frandroid: We are the Canadian Borg. Resistance would be impolite. Please wait to be assimilated. Pour l'assimilation en français.. (canada)
[personal profile] frandroid
I always find infuriating the way in which the English Canadian media depict separatists (when not depicting Québécois in general) as racists. What I hate is the implication that the separatists are racists and that the rest of people in Québec and Canada aren't. Today the noon news bulletin on the CBC was highlighting André Boisclair's "slanted eyes" faux-pas. Boisclair was commenting on how there were a lot of students from Asia at Harvard, that developing countries sent a lot of students to industrialized countries for their education, that China wasn't just sweatshops. So you could call it an unfortunate formulation, but the intent was not racist.

On the other hand, you have the leader of a party, Mario Dumont of the ADQ, who has spent most of the pre-campaign and a fair chunk of this campaign complaining about "reasonable accomodations" and "setting limits" to what the (other) cultural communities should be subjected to, playing the "foreign invasion" card in the most disgusting way. The debate in Québec has been whether it was fair to compare Dumont to Jean-Marie Le Pen, the leader of the Front National party in France, whose slogan is "La France aux Français". Does the CBC report on this barely closeted racist populist's campaign? Do the National Post, the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star have headlines about whether Dumont should present excuses? They don't, because the ADQ is not a separatist party, and it's not quite newsworthy when (quasi-)federalist leaders make racist statements. Québec is about to elect what's the equivalent of the Reform Party (and I said that instead of saying the Conservative Party, because the ADQ is at the stage Reform was at back in the 90s) and somehow, that's not news.

Vincent Marissal wrote about the same thing on his blog on cyberpresse.

Date: 2007-03-17 01:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
boisclair's intent might not have been racist, but his remark certainly was, regardless of if it was in a 'complimentary' context. i was listening to a political panel made up of adq, liberal and pq campaign party members yesterday, and ALL of them refused to acknowledge in ANY way that the remarks were racist.

one woman, not the pq member, even announced that she could understand that those who were asian might be offended by the 'slanted eyes' comment, but she couldn't understand why anyone else would or should care. (which i realize can be read in a few different ways, but I read it as my time to yell at the radio about it not being the job only of people subject to racism to point out racism)

this might be a red herring to distract people from voting/liking the separatists, but fuck me - it's something i want to be acknowledged as racist, intentional or not!

agreed, the press should be slogging at dumont more for all the 'resonable accomodation' stuff. i was wondering the other day if by calling someone to task for using blatantly racist language, we address one type of racism, while side-stepping more insidious versions of it because they're socially acceptable or palatable to us.

Date: 2007-03-17 06:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm fine about the reporting on the news itself without looking at the context, but it's the context I'm complaining about. It's like white people using MLK's "content of their character" quote to oppose affirmative action. They're appropriating anti-racist language in order to perpetuate racism. In this case, English Canadians appropriate anti-racist language to portrait the separatists in a negative light, but not because they give much of a damn about racism.

I think the press, at least columnists in La Presse, have been slogging at Dumont a fair bit about reasonable accomodations, and it's been discussed on TLMEP a lot too, with Guy A. Lepage having a clue or two. But the English-Canadian media hasn't done that.

Date: 2007-03-17 04:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I don't find the coverage singling him out. He said a fucked up thing. I am not sure how else the coverage could be - but doesn't really matter what his intent was - he singled out a group of people based on racialized characteristics. A lot of pasty folk seem to do that.

But I agree with you that many might concentrate on racism coming from separatists because of particular discourses of nationalism. It's not new - the whole "We lost the vote cause of immigrants" and no real analysis (that I have seen) around aboriginal sovereignty in quebec. The separatist movement has been painted as racist because of who is defined as french. I can see it being used to delegitimize the separatist movement. But I also haven't really seen a nuanced anti-racist analysis coming from the separatists either.

Have I seen it coming from the rest of Canada? definately not. but a poltician said something fucked up in an election. sucks for him whatever his intent was - but he should own up to it and apologize or something.

slanty gross...

Date: 2007-03-17 06:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Like I said in my other comment above, the coverage itself is fine. But it's part of a history of separatist leaders' racism being covered very closely and made a big deal of, and brought back again for years and years, unlike other people's racism, federalist politicians in particular, which is kept under covers.

Even though the separatist movement has its roots in being at the short end of discrimination by anglophones, politically, economically and socially, I'm not trying to make apologies for the movement's own shortcomings in that regard. I mean I'm not a separatist myself. I think the separatist movement has had a hard time separating race and culture, embracing multiculturalism (which many saw as a ploy by Trudeau to undermine Québec culture) and I'm quite averse about the idea of the nation anyway. But when the CBC, or more frequently the National Post or the Globe and Mail cover separatist racism, they do it with the intent of tarring the separatists rather than any kind of anti-racist principles. I mean, you know how amazing the National Post has been in fighting racism...

Normand Lester, a Québec-based Radio-Canada journalist for a long time, got so pissed off about this that he wrote a book entitled The Black Book of English Canada, about the English-Canada history of racism. He's even written one or two sequels. He got fired for doing that. The first instalment was translated in English, it must be available at the York library.

Date: 2007-03-17 10:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I never wished you Happy 30! I'm gonna be 41; and a published author! yep
. Shall we be lj friends now? even though my lj is all venty and personal and all my friends are moms, published writers, and crazy people?

Date: 2007-03-17 10:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Sure, I've already friended you. I rarely posted personal stuff there but I post a lot about Canadian politics. If your LJ is too much for me I'll tell you ;]


Date: 2007-03-17 10:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I wouldn't mind learning more about canadian politics. I deffinately feel more clued in to different issues geographically speaking through lj friends. Esp. new orleans.

Re: OK

Date: 2007-03-17 10:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Bah, just stick to Fox News ;]


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