94, a proposed rule that would require citizens to show their faces before receiving government services, is nothing short of an attack on human rights:

On July 1 1960, proposing his Bill of Rights in Parliament, Diefenbaker concluded with these much-quoted words: “I am a Canadian, a free Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship God in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and for all mankind.”

(…)

Quebec’s Bill 94, meanwhile, shows how “collective rights,” even so badly defined as this new right for bureaucrats to see people’s faces, can overrule individual freedom of attire. (…) Basic freedoms keep coming under attack from forces seeking more control over our lives. Ultimately laws and lawyers will not save us unless there is a strong public understanding that the limits on free choice, imposed by mobs or governments or both, will keep growing unless we all resist them.

This is the exact same reasoning the American right and groups like American Majority are currently using to convince people that Obama’s health care reform is only the first step towards the transformation of the USA into a Spanish-speaking slave labour camp:

On March 23, 1775, 235 years ago today, Patrick Henry gave his immortal speech, closing with the lines, “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!”

(…)

I think the American people have a very important choice: are they going to resign themselves to the ever growing chains of government control over their lives, submitting willingly like sheep to acquire some false illusion of peace and prosperity? Or are they going to fight against the forces of statism and push back? That is the great question of the day.

From the defence of the right to hide your face to the government to the discovery, year after year, of illegal religious and linguistic schools who operate in total impunity, civil disobedience by assorted creationists to Québec’s ethics and religious culture high school course (that teaches, G-D forbid!, that all religions carry some wisdom), constant legal challenges to Québec’s elected officials constitutional prerogative to determine the language of education in Québec, the hysterical reaction to the merger of English-speaking municipalities in a united City of Montreal and Louise Harel‘s run for mayor… All this is starting to look more and more like the obscure reaches of the USA where “sovereign citizens” and “tax resisters” oppose the very legitimacy of the democratically elected government.

There seems to be, in Québec, as in the USA, a weird coalition between Anglo Conservatives and various ultraorthodox religious minorities against the very legitimacy of  a State run by people who are not like them.

More than a decade ago, Josée Legault demonstrated in her book L’Invention d’une Minorité how the rhetoric of “individual rights” was highjacked by so-called activists to defend the “collective right” of Québec’s english-speaking minority to opt-out of Québec institutions and build their parallel network of (fully subsidised) institutions.

Today a new cast of minorities: ultra-catholics, orthodox Muslims and and uniformed Jews, are re-enacting the fight for the right to opt-out of Québec society with full compensation, play-by-play, with English-Canada’s elites cheering them on.

That’s no surprise.  The English-Canadian media has been able to come up with arguments for surprising shit, from segregation to organized crime and now to giving self-appointed clerics veto power over the laws of the land, as long as it’s been able to squeeze an argument against the legitimacy of Québec’s government and it’s democratically elected officials out of it.

In that way they are no different than American Tea Party leaders who welcome anyone, from Birthers, to Minutemen and the Militia movement to their rallies, just as long as they oppose The Government.

The good news is that the vast majority of English-Canadians agree their media elites are idiots.

Written by angryfrenchguy

March 29, 2010 at 12:17 pm

63 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. AFG surprises. I was expecting a new post about Quebec bashing being the death of the NB Power deal. Or something about the French resistance.

    Well done. :) Maybe your blog thingy really isn’t a schtick.

    IslandJohn

    March 29, 2010 at 12:54 pm

  2. ”the hysterical reaction to the municipal mergers in Montreal and Louise Harel’s run for mayor… ”

    Too bad the mergers were never put forward in the PQ’s electoral platform, had it been the case they would have been defeated and there would not have been any mergers to de-merge.

    But when AFG points to hysterical reactions amongst those he chooses to admonish, he is clearly in the camp of ”l’arroseur arrosé”

    Dave

    March 29, 2010 at 12:54 pm

  3. Le Canada anglais est culturellement incapable de reconnaitre que quelquechose de bon puisse émaner du Québec. Le simple fait d’entendre parler du Québec les mets sur la défensive. Alors si nos débats remettent en cause leurs dogmes, nous devenons dangereux. Faut voir comment ils remettent ca dans le Star et le Globe and Mail d’aujourd’hui. On y lit par exemple que le Quebec vivrait une véritable crise d’hystérie collective a propos du voile intégral. Hystérie? Collective? Hum…Montréal m’apparait bien calme cet apres-midi.Des débats tres civilisés ont lieu sur la laicité tous les jours. S’il y a hystérie, c’est pas du coté du Québec qu’il faut regarder. Car c’est nous que l’on décrit comme extrémistes, xénophobes, talibans. Par une curieuse gymnastique intellectuelle basée sur la grande sagesse anglo-saxonne, notre société serait agressive répressive et régressive. Qu’on se le tienne pour dit: ne touchez pas aux illusions du ROC, ne venez pas briser la magie de leur conte de fées..

    midnightjack

    March 29, 2010 at 2:59 pm

  4. Je crois que M. Jacquesminuit généralise un peu trop sur le compte du ROC. La vaste majorité au ROC est complètement d’accord avec la politique québécoise sur le niqab.Mais il suffit que quelques commentateurs soient offusqués et voilà que la théorie que le Canada nous hait refait surface et confirme la nécessité de déclarer l’indépendance.

    Tout comme le ROC est ultrasensible aux commentaires américains sur eux, les Québécois portent en général trop d’attention aux chroniqueurs du ROC.

    Ne venez surtout pas toucher aux illusions que les Canadiens anglais ne sont incapables de nous accepter tel que nous sommes.

    Dave

    March 29, 2010 at 6:42 pm

  5. edward

    March 29, 2010 at 6:47 pm

  6. Soon we will have BOTH the the right to receive medical treatment without going bankrupt AND the right to see the faces of women who try to hide them.

    Both the US and Quebec should be proud of their achievements!

    edward

    March 29, 2010 at 7:04 pm

  7. “Soon we will have BOTH the the right to receive medical treatment without going bankrupt AND the right to see the faces of women who try to hide them.

    Both the US and Quebec should be proud of their achievements!”

    Tell that to the people that are in the hallways of the ER units in Canada (for two days or more in Quebec and likely elswhere) or who are on a waiting list for critical illnesses that are not being treated. You know, the Tommy D type of medicine that offers lots of apologies but no timely treatment.

    ABP

    March 29, 2010 at 7:54 pm

  8. Tea party pooper!

    edward

    March 29, 2010 at 8:06 pm

  9. I wonder whether doctors performing operations in our public hospitals will be permitted to cover their faces? ;-p

    edward

    March 29, 2010 at 8:14 pm

  10. But seriously, AFG, what law ever passed doesn’t infringe on somebody’s liberties in some way or other? You might as well include bigamists and NAMBLA in your list of kindred spirits who oppose restrictive government.

    The real question is whether we get something of equal or greater value in exchange for handing over our civil liberties? I for one am quite excited about the prospect of being able to see the dozen or so faces of the naqib-covered Quebec muslims, well worth the struggle and forests of newsprint dedicated to this issue to date.

    I know you’ll say that this is a bigger issue of accommodation and integration. But unfortunately all the bill says is that accommodations have to be reasonable and respect the Charter…oh and by the way we don’t cover our faces here so please be reasonable about that too.

    I think we already knew this. How about providing some firm definitions? Although I am not a huge fan of laïcité at least that would have been a ground-breaking cause worth the fight and something that Quebec could be genuinely proud of having done. Instead we have banned masks.

    edward

    March 29, 2010 at 8:53 pm

  11. “I wonder whether doctors performing operations in our public hospitals will be permitted to cover their faces? ;-p”

    Only with black niquabs, suitably treated as sterile. The color is most appropriate given the available medical treatment in Canada these days.

    ABP

    March 29, 2010 at 11:13 pm

  12. What bothers me about the niqab ban is not that it would ban the niqab — as far as I am concerned that has no more impact on my daily life than a law that forbids bouncing loonies off brick walls on wednesdays during months that begin with J. What bothers me is that it pretends to be some kind of desperately needed, glorious reaffirmation of the rights of the collective, but it is built on the backs of a dozen or so minority women in this province who are simply trying to follow their own cultural traditions.

    Is their right to adhere to their medieval traditions more important than our right to preserve and to build the society we desire? No, absolutely not. That is the very reasonable concept that everyone is rallying behind. No wonder there is widespread support.

    But isn’t it a cynical political move to try to build broad political support by opposing something that 95% of the population considers alien and unnecessary and even distasteful — and the VAST majority of whom have never confronted (and probably will never confront) in their lives?

    If we were to pass 100,000 laws, each to ban some obscure activity that some handful of individuals in our society perform they could probably all pass enthusiastically because the rights of a dozen people to engage in their own weird activities should not overrule the right of the collective to build the society it desires. etc. etc.

    The problem is that one of those 100,000 laws may end up targeting you. The question we should be asking ourselves is what about our society is so worth defending in the first place?

    To me, one of the big ones is our defense of the rights of all individuals to live as they see fit so long as they do not directly harm others in doing so. Chipping away at that, speck by speck – even when each speck seems insignificant – will eventually leave nothing recognizable behind.

    I probably have not articulated this very well, but I think that is what is bugging me about this entire event.

    edward

    March 30, 2010 at 8:04 am

  13. «but it is built on the backs of a dozen or so minority women in this province who are simply trying to follow their own cultural traditions.»

    This is where most of the “laisser-faire” people get this wrong:
    -The burqa, niqab, or even the simple veil, are not inherent to any cultural tradition, or even to Islam. Go to any Islamic society and compare eras. You’ll soon see that such garments are markers for the ambient level of radicalism. (Compare, for example, pictures of Egypt, Iran or Algeria, between the 70’s and now.)

    In such countries, it is whenever radicals get more power in the streets that the pressure for women to cover up increases. And when radical theocratic gvts finally get in power, the 1st thing they do is enact laws to cover all of them.

    A woman refugee to France once explained how, in Algeria, she used to look at the progression in the number of veiled women at the bus stop every morning. When they were more than half, she explained, it was time to move neighbourhoods, because she knew she would start getting harassed for her “non-Islamic behaviour”.

    And it is no different in Western countries.
    Here in Mtl., the number of veiled women in my neighbourhood has exploded this last decade (along with halal shops). Now consider this (true story): There is a shop owner at the corner of my street, who is a non-practising Muslim. He fled from Algeria because of death threats, about a decade ago. He recently admitted to me that he started receiving threats of violence here, last year, because people spotted him eating during last Ramadan.
    This is happening in La Petite Patrie.


    In your vision concerning laïcité, you make 2 mistakes :

    1) You keep insisting that we look only at the individual angle. (A very Anglo-Saxon mistake…)
    -That we should only look at the alleged individual motives for wearing such religious markers; and that we consider only individual rights in restricting them.

    What’s wrong here is that you fail to see how it is communities that push individuals to brand themselves that way. Communities with political goals.
    Plus you fail to see how laïcité is simply about creating common rules for everybody to be able to better get along and mingle, instead of all being morally segregated inside such communities.

    2) In stating that «they are simply trying to follow their traditions», you give a weight to traditions that is unwelcome in modernity.
    -Should traditions dictate individuals’ lives to the point where they are unable to adapt to common rules?
    -Especially, are all traditions legitimate? How about genital mutilations, honour killings, stoning, cannibalism?… Those are also traditions…


    Again, Edward, if you want religions to coexist peacefully, you have to create a climate where they are perceived as a mostly private affair, between individuals and their gods.
    Right now, people are passively, and sometimes actively, encouraging that religions again become social, public, and therefore political, affairs. The simple wearing of a religious marker by an individual is a symbol that they intend for their religious ideology to interfere. Or else they wouldn’t mind taking them off.

    Raman

    March 30, 2010 at 11:46 am

  14. your commentary is corroborated by this analysis by a French feminist of Maghrebin origin.

    In light of all the apoplectic garbage from right-wing prep school twats at the Globe and Heil who like to paint France (as well as Québec) as some kind of living hell for simple good-faith practitioners of Islam and who assimilate Québec to Kandahar (btw have they ever opposed our armed forces supporting the régime behind all these obscurantist laws and dress codes? I don’t remember that), her account is interesting in showing the abject compromission of the authorities in France (as well as what passes for the non-Muslim “left”) and the freedom with which the most retrograde patriarchal practices can be committed against immigrant women and their children, including French nationals.

    Dans le domaine du statut individuel qui régit les relations personnelles (mariage, divorce), les femmes qui vivent en France se voient appliquer par des tribunaux français des législations de leurs pays d’origine.

    De plus en plus de femmes se retrouvent répudiées au pays d’origine par le mari qui prononce la formule magique trois fois (comme le veut la charia), et ce dernier n’a plus qu’à la faire valider par exequatur en France pour que la femme se retrouve répudiée selon le droit musulman, et surtout spoliée de tous ses droits, en matière de logement, d’autorité parentale, voire de garde d’enfants. Cela ne date pas d’aujourd’hui. En 1990, une jeune Marocaine âgée de 26 ans, habitant La Courneuve, s’est vue enlever ses quatre enfants, tous de nationalité française, par le père au Maroc, qui jugeait que sa femme montrait des idées d’indépendance. Répudiée au pays, le tribunal a donné la garde au père. La juridiction française n’a fait qu’entériner la décision marocaine, malgré une enquête sociale favorable à la mère.

    http://sisyphe.org/article.php3?id_article=1458

    James

    March 30, 2010 at 12:17 pm

  15. Anglo-Saxon arguments on this issue are nothing but a very shaky pile of intellectual fallacies.

    1. Rarity fallacy: Very few women wear the niqab, hence it doesn’t matter.

    Hey, very few people don’t recognize drunk driving laws. Why don’t you just let them be?

    Or, more appropriately: Few people go to university wearing Nazi uniforms and almost no one demands to only be served by white Christian men who own land and speak pitch perfect North American Vernacular French. Why not be tolerant and accommodate these people?

    2.The tradition fallacy: It’s their tradition, hence it’s OK.

    Shit, letting celibate priests fondle children has a long tradition in Québec and other Catholic countries.

    3.It’s an issue of INDIVIDUAL rights.

    No it isn’t!

    A woman can wear her niqab all day, but she has no veto power over any official’s demand that she uncover her face for security or identification purpose.

    EVERYBODY’s INDIVIDUAL right to cover their faces is limited sometimes. Membership in a given GROUP does not give anyone a COLLECTIVE PRIVILEGE to pick and choose what rules apply to you.

    4. Of course, the Slippery Slope fallacy, of which the above quoted Gazette editorial is a classic example.

    angryfrenchguy

    March 30, 2010 at 12:33 pm

  16. What I find crazy is how those things progress — slowly but surely — toward normalization.

    Not so long ago, people discovered in shock and outrage the treatment of women in Afghanistan.

    Now, in the name of liberty and what not, we should “respect” the burqa in Montreal as a harmless cultural prerogative. (Some will even go further and rationalize it as an expression of feminism…)

    Recently, Islamists tried to burn an Algerian woman alive in the streets of Paris, after weeks of calling her a whore and a Jew, because she made a theatre play that was considered un-Islamic…
    -Burn her alive… IN PARIS !!!

    http://www.mediapart.fr/club/blog/pierre-puchot/140110/paris-une-auteure-de-theatre-algerienne-agressee-et-aspergee-d-essenc

    And you know what, it all seems normal in this brave new world.

    Raman

    March 30, 2010 at 12:40 pm

  17. Rarity fallacy: Very few women wear the niqab, hence it doesn’t matter.

    btw, I’ve lost count of all the times I’ve heard people – and by no means only “anglo-saxons” – claim that virtually nobody in Québec wears the veil, and then argue *in practically the same breath* that its interdiction in the public service would be a grievous hindrance to the integration of immigrant women into the job market.

    ?!

    another one I hear (from the same elements, typically) is that people who wear the veil do so by choice. Which I am prepared to believe just as I believe the claim about the small number wearing it. But if it’s a matter of choice, I can’t think of a better way of illustrating that than someone *choosing* not to wear it for the 7 hrs a day they’re being paid a respectable salary and benefits by society at large to exercise a public function which does not include the practice and proselytizing of their religion.

    these are 2 of the arguments I hear the most often, and which completely contradict the thesis they’re supposed to support.

    Feminist Micheline Carrier points out the hypocrisy that this right to « afficher ses croyances personnelles » doesn’t extend to the political realm for civil servants:

    Selon les propos du premier ministre et de la ministre de la Justice, le fait d’afficher ses croyances religieuses personnelles n’empêche pas le professionnalisme ni l’impartialité chez les employé-es de l’État. Un statut particulier accordé aux croyances religieuses et dont ne jouissent pas les convictions politiques, car la loi de la fonction publique interdit explicitement aux employé-es de l’État d’afficher leurs préférences politiques. Le choix du gouvernement confirme donc la primauté qu’il accorde à la religion, tout en se prétendant neutre.

    http://sisyphe.org/spip.php?article3566

    So how come I can’t don an ADQ Tshirt while reading the Téléjournal?

    And en passant, if I was ever offered the one-time opportunity to read the Téléjournal, I would don an ADQ tshirt, for the sheer pleasure of seeing the shockwaves it would send through the latté left viewership of the Plateau, and for watching Prof. Weinstock and Mère Thérésa David publicly register their protest against the « affichage de mes croyances personnelles » faster than you can say « cégep st-laurent».

    James

    March 30, 2010 at 1:44 pm

  18. «le fait d’afficher ses croyances religieuses personnelles n’empêche pas le professionnalisme ni l’impartialité chez les employé-es de l’État.»

    Claiming that it is impossible for you to ever take off your religious signs, in any circumstance, does not rhyme with the capacity to put your religious opinions aside and be impartial.

    Raman

    March 30, 2010 at 1:50 pm

  19. Here is a very interesting (though rather long) conversation between Irshad Manji and Salman Rushdy. It is interesting on many levels, as it deals with Islam’s history and values, about the progression of radicalism, the way the West answers and deals with it (and Rushdy would know…), as well as with the progression of identity politics in general.

    The latter concept is particularly interesting here, as we discuss how individual rights are used to further advance communitarian political goals.
    [Analyzing the right to wear a veil or a burqa strictly in terms of the individual’s rights is missing this zeppelin completely.]

    Raman

    March 30, 2010 at 2:36 pm

  20. You all make excellent points.

    I agree with Raman and AFG about the “tradition fallacy”, that many traditions (and the niqab may indeed be one of these) do not deserve to be tolerated or even permitted.

    However the “rarity fallacy” misses the point. That the bill only affects a small number of muslim women is important, not because the small number makes it a futile exercise (your analogy to drunk driving), but because the small number makes it too easy. In this sense your drunk driving analogy may be unintentionally apt, in that you can pass the most excessive punitive measures against drunk drivers — drive drunk (but hurt nobody) and your car and license will be unceremoniously taken away from you and you may even spend time in jail– and almost nobody would stand up in their defense. The assumption is that drunk drivers are simply murderers-to-be.

    This also invalidates your slippery slope fallacy complaint. It is only a “slippery slope” if our concern is what might come next. My point here is that if you happen to be one of that group that has been targeted then you are ALREADY being bullied by the majority. No slippery slope needed to reach the bottom.

    As for the individual rights issue, I think here we are confounding many different issues. I don’t take issue with requiring everyone show his face for identification in situations for which a photo ID is used for identification. This is only common sense. This would include going to the RAMQ, voting, going to court etc. However I see no need to include taking French lessons or riding the bus here.

    If “slippery slopes” constitute a fallacy, then surely the idea that allowing women to cover their faces will naturally lead to public lapidation and burnings meets that definition.

    I do share your fears about the possibility of fundamentalism taking hold in our society and restricting our liberty, but I would rather target the specific acts that attempt to harm us rather than the symbols of the groups, some of whose members may one day consider attempting to harm us.

    edward

    March 30, 2010 at 10:16 pm

  21. “Ultimately laws and lawyers will not save us unless there is a strong public understanding that the limits on free choice, imposed by mobs or governments or both, will keep growing unless we all resist them.”

    well i am as favourably impressed by that gazette editorial as i am by edward “the consistent” whose words in the previous post are about as civilised as they get. how does this guy keep pulling amazing things out of the hat – despite his political leanings?

    courage edward – it is not an oncoming train at the end of the tunnel.

    “For too many years my edacious reading habits had been leading me into one unappealing corner after another, dank cul-de-sacs littered with tear-stained diaries, empty pill bottles, bulging briefcases, broken vows, humdrum phrases, sociological swab samples, and the (lovely?) bones of dismembered children.”
    Tom Robbins; In Defiance of Gravity; Harper’s (New York); Sep 2004

    johnnyonline

    March 30, 2010 at 11:05 pm

  22. “Plus you fail to see how laïcité is simply about creating common rules for everybody to be able to better get along and mingle, instead of all being morally segregated inside such communities.”

    It is a nice dream. But I frankly doubt your sincere dedication to the cause. Would you give up Christian holidays like Easter and Christmas as days off from work? Remove the cross from the Quebec flag?

    How can we hold on to outdated symbols of our heritage which clearly exclude those who don’t share that heritage and then claim to be creating common rules for everybody to be able to better get along and mingle. How can you criticize a man as imposing his religion on you for simply wearing a yarmulkah in a government office when that same office flies a huge flag with a white cross on it?

    Just how far are you really willing to go in the interests of getting along?

    edward

    March 30, 2010 at 11:55 pm

  23. Would you give up Christian holidays like Easter and Christmas as days off from work?

    Oh, he’s got you there, Raman. This whole “stat holiday” is another invention of the dhimmi imperialists and cultural chauvinists. As we can see from this list of the states with the greatest number of official holidays presented in descending order, starting with… China/Hong Kong, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Morocco, Malaysia, South Korea,
    Chile, Turkey, et ainsi de suite…

    http://www.tourism-review.com/article/1665-top-10-countries-having-highest-number-of-public-holidays

    James

    March 31, 2010 at 12:22 am

  24. Not sure what your point is James. In places like India they get BOTH muslim and hindu holidays. Imagine the outrage if people were to ask for that here!!!

    All I’m saying is that our society has for historical and cultural reasons adopted a number of blatantly Christian customs. One of these is a Christmas holiday from work. So when one starts discussing laïcité in a place like Canada, is it not with the underlying assumption that Muslim and Jewish elements will be barred and Christian ones will be adopted by everyone for convenience?

    I’m not advocating changing the status quo — I like having Christmas holiday though I wouldn’t complain about having a few muslim holidays too — but rather pointing out that Christianity is part of our cultural heritage and has left many such traces. Are we prepared to wipe those clean in the interests of “creating common rules for everybody to be able to better get along and mingle”.

    I already can hear outcries of unreasonable accommodation (and I agree). But then let’s not pretend we’re eliminating all traces of religion from our public institutions. We’re eliminating all traces of non-Christian religion from our public institutions.

    edward

    March 31, 2010 at 6:03 am

  25. midnightjack

    March 31, 2010 at 7:57 am

  26. Not sure what your point is James. In places like India they get BOTH muslim and hindu holidays. Imagine the outrage if people were to ask for that here!!!

    in places like India there are 100’s of millions of Hindus and 100’s of millions of Muslims, together comprising the quasi-totality of the population. I’ll bet there’s a causal relationship there.

    So their holidays reflect their culture and heritage, rather like our holidays reflect ours. Oh, scandale!!

    I know what your point is. It’s the same inane point you’re always making. (and don’t be pissing on Quebecor over all the trees they killed on this question because you’ve probably used more bandwidth than NASA and the Library of Congress combined).

    Your “point” is this: that it’s somehow only in Québec that the mere presence of religious patrimony is an affront to minorities, that it’s only in Québec – and not, say, upstate New York or Anatolia – that it’s aggression and bullying to name a street or a town after saints (a 100 fucking years ago, typically…), and it’s only here that having holidays reflecting the population’s heritage is cultural chauvinsm and a mockery of secularism.

    Not anywhere else, just here.

    Put your CV in at the Globe, why dontcha.

    James

    March 31, 2010 at 9:12 am

  27. “How can you criticize a man as imposing his religion on you for simply wearing a yarmulkah in a government office when that same office flies a huge flag with a white cross on it?”

    I think here the “effect on other people” should apply. A yarmulkah, of a hijab or a turban do not impose anything on other people, therefore should be tolerated in public space. (As religious uniforms, they remain totally inapropriate for judges, cops, and maybe even anyone on State payroll.)

    The Niqab, however, demands that other people change their expectations about how they identify and communicate with others. The kirpan is a straight up violation of the very sensible rule that forbids weapons in school.

    I don’t know about y’all, but none of this sounds THAT morally complicated to me.

    (As for the flag, The Patriots had that problem solved over one hundred years ago…)

    angryfrenchguy

    March 31, 2010 at 11:35 am

  28. Edward : «It is a nice dream. But I frankly doubt your sincere dedication to the cause. Would you give up Christian holidays like Easter and Christmas as days off from work? Remove the cross from the Quebec flag?»

    [Odd opening, there, Edward: I can’t really say anything if you choose to doubt the sincerity of my motives. That choice belongs entirely to you, doesn’t it. On my part, I can assure you that, if I choose to engage you in this discussion, it is because I am confident that you are being sincere, or else I would have quit be now.]


    That a nation should want to conserve and even celebrate its heritage and history does appear to me to be very different in nature from the idea that its citizens should be encouraged to govern their social interactions on the basis of operative religious dogmas.
    This is actually 2 different debates. They do happen to have connecting areas, but they must be kept distinct nonetheless.

    1) The laïcité debate concerns the place of religion in society: -Should it be kept private or be allowed to interfere in everyday social interactions?
    Laïcité concerns all citizens: Immigrants as much as “de souche”; minorities as much as the majority.

    And yes, I am very sincere in thinking that laïcité is the best avenue for governing life in a pluralistic society. Thus I am against any form of encouragement given to religiosity in the public sphere, especially when it concerns public, or publicly funded, institutions. So, for me, no religion in schools, no prayer in town hall meetings, no crosses at l’Assemblée Nationale, no God in the constitution, etc. And in this I’m no more partial toward de souche Christians or Jehovah Witnesses than I am toward Muslims or Jews.

    If, lately, religion is making a comeback through recently immigrated Muslim populations, as well as through badly integrated minorities, such as Orthodox Jews, that is only incidental. Some recent accommodation cases concerned fringe fundamentalist Christians as well, and they irked me just as much.

    2) The second debate concerns integration and, more broadly, the definition of a nation.

    The fact that our calendar celebrates Christmas, Easter and Halloween is largely a matter of history and heritage.
    The majority of people I and you know are not overtly religious in any sense, yet they do celebrate those holidays, which have largely acquired a secular meaning in modern days. -They mean getting together to feast during a harsh winter, celebrate the coming back of spring, and a kind of Mardi-Gras costumed party, plus they are especially nice occasions for kids. They mean such secular things much more than they are references to J-C or the wrath of God. (Plus, as many will point out, those celebrations are all pre-Christian, pagan rituals… So they can very easily be understood in a broader meaning than a strictly Christian one.)

    In regards to immigration and integration, when I say that this debate concerns the definition of the nation, I mean that it asks the question: “Should we think of a nation as a group of people sharing a certain common cultural substratum, living together and pulling together; or is a nation simply a piece of land where people can, if they so choose, live largely segregated from each other, either as individuals or as sub-communities, without even trying to come together and build common references ?”

    The traditional, “modern” definition of the nation emphasizes the former. While, recently, a very liberal, “post-modern” conception has been pushed forward, emphasizing the latter.

    I, of course, encourage the modern notion, whereby it is stressed that people who choose to be neighbours should be encouraged to build common references, learn to speak a common language, share common cultural references (culture being a mirror to a group), and get together for common (secular) celebrations.

    Of course, nothing forbids that new or exotic elements be incorporated into the common cultural substratum. But they should at least pass the test of time, and prove to be meaningful to the majority. (Don’t forget here that the concept of ‘majority’ potentially includes minorities…)

    So, if we are to consider including, say, the Ramadan into the calendar, maybe it should first morph into something that concerns less specifically an orthodox religious fringe of society. And I don’t see that this should never happen.

    Of course, it may look to some like an imbalance to keep Christmas while not including Ramadan right off the bat. But the fact is that Christmas is part of this nation’s history and heritage — that of the people who have built this nation since its beginning and over 400 years. Ramadan doesn’t. So to wipe Christmas off the calendar would be like wiping their/our memory off. And it is this nation, with its history and culture, that people who celebrate Ramadan have been invited to join: Not the opposite.

    Raman

    March 31, 2010 at 11:52 am

  29. AFG : «I think here the “effect on other people” should apply. A yarmulkah, of a hijab or a turban do not impose anything on other people, therefore should be tolerated in public space. (As religious uniforms, they remain totally inapropriate for judges, cops, and maybe even anyone on State payroll.)»

    I know that my position is rather radical on this, but I do feel that a person wearing a simple veil on the street affects me.

    It doesn’t, of course, harm me in any way. But it certainly interferes in our interactions. Just as if I wore a bandana saying «Religion is for idiots».
    A person wearing a Muslim veil informs me that I should treat her, not as a simple citizen, but as “a Muslim”. It informs me that she does not consider me as a part of her community. It also informs me that she adheres to an ideology that excludes me as a potential moral being, that excludes me as a potential suitor – regardless of my personal qualities –, and that excludes my children as potential mates for hers: all based on irrational dogma.
    And the same goes for any ostentatious religious symbol.

    I cannot consider this to be a harmless piece of clothing: It is rather a very potent signal of exclusion and segregation.

    As I’ve stated before, I don’t believe it would be feasible or desirable to outright ban such symbols. In fact, it would be tyrannical.
    Yet I reject the notion that it is “harmless”. It may be harmless to me, right now, but it does not bode well for the future of the social fabric. So I especially think we should not, through discourse, encourage it.

    Raman

    March 31, 2010 at 12:16 pm


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: