Brigitte Pellerin writes today in the Ottawa Citizen on the hysterical reaction from the Quebec media and politicians to Barbara Kay’s "Rise of Quebecistan" column and contrasts it to the absence of objections to news items about rising levels of racism in Quebec.
Unless you are a regular consumer of French-language media, you may not realize just how much trouble the National Post columnist got into over her Aug. 9 column about the possible rise of "Quebecistan." After prominent Quebec politicians were shown leading a "peace" protest in which Hezbollah supporters and Hezbollah flags appeared in sufficient numbers to warrant a healthy dose of criticism, Ms. Kay wrote that Quebecers’ "cultural and historical sympathy for Arab countries from the francophonie," plus their "reflexive anti-Americanism and a fat streak of anti-Semitism that has marbled the intellectual discourse of Quebec throughout its history has made Quebec the most anti-Israel of the provinces, and therefore the most vulnerable to tolerance for Islamist terrorist sympathizers." If Quebec were to separate, she added, it’s quite likely "that Hezbollah would be off the official terrorism list by Day Two of the Republic of Quebec’s existence."
Harsh stuff, to be sure. Ms. Kay had to expect a strong reaction. But what she got was completely hysterical. Columnists accusing her of not knowing anything about Quebec (she’s lived in Montreal for some 35 years), of exhibiting shameful "intellectual incontinence," of being blinded by her typically English-speaking Canadian federalist anti-Quebec ideology, and of being an enemy of Quebecers. And those were the polite comments.
It appears Ms. Kay has managed to turn virtually every last French-speaking Quebecois against her. Even Premier Jean Charest felt compelled to defend his province’s reputation, calling the expression Quebecistan "une grossierete" (very crude). The separatist Societe Saint-Jean-Baptiste complained to the Quebec Press Council, and last week prominent independentist Gilles Rheaume announced his intention to call the police because he says Ms. Kay’s column constitutes hate speech.
Apparently most Quebecers think the lingering racism in their society is marginal and dying out, so it’s safe to criticize. But when it comes to anti-Semitism, well, call me names or call the cops, but the explosive reaction suggests to me an uneasy conscience.
Read the full article here.