Lots of emotions this week which leaves me somewhat exhausted. Though I live in Canada the circus at the White House and the dangerous buffoonery, the constant stream of bluster politics is dragging the USA down into a level that is very difficult to understand. This is somewhat like an early dusk as day light slowly vanishes, it is very sad to watch. It also makes me fearful for what is coming.
Then this week we had an attack on the Grand Mosque of Quebec City, six men shot dead while at prayer and 19 others badly injured. The terrorist was a White young man, Roman Catholic, raised in an upper middle class family, well educated, still attending University. Again we saw the fake news phenomenon claiming early on that a second gunman, a Moroccan was also involved, FOX News reported this ad nauseam until the Prime Minister’s Office got involved and told them to remove the tweet in question since it was false, they did finally. This did not prevent alt-right groups in Canada to spread more false news and conspiracy theories to slander the dead and other muslims in Quebec City. The next day another mosque this time in Montreal was attacked and vandalized. The police have reported that more anti-muslim attack have taken place in Quebec.
The leader of the separatist Parti Quebecois, Jean-François Lisée nonetheless continued when interviewed by journalists with his Ethnic Identity speech and could not see how this type of speech could lead to actions by individuals like Alexandre Bisonnette. We have had decades in Quebec of such speeches by so called Nationalists. The day of the massacre Monsieur Lisée continued with a declaration on Economic Nationalism in Quebec clearly stating that those Foreigners who come to Quebec come here to take our money and this does not profit Quebec, that is no longer acceptable. The Parti Quebecois has a way of always positioning itself as they did in the past with their Quebec Values debate as a Us against them the foreigners. It is a seductive speech for many and the Alt-right groups and what is called the Radio poubelle (garbage radio) shows constantly attack anyone who appears different, Muslims have been a special target and constantly vilified. This is a disease in Quebec and it is very troubling how diversity has been rejected by many and cannot be accepted because of the threat it represents to those so called mythical Quebec values and the survival of the French fact, which is not in danger except in the minds of the Quebec Alt-right groups.
On the day of the funeral it was revealed that the Muslim community in the City of Quebec did not have its own cemetery, discussions for the establishment of such a place have been dragging on for 10 years, politicians were afraid to offend again the Nationalist groups. Now the Mayor of Quebec Regis Labaume who has been visibly shaken by the events of this week promised that a Cemetery for the Muslim community will be established soon.
I heard all the political speeches at the funeral of the 6 men and I thought that there was some grand standing but all the calls for tolerance, acceptance and respectful co-existence will probably fall on deaf ears, you cannot change the hateful attitudes of the Nationalists in Quebec who are convinced of being a superior race.
Changing attitudes is according to psychologists one of the hardest thing to do for humans. Here we have ignorance fuelling prejudice which are deeply seated. I saw it in Gatineau which is across the river from Ottawa against the African community. Some in the White, French speaking town did not like the fact that these French speaking Africans were better educated and held it against them. There is wide spread and systemic discrimination in Quebec against the non-white non-Christian segment of the population in the Province. The current Provincial government has not been very forceful in moving against Alt-right groups or Radio stations in Quebec City whose well known and popular hosts have broadcasted hate speech often singling out Muslims or other minority groups. This is turn has led to a view that it is normal and acceptable to have racist opinions because it is only your opinion.
You can read the comments on chat lines or in newspaper, to say that they are vile is putting it mildly. In Quebec, Donald Trump has lots of fans cheering for him, the hate of the other is that well anchored. That is not to say that other provinces in Canada are immune from hate, in other regions opinions run against Asians, Native groups, Blacks, Jews and Muslims and immigration in general. Our Conservative Party politicians like Kellie Leitch and her Canadian values speech, it’s not racist she insist or Kevin O’Leary who thought it was funny to show himself on YouTube shooting several high powered fire arms hours after the Quebec city massacre or other conservative leadership candidates trying to imitate Trump with pronouncements, fear sells by time. These people have aspirations to one day lead the country.
What I would like to know is how do you change attitudes, open minds, educate people. Is that possible at all when so many have closed minds and refuse to listen. They may be a minority group on the margin of society, they may be 1 in 10 but still they poison the social discourse with their nonsense and it leads like in this case to murder of innocent people whose only crime was to look different.
photo of the funeral for the victims, a very large crowd came to pay respect and the political leadership was also present to honour the dead.
Saturday 4 February 2017, 1000 + march against Islamophobia in downtown Charlottetown. People do care about their neighbours safety and well being. Good for you PEI!