AngryFrenchGuy

Sikhs, Saguenay and the World Order of Men Without Hats

with 35 comments

Men Without Hats

One of the great band logos of history: 514's Men Without Hats

A couple of years ago I was hired by Vanier College, an anglo CEGEP, to take some students on a field trip for what was either an architecture or religion class. It wasn’t exactly clear. Anyway me and the kids spent the day driving around Montreal, stopping at various synagogues, churches and temples.

The teacher seemed like a very nice, and from what I could hear from behind the diesel engine, knowledgable man. He was your stereotypical CBC/As things happen fellow with glasses and toast crumbs in his beard who made it a matter of principle to address me in French even though on that day he was the paying customer.

Just before noon we stopped at St.Joseph’s Oratory in Côte-des-Neiges. The teacher gave the students a brief introduction to the story of the not-yet-saint Brother André, the lowly doorman who was commanded by God to build a big-ass church on Mount-Royal and to dedicate it to Jesus’s dad.

Then, before letting the students out of the bus, he informed them that catholic tradition demands that visitors to a church uncover their heads.

« Of course », he added, « if your religion requires you to cover your head, you may keep your hats. »

All of the sudden, all was made clear.  That day, on the mountain, the lord came to me in the shape of that small man in a plaid shirt who looked like someone my dad would hang out with, and gave me the kabbalistic key to the split-level logical architecture used by the English Canadian media when discussing issues religion and law.  Here was the  wisdom of Younge Street used to solve conflicts between different incompatible religious requirements in all its simple clarity:

The rules of men with hats trump the rules of men without hats.

Everything made sense now. This was how MacLean’s Martin Patriquin could write an article about tensions between Outremont’s Hassidics—a hat and whig-wearing sect that openly enforces ethnic purity—and their secular neighbours, and portray the latter as the intolerant ones.

This was how Montreal Gazette could simultaneously argue that the religious paraphernalia of Sikhs (a hat people) is so holy that our democratically elected legislators are not qualified to even have an opinion about it AND that Christian (a hat-less faith) prayers and crosses do not belong in the civic space and that MNA’s are not only allowed, but required to legislate.

The rules of men with hats trump the rules of men without hats.

Of course.

Written by angryfrenchguy

March 7, 2011 at 8:42 pm

35 Responses

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  1. Very funny. (Seriously, you should think about quiting your day job, AFG…)

    A perfect illustration of the incoherence that stems from misdirected good sentiments. And now, such sentiments are being turned into laws and policies…

    How about an old idea: «Same rules apply to everybody» (with exceptions only for those who actually can’t follow them) ?

    Raman

    March 10, 2011 at 12:18 am

  2. AFG : «Everything made sense now. This was how MacLean’s Martin Patriquin could write an article about tensions between Outremont’s Hassidics—a hat and whig-wearing sect that openly enforces ethnic purity—and their secular neighbours, and portray the latter as the intolerant ones.»


    An on the ground depiction of that “intolerance”:
    http://accommodementsoutremont.blogspot.com/2011/03/la-fete-des-femmes-version-outremont.html

    « Germany 1936! »

    Raman

    March 10, 2011 at 12:48 pm

  3. I think it’s fair to question whether, when this stuff comes from the Patriquins and the Macphersons et al, it’s really “good sentiments” or “well-intentioned” or whether there isn’t another fairly obvious instrumentality to it, something that really isn’t “we are the world” and “let’s all love each other.”

    James

    March 10, 2011 at 6:27 pm

  4. Maybe I’m naive, but I tend to think that people sincerely believe in what they openly and consistently defend. It’s more at an unconscious level that truths can get distorted to serve interests. Distortions starting with an unconscious bias in one’s sources of information, for example.

    Unless proven otherwise, I’m sure someone like Patriquin really does believe that the Québécois are being intolerant with Hassidics and minorities in general, and believes he’s being moral in chastising us for that. Just as much as some burqa-clad women do believe they are being moral and are doing no harm by following the most extreme interpretations of Islamic rules, and by encouraging other women to do so.

    Both examples may very well confine themselves inside very narrow versions of reality that end up serving the interests of their communities, which are ideologically pitted against the aspirations of la société québécoise. But I wouldn’t be as bold as to think it is in any way planned that clearly in their minds.

    But I’ll concede that there are cases where foul play can be surmised, and where the goals are clearly conscious. Yet, even a case such as lord Durham, to name the most famous, who clearly announced his disgust and pity towards us, followed by his intentions to culturally annihilate us… Yet even he claimed to be doing it out of humanistic aspirations: To save us from our own decadence!!!

    So it’s hard to know, and it’s better to avoid focusing on possible secret motives (hence my answers to Adski, who does nothing but that). The only case where that can become an argument is when you catch someone double-talking. Think, for example, about Tarik Ramadan, who’s made a habit of being pro-democracy in French and English in universities, but pro-califate, sharia and stonings in mosques and madrassas.


    This said, a truly sincere person cannot be excused from not confronting their own opinions and asking themselves, from time to time, whether they may not have over-exaggerated or oversimplified their opponents’ positions.
    That’s what rational debates are (supposed to be) for.

    Raman

    March 10, 2011 at 9:10 pm

  5. well a burqa-clad woman who’s defending her convictions, and a Sikh youth defending his conviction about wearing a kirpan in his school, for cases like that I think you’re absolutely correct that such arguments are generally advanced in sincerity and good faith, and reasonable people of good faith can and do disagree about such things and it’s important they be able to talk about them. But I’m not sure I’d conflate those cases with say, a Macpherson who writes: « Other provinces have long tolerated minority rights. Not us »

    So which other provinces would those be? The English Canadian provinces which, practically to a one, have been sued by francophones for their failure to assure the most basic rights of French-speaking minority communities guaranteed – ironically – under the very constitution which said promises help foist upon Québec? The other provinces where religious minorities have also filed complaints and litigated over their rights? Not sure there’s any good faith there. And this is a professional journalist who’s making this bogus affirmation. And examples of this abound in the large and growing annals of Québec-bashing.

    James

    March 10, 2011 at 11:41 pm

  6. “I think it’s fair to question whether, when this stuff comes from the Patriquins and the Macphersons et al, it’s really “good sentiments” or “well-intentioned” or whether there isn’t another fairly obvious instrumentality to it, something that really isn’t “we are the world” and “let’s all love each other.”

    Of course it is fair. Just as it is fair for a non-francophone to be occasionally suspicious of francophones.

    In a struggle for power and privilege, good intentions are just a smokescreen. Everyone wants a slice of the pie, and one way to get it is to act collectively and politically. Trade unions, feminists, gays, francophones, sikhs, muslims, etc…are all variations of the same theme. All try to secure as much privilege as possible for their social group, and always at the expense of another profession, gender, sexual orientation, language, culture, or religion.

    It’s always been that way.

    adski

    March 11, 2011 at 11:47 am

  7. James,

    I’ve posted this link here before, I don’t know if you were around then.
    http://archives.vigile.net/pol/anglo/davidscowen.html

    (NB- It’s not because I link to Vigile that I am an unconditional fan of their editorial lines.)

    I’m sure you’ll appreciate, if you don’t know the book yet.

    Here’s a partial translation (for the would-be Quebec sociology experts who can’t read French):


    The Quiet Treason
    by Peter Scowen

    Peter Scowen is a journalist at the Hour. He’s also Reed Scowen’s son. (…)

    Before 1995’s referendum, he joked that he might vote YES. He immediately started receiving threats against his person and against his newspaper. He was also accused of betraying his father.

    «And to think it’s the English who like to call the French Quebecois “tribal”» (…)

    «English Canada continues to depreciate French Quebecois’ reputation, and the English media do their outmost to depict Quebec as a banana republic in full decline.»

    «This reality outlines one of the longest campaigns of denigration against a people in Canadian history. And not a single journalist does anything about it.»

    «According to most English Canadians, French Canadians are pure racists with fascist tendencise – people who do not deserve to be treates with justice and in a democratic manner. This resembles the way Great-Britain used to treat its colonies, like Jamaica, before their independance», says Scowen.
    (…)

    That doesn’t mean he (Scowen) is a sovereignist. He surely is not, but that’s not important. Nobody asks the Anglophones to support the sovereignist movement. Simply to understand its motivations and to act consequently.

    «Whatever a Francophopne writes on the constitutional debate, they are likely to please half of the population, and anger the other half. (…)
    Among the English community, there is such unanimity that you need a good dose of courage to go against the wave. To not be militantly in favor of national unity can be considered a “quiet treason”.»

    Scowen is very critical of his community, which is «without a doubt one of the most isolated, least integrated communities in the world». So much so that it has lost contact with reality.

    That’s quite a refreshing viewpoint, though such a rare animal…

    That last sentence, concerning being out of touch with reality, is what I meant by whether or not we can surmise conscious ill-will.

    And Scowen’s call for Anglos to at least try to understand sovereignists’ motivations — beyond equating everything and anything with fascism — is what I meant when I said sincere people must confront their arguments against the opposition’s.

    That spirit is very much absent from the debates that interest us here. and I don’t think I’m being overly biased when I say the English side’s arguments too often border on paranoid hysteria. (Though not always.)

    But I stand by what I said: unless you have concrete proof of double-talk, it is not useful in any debate to surmise conscious ill-will on the part of an opponent. (At the most, I’d concede “unconscious ill-will”.)
    Even the most racist person consciously thinks they are right-thinking: Think that their ideas are based on solid facts. They are rather being very selective with the facts, and with the interpretations they make of them.

    Raman

    March 11, 2011 at 2:34 pm

  8. “That doesn’t mean he (Scowen) is a sovereignist. He surely is not, but that’s not important. Nobody asks the Anglophones to support the sovereignist movement. Simply to understand its motivations and to act consequently.”

    The motivation is power. That’s it, that’s all. Scowen’s father understood it better than his son (http://tinyurl.com/4mjajuc), who appears to be a spineless supine type along the lines of Christopher Hall.

    In 1981, Ronald Reagan ended an air traffic controllers’ strike in a rather swift and neat manner. 3 months ago, the socialist and pro-unionist premier of Spain resorted to the same tactic (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-11957686) when Spain’s air traffic controllers union pushed him to the wall and called a general strike. So there is time to be nice, and there is time to be firm. In this country, the time has come to be firm on the francophones and on a bunch of other interest groups seeking entitlement, both religious and secular. The time has come to start pushing back.

    adski

    March 11, 2011 at 3:53 pm

  9. You see James, Adski’s comment above is a good illustration: He considers Quebec to be an “interest group”, similar to a union or an ethnic group, and nothing more, within the country of Canada.
    That’s a view of reality that’s quite distorted, and which conveniently does away with how Canada is constitutionally assembled. It also does away with the notion that Quebec forms a nation: as it does within the present constitutional context.

    He shares, with many Canadians, the view that Canada is a centralized country, and that Quebec Francophones are only one ethnic/linguistic group among many, who self-interestedly refuse to recognize being part of a de facto Canadian social unity.

    Within this twisted logic, again shared very widely among Anglos, his conclusions make sense.
    Obviously, that way of depicting things conceptually advantages the English, and seals their complete and final domination over the French.
    In fact, if that conception (MacDonald’s) had prevailed in 1867, the English domination wouldn’t be problematic today: Constitutionally, the Francophones would then be nothing but a Canadian linguistic minority, and nothing else. And any form of recognition of a Francophone community in Quebec would then be owed only to English-Canada’s benevolence.

    But someone like Adski is unable to see it that way.
    Rather, he and other Canadians still cognitively refuse 1867, and still cling to MacDonald’s vision. For them that’s what reality is, that’s how they intuitively perceive it: Canada is one country, in which Francophones are a minority. A belligerent one, constantly asking for “privileges”, and threatening secession when Canadian benevolence reaches its natural limits.

    This leads him to conclude that we are the would-be dominators.

    The problem, of course, is the contradictions in his system, as with any system that fails to properly and correctly establish facts. For example, if we are nothing but a minority interest group, then how can he depict Anglo-Quebecois as an oppressed, dominated minority? (Are there often oppressed minorities within unions or other interest groups?…)
    Reality tends to be shifty when facts are incorrectly outlined.

    If you go back to many heated debates on this site, you’ll find that the French proponents very often try to re-establish facts concerning the constitution, political acts that go against its spirit, concerning where real and imagined cases of repression actually take place in Canadian history.
    On the other side, the English proponents, from ABP to Kondaks, very much like Adski now, tend to focus on denouncing imagined cases of privileges abuses, imagined cases of individual rights abuses, imagined dangers of fascist outcomes, and imagined sombre “ethno-psychological” ambitions (in your own terms) motivating it all.

    If you ask me, these irreconcilable versions of reality constitute the most profound argument in favor of separation.
    As a friend once stated: «A country with 2 conflicting history books is really 2 countries».

    Raman

    March 11, 2011 at 5:03 pm

  10. “So there is time to be nice, and there is time to be firm. In this country, the time has come to be firm on the francophones and on a bunch of other interest groups seeking entitlement, both religious and secular. The time has come to start pushing back.”

    Fine. Canada and Quebec should separate. Anglophones do what they want in Canada and francophones do what they want in Quebec.

    Problem solved.

    Antonio

    March 11, 2011 at 5:56 pm

  11. You see James, Adski’s comment above is a good illustration: He considers Quebec to be an “interest group”, similar to a union or an ethnic group, and nothing more, within the country of Canada.

    and that it’s time to start playing hardball with this “interest group.”

    The views expressed by this guy under a handle he previously used at this blog earned him a comparison to Bob Gratton. Now, here’s a passage from Gratton’s discours pour le Comité des intellectuels pour le Non. Doesn’t this pretty much express with a much greater economy of words the reams of verbiage and sophistry we’ve been exposed to à date by our ethnopsychologue à cinq sous?:

    Moé, j’vous le dis, ça donne absolument rien le françâ, pis les séparatisses c’est des jaloux. Y veulent construire une muraille de Chine autour du Québec.. Une muraille de Chine tsé… comme le mur de Berlin en Bobsnie… c’est moé Bob qui vous le dis.

    Oui la Bobsnie… Vous connaissez ça la Bobsnie… Vous connaissez pas ça?… Vous connaissez rien estie… Pis en plus vous voulez vous r’plier su vous zautes mêmes

    James

    March 11, 2011 at 6:24 pm

  12. :-)

    I didn’t realize Adski was an old poster. What was his previous handle?

    Raman

    March 11, 2011 at 6:28 pm

  13. well Raman I may even be breaching some kind of internet protocol, horse-powered analogue dinosaur that I am, by revealing this, and since I don’t want adski’s people to send my people a virtual mise en demeure, I will just let the answer reveal itself to you au fur et à mesure, trusting in your intellect and command of detail which well surpass my own.

    But I will add that the cited passage highlights something else, namely, how well the Gratton discourse and the Canadian canon of multiculturalism really mesh with each other. Superficial differences aside, they share some key tenets:

    le francâ, ça donne rien, finalement, ça mène nulle part

    les séparatisses, c’est des jaloux, des frustrés, des paranos

    ceux-ci veulent ériger une muraille de Chine

    Bob Gratton, shake hands with Me Grey and Prof. Weinstock!

    James

    March 11, 2011 at 7:42 pm

  14. I do have an idea, now that you mention it.


    As for Gratton and the multiculturalist discourse “à la sauce” canadien, well, let’s remember that despite appearances, Falardeau was rarely gratuitous.

    Raman

    March 11, 2011 at 7:51 pm

  15. So Adski, just out curiosity: Justin Trudeau and Maxime Bernier, “spineless supine types” or “enlightened free thinkers”?

    angryfrenchguy

    March 11, 2011 at 9:20 pm

  16. I’m not so familiar with Weinstock’s thinking, but even though Grey is the lawyer who got kirpans in schools, I believe he understands the concepts of compromise and “accomodement”. His argument was not so much that we HAD to let the kirpans as a reflection of HOW it could be done in an acceptable way.

    I don’t think a ban on knives in school is unreasonable, but his solution (the sealed sheath) really did focus on making it not a knife instead of the commandements of the wise men of Punjab.

    angryfrenchguy

    March 11, 2011 at 9:26 pm

  17. I actually thought the ruling on the school kid’s kirpan was pretty defensible. It’s Grey’s broader condescending discourse to which I was referring.

    James

    March 11, 2011 at 9:55 pm

  18. I like the idea of public institutions being completely religious free.
    That gets me to be branded a “radial secularist”. (Which, to me, sounds funny: As if I were being branded a “radical democrat”…)

    I was brought up as a practicing Catholic.
    A very benign, peaceful and liberal religion.
    Yet I had to submit to public displays of my faith. Starting with baptism; then followed by first communion,; followed by confirmation; and then attendance to church on Sundays; confession; etc.

    Back then (in the 80’s), to not attend any of those events would have signaled me as a renegade to the right-path community.

    I eventually did abandon the faith and stopped attending church. But, luckily, this society had become secular by then. So I was never persecuted for becoming an atheist.

    Now, I can only imagine what it can be for a young boy to grow out of Sikhism these days; or for a young Muslim girl to question her faith in Islam…

    Both must wear, every single waking hour, a symbol of their adherence to their faith. In a context where their religious communities are nothing but secular.

    To renounce their faith and to abandon its commandments — to stop wearing their markers — means they will immediately be signaled as renegades to their faith-based communities…


    Society is better without religious adherence symbols.
    It is a matter of social cohesion as much as it is a matter of individual freedom.

    Raman

    March 12, 2011 at 7:12 am

  19. I meant : «…in a context where their religious communities are anything but secular.»

    Raman

    March 12, 2011 at 1:55 pm

  20. Adski will like this (though I suspect is an allophone and will need bablefish to translate.)

    http://www.vigile.net/Un-rapport-digne-de-Lord-Durham

    GERMANY 1936!

    Raman

    March 12, 2011 at 2:37 pm

  21. “Adski will like this (though I suspect is an allophone and will need bablefish to translate.)

    http://www.vigile.net/Un-rapport-digne-de-Lord-Durham

    Lord Durham, assimilation… and you are calling Adski paranoid?

    “As a friend once stated: «A country with 2 conflicting history books is really 2 countries»”

    Then there should pretty much be 2x the number of countries in the world… People of different political views often have very different views of history. Ask Spaniards about Franco, Chileans about Pinochet or Americans about the Bush era and you’ll get very different answers…

    AM

    March 12, 2011 at 7:34 pm

  22. AM,

    I dont’ think I called Adski paranoid. Or else please quote me.
    I did say that Anglo rhetoric about Quebec often, but not always, bordered on paranoid hysteria.
    Maybe that’s what you meant.

    And my quote about 2 history books was an image to illustrate what I described before: A schism between conflicting ways that French- and English-Canada conceive of this country.
    Maybe you skipped that part, or missed it somehow. But rest assured, the image wasn’t meant to be taken literally.

    Raman

    March 13, 2011 at 6:59 am

  23. Adski, do you even know what the gay rights struggle is about? It isn’t about extracting privilege from the heterosexual majority, it’s about being treated the same as that majority and it’s about being left the hell alone. You should try educating yourself.

    M.Bergeron

    March 13, 2011 at 11:33 am

  24. You Francophones can thank your good buddy Trudeau for all of this (who you so zealously supported). He was the one who let these people into the country. B.C. and Ontario have been putting up with this garbage for years. But consider; Quebec had 74 of 262 seats in Trudeau’s day. Now 75 out of 308. And 30 more on the way. You guys let Trudeau cut off English Canada’s nose, but it spited Quebec’s own face.

    Kane

    March 14, 2011 at 2:31 pm

  25. M.Bergeron: “It isn’t about extracting privilege”

    It is, monsieur Bergeron. It is.

    Feminists fought for rights 100 years ago when women couldn’t vote or run in elections. Gays fought for rights 50 years ago, when in countries like England or Scotland they were jailed under sodomy laws. Trade unionists of Europe and America/Canada fought for rights 100 years, when working conditions were sub-standard. Francophones of Quebec and Canada fought for rights until the 1970’s, when they were treated like second class citizens in many parts of the country (including Quebec).

    Today, all these groups fight for preferential treatment and entitlement, not for rights. They already have exactly the same rights as everyone else.

    M.Bergeron “it’s about being treated the same as that majority and it’s about being left the hell alone”

    Are you talking about homophobia, sexism, or francophobia? Are you saying that we should be asking the State to rectify these problems for us? By shifting us from one neighborhood to the next? By educating us in re-education camps? By bringing us together?

    Monsieur Bergeron, social engineering will not alleviate these problems. The abolition of slavery did not reduce racism one bit (the abolition was of course good, but it does illustrate the point vis-à-vis racism). If anything, some affirmative-action measures that discriminate against group A to promote group B may create even more tension in societies.

    Although I am a libertarian and against affirmative action in general, I might bring myself to tolerating some affirmative action projects (preferably those that don’t involve me) under a condition that a clear expiry date is put on the project, and the project never reaches the status of a sacred cow and becomes some sort of foundation of the society.

    adski

    March 14, 2011 at 3:28 pm

  26. “Today, all these groups fight for preferential treatment and entitlement, not for rights. They already have exactly the same rights as everyone else.”

    You are absolutely right, I have the “right” to a university education in French if I live in Toronto, I have the “right” to customs officials who speak french when I cross the border in Manitoba, I have the “right” health care in French at the Royal Victoria hospital, I have the right to curteous French language service when I shop downtown and I have the “right” to work in my own language in muy own country.

    How about this? How about we give Québec’s anglo’s all the “rights” they want? How about we make English an official language of Québec, allow English on signs, English-only signs, give the English schools the right to accept any kid they want. How about we do that and take the provincial funding that goes to MGill, the General Hospital and the Lester B. Pearson School Board and give it to l’Université de Montréal and the CHUM.

    Now you’re not going to be a whinny bitch and ask THE STATE to “socially engineer” a school for your kid, now are you?

    angryfrenchguy

    March 15, 2011 at 12:01 pm

  27. Libertarism – not spitting on State’s help if it’s for me or the majority.

    the Ubbergeek

    March 16, 2011 at 12:01 am

  28. “Now you’re not going to be a whinny bitch and ask THE STATE to “socially engineer” a school for your kid, now are you?”

    My goal is to send my kids to private schools and to avoid public schools like the plague. So no, I will not be a whiny bitch if the state engineers a school for my kids, because I probably won’t even notice.

    adski

    March 16, 2011 at 11:31 am

  29. And in Québec everyone has the “right”, whether anglo, franco or whatever, to send their kid to any unsubsidised private school they wish, in any language they want. Therefore, their “right” are intact.

    Asking for anything else would be to ask for privileges, right?

    angryfrenchguy

    March 16, 2011 at 1:20 pm

  30. “How about this? How about we give Québec’s anglo’s all the “rights” they want? How about we make English an official language of Québec, allow English on signs, English-only signs, give the English schools the right to accept any kid they want. How about we do that and take the provincial funding that goes to MGill, the General Hospital and the Lester B. Pearson School Board and give it to l’Université de Montréal and the CHUM.”

    Well, you are not being consistent here because “Anglos” (and good luck figuring out who qualifies as an Anglo) also pay taxes. And education and health care are the 2 largest budget items (together, I think they are around 60% of total provincial government spending). So you’d be taking their money, but not spending it on them.

    Now if you went to them and said “We’ll return to you ‘Anglos’ the portion of your taxes that gets spent on education and health care and you guys run your own schools and hospitals with that money any way you want” I am not sure they would mind.

    AM

    March 16, 2011 at 1:26 pm


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