An Open Letter to the Council of Canadians

2019-02-12
Epilogue ajouté le 2019-02-13

In this blog, I respond to an article which appears on the website and in a bulletin of the Council of Canadians. The article, which apparently represents the position of the Council, associates the massacre of January 29th 2017 with so-called “Islamophobia,” “racism” and “white supremacy” and exploits the massacre in order to denigrate secularism and vilify those who support it.

Sommaire en français
Je répond un article paru récemment sur le site web et dans un bulletin du Conseil des Canadiens (Council of Canadians). Ce texte, qui représente apparemment la position du Conseil, associe le massacre du 19 janvier 2017 aux soi-disant « islamophobie », « racisme » et « suprémacisme blanc » et instrumentalise cet événement pour dénigrer la laïcité et diaboliser ceux et celles qui l’appuient.

Your email bulletin of January 30th 2019, contained the following article by Rachel Small: Commemorating the second anniversary of the Quebec City Mosque attack.

The content of Small’s article is dishonest and extremely tendentious. It makes repeated use of the unacceptable expression “Islamophobia” whose purpose is to stifle legitimate criticism of both Islam and Islamism. The fact that Canada’s parliament was manipulated into adopting a motion (M-103) endorsing this concept is no excuse. Progressives have a duty to reject its use. To fear a religion, especially a monotheism such as Islam or Christianity, is not an irrational “phobia” but rather a sane and healthy response to danger. The crime committed by the assassin of January 29th 2017 was not his fear, but rather where he directed it — at innocent individuals — and how he expressed it — with murderous violence. We certainly do NOT need to fight against “Islamophobia”; rather we must encourage rational discussion and criticism of religion while directing that criticism first and foremost against ideologies (rather than against human beings) and against censorship of debate.

Even worse is the article’s conflation of religion and race. Race has absolutely nothing to do with the event. Rather, it involved religion which is completely distinct from race. Small’s evocation of “white supremacy” is completely irrelevant and so misleading as to be a bald-faced lie. The misuse of this expression is an insult to the many blacks, Jews and others who have indeed been persecuted because of that ideology, especially in the USA. Currently, white supremacism is very marginal here in Canada. However, when it did have a strong presence, when the KKK had many Canadian chapters, it was virulently anti-Catholic and anti-Quebec and engaged in acts of terrorism against French-language churches and schools. The use of “white supremacy” to characterize the motives of the 2017 mosque killer is ahistorical and an insult to all Québécois.

Small’s mention of “decades of wars against Muslim-majority countries, state policy which has normalized the killing of millions of Muslims” is particularly inappropriate. Need I remind her that we are talking about a crime which occurred here, in this country, not elsewhere? If Small wishes to complain about the foreign policy of the USA, the UK or any other country, then I suggest she take her complaint to the appropriate government instead of trying to dump the blame on someone in Quebec City.

The tendentious nature of Small’s article reaches a paroxysm when she approvingly links to two other very revealing documents: The article by Jasmin Zine in The Conversation, which has published several diatribes imbued with anti-Québécois prejudice, repeats and deepens Small’s dishonest assertions. The text by Toula Drimonis in the National Observer uses the all-too-familiar false accusation of “far-right” (and again “white nationalist”!) to slur the secularism measures proposed by the newly-elected CAQ. Both Zine and Drimonis manifest a total ignorance of secularism, in particular republican secularism (laïcité).

Si la Charte de la laïcité avait été adoptée en 2014, si les partisans de cette Charte n’avaient pas été si massivement diabolisés et ciblés par des fausses accusations diffamatoires, si la population québécoise n’avait pas été si complètement abandonnée par ses chefs politiques après la prise du pouvoir par le PLQ en avril 2014, alors le massacre du 29 janvier 2017 n’aurait probablement jamais eu lieu.

Quebec has legislation which forbids public servants from wearing partisan political symbols while on the job, an eminently judicious measure. It is both reasonable and necessary to extend this ban to religious symbols, given that religions are inevitably political when they insinuate themselves into state institutions. Both the Charter of Secularism proposed by the PQ government in 2013-2014 and the measures announced by the new CAQ government are laudable efforts which progressives have a duty to support. Neither Zine nor Drimonis makes any attempt to address the solid arguments for a ban on such symbols. Their failure to do so represents journalistic incompetence. Secularism — including banning religious symbols in government — is not only the will of the people in Quebec, it is a noble and enlightened program which helps to reduce the risk of inter-religious conflict.

Regardless of the intentions of the authors of these three articles, the objective result is opposition to secularism, complacency towards political Islam and an endorsement of anti-Québécois racism.

If the Charter of Secularism had been adopted in 2014, if supporters of that Charter had not been so overwhelmingly demonized and slandered by false accusations, if the Quebec population had not been so totally abandoned by its political leaders after the Quebec Liberal Party took power in April 2014, then the massacre of January 29th 2017 would, in all likelihood, not have occurred.

The perpetrator of the mosque shooting was a psychologically unstable individual who had been the target of bullying throughout his young life. He also feared Islamist terrorism. In addition, he, like all Quebeckers, had been for years inundated with a tsunami of propaganda condemning anyone who had even the slightest misgivings about Islam or Muslims with specious accusations of Islamophobia, racism, intolerance, xenophobia, far-right affinities and a plethora of other sins. In other words, Quebeckers were subject to incessant psychological intimidation by mainstream media and many politicians, denigrating them for having legitimate concerns, vilifying them for desiring a secular state, bullying them into silence and removing all hope of healthy debate. At some point, the young man snapped.

The attitude of Small, Zine and Drimonis is dangerous and can only increase the probability of future violent acts by stigmatizing necessary criticism of religion. If the Charter of Secularism had been adopted in 2014, if supporters of that Charter had not been so overwhelmingly demonized and slandered by false accusations, if the Quebec population had not been so totally abandoned by its political leaders after the Quebec Liberal Party took power in April 2014, then the massacre of January 29th 2017 would, in all likelihood, not have occurred. I earnestly hope that the current Quebec government will keep its secularization promises because that will help repair some of the enormous damage done by irresponsible ideologues such as Small, Zine and Drimonis.


Epilogue

Pour faire contrepoids à la propagande anti-québécoise dénoncée ci-dessous, lisez donc ceci : Le calme dans la tempête, Le calme digne, le calme fort, Léolane Kemner, Journal de Montréal, 2019-02-13.


Next blog: Quebec’s Draft Bill 21 Implements State Secularism

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